Channel 5 has confirmed that Neighbours will go off the air for almost a fortnight over the Christmas period.
Since 2016 the broadcaster has aired new episodes on the same day as their transmission in Australia and under a new funding deal agreed in 2018, the soap also moved to full year-round production, signalling the end of the traditional Christmas break.
Earlier this year, however, Channel 5 opted to start rationing episodes of the soap due to the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, UK viewers are now around three weeks behind their Aussie counterparts.
That gap is now set to get even larger with the news that the soap will go off air on Channel 5 on Wednesday, December 23 and not return until Monday, January 4, 2021.
A spokesperson told the Radio Times: "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties surrounding production, Channel 5 took a precautionary measure to reduce the number of Neighbours episodes earlier this year, ensuring that dedicated viewers could enjoy the soap for as long as possible.
"Currently, Channel 5's full schedule means it is unlikely that we will be able to catch up with the transmission of episodes in Australia in the near future. Neighbours will return to UK screens on the 4th January 2021, and we hope that viewers will continue to enjoy watching Neighbours with the profound affection that we know many of them hold for the soap."
Earlier this year the soap celebrated 35 years on the air and ranks as the longest-running drama series in the history of Australian TV.