Neighbours off screens in the UK for 11 days over Christmas

Neighbours will be taking a break over Christmas in the UK, throwing the show’s episodes out of sync for the first time in years.

Channel 5 have confirmed that Neighbours’ last episode of the year will be on Wednesday 23rd December, returning Monday 4th January 2021.

This means the show will be off air for 11 days, its longest break since it began airing all year round in 2018.

As the show will be off the air for seven weekdays, the move also means that the show’s episodes will be out of sync with their correct air dates for the first time since 2016.

With the show currently airing Monday-Friday in both Australia and the UK, the episodes are able to have a cliffhanger at the end of Friday’s episodes, with a resolution in Monday’s episode. To keep things in sync, the show has only ever taken breaks for multiples of a week.

Now, thanks to the break being seven weekdays long, a Friday episode in Australia will air in the UK on a Wednesday.

Channel 5’s decision scuppers fans’ hopes for UK airings to catch up with their Australian counterparts. The countries have aired episodes on the same date since the start of 2016, a move which was much publicised at the time as it marked the first time in the show’s history that the two countries were in sync.

“At a time when online piracy can often mean hardcore fans’ enjoyment of continuing drama is spoilt, this is great news for our millions of Neighbours fans,” Channel 5’s commissioning editor, Greg Barnett, said at the time.

“For the first time will it actually be Christmas when it actually is Christmas (instead of February). I, for one, can’t wait to be confused by Neighbours Christmas being in February, and instead be confused the fact that it’s sunny but there’s still fake snow everywhere instead.”

Yet when Channel 5 reduced the show to three episodes earlier this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the show fell three weeks behind Australian airings, and has remained that way ever since.

Fans have made numerous attempts to convince Channel 5 to catch up with Australia, including the Twitter #NeighboursCatchUp campaign organised by @Neighbens.

With Home and Away currently off the air until January, fans were hoping that Channel 5 might double up on Neighbours episodes for a few weeks, allowing the two counties to get back in sync. Unfortunately, the opposite is due to happen, with Neighbours in the UK now set to end up 4 1/2 weeks behind Australia.

After the news of the additional break was announced, many fans took two Twitter to express their frustration.

Channel 5 released the following statement announcing the break:

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties surrounding production, Channel 5 took a precautionary measure to reduce the number of Neighbours episodes earlier this year, ensuring that dedicated viewers could enjoy the soap for as long as possible

“Currently, Channel 5’s full schedule means it is unlikely that we will be able to catch up with the transmission of episodes in Australia in the near future.

Neighbours will return to UK screens on the 4th January 2021, and we hope that viewers will continue to enjoy watching Neighbours with the profound affection that we know many of them hold for the soap.”

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