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Australia's longest-running soap Neighbours calls it a wrap

News

Neighbours, the Australian soap opera that launched the careers of Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie, Guy Pearce and all three Hemsworth brothers, shot its last episode on Friday, wrapping the country's longest-running television drama after four decades.

A fixture of the small screen in Australia since 1985 and in Britain since 1986, the cameras stopped rolling on the fictional Ramsay Street and its families after the main financial backer, British free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5, cut the series from its schedule to make way for local content.

From a peak in the late 1980s, Neighbours' ratings steadily declined as beachside rival Home and Away captivated soap viewers and competition from reality television and streaming platforms exploded.

Its demise still brought an outpouring of nostalgia.

"It's a melancholy day for me," said Stefan Dennis, who played villainous, six-times-married Paul Robinson, the only original cast member working on the show at the end.

"I closed the studio door behind me on my very last dialogue scene and I suddenly surprised myself by getting incredibly emotional. I just kept it to myself and went to my dressing room," added Dennis in an on-set interview on Channel 10, where Neighbours had been relegated to its youth channel since 2011.

Neighbours once dominated Australian and British pop culture. Its performers graced magazine covers and topped the music charts and its cast once appeared onstage at Britain's Royal Variety Performance, a charity event attended by Britain's royal family.

The soap provided an early training ground for actors who achieved international acting prowess.

Russell Crowe appeared in four episodes in 1987, five years before his role in skinhead drama Romper Stomper made him a sensation in Australia and caught the attention of Hollywood.

The same year, musical theatre peformer Jason Donovan, who early this month sang at Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee concert, starred in Neighbours' highest-rating episode when his character married Minogue's.

That episode, one of 60 that featured weddings in the show's run of nearly 9,000 instalments, attracted nearly 20 million viewers in Britain alone.

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