Final Neighbors saw the curtain fall on one of TV’s best talent training grounds

Ramsay St famously launched the careers of stars Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Margot Robbie and Liam Hemsworth.

But as the series draws to a close, the biggest downside may be behind the scenes, according to the show’s longtime screenwriter.

‘Industry doesn’t yet fully understand what they’ve lost in terms of industrial training,’ Sarah Mayberry told AAP.

Neighbor scriptwriter Sarah Mayberry (pictured) says that when the curtain finally falls on Ramsay St for good this week, the local TV and film industry will lose a major training ground.

Neighbor scriptwriter Sarah Mayberry (pictured) says that when the curtain finally falls on Ramsay St for good this week, the local TV and film industry will lose a major training ground.

A writer on the show since 1998, Mayberry wrote 230 episodes of the beloved series.

During that time, Sarah saw the show serve as a TV training ground, where the crew could start at the lowest rung of the production ladder, and end up as director of photography.

‘It will be a while before it sinks that the opportunity is no longer there,’ added Mayberry.

In one of the most recent he wrote, Mayberry killed the popular character Hendrix Greyson (played by Ben Turland) with a failed lung transplant.

Neighbors executive producer Jason Herbison (pictured) says the beloved soap offers cast and crew a unique opportunity to develop their skills and hone their craft.

Neighbors executive producer Jason Herbison (pictured) says the beloved soap offers cast and crew a unique opportunity to develop their skills and hone their craft.

‘It was a great episode to write because from start to finish it was just all emotion. I cried for two weeks writing it,’ he said.

Neighbors were fired after Britain’s Channel 5 decided in March not to renew its contract with production company Fremantle to finance and broadcast the series.

Episodes 8901, 8902 and 8903 will air Thursday in 90-minute specials, ending the adventures of the residents of Ramsay Street after 37 years on the air.

Liam Hemsworth (pictured) is one of the many stars who started the show

Liam Hemsworth (pictured) is one of the many stars who started the show

‘It’s a weird, unique, funny, kind show, there’s never going to be anything like that again. It’s a big part of Australian culture,” said Mayberry.

With longtime favorites like Blue Heelers, All Saints and A Country Practice long gone, the death of Neighbors leaves Home and Away as the last high-volume scripted drama on Australian free-to-air TV.

Thousands of people have worked at Neighbors since it started in 1985.

With about 260 episodes airing annually, there are 60 in production at any one time – from early plot development, such as Hendrix Greyson’s untimely fate, to filming and post-production.

With about 260 episodes airing annually, there are 60 in production at any one time - pictured are fan favorite Neighbors Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan

With about 260 episodes airing annually, there are 60 in production at any one time – pictured are fan favorite Neighbors Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan

The sheer volume means the show has to be a well-oiled machine, according to executive producer Jason Herbison, with a strong culture of welcoming people starting out on TV.

“If you come to Neighbors, whatever job you’re doing, you’re more than likely going to have the opportunity to really do what you’re good at,” he told AAP.

‘That’s why this is a unique opportunity in this industry.’

The sheer volume means the show has to be a well-oiled machine says Herbison Images: Margot Robbie as Donna Freedman, Jackie Woodburne as Susan Kennedy

The sheer volume means the show has to be a well-oiled machine says Herbison Images: Margot Robbie as Donna Freedman, Jackie Woodburne as Susan Kennedy

For decades, Melbourne’s Swinburne University film courses taught many of those who got behind-the-scenes work, and the union’s Susan Kerrigan told AAP that the show’s ending was heartbreaking.

‘Soap operas like this, you learn how the craft works, you learn to behave creatively within the constraints of production,’ he said.

‘Nothing can compare to what Neighbors does and what it offers in the market in terms of not only acting talent but also production.’

While the streaming giant may be picking up some slack, it’s unlikely they’ll be hiring untested graduates, Kerrigan said.

With longtime favorites like Blue Heelers, All Saints, and A Country Practice long gone, the death of Neighbors leaves Home and Away as the final high-volume scripted drama on Australian free-to-air TV Image: Kylie and Jason in the Neighbors finale.

With longtime favorites like Blue Heelers, All Saints, and A Country Practice long gone, the death of Neighbors leaves Home and Away as the final high-volume scripted drama on Australian free-to-air TV Image: Kylie and Jason in the Neighbors finale.

By the time the final episode aired, the old Neighbors talent had moved on. Herbison is shooting a mystery thriller miniseries called Riptide. Mayberry is working on a romantic comedy in the US and a thriller for the UK market.

It’s also worth mentioning his side success – Mayberry is the author of over 45 romance novels, with titles including Irresistible Cowboy and She’s got it Bad.

But he openly admits the end of Neighbors has forced him out of his Ramsay Street comfort zone. ‘We’ll see what happens next, I can work at Bunnings next year,’ he laughed.

Leave a Comment