UK fans will not have to wait too long for new episodes of Neighbours. Channel 5 has announced plans to fast-track the series by January 2016 and air new episodes within 24 hours of their original broadcast on Network Ten’s Eleven channel in Australia.
Once a cornerstone of the BBC’s afternoon schedule, Neighbours moved to Channel 5 in 2008 when they poached the series in a deal with FremantleMedia International. Since its move to C5, the broadcaster, now owned by Viacom, has been looking to reduce the gap between Australian and UK broadcast, down from 18 months to a mere two weeks.
To eliminate that window altogether come the New Year, Channel 5 will air an additional ten episodes of Neighbours between Monday December 7th and Friday December 18th. The long-running soap will then return on January 4th 2016, the same day it returns to Eleven in Australia following the Christmas break. New episodes will initially air on Channel 5 in a 1:45pm time-slot, before being repeated later that same day at 5:30pm.
“At a time when online piracy can often mean hard core fans’ enjoyment of continuing drama is spoilt, this is great news for our millions of Neighbours fans”, said Greg Barnett, Channel 5’s Commissioning Editor. “Not only for the first time will it actually be Christmas when it actually is Christmas (instead of February), but viewers will see the new year start with a bang for Ramsay Street rotter Paul Robinson and the woman he’s been taunting, Steph Scully, who are caught up in one of the series’ most gripping storylines.”
While Jason Herbison, Series Producer on Neighbours, added: “We’re delighted that UK fans of Neighbours will be able to catch up with Karl, Susan, Toadie and the gang at the same time as Australian viewers. Thanks to today’s technology, and the collaboration of our friends at Channel 5, we’re now able to get episodes sent halfway round the world in record-breaking time, giving viewers of the show immediate access to our stories as they unfold.”