21/03/2017 8:27 PM AEDT | Updated 21/03/2017 9:48 PM AEDT

'Neighbours' Star Attempts To Cool UK Panic Over Reports Of Axing

’Neighbours’ star Alan Fletcher has attempted to quell reports the show could disappear from UK screens

It has been claimed the Australian soap is at risk of being axed, as negotiations over rights between UK broadcaster, Channel 5, and production company, Freemantle Media, have stalled. 

However, Alan, who has played Dr Karl Kennedy for over two decades, tried to allay fans’ fears during an appearance on Aussie radio station Nova 96.9 FM.

Mike Marsland via Getty Images
Alan Fletcher plays Dr Karl Kennedy on 'Neighbours'

“In 22 years of being on ‘Neighbours’, it’s not the first time a tabloid newspaper has suggested that [the soap] is in its death throes,” he said. 

“All I can say is our relationship with our broadcasters at Channel 5 and [Aussie channel] Channel Eleven couldn’t be better and couldn’t be stronger.

“And the stories we’re doing at the moment - particularly right now with Toadie over in London chasing Dee Bliss - that storyline has been probably one of the most successful we’ve ever had in terms of audience numbers and interest. It’s absolutely going off at the moment.”

Alan’s comments come after UK fans launched a petition to save ‘Neighbours’ from the axe, which has already gathered 14,000 supporters. 

A source previously told the Sunday People the failure to reach a new deal was “being blamed on Channel 5’s new American owners Viacom refusing to sign off on the figures and not understanding the cultural importance of the show in the UK.”

Sam Tabone via Getty Images
Alan with some of the current cast of 'Neighbours'

A spokesperson for Freemantle Media later played down the reports, telling TV Week: “’Neighbours’ is a fantastic show, with a legion of loyal fans around the world.

“We enjoy a great working relationship with our broadcast partners, and already have some exciting story plans for next year.”

‘Neighbours’ celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015, but didn’t begin airing here in the UK until 1986.

For 22 years, it was part of BBC One’s daytime schedule, it moved to Channel 5 in 2008, when the BBC refused to pay the amount they were being asked to keep it.

Over the years, the soap has been responsible for launching the careers of several big-name Australian entertainers, including Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie, Natalie Imbruglia, Jason Donovan and Natalie Bassingthwaite, who topped the UK singles chart as the lead singer of Rogue Traders.