Neighbours is a long-running Australian soap opera, which began airing in March 1985. It was created by Reg Watson and was produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation until the end of 2006. As of 2007, the show has been produced by FremantleMedia. Through its entire run in Australia it has screened as five 22-minute episodes a week, shown each weeknight in an early-evening slot. The 1985 season aired on the Seven Network, at 5.30 p.m. in Sydney and at 6.30 p.m. in Melbourne and other regions. From its second year the series switched to Network Ten. Between 1986 and 1991 the series was screened by Network Ten at 7.00 p.m., and from 1992 they have aired the show at 6:30 p.m.. Neighbours has a G classification, signifying that its content is suitable for viewers of any age.

The series follows the daily lives of several families who live in the six houses at the end of Ramsay Street, a quiet cul-de-sac in the fictional, middle class suburb of Erinsborough. Storylines explore the romances, family problems, domestic squabbles, and other key life events affecting the various residents. More than most serials, Neighbours features a large proportion of children and teenagers amongst its ever-rotating cast.

Neighbours celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2005 with some special episodes which featured appearances from several former members of the cast.

History and popularity
The series originally aired on the Seven Network in 1985, but - unusually for an Australian-produced series - switched networks, moving to Network Ten in 1986 after being cancelled by Network Seven.

In 1985, the Melbourne-produced programme had underperformed in the crucial Sydney market leading to Seven Network cancelling the series at the end of that year. Neighbours was immediately picked up by the rival Network Ten. They began screening the series on that channel in early 1986. On Ten, it initially attracted low ratings. The Network worked hard to publicise the series; they revamped the show, adding several new, younger cast members including Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan as Scott and Charlene, while a concerted publicity drive largely focused on these new actors. This paid off for the series and by the end of 1987 it was attracting high ratings. Australian audiences waned considerably by the early 1990s, although it recovered slightly by the end of the decade.

In the 2000s rival soap opera Home and Away had emerged as more popular in Australia. Home and Away, which airs at 7.00 p.m. Monday to Friday in Australia, averages 1.2 million viewers there a night. As of 2004 Neighbours was regularly attracting just under a million viewers per episode,[8] low for Australian prime time television. Neighbours is more popular in the UK, where it screens on BBC One usually attracting between five and six million viewers. In the UK it outperforms Home and Away.

International broadcasts
The show is popular in the United Kingdom where it quickly gained a cult following after it began airing there on 27 October 1986. BBC One began by screening it at 12.30 p.m.-12.55 p.m. until moving it to 1.50 p.m.-2.10 p.m. before moving it to the current 1.40 p.m.-2.05 p.m. with a repeat the next morning at 10.00am. The repeat episode was later moved to 5.35 p.m.-6.00 p.m. by controller Michael Grade on the advice of his daughter so now it screens just before the BBC news hour at 6:00 p.m.. In the mid 1990s during Wimbledon it was shown at 7.00 p.m.-7.20 p.m.. In the late 1980s it regularly had a UK audience of over eighteen million and was watched by more people than the population of Australia at that time [9]. Originally the UK were eighteen months behind Australia's airings but in recent years they have caught up by screening more episodes each year than are produced in Australia; in Australia the series is not broadcast over summer.

In the UK, episodes are generally shown three months after their original Australian broadcast. Since October 2000 the BBC has frequently removed the show from its schedule during major sports tournaments such as Wimbledon and Bank Holidays to accommodate the programme's four-week summer break in Australia.

Accounting for the duplication of viewers across its two UK showings a day, the show rates on average over five million viewers a day, making it the highest rated Commonwealth import on British television and one of the most popular international imports, rating higher than US programmes such as Desperate Housewives and Lost. Rumours are currently circulating that the BBC plans to give 'first-look' Neighbours on the broadcaster's digital channel BBC Three in order to boost that channel's ratings. Most likely, the episode following BBC One's most recent broadcast will be shown after 7 p.m.. However, the episode could even be up-to-date with the Australian episodes.

It also airs every evening on Irish TV station RTÉ Two at 5:30 p.m., and is repeated the following day at around 7.00a.m on RTÉ One. These episodes are also about three months behind the Australian network.

The show has also been sold to television networks in many other countries. Episodes from 1999 were aired for a six-week trial basis on the American channel Oxygen in March of 2004. At first, it was shown in the afternoon opposite higher-rated American soaps such as The Young and the Restless and All My Children, which gave the show anemic ratings from the first airing; the people who would be most interested in the show were watching other, more established serials. After a couple of weeks, the show moved to a late-night time slot and eventually left the air entirely. It was not the first Australian soap opera to be aired in the United States: The Sullivans, Prisoner, Home and Away, The Young Doctors, Paradise Beach, and Pacific Drive had also been previously shown.

The show aired in Canada on regional television channel 47, Toronto-based CFMT (now part of the OMNI network owned by Rogers Communications Inc.), for a period of about five years in the early to mid-1990s, starting in September 1990. The channel started the series right from the beginning and aired two episodes back to back for the first several months. It never achieved the audience that youth-oriented cable network YTV saw at the same time with Home and Away and was dropped.

It has been long aired by Television New Zealand and screens twice daily at 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. It was initially aired by TVNZ when Neighbours started showing in New Zealand in 1988, but by 1996 it had been removed from the schedule. Canwest's TV4 (now C4) picked it up and aired it from 1997 to 2000. They dropped it in 2000, and it returned to TV2 in 2002, where it stayed till early 2007, until moving to TVOne in February 2007, and screens at 5:25.

Neighbours is aired in Belgium on the VRT at 5:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday. The show has been broadcast in Belgium since 1988; they are three years behind Australia. In Kenya, Neighbours airs on the KTN network at 12.30 p.m., Monday to Friday with an omnibus on Sunday mornings. They are approximately three years behind Australia. Neighbours is also aired in Barbados on CBC8, Monday to Friday. They are approximately four years behind Australia.

Main article: Storylines of Neighbours
In the beginning, the show mainly focused on two families, the Robinsons and the Ramsays (after whom "Ramsay Street" is named) who were - as the name of the show suggests - neighbours. The show initially gained notoriety for its depiction of the teenage romance of Scott Robinson and Charlene Mitchell (Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue). Their Romeo and Juliet style romance culminating in a wedding was keenly anticipated by viewers and is still fondly regarded by fans as being one of the high points of the series. Another popular couple in the show's early days was the pairing of Des Clarke (Paul Keane) and Daphne Lawrence (Elaine Smith), a couple who also lived on Ramsay Street alongside the Ramsays and the Robinsons. Daphne's death in 1988 is still considered as one of the most emotional moments on the show. Daphne's final words were the croaked 'I love you, Clarkey'. It was the first death of a main character.

Until recently, both the Ramsays and the Robinsons had been written out of the series, with the sole exception of the Bishop family (who are related to the Ramsays through the marriage of Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) to the late Madge Ramsay (Anne Charleston)). However, one of the original characters, Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis), made a return to the show as a regular character in the final episode of 2004. Today the show revolves around the Robinson, Hoyland, Timmins, Bishop, Cammeniti and Kinski clans, along with several other residents who live in Ramsay Street.

In the late 1990s, Neighbours gained the reputation as being a somewhat conservative soap with topics such as sex generally not being included in the storylines due to its early evening timeslot in Australia and the United Kingdom (Earlier storylines involving controversial topics such as incest and teenage sex were often censored by the BBC in the UK, which may account for the reluctance on the part of producers to depict controversial issues). In the past two years this has started to change, with the show now regularly featuring its teenage characters discussing issues such as sex and contraception in a manner which has not been seen on the show since the mid 1990s. Recently, the show has depicted a lesbian storyline involving Sky Mangel (Stephanie McIntosh) and Lana Crawford (Bridget Neval). A relationship has started between the 18-year-old character Stingray Timmins (Ben Nicholas) and 14-year-old Rachel Kinski (Caitlin Stasey), although the two did not actually sleep together. There were also two incest storylines; the first saw Lucy Robinson in a relationship with her half brother Glen - whom her dad had fathered during the Vietnam War - despite both knowing that they were related. They ended things however, as they knew they should act like brother and sister. The second involved Serena Bishop (Lara Sacher) and Luka Dokich (Keelan O'Hehir), who embarked on an intimate relationship, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they were half-siblings, sharing a mother, Liljana Bishop (Marcella Russo). The character of Sindi Watts (Marisa Warrington) has also been involved in storylines involving stripping and prostitution. More recently there have been strong indications that Katya Kinski had been involved in the pornography industry and had taken hard drugs. She was also shown stealing cars for shady associates from her past.

Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne as Karl and Susan in the 2007 opening credits.The break up of long time married couple Karl and Susan Kennedy (Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne) and soon after Joe (Shane Connor) and Lyn Scully (Janet Andrewartha) has also been a great source of interest to viewers, especially since it has led to a long running storyline in which Izzy Hoyland (Natalie Bassingthwaighte) duped Karl into believing that he was the father of her unborn child continuing the charade long after she tragically miscarried in November 2004. After over a year of manipulation, Izzy's lies came to light in a spectacular fashion, and despite a last ditch attempt by Izzy to gain Karl's sympathy by falsely claiming that she was raped, Karl finally dumped Izzy for good.

Late in the 2005 season came a highly dramatic storyline where a large contingent of Ramsay Street regulars went on a joyflight on a Douglas DC-3 aircraft over Bass Strait. A time bomb had also been planted in the plane's undercarriage. During the flight Izzy discovered a note in her seat pocket addressed 'To my one and only' which read 'Think about your life and everything you've done.'

The bomb soon went off, sending the plane crashing into the ocean below. David (Kevin Harrington), Liljana and Serena were presumably killed, although only David's body has been recovered. Paul, Elle (Pippa Black), Izzy, and Sky were quickly found and taken to hospital. Susan was missing for a few days but eventually rescued. Dylan (Damien Bodie) and Connor (Patrick Harvey), who believed Dylan was wanted for armed robbery, survived washed up on a desolate beach and decided to fake their own deaths by assuming new identities, but they eventually returned to Erinsborough. Through flashbacks and conversations with his comatose brother Cameron (Adam Hunter), Robert Robinson (also played by Adam Hunter), Paul's son, has been revealed to have been the one who planted the bomb on the plane; a crime which Paul believed to have been committed by Cameron until Robert admitted it when he attempted to kill Paul. Paul was eventually rescued and he vows to get revenge on his son. Robert soon returned and kidnapped Katya, despite being in love with her. Paul and Gail attempted to lure Robert back by staging a fake wedding and he eventually returned. Paul told Robert to show himself and he eventually did and shot Paul. Paul was only wounded and then Robert was arrested.

The Timmins family (l-r): Dylan, Janae, Stingray, Bree, Janelle in the opening credits.In mid-2006 Sky became pregnant with what she believed was Dylan's baby, but was later told that the baby was a product of a one night stand with his brother, Stingray. Sky kept this a secret to have a family with Dylan, however, Elle Robinson who was dating Dylan at the time, faked a life-threatening disease so that Dylan would stay with her. Dylan later found out that Elle was faking it, and went back to Sky. Later on, Cameron was hit by Max's car after chasing Katya to give her her purse back (Max thought it was the escaped Robert). He died soon afterwards.

Elle then made it her personal mission to drive Max insane, and succeeded. Max disappeared leaving behind only a family photo and jacket, distressing Steph and Boyd. Elle has since discovered it was wrong to do what she did and hired a P.I. to find him with no success, as Harold later informed Steph that Max did not want to be found.

Carmella Cammeniti's cousin Teresa Cammeniti threw a pot of boiling water on Carmella and set fire to Erinsborough Hospital just as Sky was giving birth to a baby girl. As they evacuated, the baby was stolen by Stingray Timmins, who later passed out in bushes with her because of intoxication. Dylan found the baby and kept her for the three days that followed, without contacting anybody. Kerry was later anonymously returned to Sky by Elle, and Carmella was left with permanent facial burns, although these healed after she saw a skin specialist.

Dylan stated that the baby was his, so the baby "Kerry", Stingray and Dylan got a blood test. It turned out that Dr. Karl Kennedy had made a mistake and that the real father of the baby was in fact Dylan. Meanwhile Boyd had an affair with another girl while he was in Tasmania searching for his father. Although Janae forgave him, his betrayal may have further repercussions.

(Credit: Wikipedia)


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