ABC 2015 highlights: Charlie Pickering, Gruen, more Drama.

2014-11-12_1438Charlie Pickering joins the ABC, Gruen is back, Shaun Micallef plays a ex-PM, and a drama slate full of new and returning titles -they are amongst ABC’s highlights for 2015.

In Drama there is miniseries The Secret River, the new witness protection drama Hiding, paranormal series Glitch, and more for Redfern Now, Miss Fisher and Doctor Blake. Producers John Edwards and Imogen Banks also have a new drama, a modern re-telling of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, The Beautiful Lie.

In comedy Utopia, Mad as Hell, Please Like Me return plus new offerings from Sammy J and Randy. Judith Lucy has a new series and there are docos on Australian comedy, domestic violence, the Labor party, Afghanistan and 100 years of war.

ABC also plays Sherlock and Top of the Lake in 2015.

Director of Television Richard Finlayson told TV Tonight, “Its brilliant to see Charlie Pickering coming onto the network.

“He wanted to come to the ABC and sees it as a return to Comedy. We see it as an opportunity to give him the freedom to bring his brand of irreverence and sharp satire to the ABC and an appreciative audience.”

The as yet untitled show is expected to be in the vein of Jon Oliver and Jon Stewart, coming to Wednesday nights.

“I know Charlie is an admirer of both of those guys, as we all are. It just feels like there’s an opportunity.”

Finlayson said ABC’s 2015 strategy has been about trying to create a series of great moments throughout the year and “national conversation” events.

“We’ve been able to bring back a number of favourite shows and returning series like Miss Fisher and others. We’re maintain our commitment to comedy, and broadly it’s a diverse and innovative slate.

“I’m really excited by the moment we’re looking to create around The Secret River and that we’re able to put a final chapter to the Redfern Now story, with the telemovie we’re bringing. It’s incredibly confronting and enormously compelling as that series has always been.”

On luring John Edwards back to produce for the ABC’s The Beautiful Lie he said, “We’ve been talking to John for a while, it was certainly a priority for me to get him back on the ABC when I first arrived here. We like his sensibility and think he will work really with ABC audiences. This particular idea of taking a literary classic and giving it a contemporary twist is great and the scripts are brilliant.”

Gruen will also return in the second half of the year and Shaun Micallef has a new comedy, The Ex PM.

“All you have to say is Shaun Micallef plays the ex Prime Minister and people start laughing, straight away. I love the idea he is preying on the relevance deprivation syndrome our ex PMs seem to have!” he said.

Finlayson also hints that ABC will look to shift a focus on Overnight ratings reportage, to cover all their playout platforms.

“We want to change the conversation. We are the most timeshifted network and we have the #1 TV online service in iview. It’s no longer fair or appropriate to measure the performance of our programmes on an Overnight basis. We need to be looking at the whole picture,” he said.

But doesn’t that require OzTAM to shift their data tracking too?

“That’s true, we need the ratings system to catch up, but the ABC is an innovator and we try to lead. The commercial networks will have different motivations for the way they communicate. But we’re in a position where we can begin to change that conversation.”

Finlayson declined to comment further on looming budget cuts today.

“We’re looking forward to ending this period of uncertainty but at the end of the day we’re just focused on Australian content, national conversations and working with the resources we have.”

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DRAMA:

The Secret River 2 x 100
Based on Kate Grenville’s meticulously researched, award-winning bestselling novel of the same title, THE SECRET RIVER has been adapted into a landmark television miniseries by two of Australia’s most talented and internationally successful screenwriters, Jan Sardi and Mac Gudgeon. Through the deeply personal story of William and Sal Thornhill, early convict colonists in New South Wales, THE SECRET RIVER dramatises the colonisation of Australia in microcosm. The dispossessionof Indigenous Australians is made comprehensible and ultimately heart- breaking as William Thornhill’s claim over a piece of land he titles ‘Thornhill’s Point’ on the Hawkesbury River brings his family and neighbours into a fight for survival with the traditional custodians of the land they are stealing. William Thornhill is driven by a poverty-fuelled life and a desperate need to provide a safe home for his beloved family in a strange, foreboding land. THE SECRET RIVER is an epic tragedy in which a good man is compelled by desperation, fear, ambition and love for his family to participate in a crime of inhuman savagery. It allows an audience, two hundred years later, to have a personal insight into the dark heart of our nation’s foundation story. Directed by Daina Reid and produced by Stephen Luby, THE SECRET RIVER is sure to be a landmark television event. Starring Oliver Jackson- Cohen (Mr Selfridge, Raven, Dracula) as William, and AACTA Award-winner Sarah Snook (Sisters of War, Not Suitable for Children, Predestination, Jessabelle) as Sal. Also featuring Lachy Hulme, Tim Minchin, Genevieve Lemon and Trevor Jamieson. A Ruby Entertainment production in association with ABC TV, Film Victoria and Screen Australia.

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Hiding 8 x 60
You can change your job, your city, your identity, but some things can haunt you forever. And they could cost Lincoln Swift and his family their lives in the uniquely gripping, family drama series, HIDING. In order to survive, Lincoln Swift (James Stewart) must take his family into witness protection and give evidence against his former employer, vicious crime boss Nils Vandenberg (Marcus Graham). With new names and fresh identities, the Swifts are ripped from their Gold Coast home and dumped in Western Sydney. But dislocation puts immense pressure on everyone in the family. Lincoln’s new ‘job’ in the Criminal Psychology department of a Sydney university challenges him in fundamental ways. Mitchell (Lincoln Younes) and Tara (Olivia DeJonge) are forced to make sacrifices – no phones or Facebook, and no contact with best friends, which for Mitchell, means giving up gorgeous girlfriend, Kelly. Lincoln’s wife, Rebecca (Kate Jenkinson), has to give up her career as a nurse and immediately cut off all contact with her mother, brother, and very pregnant sister-in-law. As cracks start to appear in security, Rebecca begins to suspect Lincoln is keeping secret the true danger the family is in. And Rebecca is proved right! Also featuring Stephen Curry, Nathan Page, Jodi Gordon, Kim Gyngell and Jacqueline McKenzie. Created and written by Matt Ford. Directed by Shawn Seet, Tori Garrett and Grant Brown. Produced by Diane Haddon and Matt Ford. Executive Producers David Maher and David Taylor. A Playmaker production in association with ABC TV, Screen Queensland, Screen NSW and Screen Australia.

The Beautiful Lie 6 x 60
THE BEAUTIFUL LIE is a grand, complex love story. It’s also an engaging contemporary re-imagining of the greatest tragic romance of all time, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. But THE BEAUTIFUL LIE is more than a great love story. It’s a sprawling saga of adultery, scandal, manners and mayhem – about the fates of three enmeshed families across three generations. Anna is married to Alex, fifteen years her senior, both living off the spoils of their high profile sporting careers. Anna’s been able to juggle career and family up until now when her brother Kingsley is caught philandering. Anna is called on to intervene, and the issue of infidelity rises to the surface. She finds herself dangerously attracted to Skeet, a charming dilettante who has rejected the apparently innocent Kitty. Skeet in turn becomes obsessed with Anna and willing to forgo his own music career to win her enduring love. Tolstoy’s book begins with the famous line, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. But it’s the detail of this unhappiness, the twisting and turning of jealousy and rage, the intricacy of seduction, the awkwardness of the thwarted love of those less expert that create vivid, visceral relationships and conflicts to enthral us. THE BEAUTIFUL LIE becomes a story of love and passion, both funny and heartbreakingly sad. It’s contemporary and sharp, and demanding that an audience makes choices and takes sides. It will be a provocative and challenging television event. Written by Alice Bell and Jonathan Gavin and Blake Ayshford. Produced by John Edwards and Imogen Banks. An Endemol Australia production in association with ABC TV.

Glitch 6 x 60
When small town cop James Hayes (Patrick Brammall) is called to the local cemetery in the middle of the night he makes a discovery that turns his world upside down. Six people have inexplicably risen from the dead in perfect health. With no memory of their identities, their disbelief gives way to a determination to discover who they are and what has happened to them. But the case soon becomes deeply personal to James when he recognises one of the risen. Along with local doctor Elishia Glass (Genevieve O’Reilly), he struggles to keep the case hidden from his colleagues, his family and the world. His secret tests him as a policeman, a husband, and as a man, as one thing soon becomes clear: these six people are all linked in some way, and someone knows the truth about how and why they have returned. GLITCH is an epic paranormal saga about love, loss and what it means to be human. Featuring Emma Booth, Emily Barclay, Ned Dennehy, Daniela Farinacci and Sean Keenan. Written by Louise Fox, Kris Mrksa and Giula Sandler. Directed by Emma Freeman. Produced by Ewan Burnett and Louise Fox. Executive Producer Tony Ayres. A Matchbox Pictures production in association with ABC TV, Film Victoria, and Screen Australia.

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Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries 8 x 60
In the keenly anticipated third series, the highly stylish Miss Phryne Fisher continues her foray through the colourful world of 1920s Melbourne solving crimes and turning heads. Phryne’s investigations take her from an appearance in a glamorous magic show, to a high flying murder on the RAAF base, to the chic world of women’s tennis, and finally to the grimy backwaters of Collingwood where she grew up. Whilst her investigations are dangerous, she does it all with élan and a great sense of fun. Phryne seems to have it all together, but when her reprobate father turns up on her doorstep carrying the family fortune, things get a lot more complicated for our elegant sleuth. This together with the fact that Jack and Phryne’s attraction has become hard to deny, makes for compelling viewing. Originally based on the stories of crime writer supremo Kerry Greenwood, this series sees the creation of new stories that thrust Phryne into the kinds of dilemmas from which only her sharp thinking and pearl-handled pistol can save her. Phryne Fisher, lady detective, is wealthy, stylish and unconventional – solving crime has never looked this good! Once again starring Essie Davis, with Nathan Page, Ashleigh Cummings, Hugo Johnstone- Burt and Miriam Margolyes. Directed by Tony Tilse, Peter Andrikidis, Daina Reid and Mat King. Produced by Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox. An Every Cloud production in association with ABC TV and Film Victoria.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries 8 x 60
Things have changed for Doctor Lucien Blake (Craig McLachlan). His co- conspirator Lawson (Joel Tobeck) has been sacked from Ballarat, and Blake’s emotional embrace with Jean (Nadine Garner) has changed life in the house. Doctor Blake finds his tenure under threat by a new arrival. But that’s the least of his troubles when he uncovers a dark story behind his mother’s death. In this eight-part series return, the wonderfully maverick Doctor Blake is pushed to his limits to find the truth behind a range of intriguing murders in 1950s rural Australia. They include the inexplicable death of a young champion rower; the murder of one of the town’s elite who is found with a mysterious object in his stomach; the apparent trampling death by cattle of a well-loved farmer; and the murder of a respected surgeon whose bloodless body is discovered on the operating table. Also featuring John Wood, Cate Wolfe and Charlie Cousins, with guest stars including Alison Whyte, Martin Sacks, Sara Wiseman and Jane Allsop. Written by Stuart Page, Chelsea Cassio, Michael Miller, Michael Harvey and Jeff Truman. Directed by Pino Amenta, Fiona Banks, Declan Eames and Karl Zwicky. Produced by George Adams; Executive Producer Tony Wright. A December Media Production in association with ABC TV and Film Victoria.

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Redfern Now: Promise Me 1 x 90
The highly celebrated and multi award- winning drama is back for one last story. A powerful, heartbreaking and uplifting telemovie, REDFERN NOW: PROMISE ME explores the impact of a violent crime on two women and the fight for justice that ensues. Stars Anthony Hayes, Genevieve Lemon and Daniela Farinacci, along with Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Lisa Flanagan, Rarriwuy Hick, Kelton Pell and Kirk Page, who reprise their well established and much loved characters. Script Producer Jimmy McGovern. Written by Steven McGregor. Directed by Rachel Perkins. Produced by Darren Dale and Miranda Dear. A Blackfella Films production in association with ABC TV, Screen Australia and Screen NSW.

ENTERTAINMENT:

Charlie Pickering’s New Show Doesn’t Have a Name Yet 20 x 30
A decade and a half after he began his broadcast career at Triple J, Charlie Pickering, political junkie, former lawyer, elegant gentleman and seriously funny stand-up comedian, is back where he belongs at the ABC. In 2015 he will premiere a news comedy show, a tonight show, a chat show and a panel show all in one. Sharing the set with guests and fellow comedians, Charlie will get back to his comedy roots calling bullshit on newsmakers, special interests, politicians and other charlatans. Hilariously outspoken, it will shamelessly turn the hypocrisies and idiocies of the world into the least cheap laughs the Australian taxpayer can afford.

Gruen
They’re back! Wil Anderson’s heading home to Australia for a fresh new take on the world of spin. Regular panellists Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft are back in the studio along with some of Australia’s smartest communications experts to run the GRUEN scanner over the persuasion business and pinpoint exactly where the truth stops and the spin, branding and image control begin. Gruen is produced by CJZ with the ABC.

Judith Lucy is All Woman 6 x 30
After her much-loved ABC series Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey, one of Australia’s favourite funny ladies is back with JUDITH LUCY IS ALL WOMAN. If you’ve ever been a woman, been in one, or come out of one, this six-part series is for you. It’s a timely exploration of where women are at in modern Australia – and what that means for men – told from the unique perspective of someone who’s been a woman for most of her life. From the outback to the city, Judith jumps head-first into sex, showbiz, politics, families, cougars, cosmetic surgery and careers as she tries to work out if the battle of the sexes is still in progress and if so, who is winning. Warning: May contain celebrities and jelly wrestling. Written and presented by Judith Lucy; Produced and directed by Anna Bateman; Executive Producers: Todd Abbott, Judith Lucy, Kevin Whyte, Sophia Zachariou. A Bearded Lady/Pigeon Fancier Production in association with the ABC and Film Victoria.

COMEDY:

Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane 6 x 30
SAMMY J & RANDY IN RICKETTS LANE is a six-part narrative comedy series from the award-winning musical comedy duo Sammy J (Wednesday Night Fever) and Randy (Heath McIvor). Sammy J is an obsessive, socially inept and altogether hopeless junior lawyer scrambling to hold onto his last ounce of dignity while clinging to the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. Meanwhile, his slovenly housemate Randy has seen the world from all angles. He’s an opinionated, unemployed opportunist, desperately trying to win back the affections of his glamorous ex-wife, Veronica. Oh, and Randy’s a purple puppet. But he doesn’t care, nor does Sammy, and nor should you. While they’re loyal, eccentric and prone to burst into hilarious song at any given moment, tensions between skinny man and purple puppet will rise. Will their friendship survive Randy’s hopeless scams that too often embroil Sammy? Will Sammy ever find relief from the appalling treatment at the hands of his awful boss Borkman or notice the depth of his secretary Wednesday’s affections? Will Randy get a job and Sammy finally win a case? We’ll let you know in 2015. Written by and starring Sammy J & Randy (Heath McIvor), Produced by Donna Andrews, Co-produced by Chris McDonald. Directed by Jonathan Brough. A Sticky Pictures production in association with ABC TV, Film Victoria and Screen Australia.

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The Ex PM 6 x 30
As our third longest-serving prime minister, Andrew Dugdale (Shaun Micallef) was a man who mattered. He dined with presidents and kings, co-hosted world summits and changed the lives of millions of his fellow Australians. But since his publicly-mandated retirement, this not-so-elder statesman has far too much time on his hands and no one to waste it on. What’s a former Man of the People’ to do? This narrative comedy series fixes its beady eye on the world of grounded high-flyers and benched heavy-hitters. How do they make sure their elephant stamp on history remains indelible? What do they do when someone goes through their cupboards and finds all those skeletons? And does anybody want anything from the shops? A tale of redemption somewhere between House of Cards and One Foot in the Grave. THE EX-PM is created, written by and stars Shaun Micallef. Producer Nick Murray. A CJZ production in association with ABC TV and Film Victoria.

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Utopia 8 x 30
After becoming one of the government’s true success stories for 2014, the Nation Building Authority has been expanded and is now known as the Department of Nation Building and Infrastructure. A year on, they have agreed on a font for their new logo and are in the final stages of signing off on an internal office redesign. Once those challenges are met (and everyone’s back from the South Pacific Urban Living Conference in Berlin) then the team at D.N.B.I will be ready to start planning for our country’s future. Starring Rob Sitch, Celia Pacquola, Anthony Lehmann, Kitty Flanagan, Luke McGregor, Dave Lawson, Emma-Louise Wilson, Michelle Lim Davidson and Toby Truslove. Written by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch. Directed by Rob Sitch. Produced by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch. Executive Producer Michael Hirsh. A Working Dog production in association with ABC TV.

Please Like Me 10 x 30
Lauded by critics around the world and named one of the best shows of the year by Entertainment Weekly, TIME, The New Yorker, The A.V. Club and The Los Angeles Times, the International Emmy- nominated and AACTA award-winning Best Comedy brings its third season to a new audience on ABC. Inspired by the stand-up comedy and real life experiences of its writer/creator Josh Thomas, PLEASE LIKE ME explores the world of a young man who’s in no hurry to grow up. But as he navigates a bipolar mother, a mid-life crisis father, a newish baby sister, an anxiety-ridden boyfriend, a peripatetic ex-girlfriend and an unmotivated best friend, he may just be the sanest person he knows. In season three, new characters arrive, complications ensue, and a cast of extraordinary performers compete for screen time with John the cavoodle. Here we go again. Starring Josh Thomas, Debra Lawrance, David Roberts, Thomas Ward, Renee Lim, Keegan Joyce and Hannah Gadsby. Written by Josh Thomas, Liz Doran, Thomas Ward and Hannah Gadsby. Directed by Matthew Saville. Produced by Todd Abbott. Executive Producers Todd Abbott, Josh Thomas and Kevin Whyte. A Pigeon Fancier/John & Josh International production of a Pivot Original Series, in association with ABC TV and Film Victoria.

DOCUMENTARY:

Life on the Reef 3 x 60
From the producer of Kakadu comes
this three-part blue chip natural history series on our greatest natural wonder– the Great Barrier Reef. But for how long we will be able to celebrate this amazing natural structure is now a matter of urgent discussion. LIFE ON THE REEF is a contemporary observational series propelled by engaging characters, captivating nature and epic visuals. The landmark series allows the audience to be present as the seasons change; animal behaviour adapts; and our cast of characters within the marine park swing into action as they respond to each new challenge. Over twelve months, LIFE ON THE REEF follows park rangers, traditional owners, coast guard, scientists, fishermen and residents in the largest world heritage area on Earth – a place where man meets wild and nature calls the shots. Produced by Northern Pictures. Executive Producer: Karina Holden, Director: Nick Robinson.

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Making Australia Great: Inside our Longest Boom 3 x 60
MAKING AUSTRALIA GREAT: INSIDE OUR LONGEST BOOM follows writer and Canberra insider George Megalogenis’s counterintuitive exploration of Australia’s success story. Interviewing Australia’s last six prime ministers, and a host of key insiders, he discovers it is about much more than minerals and dumb luck. Combining contemporary commentary and longer-term history, George unpacks the evidence that Australia is living through an important ‘moment’ of which we are unaware: a moment that amounts to a second chance – a chance for Australia to take a leading role internationally in the Asian century. George goes back 40 years to explore the deeper reasons behind how Australia was the only developed nation to dodge the 2008 economic crisis. He also considers how, five years on, we can learn from our deeper history to continue the Australian success story into the 21st century. An ABC TV production. Series Producer: Alex West, Director: Bruce Permazel.

Afghanistan: The Australian War 3 x 60
This is the story of Australia’s Afghanistan War told through the experiences of the Australians who fought it. From the Special Forces who landed only weeks after 9/11 to hunt for Osama Bin Laden, to those in the ‘Kill Chain’, the hi-tech drone pilots who spied on insurgents then ordered assassinations from hundreds of kilometres away, to the engineers who built schools with an eye out for snipers. It’s comprehensive in the historical and, just as importantly, in the emotional territory it covers. From generals to privates, the series’ characters reveal themselves before, during, and after their war. Some are badly damaged; others just did their jobs; all have been transformed by their experience. Collectively they’ll paint a portrait of an Australian generation in extremis. The series draws on candid interviews from former and serving military and from leading politicians of the last decade. Essential Media & Entertainment. Producer: Alan Erson, Director: Victoria Midwinter-Pit.

Inside Labor (working title) 3 x 60
In the tradition of the ABC’s acclaimed political documentaries, Labor in Power and The Howard Years, Sarah Ferguson presents the inside story of one of the most turbulent periods of Australian political history – the Rudd and Gillard governments (2007-2013). An ABC News production. Executive Producer Sue Spencer.

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No Excuses! with Sarah Ferguson 2 x 60
Acclaimed journalist, Sarah Ferguson, immerses herself in a women’s refuge to shine a light on the otherwise hidden world of domestic violence. Every week a woman in Australia dies at the hands of a violent partner or ex- partner. “The thing is,” says Sarah, “even though I have reported on these issues, I still have so many questions. What makes Australian men so aggressive towards their wives, girlfriends, sisters and daughters? Why do some women feel unable to leave violent partners? Can the legal system protect them, and what services are there to offer help to women in such desperate need?” In this unflinching two-part documentary series, Sarah goes in search of the answers. However, she is not telling the story as a Four Corners reporter – the job that earned her four Logies in four years – but as a trainee social worker in a shelter. She will also join service coordinators who pick up donated goods, help broker affordable housing deals, and organise matters such as driving lessons for abused women to help empower them and give them a real chance of a new independent life. She will also join child protection workers from DOCS, a family court judge, a community lawyer and police officers on patrol, seeing just how hard it is to deal with the multi-layered legal problems associated with domestic violence. Produced by In Films. Series Producer: Nial Fulton, Director: Ivan O’Mahoney.

Blood and Thunder 2 x 60
Watchmaker Jacques Albert arrived in Australia from Switzerland in the 1870s and set up shop in a Newtown back street. Jacques’ passion for music built a fortune for his family. Not even he could have foreseen how the company he founded would become Australia’s Motown, a house of hits that literally changed the world of music. But first, the Alberts had to meet a pack of scrappy guitar-playing Scotsmen who were their opposites in almost every way – except in the ways that counted. This is the story of two immigrant clans, the Alberts from Switzerland and the Youngs from Scotland, for whom blood ties meant everything. They created a musical partnership that forged the success of The Easybeats, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, John Paul Young and The Allstars, Flash and The Pan and many more. Ultimately, this musical fraternity would create the Australian guitar sound, and the most successful rock album of all time, AC/DC’s Back In Black. A story tinged with tragedy and triumph, it all happened from the legendary Alberts Studios. Produced by Bombora Film and Music Co., in co- production with Beyond Screen. The series is written and directed by Paul Clarke, produced by Martin Fabinyi, and Executive Produced by Mikael Borglund, Ron Saunders and Paul Clarke.

Watch this Space 4 x 60
WATCH THIS SPACE is a show about the public spaces that all Australia share. It’s a quest to find our favourite public spaces, the ones we love and attract us – and potentially fix the ones that we don’t like. Lots of people have a building they love, but what about the shared spaces in between? Does Australia have a plaza to rival the Piazza Navone in Rome? A market that defines its city like the souk in Marrakech? Or a grand public square that draws people from around the world to it like Trafalgar Square in London? And if we do, what makes them so great? Hosted by two great friends, urban design expert Linda Gregoriou and one of Australia’s greatest actors – and architecture and design geek – David Wenham AM, WATCH THIS SPACE will visit urban, regional and country Australia. They’ll take viewers on a journey through our public spaces and the diverse collection of people who helped bring them to life and who use them. WATCH THIS SPACE will add to our appreciation of the historical, cultural, psychological and social significance of this country’s rich diversity of public spaces and ask Australians to nominate the places they love. A Fremantle Media Production.

The Walers: Australia’s Great Warhorse 1 x 60
When the first convoys of the ANZAC Expeditionary Forces sailed from Albany’s majestic King George Sound in November and December 1914, they carried with them hundreds of horses. Some came from unexpected places, including Juna Downs, a vast pastoral station in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region. Over 120,000 Australian horses were to serve our forces; around 70,000 were to die overseas in the line of duty. What was the fate of up to 50,000 Australian horses that were still alive when guns grew silent in 1918? This is the compelling story of their heroism and sacrifice. A Mago Films Production. Producer: Marion Bartsch, Director: Russell Vines, Writer: Barry Strickland.

ARTS:

Stop Laughing: This is Serious 3 x 60
In the mid 1980s Australian comedy was booming. Emerging from the margins of theatre, circus, vaudeville, cabaret and pubs, our comedy scene exploded. This series tracks the comedy revolution in this country and explores the way it has intersected with Australian culture, politics and identity through stand-up, sketch, panel shows, sitcom, musical and variety. Featuring some of our leading comedians and drawing on an extensive television archive, this series explores the maturation of Australian comedy, unpicking our cultural cringe, poking fun at our national identity, confronting hard truths and uncovering our taboos with our greatest weapon – our ability to laugh at ourselves. Stars Barry Humphries, Paul Hogan, Judith Lucy, Andrew Denton, John Clarke, Tim Minchin, Noeline Brown, Denise Scott, Kevin Kropinyeri, Jane Turner, Mick Molloy, Wendy Harmer, Julia Zemiro, Chris Taylor, John Safran, Nazeem Hussain, Dave Hughes, Sean Choolburra and Shaun Micallef. A Screentime production. Producer: Jennifer Collins; Director: Stephen Oliver.

Bespoke 3 x 30
BESPOKE is an engaging, thought provoking, and occasionally irreverent look at the rise and rise of the handmade in Australian culture. In an age where we are overwhelmed by mass consumerism, global technology and the ‘ikea’isation’ of culture there has been a push back towards the authentic, local experience. Alongside our insatiable passion for DIY home renovation and for growing and cooking our own food, our desire to make and buy bespoke or artisanal arts and crafts has grown exponentially. Cultural commentator Marcus Westbury investigates this phenomenon to discover whether this is an old arts and crafts movement wrapped up in faddish hipster clothing, or a new response to global changes in technology, trade and manufacturing. BESPOKE looks at this phenomenon in our cities and the suburbs. From Hobart’s Salamanca Markets to Melbourne’s hipsters on Brunswick St, from the Renew movement in Newcastle all the way to Portlandia, Marcus seeks to find out what this moment in the cultural zeitgeist is all about. Produced by Viking Films. Producer: Annie Venables, Director: Andrew Sully.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Triple J at 40 1 x 60
In January triple j turns 40! To celebrate this irreverent cultural icon we take a look back at the radio station which from the start tapped into the hearts and minds of Australia’s youth culture. From the station’s anarchic beginnings in 1975 as Sydney’s alternative radio station, Double J, to its restructuring and controversial rebranding as it went national as triple j in the 90s, to its role in unearthing new talent and staging major music events for the nation’s youth, the story of triple j is told by a stellar line-up of the larger-than-life characters – DJs, managers and producers, comedy duos and music stars from the 70s to now. Features interviews with Roy & HG, Jono & Dano, Missy Higgins, Daniel Johns, Wil Anderson, Adam Spencer, Myf Warhurst, Hilltop Hoods, Peter Garrett, plus many more. With a pumping soundtrack evoking the mood of each decade, SOUNDS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT explores how one small radio station became the finger on the pulse of a burgeoning Australian youth culture and revolutionised the cultural landscape for a new generation. An ABC TV production. Producer: Rebecca Baillie.

Lest We Forget, What? 1 x 60
On Anzac Day ask yourself this question: lest we forget what? What are we remembering? Mythology? Or history? Will this day which is increasingly used to define our nation’s very essence be the remembrance of a sepia-tinted pastiche of vague anecdotes about the ANZAC spirit and derring-do, or the real stories behind the ANZACS and our role in World War One based on fact and evidence? A Pony Films production. Executive Producer: Dylan Bowen, Writer/ Director: Rachel Landers. Hosted by Kate Aubusson.

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The Waves of ANZAC Cove 1 x 90
Starring actor Sam Neill, THE WAVES OF ANZAC COVE is a uniquely personal account of Gallipoli and all it has come to mean to Australia and New Zealand. At dawn on April 25, 2015 two nations with lumps in their throats will look back at a century of wars that have become intrinsic to who we are. From the calm waters of ANZAC Cove 1915, waves of mourning, myth, pride and shame ripple all the way to the South Pacific and back to Afghanistan, where, in the last few years, Australia and New Zealand have lost young men and women fighting far from home. Sam Neill’s great uncle, John Williams, ran at the Turkish defences above ANZAC Cove with the best of them. “I do not order you to attack. I order you to die,” Ataturk told his men. The more honest British generals might have said the same thing. The film begins here, with Sam walking a landscape that somehow, through resounding defeat and extraordinary Turkish goodwill, we have come to own. Why has a defeat become an epic tale? What about it is true and what is myth? How has the legacy changed and how has it stayed the same? From Gallipoli Sam explores the ANZAC exploits of a century – not just on the battle- fields but in the scars on the hearts of men and women from the ends of the Earth. Produced by Essential Media and Entertainment. Writer/Producer: Owen Hughes, Director: Kriv Stenders.

Vietnam ANZACs 1 x 60
Brian Cleaver, a National Serviceman conscript whose number came out of the lottery barrel was sent to Vietnam to serve his country. But his experiences there would change the course of his entire life. Through the vehicle of Brian’s continuing quest to lay to rest the ghosts of his past – and atone for some of the horrors of combat – this documentary is a remarkable portrait of war and its long-term consequences. Brian was so traumatised by his exposure to the Battle of Coral-Balmoral that he has been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder for the past 46 years. As he acknowledges himself, part of his way of dealing with the nightmares of those two battles he experienced firsthand, is his search for the missing bodies of 42 enemy soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army who threw themselves at the Australian lines during those fierce encounters. Those 42 were bulldozed into a mass grave in a large B52 bomb crater in front of the Australian diggers’ position. VIETNAM ANZACS tells the story of the battles that changed Brian’s life, and sees him return to Vietnam – to meet old enemies and dig for the bodies of the men he killed. Frontline Films and Spirited Films. Director: David Bradbury, Producers: Jenny Day & David Bradbury.

FACTUAL:

Restoration Australia 7 x 60
This series follows the trials and tribulations of Australians restoring buildings to their former glory. Across the country, thousands of old buildings and historic items lie forgotten and neglected, tangled up by red tape and development restrictions, or just slowly moldering into decay on the landscape. Many of these orphaned properties are of outstanding historical interest. And with every building being rescued, there are individuals or communities who despite the red tape, the costs, the hours of back-breaking work and the disruption to their lives, are dedicated to embracing our country’s past and completing their projects to restore a house and a piece of Australian history. As host Sibella Court follows the restoration process, she showcases the amazing Aussie battlers working to restore these heritage buildings to give them a new life and create a new home for themselves. Filmed over two years, RESTORATION AUSTRALIA watches as these wonderful buildings – from Georgian mansions to colonial slab huts – are transformed by the people committed to their restoration. Through spiralling budgets, the stresses and strains of living and working with old structures, confusing bureaucracy, and antipathetic families, none of these projects is an easy ride. An ABC TV production. Executive Producer: Margot Phillipson, Producer/ Directors: Max Mackinnon, Susan Redden, Mark Stanforth.

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Resdesign My Brain 3 x 60
In the first series of REDESIGN MY BRAIN, celebrity host Todd Sampson (Gruen Planet) put brain training to the test. This unique, transformative and interactive experience ended up as one of the most watched Australian science documentary series of last year. In this second series, Todd will once again turbo-charge his brain, but this time he will not only improve his mental skills, he will also learn to overcome the psychological obstacles that we all face in our modern society. He will again use his brain as the scientific lab-rat and will undertake a three-month scientifically endorsed training program designed by the world’s leading experts. The goal in this series is to prove that brain training has the potential to make anyone sharper, more resilient and even courageous. This time, Todd will take brain training to new heights and explore how neuroscience can benefit us all. Mindful Media. Executive Producer: Paul Scott, Series Producer: Mark Barlin, Director: Jeff Siberry.

Outback ER 8 x 30
From the red earth of outback Broken Hill comes a look at one of the most extraordinary emergency departments in Australia, that of the Broken Hill Hospital. Experience just how different a life-threatening crisis can be in one of the most isolated locations on earth. Emergency departments in any hospital are places where lives are saved and crises averted. They are fast- paced and adrenalin-fuelled, and the doctors and nursing staff who work in emergency are a special breed ready to face whatever comes through the doors. Now we’ll see just how different this world is in the outback. There are the usual car accidents, drug and alcohol problems, heart attacks and sporting injuries, but there are also other more distinctive complaints like deadly snake and spider bites, mining injuries, farming mishaps, and high speed trucking accidents. Over eight episodes, OUTBACK ER will shed light on one of the busiest and most interesting emergency departments in the country. From week to week, we’ll meet the doctors and nurses who deal with daily emergencies and we’ll meet the patients, their families and friends. Produced by Screentime. Executive Producers: Jennifer Collins/Simon Steel; Series Producer: Tony De La Pena; Field Director: Catherine Ledingham; DOP: Steve Davis; Sound: Grant Beed.

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EVENTS

New Year’s Eve 2014
The team that brought you the Friday Night Crack Up now brings you ABC TV’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular. Counting us down to the sensational fireworks on Sydney harbour, Julia Zemiro and Toby Truslove guide us through the biggest night of the year. This four- hour entertainment bonanza will feature a special mini-episode of Nowhere Boys, Lawrence Mooney will host Australia’s biggest ever Pub Quiz, and Adam Zwar presents a special edition of The Agony of New Years Eve. While the harbour is showered with fireworks, home viewers will be dazzled by a night of comedy, music and more celebrities than you can shake a sparkler at.

AFC Asian Cup
ABC TV is the official, free-to-air broadcaster for the biggest football tournament ever staged in Australia, the AFC ASIAN CUP. Every game featuring Australia’s Socceroos will be broadcast on ABC commercial free and in its entirety and also simulcast on iview. The Socceroos Finals matches will be broadcast live. Each night ABC will also screen a 30 minute highlight package bringing you the best of the day’s action across all four groups. Australia features in Group A alongside Korea Republic, Oman and Kuwait; Group B comprises Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China PR, DPR Korea; Group C: IR Iran, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Group D: Japan, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine. Matches will play out in Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne. Established in 1956 the AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition.

Returning Australian:

ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
AUSTRALIAN STORY
CATALYST
COMPASS
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT
FOUR CORNERS
GARDENING AUSTRALIA
INSIDERS
LANDLINE
LATELINE
MEDIA WATCH
NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
OFFSIDERS
Q&A
RAGE
SHAUN MICALLEF’S MAD AS HELL – SERIES 5
THE BOOK CLUB
THE CHECKOUT – SERIES 3
WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY HOUSE? – SERIES 3 7.30

Acquired Content
ADAM HILLS: THE LAST LEG – SERIES 5
AGATHA CHRSTIE’S PARTNERS IN CRIME – SERIES 1 (6 X 60’)
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW – SERIES 36 (26 X 60’)
CONQUEST OF THE SKIES WITH DAVID ATTENBOROUGH (3X60’)
BROADCHURCH – SERIES 2 (8 X 60’)
DOC MARTIN – SERIES 7
DOCTOR WHO – SERIES 9
FATHER BROWN – SERIES 3 (15 X 60’)
FOYLE’S WAR – SERIES 9 (3 X 60’)
GRAND DESIGNS – SERIES 12
GRANTCHESTER – SERIES 1 (6 X 60’)
HUMAN UNIVERSE WITH BRIAN COX (5 X 60’)
INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY – SERIES 7 (4 X 60’)
LOUIS THEROUX’S L.A. STORIES (3 X 60’)
MIDSOMER MURDERS – SERIES 17 (4 X 60’)
NEW TRICKS – SERIES 11 (10 X 60’)
POLDARK – SERIES 1 (8 X 60’)
QI (16 X 30’)
SHERLOCK – SERIES 1 & 2
TOP OF THE LAKE (6 X 60’)

ABC2 / ABC3 / ABC News 24: highlights

43 Comments:

  1. @Gonzo, Neighbours is made the same way. It’s a show made primarily for Poms, filmed in Australia. Please Like Me is in large part now made for Americans.

    @Brian Ferry, for people with Channel BT or other similar nefarious services, everything that airs first overseas and isn’t a live simulcast, is a repeat.

    Eventually, Australians will eventually be able to legally watch BBC1, BBC2 et al live; and have access to a version of iPlayer that contains all it’s content. BBC First is still a late 20th century idea.

  2. @ Bryan Ferry Well spotted. The ABC has lost their BBC deal which means the audience has to wait until premium BBC content has been screened on BBCFirst on Foxtel. This delay puts pressure on the ABC to take the quality of their drama commissioning to the next level because their audience will miss it.

  3. There seems to be a lot of second run content in the acquired “highlights”?????

    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW – SERIES 36 (26 X 60’)
    BROADCHURCH – SERIES 2 (8 X 60’)
    DOC MARTIN – SERIES 7
    DOCTOR WHO – SERIES 9
    FATHER BROWN – SERIES 3 (15 X 60’)
    FOYLE’S WAR – SERIES 9 (3 X 60’)
    GRAND DESIGNS – SERIES 12
    SHERLOCK – SERIES 1 & 2
    TOP OF THE LAKE (6 X 60’)

  4. harrypotter1994

    Looking forward to more Please Like Me of course and some of the new drama offerings. Could never get into Dr Blake and never watched Miss Fisher so don’t have any opinion on them getting renewed. Would love for Janet King to come back just hope they would have a good story to tell

  5. Please be careful Charlie old mate……I hope you succeed where others in Oz have failed, but the reason that Stewart and Oliver work so well is the huge number of writers and researchers employed on each show. The sheer volume that needs to be created to get a half hour of television that good is staggering. No show in Australia has ever had those resources. I hope the ABC give you all of the support this show will need. Onwards and upwards.

  6. A real smorgasboard of goodies to choose from.
    Thank god for the ABC.
    I’m especially looking forward to Sounds LIke Teen Spirit and Blood and Thunder, as well as the Judith Lucy and Shaun Micallef shows.
    No Excuses, with the excellent Sarah Ferguson. is sure to be powerful, hard hitting stuff.

    Great to see also that the ABC has taken onboard the first season of Poldark, featuring the gorgeous Aidan Turner.
    The original was a bit before my time but it will be interesting to see how this remake does….could go either way.

  7. Wow, what a stellar line up! Impressed!

    Will ABC put Ten to the sword with such a distinctive and original slate while Ten tries to be more like Seven?

    Old favs being returned is smart and the new commissions sound great. I guess there must really be some savings in back office if they’re able to keep pumping this much local out..

    From a ratings stand point, Please Like Me shouldn’t get a recommission , but great it has as it’s actually a really punchy comedy and doesn’t fall over much (well, apart from the ratings).

  8. Hey Victor .. who disparagingly laments “.. most of it will play to a very old demographic”, how rude! Aren’t older people entitled to be entertained? Why should everything be focused on the young, who it seems are increasingly not watching television much anyway.

    As an older person, we are less tolerant of some of the crap served up by the commercial channels and increasingly rely on the ABC and SBS to provide a modicum of intelligent television programs.

  9. After a lacklustre drama offering in 2014 it seems Richard Finlayson has put his stamp on this genre. An event mini and short-form, high impact series is the perfect strategy for the ABC. It’s just not that hard to figure out if you look at international drama trends. The days of squandering the additional drama funds on bizarre telemovies commissioned from cronies seem to be over. John Edwards/Imogen Banks dramas are perfect fare for the ABC – both Love My Way and Tangle should have been commissioned here. It’s probably time Imogen Banks was given the recognition she deserves – the ABC would do well to recruit her to the top job.

  10. Secret Squirrel

    Some good stuff there, best line-up of shows so far. V.happy that The Checkout is returning along with Gruen and Mad as Hell. And I must be getting old because I’m also pleased that there’ll be more Miss Fisher and Doctor Blake, esp as Miss Fisher was in doubt for a while.

  11. According to abc 2015 promo clip they are bringing iview to new platforms but windows phone wasn’t one of them which is disappointing. Just means will have to limit what shows I try as abc have limited my device viewing options.

    A couple of the dramas looked ok but would want to see proper previews before watching. Agree with others in having another season of Janet King.

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