The broadcaster in a statement has said they have no plans to bring the UK and Australian screenings back to the same day.
In 2015 Channel 5 trumpeted the fact that after nearly 30 years Neighbours would be seen on the same in both Australia and the UK.
“At a time when online piracy can often mean hardcore fans’ enjoyment of continuing drama is spoilt, this is great news for our millions of Neighbours fans.” – Channel 5’s commissioning editor Greg Barnett speaking in 2015
The move was an attempt to stop spoilers from down under leaking into the UK with the age of the internet and also to limit pirate copies of the show being uploaded to video sharing sites, meaning viewers didn’t need to watch the official Channel 5 output when it eventually aired.
Over the years the gap between showings on Network 10 and BBC One had decreased, and by the time Channel 5 decided to bring the transmissions together the lag was only two weeks. Still, however, enough to concern bosses about the spoiler and piracy issues.
In order to facilitate all-year-round showings here, Fremantle Australia ditched the traditional Neighbours Christmas break while in December 2015, for two weeks, Channel 5 aired two new episodes a day rather than one bringing their output in line with the Peach screenings from January 4th 2016.
Now, however, the soap is behind following the UK screenings dropping to four-episodes a week for a short while in case Freemantle had to halt production due to Coronavirus – although the production managed to remain in action ultimately – and is now going to be further behind as Channel 5 have decided to drop Neighbours from its festive output.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainties surrounding production, Channel 5 took a precautionary measure to reduce the number of Neighbours episodes earlier this year, ensuring that dedicated viewers could enjoy the soap for as long as possible.
“Currently, Channel 5’s full schedule means it is unlikely that we will be able to catch up with the transmission of episodes in Australia in the near future. Neighbours will return to UK screens on the 4th January 2021” – Channel 5 statement
The move has left many fans of the saga – a part of the UK television landscape since 1986 – incensed with the broadcaster who swiped the soap from BBC One in a big-money deal back in 2008.
“We hope that viewers will continue to enjoy watching Neighbours with the profound affection that we know many of them hold for the soap.” – Channel 5 statement
Home and Away, which joined the Channel 5 line-up from ITV in 2001, went off the air for its festive break on November 23rd.