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Kissing Viewers Goodbye

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Kissing Viewers Goodbye

Neigbours' desperate ploy to salvage sinking ratings

By television editor RICHARD CLUNE

Taken from 'The Sunday Telegraph' March 18, 2007

A LESBIAN kiss and a series of dramatic explosions have gone unnoticed as the long-running Network Ten soap Neighbours wallows in one of its worst ratings slumps.

Although Ramsay St residents have been engaged in risque behaviour- actors Natalie Saleeba and Nicky Whelan locked lips less than a month ago, and Stefan Dennis was last week experimenting with explosives- their activities have failed to spark audience interest.

The soap is averaging less than 700,000 national viewers each night as Seven's Home and Away, pitched at the same demographic, boasts average nightly audience of one million-plus.

In a further attempt to engage viewers, Ten will this week air London-based episodes of the drama- filmed late last year- featuring cameos by interviewer Michael Parkinson. Spice Girl Emma Bunton, actor Neil Morrissey and former Ramsay St resident Natalie Bassingthwaighte.

The coming months will herald several other key changes, including a new family and guest appearances by Rowena Wallace and Penny Cook.

Ten has also confirmed that Razzle Dazzle actress Jane Hall will join the Neighbours cast.

Despite playing down the program's problems, Ten drama executive Dan Bennett agreed Neighbours was not performing as the network would like.

"Certainly, the figures we're getting now aren't a great basis for our night time schedule," Bennett told The Sunday Telegraph.

Several actors would soon be leaving the series, and new characters and storylines would be introduced, Bennett said.

"Storylines are going to be refocused on what has quintessentially been at the heart of Neighbours: relationships and family dynamics," he said.

"There can be the occasional bomb blast- no soap is complete without it- but at the end of the day, Neighbours began as a show about friends and families living on a street and all the problems people face every day. And that's what we'll be heading back to.

"We'll be saying goodbye to quite a few characters. It's important to bring new people on."

Neighbours' executive producer, Fremantle Media's Ric Pellizzeri, said the changes were part of the soap's "evolution".

"No, it's not broke," Pellizzeri said. "I think that's being a little over-dramatic.

"You're constantly trying to bring life to the program. It's a process of evolution, not a process of panic where we're trying to fix things up,"

Bennett and Pellizzeri cited the 6.30pm time slot as a factor in the poor ratings, saying Neighbours was pitted against Seven and Nine's flagship current affairs programs, Today Tinight and A Current Affair.

"That slot has become very tough, with a lot of money being pumped into those shows in content and promotion," Pellizzeri said.

He said he believed Neighbours was destined to remain on Australian television for the foreseeable future.

"[british Soap] Coronation Street's been going 40 years and we're looking at Neighbours as a shot that will run for 40 years and even longer."

But former E Street creator Forrest Redlich said Ten had been considering dropping Neighbours during a similar ratings slump in the early 1990s.

"They were going to axe Neighbours, give us their studio and strip us to five nights a week," Redlich said.

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When has Neighbours NOT been about family and friends?? When something gets blown up on Ramsey street, it's not some random stalker avenging some random psychotic (no offense Sarah, but I'm making a point here), it's a SON or the NEIGHBOUR of a regular character! And people of consequence actually get injured, tramatized, and even die!

I think I'm offended by the implication that the Rosie/Pepper kiss was solely for ratings. Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember channel ten flashing the kiss up onscreen over and over again, in slow-motion replay with gratuitous moans and whispers saying stuff like "ooohhh Ramsey street is getting some hot girl on girl action, don't miss it boys! Once they're done with each other, they want to give all their lovin' to you!" *shudder.* What I remember was some appropriately confused feelings stemming from two unique and entirely different storylines coming together (Rosie unsure of her sexuality and Pepper being forced to deal with her mother's) and it ended in a kiss. Perhaps the reason it wasn't a ratings block-buster was because it wasn't meant to be - it was just something that happened between two characters.

The writer of that article sounds like they have no knowledge, respect, or concept of what it is to create good believable characters in honest situations and not just exploit people for ratings and profit :angry:

As for Dan Bennett, if it is the same guy, I'd say that Neighbours offered him a pay hike to come and "fix" Neighbours the way he "fixed" H&A - if they're after less explosions and more heartfelt drama, they picked the wrong guy.

Quality over ratings, that's my preference, but I guess I'm not trying to sell my soul for a Coca-Cola commecial...

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I think I'm offended by the implication that the Rosie/Pepper kiss was solely for ratings. Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember channel ten flashing the kiss up onscreen over and over again, in slow-motion replay with gratuitous moans and whispers

You must of missed it, but I didn't. The Promo's showed them about to kiss and the Voice Over said something on the lines of... "Things are steming up in Ramsay St". I do agree with you I'd prefer quality over Ratings anyday, but in my opinion Neighbours isn't Quality anymore.

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Hm, maybe I repressed it :P. Oh well... I like Rosie's relationship issues. "I'm not straight, I'm not gay, I'm just not!" I feel like that sometimes :P. I think she's a really cool character, maybe not one that would appeal to the audience on mass, but she appeals to me and I appreciat it.

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