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.”