Fans petition as Miss Fisher’s future remains a mystery

Fans take to an online petition as producer confirms ABC is undecided about a third series.

2013-11-28_1624It’s one of the ABC’s hit Dramas, pulling audiences of around 900,000 on Friday nights, but Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is in doubt for a third season.

The period drama starring Essie Davis wasn’t announced as returning for 2014 in this week’s ABC Programming Launch.

Producer Fiona Eagger tells TV Tonight the ABC is yet to come to a decision and time is running out to retain cast and begin script development.

“I believe there’s a desire from the ABC for a third series, I think they’re very proud of the show. It’s got very loyal following and it’s doing outstandingly well in terms of ratings on Friday nights and overseas,” she said.

“But I think what the ABC is struggling with is that they’ve had budget cuts and they’ve got a lot of potentially-returning shows. They’ve got an embarrassment of riches.

“So they haven’t gone into development or commissioned a third series.”

An ABC spokesperson confirmed to TV Tonight, “No decision has been made either way.”

This week ABC announced 12 new and returning Dramas including the Crownies reboot Janet King, ANZAC Girls, Broken Shore, Old School, Jack Irish, Dr. Blake Mysteries and the drama poster child, Rake.

Essie Davis was invited to the ABC 2014 launch party but was unavailable to attend.

With so many upcoming Dramas series, Eagger is concerned Miss Fisher may fall victim to a crowded production slate.

“I think they might forward-commit sometimes so there might be a change of practice. They’re anticipating bringing in the reins a little bit more, so the next year there is going to be a little bit tougher on Drama,” she said.

“The word we’re getting is that there’s a bit of a squeeze going on for the Drama dollar. Whether that’s internally or in anticipation of an external force I’m not sure. I think it’s something audiences and practitioners have to watch -that the ABC Drama dollar is not eroded.”

But the indecision may also stem from ABC’s ongoing desire to attract younger viewers.

Last week Director of Television Richard Finlayson told TV Tonight the broadcaster was looking to attract broad audiences and change was coming.

“Possibly fewer, but bigger Dramas. Taking bigger risks and bigger punts,” he said.

“’Fewer, bigger, better’ is an idea across the whole slate, really. We need to push our resources behind some bigger bets.”

Eagger points to the Drama’s popularity through iview as evidence it has a broad audience and says the show is family viewing for teens and parents, with Phryne Fisher as an ideal female role model.

“I think if you look at Friday night figures alone, yes you would think it was skewing older, but I think that’s actually under-estimating it’s Reach,” she says.

“I feel like there is an obsession at the ABC, and probably all broadcasters, about ‘Where is the Television audience?’ and feeling like they are losing younger viewers and (wondering) how can they push into that 25-50 age bracket? But I believe we have a lot of supporters in that age bracket as well.”

Miss Fisher is also popular overseas, distributed through All 3 Media into the UK, and Europe It also screens on Netflix in the US.

“All 3 Media can’t even understand why we are having this debate,” said Eagger.

Meanwhile, an online petition at change.org has attracted fans from around the world including the US, UK, NZ, Poland, Latvia, Russia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden and more.

It now has 2,500 signatures.

James Newburrie from Clayton, who started the petition, writes:

The show has become a cultural touchstone and an educational experience for people my age and younger. Miss Fisher has taught me about:

    • Period fashions;
    • Pre-suffrage women’s rights; and,
    • The underlying tensions in Australian society of the time.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are critical to the mission of the ABC not merely because it is only show worth watching on Friday night, but because it may be the only show on Australian television which is still ‘appointment viewing’.

Eagger is concerned that if ABC doesn’t give a third season the greenlight soon, cast members may become unavailable.

“Our cast are well-loved and someone else is going to want to snaffle them very quickly,” she says.

“We could lose Essie to the UK if we’re not careful.

“We need the go ahead to be on screen in 2015.”

A Miss Fisher Christmas special will air next month.

26 Responses

  1. ABC has been so good at actually airing good quality Australian dramas so why get rid of such a unique and wonderful program as miss Fischers murder mysteries and Dr Blake?
    Seems silly and would be upsetting to me as with other avid watchers.

  2. Weighing in, here, from Vancouver, BC – Canada: We don’t understand why this show is not being renewed for a 3rd Series. Both genders and people of all ages are finding it great fun !! We have Phryne Fisher nights at my home – with 10 to a dozen friends coming over for potluck dinners, and then watching the show on our local Public Television station (The Knowledge Network).

    We all have our reasons for enjoying it – and here are some of those reasons:

    The characters are not “static” – they grow and change with their experience(s) – just like “real” people (ie., Dot was a superstitious and timid mouse who believed every word her Priest told her – and wouldn’t even answer telephones as instruments of the devil . . . and now she’s a sometimes participant in Phryne’s adventures;

    The period costumes, references to the War (and some of the not-so-pleasant things that…

  3. The fact is Miss Fisher is made with Screen Australia finance and not fully financed by the ABC. There were many who were surprised that Screen Australia would subsidise a second 13 part series of Miss Fisher when it shortly after told other broadcasters to fund sequels without its money. The ABC knew this funding couldn’t continue indefinitely. So the difficulty the ABC now has it that it probably needs to put 600k per episode ($7.8 in total) into the series if it is to continue. Its audience is 70% plus over 55s and there are ample British shows which can substitute for this audience. Putting aside the quality of the show and its demographics ABC money is better spent on more original and inspiring material and this is consistent with Richard Finlayson’s new mantra of bigger and better ideas. But I know my grandmother wouldn’t agree.

  4. As long as they put a stake through the heart of Serangoon Road I can live with them ending Miss Fisher’s run.

    Dr Blake is the better of the two shows, and if a choice has to be made between them then it deserves the chance. Apart from the two leads Miss Fisher features some of the worst acting in an Australian series since, um, Crownies and Serangoon Road. Dr Blake’s acting overall is better (though still not great in parts).

    Miss Fischer’s outfits when out detecting are beautiful but absolutely absurd! Creeping around ships and warehouses in the dark in long flowing wraps, billowy trousers and clackety heels. There reaches a point where suspension of disbelief is impossible. It cannot be taken seriously in too many areas – dreadful over-done accents, ridiculously over-acted secondary characters and often painfully corny secondary (and occasionally primary) storylines. A…

  5. @ stevie g The Miss Fisher Christmas Special (Murder Under The Mistletoe) airs Sunday 22nd December at 7.30pm.

    I find it strange the ABC would even consider passing on such a hit show – one that rates spectacularly well on a difficult TV night and sells internationally (thus increasing their income).

    Perhaps they could shuffle some money around from other budgets? I wouldn’t miss Tractor Monkeys or another lacklustre Chris Lilley indulgence.

  6. I hope it gets a third series and I haven’t even watched the second. It was nothing to do with the show itself just the nasty hypothesis that abusing the audience somehow makes the viewers want to watch TV. So it was increased until I couldn’t take it anymore. Then they put the show on. I’m going to admit I might watch the repeats on Saturday night sometime. But I’m not going to rely on it. There’s a thing called DVDs plus a Library.

    As for the age argument I’ll admit I loved dramatic versions of Agatha Christie mysteries since I was under 10 years old. So for some people these things aren’t enjoyed because of their age.

    I also agree with Pertinax. But really why sabotage the most popular drama? It’s ridiculous.

  7. Two series of 13 eps is already a huge volume of Ms. Fisher content and second series of Dr. Blake and TOOL should be enough too. Third series need to earn their place in the ABC schedule by being really innovative or distinctive in some way, push the boundaries and be programmable in a premium slot. Rake fits this criterion IMHO. Friday night is a soft slot and skews very old – no getting around those facts.

  8. As a public broadcaster the ABC should target all demographics.

    Since the commercial networks are not going to target over 50s, especially on Friday and Saturday nights it makes sense for the ABC to do that. They target younger viewers with ABC2 in primetime and Kids with ABC3 and 4Kids.

    The scripts and production for Miss Fisher have been much better than for Doctor Blake. They could have cast the male lead better, but Nathan Page was OK in the second series.

  9. The first thing the ABC should be renewing is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Its a ratings winner. Forget about Crownies or all the other garbage. Stick with what works. Then perhaps throw the leftover $$ at the more mediocre fare.

  10. Why would the ABC want to appeal to a younger audience? Everyone else does that, while the more (ahem) mature of us mostly stick to the ABC and SBS. Anyone over 55 is nearly dead, according to the ‘aimed for’ demographics.

    Not all of us are enamoured of multitudinous talent shows with their never-ending screaming audiences, or American comedies with their annoying and fake laugh tracks.

    While everything in Miss Fisher looks gorgeous, the scripts tend to be a bit ordinary, (lots of “as if” moments), and the leading man is as weak as water. There’s no way Phryne would ever look at him twice in real life !

  11. Well, the ABC isn’t only about chasing ratings, and they were on different nights but…

    7 Day Consolidated
    Fri 6 Sep 2013: Miss Fisher – 1,038,000
    Sun 8 Sep 2013: TooL (final) – 781,000

    Just sayin’…

  12. I’d rather get Season 3 of Miss Fisher than another season of the well-meaning-but-bland Time of Our Lives. If they’re nervous about budget cuts next year and the production costs are high (likely – the show has impressive production values) then why don’t they just commission a shorter season? I like the show but it doesn’t necessarily need to be 13 eps.

  13. As we are getting a Christmas special, would another one off special next year be out of the question? Followed by a third series in 2015? That would be a better comprimise than no 3ed series at all.

  14. Most of the ABC’s major dramas for 2014 have already been filmed, other than Time of Our Lives.
    Perhaps a 3rd season of Miss Fisher would have been preferable to a 2nd series of TOOL (given how over-crowded this genre is lately.)

  15. What budget cut? The ABC has had no budget cuts and got extra money for dramas and as a result has massively ramped up its drama production.

    Miss Fisher is their most popular drama, based on a series of uniquely Australian novels and has overseas sales. The fact that the don’t have a season for 2014 is crazy.

    They probably don’t need to make both Miss Fisher and Dr Blake, but Miss Fisher is the one you’d keep in that case.

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