ABC considers Crownies spin-off

Exclusive: ABC1 Channel Controller Brendan Dahill confirms Crownies will not return in its current form -but a spin-off is in the works.

EXCLUSIVE: Ambitious legal drama Crownies will have its final episode on ABC1 next week, but the drama may have life in the form of another spin-off.

Crownies won’t be coming back as Crownies,” ABC1 Channel Controller Brendan Dahill tells TV Tonight.

“But we are talking to (producers) Screentime about a spin-off. There are lots of things I love about Crownies and lots of things that were done brilliantly, and I’m really proud of Crownies.

“I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t engage a bigger audience than it did. Genuinely surprised. But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are plenty of brilliant things in it and we’re talking to Screentime at the moment.

“That’s why we haven’t made the announcement yet about no Season Two. It’s not a Season Two of Crownies, it’s a spin-off from Crownies that takes Crownies and the characters in a slightly different direction.”

The 22 part drama was ABC’s most ambitious and expensive drama in years, but launched to modest ratings and mixed reviews.

“The criticism comes in the more soapie elements and fair enough. But there were plenty of really on-the-pulse moments. The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, babies dying of dehydration in the car because people leave them there. There were so many cases when you open your paper they’re right there and the production team were right on the pulse of what Australian courts are inundated with,” Dahill explains.

The show was not announced as returning during ABC’s 2012 Programming Launch this week because Dahill says he was still considering his options in recent weeks.

“I’ll be completely honest, I was undecided. There’s bits of Crownies that have really worked and I didn’t want to throw them away because of (poor) ratings,” he says.

“So what Screentime have come up with is a really great compromise that allows us to keep the best bits, and learn and move on.”

He also cites Hamish Michael and Marta Dusseldorp as two of his favourite performers in the show.

“Hopefully they will get recognised when Awards season comes around, but they’re up against some stiff competition.”

A spin-off is rare in Australian drama but it isn’t unprecedented. As far back as 1976 Solo One was a spin-off from Crawford Productions’ Matlock Police. E Street also had a major makeover while The Flying Doctors became RFDS. Pacific Drive was changed from a late night M rated show to a PG daytime show when it got axed. A Country Practice and Neighbours also switched networks while Chances bore no resemblance to its original premise.

Dahill emphasises it is still early days on the development of the spin-off.

“Nothing is signed. We’re still talking through creatively how it’s going to look.

Screentime is positive, creative and energised all the time and we’d love to keep that going.

“I’m hoping it might be late 2012, but it might end up in early 2013, purely because we’ve got such a rich drama slate in 2012 and I will be hard-pressed to get it in the schedule.

“We’ve learned from the experience and Screentime have learned.

“Hopefully next time round we’ll get it better.”

70 Responses

  1. Thursday night was one of my favourite TV nights, absolutely looked forward to each episode of Crownies. Why would you kill a fantastic program because of ratings? Surely quality means more than quantity? Brilliant program & I’m still annoyed that it’s not returning in its original format. Love the existing cast & their interaction. Sadly missed.

  2. I loved it, I think it had great story lines. It needs to come back as is you can’t end the series with a bomb shell like that and just say it wont be back as the Crownies but as a spin off WTF just saying.

  3. I cannot believe you wouldn’t follow this up. It is the best Aussy show I have seen in a long time. If ratings were poor then it wasnt for poor performance. Perhaps poor advertising. I am totally involved in all characters and story lines and am very upset that the show is not continuing. I have bought the 22 episodes and will watch them a lot but I want more!! Please reconsider.

  4. I was astounded to learn that Crownies has been axed! From the first episode I was captivated by the slick production of this legal drama, and the brilliant portrayal of characters by the ensemble cast. At last a well-made, intelligent Australian series! My husband has a saying “it’s all about the money” which sadly is often true and has been an issue with the ABC for many years. Surely, though, common sense and public opinion should prevail? Hopefully Crownies will attract a swag of much-deserved awards, and the people of Australia (at least if not internationally) will be rewarded with another season at best or a reincarnation at least. Bring it back! Hurry, before the cast is snapped up elsewhere!

  5. Please bring back Crownies. My husband and I both loved it and I have spoken to lots of people that enjoyed it also. Where do the ratings come from?!??. Agree that we should bring back Richard, Janet, but also Tracey, Tony, Ben and Tatum. I thought they were fantastic and entertaining. The story lines were great and once we watched one episode, we couldn’t wait to watch the next.

  6. Why does this happen? A good show that opens your eyes to another world and they shut it down. It was actually a show I stayed up for. While watching Crownines I actually started watching other ABC shows. Please think about a spin off or a return.

  7. Initially I thought Crownies was going to be soapy garbage from the adverts and teasers that ran prior to it airing, so I came to see it on iview. There were certainly soapie elements to the show and every week someone was having sex but I loved the cases and the drama. It reminded me of my days at law school. I’m sorry to hear it won’t be returning for a second season but will be watching out for the spin off. In the meantime, I’ll be buying the DVDs!

  8. My partner and I Loved crownie’s and would Love a season 2! Please reconsider – a great show, great mix of characters and some great aussie drama for once! Well done and what a shame it might be all over. I think season 2 would generate more interest as time goes on. FIngers crossed we see it again soon

  9. I don’t know why people didn’t tune in to Crownies – I loved it. I grew fond of all the chracters and their foibles and adventures and would have had great pleasure in watching another series just the way it was.

  10. We are 30 and thought this show was awesome, and so did our parents. We only found it mid season and loved it. Great characters, storylines and all Australian. Please come back for a Season 2. It was not a great time slot. Would love to see it back next year, it was compulsory viewing this year.

  11. Crownies was good because it followed a formula that the quality American shows use. Watch West Wing and Greys Anatomy and you can see the same structures, characters and comedy that makes a great TV show. Well done Crownies it was very entertaining to watch.

  12. I loved Crownies, better than all the American CSI and beyond bullshit that is on. Great Aussie actors. Hamish Michael was brillant, although I may be biase he grew up in my home town, a fair few years younger than me but knew his sisters and other brothers. Well done Hamish, I wish you well. Bring back Crownies!

  13. I am really surprised that there was not a bigger audience for this show, all of my friends watch Crownies and would love it to return

    Dont understand a spin off, why not just return the show?

  14. The only thing I would have changed would be to make the Janet going into labour scenes and the hospital scenes more realistic. I would not have had her and Erin panic and rush to the hospital before she has even had one contraction. Just once I wish a fictional show would get labour and birth right. But otherwise, bravo.

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