Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News
music and pop culture reporter Mawunyo Gbogbo

Neighbours finale attracts massive audience as viewers mark end of an era

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan reprised their roles as Scott and Charlene in the Neighbours finale. (Supplied: Ray Messner Photography)

The Neighbours finale was a ratings winner for Channel 10 last night, attracting a metro audience of 873,000, making it the number-one program of the night in the capital cities.

Combined with a regional audience of 215,000 and 60,000 people tuning in via Video On Demand, Neighbours reached 1.148 million people across the country yesterday.

A senior lecturer in Cinema and Screen Studies at Swinburne University of Technology, Dr Jessica Balanzategui, told ABC News the ratings were a sign of the ongoing interest in cultural event television, but was also reflective of the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

"I'm sure a lot of those viewers hadn't watched Neighbours in any sustained way for many, many years," Dr Balanzategui said.

"And [they] wanted to see it off as part of that kind of cultural participation in the end of an era."

Dr Balanzategui said it's a sign of the times that a show that had been woven into the fabric of everyday life has ended at a time when streaming services have replaced scheduled communal free-to-air viewing.

Jessica Balanzategui says the Neighbours finale marks the end of an era. (Supplied)

"It was for many people this kind of daily ritual, and keeping up with the very frequent and swift narrative twists and turns meant that you had to keep on top of those scheduled broadcasts," she said.

"So, that is a particular way of consuming television that I guess functions like a cultural glue, where we all have to watch it in a synchronised way and have the conversations about what happened in last night's episode in a synchronised way, which obviously doesn't happen to the same extent with on demand viewing, which is the streaming service model."

Dr Balanzategui said with the absence of legacy TV shows on Australian television like Neighbours, A Country Practice, Blue Heelers and The Flying Doctors, she will be watching closely to see what becomes of Home and Away.

"The question is around whether these kinds of long-running soap dramas have a place in the streaming era."

She's not convinced there won't be a resurgence of shows like Neighbours in the future, pointing to the fact that as recently as five years ago, Netflix was focused on providing an alternative that superseded broadcast television, but was now considering a subscription model that offers advertisements.

"Harnessing nostalgia to build shows that will attract intergenerational audiences is a key strategy of Netflix and other streaming services. We also have seen a rise in reality TV genres on streaming services like Netflix," she said.

"Streaming services [are also] trying to figure out how to... offer content for a family audience, which demands... communal viewing that some of these golden age broadcast TV shows did.

"So, I think it's going to be a very interesting time over the next couple of years as consuming content on demand becomes more and more normalised and mainstream."

Neighbours relied heavily on nostalgia for its final episode, bringing back stars such as Guy Pearce, Margot Robbie, Holly Candy (known professionally as Holly Valance), and Natalie Imbruglia.

Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue also made an appearance, the latter saying so few words, it was jarring.

Interestingly, the finale was written in such a way that the show could seamlessly come back in the future.

TV historian Andrew Mercado says we may not have seen the end of Ramsay Street on our screens.

"Never discount that type of brand loyalty, Neighbours will never be forgotten," Mr Mercado said.

"That title will always be able to be rebooted or 're-vibed' with new cast members or returning cast members.

"I think it's a show that we will see coming back in some form or another over the next few years or decades."

First airing in 1985, Neighbours was Australia's longest-running television drama.

It was axed when the show's producers, Fremantle Media, were unable to secure a replacement broadcaster after Britain's Channel 5, which is said to have contributed to the majority of the soap's production costs, announced it would be dropping the show.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.