More mysteries tipped for Miss Fisher

ABC’s Drama slate is going from strength to strength with Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries starring Essie Davis expected to get a second season.

Scripting is understood to have begun on a new series, ahead of an official announcement from the ABC.

The drama from producers Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox has scored with audiences on the often-overlooked Friday night schedule, even out-rating offerings from commercial networks.

On the back of Logie and AACTA Awards for The Slap, the diversity of ABC Drama continues to impress.

Yet to come are Mabo, Rake Season Two, Jack Irish telemovies, Devil’s Dust looking at the James Hardie legal battle, The Doctor Blake Mysteries with Craig McLachlan and Nadine Garner, Dangerous Remedy starring Jeremy Sims, and an Indigenous drama Redfern Now (working title) headed up by UK writer Jimmy McGovern.

ABC is yet to formally announce The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.

TV Tonight also hears rumours of a new series about women in their ’40s called Time of Our Lives.

In addition to Cliffy being filmed for 2013 there are also additional scripted projects for ABC2, ABC3 and Comedy.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott tells TV Tonight, “We’re very proud of The Slap and The Straits, but also that we can generate something like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on a Friday night where it can attract big audiences. It’s wonderful, there are great stories, and it’s great that we can do Australian crime in such a fun way.

“I think it’s the kind of thing the family can sit and watch together. The fashion and the set designs are absolutely beautiful.

“We’re very excited about Mabo, the telemovie, very excited about the advance on that.

Rake Season 2 is in production and I think there’s been a lot of public demand for that. So I think we want to see a bit more of ‘Cleaver’ and we will.”

The boost for ABC Drama was the result of a government funding increase several years ago which is now resonating on screen.

“It’s very diverse. I think this is where the extra money has been such a great help for us, really. You can take more risks, you can be much broader in what you attempt, you can be much more ambitious.”

It’s not all perfect however. Crownies struggled with its mix of sex and legal plots (a spin-off has been promised), The Straits has been critically praised but pulled middling numbers, while comedy series Woodley and Outland did not attract strong numbers.

Laid returns for its second season next week, paired with Andrew Denton’s Randling. ABC is hoping to restore its Wednesday comedy line-up.

“I think we have to remember that Spicks and Specks wasn’t a huge smash overnight and took a while to grow its audience,” Scott insists.

“But we’ve made a big investment with Randling, it’s wonderful to have Andrew (Denton) back, it’s got a fabulous cast, a fun format. Our audiences like quizzes and games with Spicks and Specks, Qi, so we’re confident Randling will be great and there are some other good things coming up on a Wednesday later in the year too.”

Meanwhile the historic studios that are home to Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight will eventually be sold, with the public broadcaster to extend its Southbank facility in Melbourne.

“We’re doing planning work on it now and it’s being considered by the ABC Board. Out at Ripponlea, in Gordon Street, that’s been going for 50 years. The ghosts of television, with Countdown and all that. It’s a very old building but not a very practical building for us now,” says Scott.

“So we do think we will consolidate all of the ABC in Melbourne at Southbank, build a television studio there and bring everyone together.

“The reality is that the lines between television, radio, news, online and mobile are all blurring. So it’s best to have these things side by side, converge.”

Last week Scott officially opened ABC’s new Brisbane operations.


  1. A new season of Miss Fisher would be awesome. Even if you don’t like the plots it does a great job of showcasing Melbourne’s old buildings!

    Hopefully some good writers writing original stories will make for an even better second season.

    (Weirdest moment in S01: Sharing the circus sets with Woodley)

    * * *

    Randling just doesn’t grab me. And, as superficial as it is, part of it is the uber-low-budget lighting. Why can’t the set look warm and inviting? Why is there a stupid shadow under Denton’s glasses that’s darker than the glasses themselves?

    As for the game itself .. I guess I haven’t watched enough to understand it. The first episode was just way too slow to get to anything that makes me “wow” or “lol” so I wandered off despite being a long-time fan of Mr Denton.

  2. Crownies and The Straits were appalling. I can’t even understand how they got air time. I’m looking forward to the Jack Irish telemovies, the books were great. The Slap was excellent in all regards and I’d love to see more of that and the Cloudstreet calibre of production. I heard that a second series of Laid has been commissioned, it was unwatchable as far as I’m concerned. The ABC seems to be a bit hit and miss for me.

  3. Great news … looking forward to more Miss Fisher, as well as some of the new productions. The ABC is continuing to offer a genuine alternative to what’s to be found on commercial TV.

  4. I know it’s fluffy but I enjoy it (Essie Davis is wonderful and I love the 20-30s era) so I’m pleased it may come back for Season 2. I’m also pleased that they’ve run out of books. No disrespect to Greenwood, but the mysteries themselves are one of the biggest weaknesses of the series. A mix of different writers contributing stories is just the ticket.

  5. While it’s not to my taste, I totally get why the ABC wants to cultivate a murder mystery series in the British tradition. There’s a ready-made audience for it, and good potential for o/s sales. Unfortunately, all this series has going for it is Essie Davis and some reasonably good art direction. The stories are lame, the scripts are dull, the direction is flat and there’s no cohesive style in the performances. The supporting actors re-define wooden and the guest actors (some of them respected stage actors) mostly flounder around looking vaguely lost. If somebody took charge they could possibly turn the series into a triumph of style over content. As it is, it’s all over the place, and neither one thing nor the other.

  6. Great news about Phryne Fisher. Plus some of the other stuff sounds interesting. If you must play them Thursday could you please repeat them Friday after 9.30pm please on ABC2 . I would like to watch especially the documentaries. But not against Star Trek. Nor does iView work very well for me.

  7. In all fairness, the television series is based on the series of Phrynie Fisher novels. If the structure of the series is repetitive, it’s because that’s the way the series of books are. If it goes to a second series, it will presumably need to have a whole new set of adventures written which have not been part of the book series.

  8. I agree with the criticisms of “Miss Fisher”. It looks good but it’s quite superficial & very repetitive. I wish they’d kept it to 8 episodes this season & then made another 8 in season two.

    ABC also has Magazine Wars & the Carlotta telemovie in the pipeline

  9. Sounds like Mr Scott talking up the slate to maintain the extra Federal funding it got back in 2008. I agree with Proposition Joe. Apart from The Slap the quality and often the ideas have been mediocre. Crownies and The Straits were shockers and while Miss Fisher has a good audience in a weak Friday night slot its writing and plots verge almost on the amateurish. There is little ambition in most of the material about to come out, standard genres and very white bread casting. The ABC seemed to have a great opportunity when it got more money but lacks the in-house expertise to give it all any vision or coherence. This seems to be common across all the areas of ABC television. Perhaps it is time for Mr Scott and his senior executives to move on.

  10. I agree with Prop Joe’s disappointment – Phyrne Fisher looks good but it’s pretty silly. I’m looking forward to Rake, but overall ABC drama is not ambitious or intelligent enough IMHO.

  11. To be honest I love the new shows that are coming soon. Yes Misfits is good and cheap but thats because Channel 4 does not chase the ratings like BBC1 and ITV1, it wants to be different. Here we have ratings power hungry networks that are all wanting the same thing. If SBS had more money it could do something the others don’t. Maybe TEN could try a different approach. You would have to be brave to go that.

  12. Proposition Joe

    To be honest, I’ve been quite disappointed by the ABC’s Drama output so far. I mean, it’ll never be HBO, but the poor quality of shows such as The Straits and Crownies has been appalling. Miss Fisher started with potential (just like the Straits) but has just been repeating itself week after week. I’m all for a bit of lighthearted fun, but in this case it isn’t fun. It’s boring. There’s no ambition in Australian television, and you can’t blame it on the budgets – British free-to-air television has brought us shows like Misfits on a low budget.

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