Amazon is to resurrect the hit show in a plot that the showrunners themselves could have only dreamed about after the long-running Australian soap opera stopped broadcasting in July, with the streaming giant stepping in to save it after the soap failed to secure new funding after being dropped by Channel 5.
The show will air on Amazon Freevee with a new series to begin filming in Australia next year, with familiar faces and friends set to return. After seeing the ‘fanfare’ generated by the ending of the soap, which amassed 2.5 million viewers in the UK, Amazon Freevee and Freemantle have opted to continue the daily drama series with the likes of Stefan Dennis, Alan Fletcher, Ryan Moloney and Jackie Woodburne returning to reprise their leading roles.
In a social media teaser clip announcing the news, Woodburne, 66, is seen in character as Susan Kennedy excitedly informing some of the soap’s most recognisable characters, including Karl Kennedy, Toadie Rebecchi and Paul Robinson, of the news.
The announcement follows a much-celebrated farewell episode for the show, which featured a host of favourite characters returning to the cul-de-sac community of Ramsay Street and attracted an average audience of 2.5 million, according to Channel 5. A revitalised series will premiere for free exclusively on Amazon Freevee in the UK and US and the site will also stream thousands of Neighbours episodes from previous series.
Commenting on the news, head of AVOD original content and programming at Amazon Studios, Lauren Anderson, said: “Neighbours has captivated its audience for nearly 40 years, building a dedicated and loyal following for the lives and stories of the characters on Ramsay Street.
“With the power of streaming, we’re able to offer a catalogue of thousands of Neighbours episodes for new audiences to discover this legendary series and current fans to relive their favourite moments.
“We look forward to immersing the audience in new Ramsay Street experiences when we relaunch the show next year for Amazon Freevee and Prime Video customers.”
Along with the return of a number of recognisable on-screen characters, Jason Herbison, Neighbours’ executive producer since 2013, will maintain his position on the new chapter of Neighbours and Andrew Thompson will also return as producer.
Questions as to exactly who will appear in the show on its return have started to be raised however, with some actors moving on to other projects, and others not being informed about the return to Ramsay Street. Takaya Honda, who played Neighbours’ Dr David Tanaka for six years took to Instagram responding to the video promo, writing “apart from these three and Stefan, the rest of the cast are finding out with you. Please give us time to process.”
Production is set to commence in early 2023, with a world premiere slated for the second half of the year.