The Australian soap opera Neighbours will finish this year after nearly 40 years on TV, according to reports.
The Sun, a British daily, reported last month that Channel 5 (which broadcasts the serial in the UK) and the show’s production firm, Freemantle Media, had failed to reach an agreement for future seasons.
The Sun has now discovered that time has run out and the search for a new broadcaster has come up empty, despite Neighbours attracting 1.4 million viewers on Channel 5 across two daily screenings.
The show’s production, which is set in suburban Melbourne, is anticipated to end in June this year, according to a statement expected on Thursday.
A message encouraging fans to download the Neighbours theme music went viral earlier this year, and the song eventually reached number one on the iTunes UK rankings.
According to The Sun, more than 60,000 fans of the show signed a petition to keep the show on the air. Those efforts, however, have failed to preserve the Australian drama.
Neighbours have been a classic example of soft diplomacy for more than 36 years and over 8770 episodes, exporting a cheerful image of Australian suburbia to more than 60 countries. Its plots have made a concerted effort to portray Australia as a socially progressive country (and even, in recent years, ethnically diverse).
According to The Age in Melbourne, demands in the United Kingdom for more “representative” content of its own — part of a Conservative government push post-Brexit – may have influenced Channel 5’s decision.
Ben Frow, the channel’s director of programming, was still defiant last month when the government demanded more “distinctively British” content.
Despite this, the declaration that it would no longer be supporting “Our present priority is on boosting our investment in original UK drama, which has strong appeal for our UK viewers,” Neighbours said.
On TVNZ 1, Neighbours airs Monday through Thursday at 12 p.m. or 4.30 p.m.
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