Potential budget cuts may slice into Miss Fisher

10mfmIt’s unlikely to be spelled out in black and white but if there are any funding cuts to the ABC, one of the victims could wind up being Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

ABC1 Channel Controller Brendan Dahill recently told TV Tonight no decision had been made on greenlighting a third season, with the broadcaster trying to spread ABC budgets across a bumper output.

Miss Fisher has done a brilliant job. They delivered a great second season and the Christmas special really resonated with audiences,” he said.

“The position we are in is an embarrassment of riches –tons of successful series and at some point Carole (Sklan, Head of Fiction) and I need to sit down and work out how many of the successful shows we can afford to return , without standing still, and still doing new stuff.  Woven into that we obviously need to know how much money we think we’re going to have.

“So it would be precipitous for us to make decisions now that we cannot bankroll in the future.”

His comments come at a time when there are fears the federal government could cut funds to the broadcaster.

Is Dahill worried cuts are looming?

“I’m not worried about it but we need a degree of certainty,” he said.

“We have a triennium outcome which is the basis for our planning and until that changes our triennium planning doesn’t change. With anything you make the right choices not quick choices. Doctor Blake delivered us a successful Season Two which is just as good as Season One. Miss Fisher has done the same, there are a whole bunch of shows that have delivered brilliantly.”

In November Fiona Eagger, producer of Miss Fisher, told TV Tonight the show was an audience favourite in Australia, the UK, and Europe and the US.

“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,” she said.

An online petition  at change.org to “Save Miss Fisher” now has 6,000 signatures.

“It’s frustrating for some people and I understand their frustration,” said Dahill.

“But if I was on a commercial network where I could monetise my audience the decision would be a lot easier.”


  1. cynical old codger

    Could Miss Fisher’s greatest Mystery, actually involve her own ‘disappearance’, and can this final mystery be solved without her?
    Whilst her mysteries are mostly set in the 20’s, but even today many of the characters and their respective roles, could be directly implicated in her ‘disappearance’, along with many others of today’s era.
    Leaving DI. Robinson, PC.Collins and Dot, not being suspects, a list of all the ‘usual suspects’, who are listed in latest order of appearance.

    Rupert Murdoch * Prime Suspect, his headlines alone, explain why
    Murdoch Foyle * With a name like that??
    The Abbott led LNP conservative government * Driven by age old ideologies, that are exploited to the max, by Rupert
    Aunty Prudence * More concerned with her own reputation
    Misc. Boat Refugees * Still a burning issue??
    Aunty ABC * But are more prone to self harm
    Bert & Cec * ” Commies”…

  2. Jennome I disagree with your opinion of Nathan Paige as Jack Robinson. I think he’s very attractive. He has that beautiful deep voice for one thing and he is supposed to be a cautious, reserved man. He compliments Phryne’s vivacity. I also love all of the support cast. The show works because it is light entertainment for a Friday night. It might not be everyone’s taste but what other Australian show on the ABC has proved to be as popular? For that reason alone they should renew it.

  3. Jennome, the same comment again. It must hurt each time Phryne flirts with the “plod”!

    Personal reviews of the show aside, a) Miss Fisher must be making back the money invested and b) it is probably the only Australian show that can be a long running series since it has been a success elsewhere too. Unlike 99% of Australian productions. It’s galling that the ABC cannot capitalise on this.

    If it had low viewership fans would accept and move on. But its hard to be silent when the ABC is killing a series on a roll.

  4. Let’s face it, the whole look of Miss Fisher is gorgeous, settings, costumes etc. But a more critical look reveals that the stories are pretty lame, the acting fairly average (apart from Essie Davis) and any so-called sexual tension between her and the policeman is farcical. This guy has no charisma whatsoever – perfectly cast as Mr Plod. In no way would she ever even look at him in real life.

    Successful it may be, but it’s really not all that good. It would be fairly high on my list of programs to dump.

  5. As others have said not everyone that loves the series is over sixty. Not that I have a problem with anyone that is either. It really should be a no brainer. It is their most popular drama. Also successful overseas. To me it would be like ITV deciding to end Poirot after 2 or 3 series. Not that I expect Phryne Fisher to last that long. If money is tight then why not reduce the amount of episodes?

    By the way I realise now why I couldn’t watch it. I have a weird computer graphics phobia. What was done to Cliffy stressed me out so much it took months to get over it. Not even David Tennant in Broadchurch could get me to watch something at 8.30pm. It’s why I don’t like watermarks either. They don’t annoy me: they cause stress. There’s low, medium and high. I think it can be guessed as to which is which. It is why I’m dead as a viewer. Or very limited.

  6. Darcey09, many people under 60 watch Miss Fisher. My sister and I do and we’re in our 40s. Many watch who are even younger. Its awful to see the end of a great show like Miss Fisher, whilst the ABC throws money at other rubbish. The Broken Shore was a disappointment on Sunday. Who really watches Redfern Now, Middle Upper Bogan etc? Even The Moodys was underwhelming. They don’t seem to have any idea what a good show is.

  7. Sigh. First they say they want to broaden their demographics. So they get back and say Miss Fisher is a over 60s show. And leave in limbo a show watched by a wide demographic. I mean can someone please count us young women too!!! When that didn’t wash it’s budget cuts. You mean you are saving up for next year’s NYE broadcast?!

    The line up for 2104 just makes me think it’s ABC luvvie fest as usual, not an embarrassment of riches. Though once they screen the shows merely the first part may be true. No way are TOOL, Rake etc more popular, they may be watched by a few but they are not Miss Fisher. No way is the viewer engagement like on the Miss Fisher facebook page.

    This is what has pissed off Miss Fisher fans the most about the ABC. We have written, pleaded and more and a “public” broadcaster paid for by us is busy promoting its own pet projects and people instead of what we…

  8. Sad really!! Have thoroughly enjoyed the show-excellent writing, acting, costumes,etc. All concerned with it should be congratulated!! Hope it doesn’t get the chop!

  9. There is no such thing as certainty in the current media climate. Spend a day in the real world where you have to earn every single dollar the business brings in, fight for bandwidth and haggle for content with next to no funds. It’s no wonder the rest of the industry looks at the ABC with incredulity.

  10. They are trying to avoid responsibility and blame other people and the Government and nonexistant budget cuts. Miss Fisher is their most popular show, has strong overseas sales, is one of only 2 shows targeted at over 50s so their decision not to put a 3rd series straight into production was a poor one.

    There has been no budget cut for the ABC. The last funding agreement increased their budget to $1b p.a. and they got extra funding on top of that for drama productions, kids tv, digital technology upgrades, website funding and The Australia Network.

    It was an internal ABC decision to use the money on other projects like Peter Temple TVMs, The Secret River, Time Of Our Lives, Janet King, The Moodies, Upper Class Bogan, Please Like Me, Rake etc which the ABC staff like more.

  11. My partner and I enjoy Miss Fisher, she’s 30, I’m 34. Even during footy season I’ll watch this over the footy (my choice). Perhaps a shorter run would be better. Dr Blake, not so much.

  12. In the interest of balance I would like to point out that 26 hours of Miss Fisher has been a huge commitment from the ABC’s limited drama budget – and more than enough to a project whose audience skews 60+. The ABC has an obligation to present a diverse drama slate. Better to go out on a high than commission another series which will be more of the same. This principal will also affect further series of Dr. Blake and TOOL.

  13. There is a little bit more to this. The series is also funded by Screen Australia and their guidelines are plain that that they don’t fund continuous seasons of 13 part series. The ABC and the producers have always known this. It is poor management on the part of the ABC who could have instead commissioned 6 to 8 part seasons and this may also have helped to improve the scripts for the series which at times were laughably amateurish. The ABC has squandered a lot of money on some very poor series such as Crownies, The Straits and Serangoon Road. But it remains true that if the ABC’s budget is cut it will be drama which will be first area to be cut. It is so easy for management to do and has always been the case.

  14. @Shazz,

    I’m no spring chicken myself & I’m not opposed to the elderly, but my point is that the commercial networks (driven by advertisers) are fixated with the younger audience. It seems that the ABC is starting to think likewise.
    I know many people enjoy Miss Fisher but it won’t be the end of the world if there isn’t a 3rd series.

  15. This is just the beginning, the Liberal Government is doing Rupert’s will, he long ago said the ABC and BBC have to go so he can make everyone pay for his services and the Liberal government who had no problem with his biased reporting, are now going after the only factual source of news and decent drama we have remaining.

    They are going to cut funding to the bone until content really suffers, then “reluctantly” allow advertising to fund content, then sell the ABC.

    Fight for your ABC, if you don’t, it will be gone.

  16. @Darcey09

    You are going to get a rude shock soon. This country is ageing rapidly and it is those over 60s who will be making all of the decisions. The future of this country is the elderly not the young. Grey power is rapidly expanding and as people increasingly live into their late 80s and 90s.

  17. ABC are mad to cut The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, it is a superb show, great casting, great stories and it has a huge following, if they don’t renew the series lets hope it is picked up by another channel, we need more Australian shows.

  18. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. If this show is so great, why doesn’t another network produce it? Probably because no-one under 60 watches it.
    And why do they need to produce 13 weeks per season?
    Surely 6-8 week seasons would have been better, as in the case with similar UK series.

  19. Of all the ABC shows Miss Fishe’s Murder Diaries is their most successful and the one they should save by making another series.
    This is the best series they make.and the one they sell overseas.

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