ABC announces new soap, The Heights.

ABC has excitingly announced a new 30 part serial drama to be produced in Perth.

The Heights, from Matchbox Pictures & For Pete’s Sake Productions, is a half-hour ‘slice of life’ serial that will star Marcus Graham and Shari Sebbens.

The series centres on the inner-city neighbourhood of Arcadia Heights, exploring the relationships between the residents of the Arcadia social housing tower and the people who live in the rapidly gentrifying community that surrounds it. The Heights mines the frictions and commonalities between the upper and working classes in the melting pot of urban Australia.

The series promises a medley of characters, cultures, classes and backgrounds from the ‘tower’ community, exploring their relationships, work lives and everyday challenges faced by its characters in an entertaining relationship drama series.

Head of Drama, Comedy and Indigenous for the ABC, Sally Riley said, “The Heights will broach complex social issues faced in the reality of our lives today.

“We’re thrilled to support a 30 episode program that is built on a model of bringing together new talent with experienced creatives for a timely new Australian series that is a microcosm for a diverse nation that is continually redefining itself. The Heights will make audiences laugh, think and be emotionally engaged,” she said.

Other cast include Roz Hammond (Muriel’s Wedding, The Dish, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell and Thank God You’re Here), Fiona Press (Home and Away, San Andreas), Dan Paris (Neighbours), Calen Tassone (Red Dog: True Blue, Black Comedy), Saskia Hampele (Neighbours, A Few Less Men), Phoenix Raei (Wentworth, Romper Stomper, Australia Day), Yazeed Daher (Safe Harbour, Anzac Girls) and exciting newcomers Bridie McKim, Mitchell Bourke, Koa Nuen, Cara McCarthy and Carina Hoang. Series regulars also include Kelton Pell (Three Summers, Gods of Wheat Street, Cloudstreet), Briallen Clarke (Muriel’s Wedding – The Musical) and Bernie Davis.

The new series has been created in-house at Matchbox Pictures by Warren Clarke (Mustangs FC) and co-creator Que Minh Luu. Clarke will take on the Showrunner position for the series, which is produced by Peta Astbury-Bulsara (The Marriage of Figaro, Almost Midnight) and Executive Produced by Debbie Lee for Matchbox Pictures and Sally Riley and Que Minh Luu for the ABC. The first season is directed by James Bogle (Whiteley, Closed For Winter, Lockie Leonard), Andrew Prowse (Farscape, Home and Away, Underbelly, Rush), Renee Webster (Marx and Venus) and Darlene Johnson (Stolen Generations).

Co-creator Warren Clarke says, “It’s a diverse community, but this series doesn’t seek to exploit the things that make us different but rather explore and celebrate the things that ultimately make us all the same. This isn’t story about good versus evil or rich versus poor; it’s about the very unifying experience of trying to make one’s way in the world, and the family you surround yourself with, whether by bloodline or by circumstance,” he said.

Potentially developed for an early evening timeslot, this marks the ABC’s first serial since 200’s Something in the Air.

No airdate has yet been announced.

The Heights is produced by Matchbox Pictures and For Pete’s Sake Productions for ABC and developed and produced with the assistance of ABC in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest and NBCUniversal.

From the creative team to the cast and crew, The Heights combines established talent with those emerging in the industry. In addition to casting and training many first-time actors, the production will engage a first-time drama director receiving mentorship from director Andrew Prowse, as well as several first-time screen writers contributing to scripts.

As well as providing opportunities for industry newcomers, The Heights will provide a huge boost to the WA television industry, with the production engaging nearly 100 local crew and casting 93 speaking and extras roles locally, exemplifying the ABC’s unrivalled commitment to making significant investment in homegrown content that fosters Australian talent.

Screenwest CEO Seph McKenna said the entire Screenwest family will be delighted to see The Heights make its way into loungerooms across Australia, noting the production is a first for Perth.

“Having a quality, scripted drama coming out of our State is a real game changer for our local screen industry,” Mr McKenna said.

“There’s a real buzz around the ABC studios in East Perth and it’s exciting to see crew and creatives busy collaborating to deliver this local project.”

Season one of The Heights was written by Hannah Carroll Chapman, Romina Accurso, Peter Mattessi, Megan Palinkas, Nick King, , Clare Atkins, Niki Aken, Dot West, Magda Wozniak, Mithila Gupta, Tracey Defty-Rashid, Larissa Behrendt , Miley Tunnecliffe, Katie Beckett and Melissa Lee Speyer. This first season is directed by James Bogle, Andrew Prowse, Renee Webster and Darlene Johnson.

International sales will be handled by NBCUniversal Distribution.

28 Comments:

  1. This is good news. Have always said the ABC needs a long – form drama. A weekly one hour soap… similar to the BBC with Holby City and Casualty.

  2. Can’t see this rating too greatly … there’s a reason nearly all other soaps are based in a (fictional) NSW or VIC suburb, as that’s most of your target audience … are east coasters going to understand a Perth based series?

  3. Utterly made up scenario-the little social housing in the inner city is very low rise-most of what was there has been yuppiefied a long time ago and now very expensive-there is no area named
    Arcadia Heights-poor folks live much further out in the suburbs in state housing commission flats and houses-I suspect the scenario is meant to make sense to Melb and Syd audiences.

    • Actually there are social housing towers in East Perth for example (just a play on where the ABC studios are 😆) one that has been completed in the past couple of years on Bennett Street. So i can only assume there are others in the inner city area. I don’t think you’re giving Perth enough credit, it’s becoming a lot more multifaceted these days.

  4. daveinprogress

    It’s going to cost a lot of money; flying lots of cast members backwards and forwards; accommodation etc. I am pleased for my former colleagues (or what’s left of them) at the ABC in Perth. Was the Heath Ledger show ‘Sweat’ the last major drama to be made by the ABC in WA?

  5. This doesn’t sound very gripping: “it’s about the very unifying experience of trying to make one’s way in the world, and the family you surround yourself with, whether by bloodline or by circumstance”

  6. I’m excited by this! As the years have gone on Soap has become a dirty word.
    Hopefully with a strong cast and some strong writing and good plots it will be a hit!

  7. daveinprogress

    The cynic in me immediately thought about the ill fated 1988 series The Last Resort! And what’s in a name? I hope it does reach some good heights, and not plumb the depths! I also thought about Number 96 when i read this. I hope it has the sort of cache and spark that 96 had. Something in the Air was pretty good.

      • daveinprogress

        Great cast and idea on paper – set in Bondi – three sisters. A boarding house or a boutique hotel. Kris McQuade who I’ve always liked (remember Certain Women?). I’ve aged myself severely there! Kate Fitzpatrick – one of the great actors and the talented Nell Schofield. It looked really bad – the exteriors were only fleeting and the sets were just awful so it never looked right.

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