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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 December 2007, 10:00 GMT
BBC commissions new Aussie soap
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Neighbours has been shown on the BBC since 1986
The BBC has commissioned a new daytime Australian soap after losing the long-running show Neighbours in a bidding war with Five.

Out of the Blue will be set in the Sydney resort of Manly and opens with a group of friends in their 30s returning to their hometown for a reunion.

Filming begins in the new year but the soap's timeslot is still to be decided.

"This is an ambitious project that we think will break new ground," said BBC fiction controller Jane Tranter.

The BBC has initially ordered 130 episodes of Out of the Blue from the production company Southern Star Group.

The group's chief executive Hugh Mars said the soap would be "full of life, contemporary and very broad in its appeal".

Neighbours will be moving to Five in 2008 after the BBC pulled out of talks to keep the show, saying it had been asked to pay three times the show's current price.

Former BBC One controller Peter Fincham said at the time that he had been asked for 300m over eight years by Fremantle Media, which owns the rights to the show.

Both Fremantle and Five are owned by the RTL Group media company.

Set in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough, Neighbours focuses on the residents of Ramsay Street - who over the years have included singers Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Natalie Imbruglia and actor Russell Crowe.

The drama, screened twice a day on BBC One, reached its peak in 1990, when it drew a combined audience of 19 million every day.

In recent years, viewing figures have fallen with landmark episodes such as last year's plane crash only attracting six million.

But it is regularly the most-watched daytime TV programme in the UK, other than news bulletins.

SEE ALSO
Five wins Neighbours soap fight
18 May 07 |  Entertainment
BBC threatens to drop Neighbours
26 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Neighbours 'could air on digital'
12 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Neighbours' Madge joins Emmerdale
20 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Neighbours star wins sacking case
30 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Celebrating 20 years of Neighbours
17 Oct 05 |  Entertainment

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