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Comment > 5 Years On 5 by Callum

Monday 11th February 2008 saw Neighbours move to Channel 5, then named five after almost 22 years on BBC one. Five years on, we look at what the move has meant for Neighbours in the UK...

On BBC one, Neighbours would often rate a total of around 5 millions viewers each day across it's two time slots of 1.45pm and 5.35pm. Since the move to Channel 5, ratings for the main time slots of 1.45pm and 5.30pm total around 1.5-2 million viewers. Since that time however, the number of channels available to viewers has continued to grow as well as the number of ways to watch programming. UK viewers can now watch Neighbours at 1.45pm, 2.45pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.00pm and 8pm across Channel 5, 5* and their respective timeshift channels. As well as that, each episode of Neighbours is available on Demand 5 for up to 30 days and also on YouTube. It's doubtful we'll ever know what the combined ratings of all of these showings are, however one thing is for certain, in this digital era with so many opportunities to watch the latest instalment from Erinsborough, as well as Digital Video Recorders, our viewing habits have changed and availability is no longer an excuse for missing an episode.

Be it trailers to promote a storyline or just the series as a whole, Channel 5 have certainly lived up to Lisa Opie's statement to us that 'we will continue to promote the show long-term, as we're so proud to have it.' As well as continued promotion on screen with trailers, including in prime time slots, the cast of Neighbours are making an increasing number of promotional visits, with Ian Smith, Alan Fletcher, Jackie Woodburne, Tom Oliver, Ryan Moloney, Eve Morey, Jordy Lucas and Jordan Patrick Smith just some of the stars who have made visits to the UK, appearing on numerous Channel 5 series such as The Wright Stuff, OK!TV, Big Brother's Bit On The Side as well as ITV series This Morning, Loose Women and Celebrity Juice. To add to this, Ryan Moloney recently reached third on Celebrity Big Brother, a far cry from the days that visits to the UK would mainly be from departing stars, months before their departures would air on our screens.

Broadcast Delay
When Neighbours first started airing in the UK, the episodes shown were over a year behind Australian broadcasts. By the time the show moved to Channel 5, this had decreased to around three months. Five years on, UK broadcasts are currently just four weeks behind Australia. There are still calls for Neighbours to air on the same day and a time may come when this happens, but until it does, we have to be thankful that the delay is so small and for UK bonus scenes such as that to celebrate the Royal Wedding in 2011.

Gone are the days of ad free Neighbours, since the move to Channel 5 we've had to cope with an ad break or two (depending on the channel) breaking up our daily helping of action from Erinsborough into bitesize chunks, although these can be very useful when you're in the middle of cooking or have to run to the toilet. As well as the ad breaks, Neighbours has also had various sponsors from Weight Watchers to Green Giant. Whilst the current sponsor Aldi have gone for an Aussie theme with their Koala couple, Al and Dee, it was Debenhams who captured the hearts of viewers with their bumper ads based on the opening title sequence.

In recent years, Channel 5 has run competitions, promoted before the end credits of episodes. With prizes including holidays to Australia, who can resist? But it was the Be a Star on Neighbours competition that everyone wanted to win. Similar to the Dolly magazine competition in Australia which led to the casting of Sam Clark as Ringo Brown, Channel 5 asked for fans to submit auditions via YouTube with viewers voting for their top two from five finalists. These two were then flown to Australia to audition in front of producers. Whilst the successful entrant, Gabriella Darlington, didn't stick around long as Poppy Rogers, with the originally planned storyline of her having met Mal Kennedy whilst backpacking in Europe and ending up on his parents' doorstep being changed to the British cousin of Michael Williams' love interest, no-one can deny that it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

It's safe to say that Channel 5 have lived up to expectations when it comes to Neighbours, so now is the time to celebrate the first 5 years of Neighbours on 5, and here's to the next five and more.