Neighbours ‘will hit 30 years’

Australia’s longest running soap Neighbours continues to defy the hallowed ratings system on which television networks heavily base their programming decisions.

The programme attracts around 250,000 viewers an episode on Australian digital channel Eleven, far fewer than Network Ten’s 2012 shockers Being Lara Bingle or The Shire.

Even on Thursday, Neighbours had fewer viewers than courtroom reality series Judge Judy. Yet the Ramsay St soap, now in its 28th year, powers on to the point that production company FremantleMedia has just spent more than $1 million adding to its Erinsborough backlot.

The facades of the Ramsay St homes are still in Pin Oak Court, Vermont South. But the backyards for numbers 22, 26 and 32 Ramsay St, are now located next to Charlie’s Bar, Lassiter’s Hotel and Harold’s Store on the Neighbours backlot at Global Television Studio in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

The backyards contain pools, spas and entertainment areas and they’ll start appearing on Australian TV in May and in the UK in June.

FremantleMedia claims the Neighbours backlot is possibly the biggest in the southern hemisphere and it’s all for a series that pulls just a quarter of a million viewers a night in Australia.

Executive producer Richard Jasek said there is more to Neighbours’ success than ratings alone.

“Neighbours is more than a numbers game,” Jasek said.

“The fact it has survived as long as it has with numbers that