Big changes are underway on Ramsay Street.
After news of Neighbours' Australian ratings slipping to critical levels and plans to relocate the show to upcoming digital channel, Eleven, it has been revealed that several key cast members are jumping ship to move onto other projects.
Following the announcement that Carmella (Natalie Blair) and Oliver (David Hoflin) will return to the show for a short stint at the end of the year, it has been confirmed that Rebecca (Jane Hall) and Declan (Erin Mullally) will leave the soap in the coming months, with all four filming their last scenes around the same time.
Their farewell scenes are expected to air on Eleven in April 2011. They'll be aired in the UK at a later date.
It is not yet clear how the Napier-Robinson clan will depart, but it is certain to be a permanent measure, as the cast have made it clear it is time to move on.
"After almost four years on Neighbours I've decided it's time to say 'au revoir' to Erinsborough. It's sad to be leaving such a wonderful group of actors and creators, but I'm looking forward to the future and new and exciting acting adventures."
Mullally put his departure down to character fatigue: "I've had a ball playing Declan, the guy has been through so much, he needs a rest."
Mullally isn't the only example of young blood that is flying the nest. The news comes only weeks after 18-year-old Matt Werkmeister announced he was leaving the street after five and a half years playing Zeke Kinski and Sam Clarke has also recently wrapped up his role as Ringo Brown.
The cherry on top of the farewell cake is Margot Robbie, who is set to depart from the role of Donna Freedman.
In response to the slew of departures, Neighbours executive producer Susan Bower said: "Jane is among this industry's most accomplished actors and it has been a privilege working with her, and Matt and Erin have also proven themselves fine performers and I know there will be exciting things ahead for them both."
This news doesn't come at the best time for TEN, which is planning to shift the show -- and hopefully its audience -- across to Eleven in the new year. A slight panic would be understandable given that some of the show favourites won't be present to help the transition.
Is this a case of rats fleeing a sinking ship or just a timely overhaul to prolong the show's tenure on Eleven?