Fans begin “Save Wentworth” campaign amid axe rumours

Officially, Foxtel and FremantleMedia are in discussions on the future of Wentworth.

Unofficially, speculation is rife the show will not continue beyond Season 7.

Rumours began circulating out of the Logies weekend that cast and crew had been told the show would not continue beyond Season 7, just ahead of it winning both Most Outstanding and Most Popular drama.

Sources denied that version of events, but chatter has gathered strength ever since. Yesterday Peter Ford told 3AW sets were being dismantled, although shooting of S7 will continue until Friday July 27.

The reality for the series is it reaches 65 episodes in two weeks’ time, which means the Producer Offset disappears, effectively increasing costs by 20%. At the same time numbers for the show have been slipping, currently around 90,000 overnight viewers (it should be noted these increase with timeshifted and repeat screenings etc), down from 140,000.

Creatively it has had to work against the loss of Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) and now, presumably, Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe). It is a testament to the strength of the writers and cast / crew it has done just that.

Foxtel also recently confirmed a final season of A Place to Call Home -a rare move in Australian television, but one to be applauded, for allowing writers and therefore audience to ramp up to a big finish. Privately giving production notice of Wentworth‘s end will ensure a kicker season.

But fans are rabid for the series, both in Australia and the UK, and will not take the news lying down. In just a day a petition to #SaveWentworth already has over 2,500 signatures. Expect a campaign to rival anything for A Place to Call Home or The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

Yet while both those shows were rescued, the options for Wentworth could be limited. Free to Air networks may be unlikely to swoop on anything that does not include previous seasons and recent numbers for the debut season on ABC indicated most fans had already seen the show.

Netflix, which screens the series in the US, could be the best option for incoming FremantleMedia CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor.

Yesterday Sigrid Thornton said her “lips were sealed” regarding the show’s future.

Foxtel is expected to make an announcement when Season 6 concludes but for now the official line is,
“Discussions between Foxtel and Fremantle Media regarding future seasons of Wentworth continue. Season 7 of the series will conclude production in Melbourne on Friday July 27.”

19 Comments:

  1. I’ll be sad to see it go, as I think there is plenty of life in Wentworth yet – although I agree that it’s good to end on a high note! One of the few series offering juicy roles for women of all ages, and some great performances from the cast. Bravo!

  2. End a show on a high. Leave then wanting more.
    Like what Breaking Bad did. GoT is ending while still popular. Don’t want to be that show that people are shocked that is still airing.
    Plus loss of the “must watch” factor at the moment with current storylines but this week’s ep was good. Loving Susie and Leah’s addition to the cast!!

  3. Should be noted that the tweet embed in this story declaring that “Wentworth won’t continue past season 8” is from a brand new unverified twitter account and the quote has no credible attribution

  4. I’m a big fan of Wentworth but I feel like 7 seasons is possibly about the right amount. Season 6 so far whilst still being very good, is starting to show a few cracks – It’s always been a show that has prided itself on being based in realism but I feel that is slipping a bit. Let it go for too long and it will start repeating storylines.
    Having said that, if season 7 was left on a cliffhanger then the show deserves a proper finish.
    Yes the original Prisoner ran for a long time, but that was a different time, when people didn’t have recorders or the internet so when storylines essentially repeated themselves (and they often did) viewers had somewhat forgotten.

  5. That 65 episode rule regarding funding has alot to answer for in terms of how it affects ongoing seasons of Australian dramas. Very sad to see a show that is doing so well and been sold to so many countries will end due to increased costs as a result. This funding rule should be performance based, and linked to overseas success as well.

    • And another point – while generally I don’t think shows should go on forever and ever, the very nature of a show like Wentworth is that it can – because you have new prisoners coming in, old ones going out, change in staff, etc. Very easy to keep going with new characters over time…

    • Strictly speaking a taxation rule to help shows establish themselves, effectively costing 20% less. After 65 eps you’re expected to stand on your own merits, which Wentworth will but seemingly not for long. It’s a partial factor to the end for Offspring, Rush, Sea Patrol amongst others.

      • Jᴏʜɴɴʏ1ᴘ5

        Yeah it’s 65 hours as:

        “Each season of a series is treated as a different ‘film’ for the purposes of the Producer Offset, is the subject of a separate application, and must separately meet the expenditure thresholds. However, once a series (as made up by all of its seasons) totals 65 commercial hours, the series ceases to be eligible for certification (sections 376-55(2)(b) and 376-170(4)(c) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997).

        The following criteria apply to series and seasons thereof:

        the series/season must contain at least two episodes
        the episodes must be at least a commercial half hour in length (commercial quarter hour for animated series), and
        the series (but not each season) must have a ‘new creative concept’.”

        As per and more reading here: screenaustralia.gov.au/funding-and-support/producer-offset/guidelines/eligibility/series

    • That’s a ridiculous contradiction … if it’s successful overseas it will be earning more money on its own and shouldn’t need taxpayer support.

  6. littletonpace

    I have a lot of friends from the US who are huge fans of the show. I certainly hope someone would be ready to snatch it up if it’s canned. Definitely one of the best Australian dramas I’ve seen – and I hate Australian drama with a passion. Mainly because it’s all the same. Family/Relationship drama at the beach, Family/Relationship drama in the city, Family/Relationship drama at work. Wentworth actually takes a different avenue.

  7. If the rumours are true and Foxtel axes it, maybe Channel 10 could pick it up. Wouldn’t be the first time Ten has rescued an axed show and had success with it. I don’t have Foxtel so would be great to have Wentworth on free to air.

    • But it was on FTA on ABC and didn’t rate because fans had seen it. What’s the point in TEN picking it up if without immediate access to seasons 1-7? No point if the rights window has years to wait. Netflix at least doesn’t have that problem outside Oz.

      • When Neighbours went to Ten from 7, Ten only screened the new episodes they made and it rated it’s socks off. I agree the repeats of previous episodes already seen elsewhere will never rate as well.

  8. If Foxtel axes it, maybe Netflix could step in? It’s apparently pretty popular for the streaming giant overseas. Could be nice to see how the show would go with some of that Netflix money too.

    But I agree, it could be a good idea for them to go out on top. And 7 seasons is a pretty damn good run.

  9. melbourneamy

    At the end of the day it comes down to money.
    Illegal streaming has a lot to answer for, This week alone, I have seen over 100 different sites that are illegally showing the latest episodes.

  10. Wentworth is the best Australian drama in a long time. There is a school of thought though that seven seasons is a good run and it’s s good idea to go out while it’s creativeky strong. It’ll be missed though.

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