The show that launched the undoubted gay icon, Kylie Minogue, Neighbours has been dropped by the BBC for being too expensive.

The hit show also launched the career of G-A-Y regular and recent Graham Norton guest, Jason Donovan.

Despite the show’s appeal to gay viewers, it has avoided gay or indeed ethnic minority characters over the past 22 years.

It was first broadcast in Australia in March 1985, and made its UK debut in October 1986.

In a statement the BBC said: “We have this afternoon formally withdrawn from the bidding for Neighbours.

“The BBC has had a long and fruitful relationship with Neighbours, which has transmitted on BBC One for 21 years, and this has come to an end because of an unrealistic price demand.

“We do not believe that we could have justified to BBC viewers a price tag of what would have amounted to some £300 million across the term of the contract.

“Paying that sum would also have compromised our ability to invest in new original programmes.

“We made a fair offer and are sad that we have not been able to reach terms with Fremantle.”

The decision to repeat Neighbours in the afternoon was made by then BBC One controller, Michael Grade in 1986 after his teenage daughter complained that her friends missed episodes while at school.

Mr Grade now runs ITV and was keen to secure the show for ITV1, currently losing viewers during the 5-6 pm slot.

But Five, who stole Home and Away from ITV1, won the battle for the soap.

“I’m delighted Five has secured such a popular and sought after series,” said Five managing director of content Lisa Opie. “Neighbours is quite rightly much loved by its many fans and it will be a greatly prized part of our schedule and suitably cherished by us.”