Even as the show draws to a close, Neighbours continues to tread new territory.
According to Oli Pizzey-Instagram Stratford’s post, the long-running soap has cast him as the first wheelchair-bound cast member to have a featured part on the show.
‘To be the first actor in a wheelchair with a disability to hit Erinsborough, is honestly something that I couldn’t have dreamed of, and I’m so happy and excited that it’s come to life,’ he captioned a snapshot of himself on the set of the famed TV series.
‘I never saw someone like me on TV growing up,’ he continued.
‘The concept that one young person might see me and believe they can be an actor because they saw someone like them accomplish it is honestly bigger than any role I get,’ says the actor.
The first episode of Pizzey-Stratford will air on May 12.
The announcement comes as the final cast photo for Neighbours was revealed as the long-running TV series nears its end.
A photo of the cast having a park picnic was released on the show’s official Instagram page on Wednesday.
‘Class of 2022 #Neighbours,’ the caption read, accompanying a yellow love heart emoji.
Cast members, including Charlotte Chimes, re-posted the shot with the caption: ‘The final cast photo #classof2022.’
Several show fans commented on the shot, saying it made them ‘happy and sad all at the same time.’
The beloved soap’s production would come to an end in March, according to a tweet.
‘After over 37 years and approximately 9,000 episodes broadcast, we regret to inform you that Neighbours will be ending production in June,’ they wrote.
‘We simply have no choice but to put the show on hold following the loss of our important broadcast partner in the UK, despite a thorough hunt for alternative funding.’
‘We know this is a big disappointment to our amazing, dedicated fans, as it is to all of us on the team. We appreciate all of your messages and support, and we pledge to end the programme on a positive note. We’ll be commemorating Neighbours from now on.’
In a statement to Australian media in March, Network 10 said that ending the series was a “tough decision.”
‘Today, Fremantle confirmed that Neighbours will end production in June after nearly 37 years and approximately 9,000 episodes,’ according to a network representative.
‘This sad choice was made after an unsuccessful search for an alternate UK broadcast partner.’
They went on to say that the show would ‘not air on 10 Peach after September 2022,’ effectively ending its decades-long run.
‘It has been a cornerstone of Australian television drama and Australian cultural exports for almost 35 years,’ they noted.
‘Ramsay Street, Erinsborough, is a well-known cul-de-sac that has housed Scott and Charlene, Des and Daphne, Dr Karl and Susan, Dee and Toadie, Aaron and David, and a slew of other residents.
‘Network 10 appreciates the cast, crew, production team, and Fremantle for bringing the ideal blend of soap and sunshine to Australian and international audiences.’
‘The Australian fans and audiences for their continuous support of the series,’ they added.
‘Their support has been wonderful, especially in the last several weeks. It demonstrates that our audience still wants Australian scripted drama,’ the statement concluded.
‘We listened to them, and there are some interesting new local projects in the works, which is fantastic for our audience and the local economy.’
‘We are confident that the actors, crew, and writers will bring their unique warmth, flair, and humour to the Neighbours set when they begin filming the final episodes in the coming months,’ said the network.
Meanwhile, the soap’s production firm, Fremantle, said it had been unable to find ‘alternative finance’ for the season.
‘It is with sadness that we reveal that Neighbours will cease production in June after over 37 years and approximately 9,000 episodes broadcast,’ they said in a statement on Thursday.
‘We presently have no choice but to put the show on hold following the loss of a key broadcast partner in the UK, despite our efforts to find other funding.’
‘Since the news broke, everyone at Neighbours has been thrilled by the love and support from the audience.’
‘The show has transported a sunny slice of Australia into the homes of millions of people around the world, creating hundreds of popular names in the process.’
‘However, as this chapter of Ramsay Street draws to a close, we pledge to do everything in our power to give the show the proper send-off it deserves.’
In February, it was reported that Neighbours’ future was in risk as Channel 5 announced it would no longer air the show.