Viewers welcome Five’s new Neighbours

Neighbours’ move to Five gave the channel a ratings boost on Monday – with its teatime episode attracting an audience of 2.3 million. The long-running Australian soap, which switched from the BBC after more than 20 years, held its grip on the 2.5 million viewers who watched its Friday swansong on BBC1. But its lunchtime debut pulled in just one million viewers – down from the 2.4 million who watched it on BBC1 on Friday. Five acquired Neighbours from the BBC in a £300 million, 10-year deal in 2007 and has been promoting the soap with an aggressive marketing campaign. Neighbours on Five is being followed by fellow Australian soap Home and Away, which attracted an audience of 1.4 million viewers for its teatime repeat on Monday. Home and Away saw a slight boost from the arrival of Neighbours, up 100,000 viewers in its 6pm to 6.30pm slot compared with last week. And its lunchtime edition received a bigger boost – pulling in 500,000 viewers between 2.15pm and 2.45pm. Meanwhile, BBC1’s former Neighbours slot has been replaced by quiz show The Weakest Link. Hosted by Anne Robinson, it attracted an audience of 2.2 million people after moving from BBC2. In December, the BBC announced plans to commission a new Sydney-based soap to replace Neighbours, but a transmission time has yet to be determined. At its peak in 1990, Neighbours commanded a combined audience of 19 million for its lunchtime and teatime screenings on BBC1. Despite falling ratings, the soap has remained among the most popular shows on daytime television.