Australian soapie Neighbours, a staple on British screens for 33 years, has spawned a spin-off miniseries set in the local high school in the sunny fictional suburb of Erinsborough.
Neighbours: Erinsborough High is a five-episode series focusing on the teenage cast during their final exams – more than three decades after Charlene (Kylie Minogue) and Scott (Jason Donovan) graduated from the same school.
The 22-minute episodes will be streamed in the UK on Channel 5’s VOD platform My5n and in Australia on 10 Play from November 11.
The show which launched the careers of Minogue, Donovan, Guy Pearce and more recently Margot Robbie, has been popular on British television since 1986, and might have disappeared from Australian screens had Channel 5 not signed a four-year deal for more episodes and a series of specials in 2017.
The deal meant the Fremantle production screened weeknights for 52 weeks a year, making it the only drama production in Australia and the UK to run all year, as well as adding specials.
The CEO of Fremantle Asia Pacific, Chris Oliver-Taylor, said Neighbours was one of the most important dramas in Australian and British history and he was very proud of its evolution.
The miniseries was developed by Neighbours’ executive producer, Jason Herbison, and features regular cast members as well as newcomers.
“Neighbours: Erinsborough High is an exciting opportunity to shine a light on one of our most iconic playing areas – the local high school,” Herbison said.
“It’s long been an ambition to delve deeper into some of our workplaces and the characters who populate them. Who knows what we might do next?”
The series, which will be filmed at Fremantle’s Melbourne studios, promises to “explore issues universally troubling teens today – bullying, mental illness, sexuality, cultural diversity, parental and peer pressure, and teacher-student relationships”.
Last week the show introduced the show’s first trans character, another first for the ground-breaking soapie which also screened Australian TV’s first gay wedding last year. In 2004 Neighbours aired a much-publicised “lesbian kiss” by the characters Lana Crawford and Sky Mangel.