2017 Upfronts: ABC highlights

Newton's Law, Seven Types of Ambiguity, Utopia, Bullied and a rebrand for ABC News 24, all in 2017.


New dramas featuring Claudia Karvan, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Tapsell, Xavier Samuel, Alex Dimitriades, Lisa McCune plus returning favourites with Craig McLachlan, Marta Dusseldorp, Patrick Brammall, Deborah Mailman and Hunter Page-Lochard lead the Drama titles coming to ABC in 2017.

ABC’s 2017 slate includes 20 new Australian shows, in addition to returning titles.

Newton’s Law, Seven Types of Ambiguity and The Warriors join returning seasons of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Janet King and Glitch.

Utopia returns with a new seasons alongside Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, The Checkout and a debut season by Ronny Chieng: International Student. 

Anh’s Brush with Fame is renewed for a second season while Matt Okine and Annabel Crabb have new shows. Jack Thompson, Ryan Corr, Damian Walshe- Howling and Aaron Fa’aoso feature in the Torres Strait Islands docu-drama Blue Water Empire.

Bullied presented by Ian Thorpe and Cyberhate with Tara Moss will air as part of National Anti-Bullying Day in March. And rage will also celebrate 30 years on air.

Absent from the slate at this stage are Gruen, Rake, Please Like Me, The Code, The Ex-PM, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Nowhere Boys, Kitchen Cabinet, Tomorrow When the War Began, Upper Middle Bogan, Hard Quiz, Soul Mates -but additional shows will be announced in February 2017.

Director of Television, Richard Finlayson says: “We exist to bring great Australian stories to life. Our track record of innovation and creativity over recent years, means that the best creative talent in the country want to work with us. In fact, they keep raising the bar and it’s thanks to them that we can present another fabulous year of the very best of Australian TV to our audiences.

“But it’s not just at the premium end – in 2017 the network will double its commitment to digital-first content, with more than 200 hours of new content made especially for iview. Still Australia’s #1 VOD platform, ABC iview will continue to introduce audiences to exciting new content and to create opportunities for a fresh and diverse generation of creative talent. We’re very proud of our great VOD service which provides free access all year, with no advertisements and across every imaginable device.

“Continual evolution is part of the DNA of the ABC. Earlier this year, we proudly launched the live streaming of all ABC channels on iview, and in September we successfully launched the new ABC ME platform for school aged children.

“Australian audiences have never had greater options for watching TV wherever they are. And Australian talent has never had a better home than with ABC.”

ABC News 24 (and ABC NewsRadio) is also getting a rebranding, to be simply known as ABC News, across all platforms and channels: television, radio, digital and social media. A contemporary new look is coming to all ABC News content on including new graphics, maps and weather.

Director of News, Gaven Morris said, “The way our audiences get news and current affairs content continues to change, but increasingly they’re looking for fast access wherever they look. As Australia’s most trusted news source we need our offering to be seamless and consistent no matter how audiences choose to access it. Our new, unified identity will be simply ABC News, representing independent, quality reporting and context that works equally well across all our digital and broadcast platforms.”


For Drama Lovers

New dramas for 2017 include Newton’s Law, The Warriors and Seven Types of Ambiguity, as well as new seasons of the strikingly original Cleverman and Glitch, and the much loved home grown favourites Janet King and The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

Newton’s Law centers around Josephine Newton (Claudia Karvan), a suburban solicitor with an over-developed sense of responsibility who attempts to return to her briefly glorious stint at the Bar. When Josephine’s low-flying solicitor’s practice is incinerated by a disgruntled client, she is persuaded by her old Uni friend and not-so-secret admirer, Lewis Hughes, to trade the benefits of her brilliant mind for a berth in the lofty glamour of Knox Chambers. With her office destroyed, her marriage collapsing and motherhood fast losing its charm, Josephine decides it’s time to take her own aspirations off the back burner and resume her barrister’s robes. If only it were that easy to leave her old life behind! Also featuring Miranda Tapsell and Toby Schmitz.

In The Warriors, two young Indigenous football players are plucked from their modest lives to play in the big league. Within two days of making the draft, the boys pack up and move interstate to the busy metropolis of Melbourne where their lives are turned upside down.

Seven Types of Ambiguity is a series of personal stories that pivot around a central storyline in which a young boy goes missing. The seven characters each hold their own clues to the mystery, and with each episode the drama builds in complexity and intrigue. Starring Hugo Weaving, Andrea Demetriades and Xavier Samuel, it’s based on Elliot Perlman’s renowned novel.

In its first season, Glitch brought Australian viewers a stylish new look at the popular zombie genre. Patrick Brammall led an impressive cast on an intriguing journey that had audiences binging big-time on the series and left hungry for more. In its second season, the plot thickens, retaining its strong sense of humanity while probing questions around how the dead have come to rise, and how they’ll now face their latest threat.

Premiering in 2016, Cleverman marked a new genre entirely, inspired both by stories from Aboriginal Dreaming, and Western superhero pop culture. Set in a futuristic Australia populated by Hairies and Humans, the drama of season one was built around a mounting sense of injustice for those living on the outskirts of society. In the second season, the newly emerged hero faces new challenges as he seeks to harness his powers and protect those important to him. Hunter Lochard-Page, Rob Collins, Tasma Walton and Deborah Mailman return in the much anticipated follow up to one of Australia’s most intriguing and original dramas of recent time.



The Entertainers

In 2017 viewers will meet some fresh new Australian comedic talent and continue their love affair with our ever-enjoyable (if often caustic!) seasoned entertainers. The slate includes both long laughs on ABC TV and short, snappy titles for ABC iview.

Emerging from ABC’s recent pilot programs like Fresh Blood and Comedy Showroom are a number of exciting new shorts series, including comedian Anne Edmonds’ original noir comedy The Edge of the Bush and Ronny Chieng’s new autobiographical comedy Ronny Chieng: International Student.

Other great new six-part short form projects for ABC iview include Lost in Pronounciation, from award-winning stand up comedian Ivan Aristeguieta, Goober (featuring Shane Jacobson), a series following an autistic Uber driver on an hilarious and heart-breaking search for a new best friend, and a coming of age romantic comedy set over six years of New Year’s Eves, titled Almost Midnight.

These complement some much loved returning shows, including Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, Utopia, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering.


Showcasing Modern Australian Life

In 2017 we celebrate and question what life in Australia is like today, with a range of shows that showcase our diversity, our history, our treasures and our challenges.

A range of impressive presenters will tackle social issues, with Ian Thorpe and Tara Moss hosting two new programs that will form the centrepiece of a larger investigation into the impact of bullying on Australians of all ages. In Bullied, Ian Thorpe helps school-aged Australian kids handle real life situations of bullying, providing mentorship and guidance to educate victims, perpetrators and their families. Tara Moss brings her own first-hand experience of social media bullying to an investigation of how this effects so many young Australians today, in Cyberhate with Tara Moss.

In Open House, Annabel Crabb takes us behind the scenes of Parliament House in Canberra and reveals for Australian viewers the parts of our democracy that usually operate out of sight. Funny, revealing, suspenseful and illuminating, this is Parliament like you’ve never seen it.

Blue Water Empire is a dramatised documentary series giving new insight into the history and culture of the Torres Strait Islands. The series starts pre-colonisation and charts the impact of European arrival from the missionaries to the influx of people from all around the world during the pearling boom. A thrilling and vital, yet largely unknown, part of our Australian history. The great cast includes Jack Thompson, Ryan Corr, Damian Walshe- Howling and Aaron Fa’aoso.

Anh’s Brush with Fame was a smash hit in 2016 – a warm-hearted interview program in which the much loved comedian brought his unique conversational style to bear with an often-unexpected line up of interview subjects. In the follow-up season, Anh meets a new series of guests and captures their likeness in painted portraits revealed at the end of each conversation. 2017 guests will be announced in the coming months.



For Lovers of Life

Iconic ABC music stalwart rage turns 30 on April 17th 2017. The nation can celebrate with a week of programming including two specially produced documentaries, which will explore the uniquely Australian experience of watching the influential music show. An extensive social media campaign will invite the nation to share their own experience of #watchingrage including the opportunity to program rage over its birthday weekend.

Triple j presenter and comedian Matt Okine makes the move to TV to present a new cooking show for millennials on iview. Designed to equip new independents (and nervous parents!) with basic skills and some impressive dishes, Shortcuts to Glory is a how-to guide with heart and humour.

“I spent most of my twenties with no money and a lot of time” says Matt. “I would stand in the magazine section of my local supermarket, sneakily looking at food recipes, trying to figure out simple meals to make at home. Where was this show back then?!”

In new series Dream Gardens, Michael McCoy takes a journey through some of Australia’s most lavish and magnificent gardens with the help of some like-minded, nature-loving creatives! For anyone who loves Grand Designs and Gardening Australia this will be a renovation treat, tackling the great outdoors with the same sense of ambition, imagination, and a little risk-taking, to create some inspiring visions.

A new series of arts documentaries premiere in 2017, in Art Bites:

Shock Art explores the art of today that takes us into extremely uncomfortable territory exploring what makes art shocking and asking whether it can sometimes go too far.

The Glass Bedroom profiles six Australian artists who use Instagram to create bold works that provoke followers with alternate views on identity, sex, corporate power and the mainstream media and looks at how art is changing in the digital era.

Suburban Interventions looks at renowned Australian artist Ian Strange and the impact of his work on an international art practice that deals with the iconography of suburbia and home.

The Wanderers examines work from six of Australia’s most exciting street artists as they take their work on the road. Each episode chronicles one artist’s journey to create a mural for a specific area or community, ranging from the Tiwi Islands and Vanuatu, to Tasmania and Sydney.


For Young Viewers

New shows for young children through to teens, will entertain and delight audiences in 2017, and they can watch at times and on devices that best suit their lifestyles. Capturing the stories, voices and personalities of kids living in the city and across regional Australia, the year ahead brings a diverse range of youth-focused offerings for this important and growing audience.

There are few more iconic symbols of modern Australia than the beach and the Life Savers who patrol it. New series for and about Aussie kids, Nippers looks at the vibrant culture of Surf Life Saving that sees around 65,000 kids across the country meeting every Sunday on their local surf beach for a training program run by Surf Life Saving Australia.

Every year, over 200,000 Aussie kids go through Year 12 exams. They’re told it’s the one year that changes everything – no pressure! In 2016, we gave cameras to 14 students from across the country for a new show called My Year 12 Life. They documented the raw, intimate, unfiltered drama of their final school year. No rules, no teachers, no parents. Just their story, seen through their eyes.

More than ever, the ABC is the destination for stories about Australians of all ages, from all walks of life, showcasing what makes us angry and joyful, quick to laugh and tough in the face of injustice. In 2017 we celebrate today’s Australia as we adapt to the ever changing ways in which we watch TV, with an ever evolving move towards new digital offerings in addition to our traditional formats. It’s an exciting year to be with the ABC!


New Titles

David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema,
Cyberhate with Tara Moss,
My Year 12 Life,
Trip for Biscuits,
Dream Gardens,
Rage 30th Anniversary Specials,
Songs from the Red Couch: 30 Years of Guest Rage Programmers,
Open House (Annabel Crabb),
Growing Up Gracefully,
Newton’s Law,
Seven Types of Ambiguity,
Ronny Chieng: International Student ,
The Edge of the Bush,
Lost in Pronounciation ,
Almost Midnight,
The Warriors,
Blue Water Empire,
Art Bites

Returning Titles

Anh’s Brush with Fame,
Hack Live,
Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell,
The Weekly with Charlie Pickering,
Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery,
The Checkout,
You Can’t Ask That,
Gardening Australia ,
Comedy Up Late,
New Year’s Eve,
The Doctor Blake Mysteries,
Janet King,
Stop Laughing This is Serious

Additional new and returning shows will be announced in February 2017.

ABC adds D for Diversity


15 Responses

  1. ABC offers Australians fantastic value for the taxpayer dollar. Not only does Aunty provide four free-to-air TV channels but also 12 radio stations (AM, FM and DAB+), the excellent ABC iview online service plus a vital presence in around 60 communities – metropolitan and regional – around Australia. And don’t forget the ABC’s fantastic slate of innovative programs and the highly respected ABC News TV and radio news bulletins prepared in newsrooms large and small across the nation.

  2. Nippers could be really good for young Australians. In an age where beach life is under attack by those telling people “not to go in the water” because of Sharks, $50 inflatable pools requiring thousands of dollars of pool fencing and the ever increasing cotton wool nature of parents.

    If Nippers is honest and unbiased, then it could really do a world of good in encouraging children to get out there and say it’s okay to live life boldly.

  3. Fingers crossed for a new Chaser show, hopefully back to their better traditional format with just the 5 guys. Election Desk was a mess and none of the Checkout presenters really worked, and Media Circus was always a bit boring.

    New Hamster Wheel please!

  4. Wow…I was not interested in anything on the Seven list…this lot…both new and returning have me excited….there is probably only 4 or 5 that I would not watch
    Really difficult to pick just one for the survey….

  5. No doubt ABC radio will continue with its obsession with sport – wall to wall cricket taking over everything else on its main network in summer. Absolutely infuriating. Why can’t it be moved to Radio National or some other little listened-to network? Boost their ratings, and leave the 774s and 702s with their regular programs.

  6. Wow, ABC has left Nine and Seven for dead. 20 new Australian shows. Original content on iview. Ambitious, bold programming. A rebrand of news. And look at that – aunty even has trailers ready to go on announcement day – unlike seven

      1. Jesus, surely you’re not crying poor for the commercial networks! They’ve gotten hundreds of millions in licence reductions, billions in advertising, shows paid for by brand funding, etc… Yet they still produce mainly boring middle of the road rubbish. Can’t shed a tear for FTA until they try something new, sorry.

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