In 2020 Neighbours has multiracial actors, gay characters and a transgender teen.
But do people still think of Ramsay Street as Harold, Toadie & Paul Robinson?
This week 10 Head of Drama and Executive Production Rick Maier was asked if Erinsborough had progressed in its diversity?
Speaking to Media Mentor’s Running Live panel, he said many people failed to recognise the progress achieved under Executive Producer Jason Herbison.
“When The Heights launched I read a blurb that said, ‘This is the real suburbs, it’s nothing like Neighbours,'” he said.
“They were comparing it to Neighbours from 30 years ago. Neighbours has changed quite a lot. I think if you look at the demography of the show, and I’m not going to isolate individuals, but the storytelling is exceptionally progressive and very diverse.”
“When people talk about Home & Away, if they haven’t watched it, they go ‘That’s the show with Alf.’ When they talk about Neighbours, they say, ‘That’s the show with Toadie.'”
He added, “Shows evolve over time and they progress. I think Neighbours is an incredibly diverse show.”
ABC’s Sally Riley, Head of Scripted Production, said, “I think that The Heights is very different to Neighbours because every family was diverse. It’s kind of more gritty, I guess. That’s what people were talking about.
“It actually has some writers from Neighbours on it who were mentoring all the younger writers on it. Neighbours is such a good vehicle for bringing in new writers. But when we were developing it, we did talk about Neighbours and go, ‘No, we want it to… dig into issues more deeply, I guess.'”
Yet while Neighbours has 3 decades behind it, The Heights is unlikely to reach 3 seasons.
“It’s just a shame with our financial situation at the moment, we couldn’t continue with that,” said Riley.
“We haven’t committed to a third season. But the BBC bought the first two seasons, so you never know. I think it went really well in their daytime slot over there. So who knows, if they came on board things could change.”