'Neighbours' star Ian Smith says Australian government should have saved the soap

Ian Smith starred as Harold Bishop in Neighbours. (PA)
Ian Smith thinks the government could have saved Neighbours. (PA)

Neighbours legend Ian Smith has apparently said the Australian government should have saved the axed soap.

The Australian drama was cancelled earlier this year, after UK broadcaster Channel 5 decided that it was dropping the show from its schedule, and the last ever episode is due to air in August.

But it seems Smith – who is best known for starring as bumbling Erinsborough favourite Harold Bishop – thinks more could have been done.

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According to the Daily Mail he addressed the cancellation during an interview, telling the Courier Mail: “I think the Australian government should have bought it, put it on the ABC and used it as a living, working school for actors, writers and cameramen and put it to air as such.”

Ian Smith, actor, as Harold Bishop in Australian soap opera Neighbours smiling while holding a script. Australia, 20th October 1988. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
Ian Smith has played Harold since 1987. (Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

The 84-year-old also said that the long-running soap had been great for up and coming actors and would be a big loss.

Smith started on Neighbours in 1987 and though he left a couple of times, he has played Harold on and off since then.

He is thought to be one of the original cast members set to return to Ramsay Street for the soap’s finale.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan pictured together on the set of neighbours when they played the Aussie soap’s resident sweethearts.Melbourne.January 01 1990 in Melbourne, Australia
(Photo by Impressions / Getty Images)
Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan are returning for the finale. (Impressions / Getty Images)

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan – who rose to fame as Charlene and Scott – are going to be reprising their roles.

And Mark Little, who played Joe Mangel, and Paul Keane, who played Des Clarke, are also set to put in an appearance.

It was announced in March that Neighbours was ending after close to four decades, with the soap tweeting: "We are so sorry to say that after nearly 37 years and almost 9000 episodes broadcast we have to confirm that Neighbours will cease production in June."

When filming finished the show shared a final cast photo with the words: "That's a wrap."

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The final episode is due to be broadcast on 1 August.

Watch: Jason Donovan teases 'emotional' final Neighbours scene with Kylie Minogue