Star-studded 'Neighbours' finale brings soap to a close after 37-year run

Stars Margot Robbie, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Natalie Imbruglia feature in the special episode

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Australia marked the end of an era on Thursday, as the final episode of soap opera Neighbours aired after a 37-year run.

A crowd of fans braved wet winter weather in downtown Melbourne to watch the finale outdoors, featuring several of its big-name stars return for cameo appearances on a big screen.

Margot Robbie, Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce, Jason Donovan, Natalie Imbruglia and Holly Valance are among the celebrities who returned to fictional Ramsay Street to appear in the send-off of the Melbourne-set drama, which helped launch their careers in acting and music.

Robbie, Imbruglia and Valance made remote video appearances.

Some of the better-known actors who have appeared in Neighbours since it began in 1985 — but who were not part of the 90-minute finale — include Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and the Hemsworth brothers, Chris, Luke and Liam.

The programme, which has had more than 9,000 episodes, was once a major hit in Australia and a bigger success in Britain, but has fallen victim to waning ratings. In the late 1980s, 20 million people across the UK regularly tuned in — more than a third of the population — however, viewing figures in recent years have been closer to one million.

In March, the UK’s Channel 5 announced it was dropping the show. The finale is set to air in the UK on Friday.

While we won’t give away any spoilers, the show's producers said the soap would not end on scenes of destruction and devastation, but rather wanted to leave fans with the feeling of a “group hug”.

And after the finale aired in Australia on Thursday, fans took to social media to share their thoughts.

"What a great ending to 37 years of Australian TV history,” wrote Twitter user Ryan Towler. "The show will always be remembered for everything it has done for the local arts industry, and also for the great storylines it gave to us over the years."

"To the Neighbours fans in the UK (and overseas), you're in for a treat with the finale,” another viewer wrote. "Savour every moment in it. It was brilliant. I hope nobody spoils it for you, as it really was lovely and deserves to be watched without it being ruined."

Additional reporting by AP

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