The BBC has officially pulled out of the bidding war over hit Australian soap Neighbours, casting doubt over the show’s future on British television.

The decision comes after the BBC and the programme’s makers Fremantle failed to come to an agreement on the terms of the new contract for the soap.

The BBC, which has been home to Neighbours for the past 22 years, accused Fremantle of ‘unrealistic’ demands after Fremantle reportedly raised the price for each episode from £25,000 to £100,000 – a move which sparked a fierce bidding war between the BBC and its rivals ITV and Five.

Following weeks of intense talks, the Corportion agreed to an improved offer of £70,000 per episode, but this was turned down by Fremantle.

Neighbours will disappear from the channel when the current contract ends next March or April.

In a statement issued on Friday, the BBC confirmed: “We have this afternoon formally withdrawn from the bidding for Neighbours.”

“The BBC has had a long and fruitful relationship with Neighbours, which has transmitted on BBC One for 21 years, and this has come to an end because of an unrealistic price demand.

“We do not believe that we could have justified to BBC viewers a price tag of what would have amounted to some £300 million across the term of the contract.

“Paying that sum would also have compromised our ability to invest in new original programmes. We made a fair offer and are sad that we have not been able to reach terms with Fremantle.”

The BBC’s decision now leaves the door wide open for ITV and Five.

ITV chairman Michael Grade is reportedly willing to pay £104 million for Neighbours over four years, while Five wants Neighbours to create an ‘Aussie Hour’, running it and Home and Away back to back.