Neighbours is an Australian TV Soap Opera, but it is shown in an estimated 100 countries. It was created by Reg Watson for 'Reg Grundy Productions'1 and first shown on Channel Seven in 1985. After only 171 episodes2, the show was very nearly axed after Channel Seven decided to drop the programme from its schedules. It was only after Channel Ten bought the show that its future was secured3.
Neighbours first appeared on British television on 27 October, 1986, but it was not until January 1988 that "Neighbours fever" hit, helped by a move of the repeat of the show from the early morning slot to a teatime slot. At its peak in 1988-89 (during the Kylie/Jason years), Neighbours was regularly achieving ratings of 14 million viewers in the UK alone.
Neighbours is set in the fictional suburb of Erinsborough4 - which is of course very nearly an anagram of 'Neighbours' - in the cul-de-sac of Ramsay Street5. It originally centred around three families: the Robinsons, the Clarkes, and the Ramsays6, however it now covers all the inhabitants of the street plus other people they meet daily. Other main locations include the Lassiters complex, which contains the Lassiters hotel, plus the pub, coffee shop and doctors' surgery; and Erinsborough High school, where the younger residents are educated and some of the older ones teach. However, the show does visit locations other than these on a regular basis, normally for one-off storylines.
Being a soap opera, Neighbours is sometimes very funny, and sometimes very serious and even sad. It is set in modern-day Australia, but doesn't tend to include current events as much as other soaps do (for example Coronation Street's Commonwealth Games plot). The families in Ramsay Street generally get along well (as mentioned in a line of the theme-tune7 ...good neighbours become good friends...) and members of different families regularly fall in and out of love. However, there have been feuds between families, the most notable in recent times being between Karl Kennedy and Joe Scully, echoing the feuds that Max Ramsay used to be involved in right at the start of the series.
Neighbours has, in the past, covered some very serious and sensitive issues. Some of these include nervous breakdowns, unplanned pregnancy, immigration issues, cancer, and addictions such as alcoholism and gambling, to name but a few. The show does, however, 'recycle' storylines every so often - well, it would be impossible to keep coming up with completely new ideas considering how long the show has been running!
Despite all those serious issues, Neighbours is a light-hearted show. This may be one reason for its appeal, that and the fact that the show is full of 'beautiful people' - more so than equivalent British soaps such as EastEnders.
Many cast members have gone on to find fame in other areas, usually as pop stars. Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Holly Valance, Delta Goodrem, Craig McLachlan, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Natalie Imbruglia being just some of those who were in the Neighbours cast before finding fame elsewhere.