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TV

Goodbye to Ramsay Street: could this be the end of Neighbours?

Schedule changes, low ratings and bullying scandals could lead to the demise of Australia’s longest-running soap.

By Woman's Day team
After 36 years on air, the bulldozer may finally be set to roll down Ramsay Street, with rumours circulating that long-running soap Neighbours could soon be axed.
Last week, fans were left shocked when Ten announced it was trimming back the show from five nights a week to four, with its fifth episode being replaced by a repeat of US sitcom Friends.
And while the move was said to have been made in order for UK audience to catch up – they are months behind Australia - the future of the show doesn't look so bright in its adopted country either.
Days before Ten's announcement, news dropped that Channel 5, the UK network which has aired the show at 1.45pm and 5.30pm every weekday since it first began on the channel 13 years ago, may also be scrapping its late afternoon slot and replacing it with the news.
Veteran stars Stefan Dennis, Alan Fletcher, Jackie Woodburne and Ryan Moloney have been on the soap for decades Channel Ten
Speaking to Woman's Day, a well-placed source says this is a strong sign that the soap may be coming to an end.
"Channel 5 aren't happy. They think the show is stale," spills the insider.
"They're deciding whether to continue the show or not."
The source adds that these discussions are a major red flag for the show, particularly as the UK has long been the reason the show has been kept on air.
"I can't stress how much this move shows Neighbours is no longer the powerhouse in the UK that it once was," says the insider.
End of an era: after 36 years on air, could Neighbours be finishing up? Channel Ten
"Many believe this is the beginning of the end," the source says of the anxious cast and crew who are said to be getting increasingly nervous about their jobs.
"It doesn't help that the cast's contracts are also said to be stripped back too - with many of them only being renewed for a few months at a time."
To make matters worse, COVID-19 has seemed to accelerate discussions on the show's uncertain future, particularly after filming of the show was placed on hiatus until August.
Will Ramsay Street lay empty? Channel Ten
Tension on set had already been simmering after former cast member Shareena Clanton claimed the show was "culturally unsafe" and that casual racism jibes thrown around on set left her feeling "ostracised and marginalised".
Her statement evoked widespread backlash, with fans and previous cast members such as Meyne Wyatt and Remy Hii also backing up Shareena's account with their own experiences, all of which were said to have raised major concerns in the UK.
"The bullying scandals really upset Channel 5," says the source.
Shareena has alleged she experienced racism while working on the show. Getty
Despite being called Australia's longest-running soap and once known for propelling the likes of Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie and Natalie Imbruglia to superstardom, Neighbours has seen a rapid decline over the years, with its rival soap Home And Away often trumping it in the ratings.
In the early 2000s in the UK, Neighbours raked in around 3 million at lunchtime and 2.6 million for the early evening repeat.
However, these days, the show attracts just over 320,000 at lunch and 351,000 for the replay.
In Australia, the show fares even worse with numbers hovering around the low 200,000s in 2016.
In 2011, the show was sensationally relegated to 10's sister channel Eleven, now known as 10 Peach.

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