Upfronts 2019: ABC: Deborah Mailman, Rachel Griffiths head up diverse slate.

  • Black B*tch drama with Deborah Mailman & Rachel Griffiths 
  • New docos Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, Love on the Spectrum, Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? 
  • 30 part serial drama The Heights filmed in Perth
  • Barry Humphries narrates nature series Magical Land of Oz
  • Midnight Oil, Michael Hutchence music docos
  • Utopia, Rosehaven, Get Krack!n, Mad as Hell, Hard Quiz, The Weekly return
  • Mystery Road, Glitch return.

ABC today announced its content highlights for 2019 at a media event in Southbank this afternoon, hosted by Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli.

Acting Managing Director David Anderson spoke about the broadcaster’s commitment to local content, noting,“The ABC tells the story of Australia and in 2019 we have many great stories to tell. We are Australia’s leading broadcaster in backing home-grown creative talent and content.

“In the year to come, as in years past, Australian audiences will come home to the ABC to share in the stories, conversations and events that shape our nation.”

Other execs Sally Riley, Gaven Morris and Josie Mason-Campbell also introduced Drama, News and Entertainment slates, respectively.

In attendance were stars including Shaun Micallef, Deborah Mailman, Rachel Griffiths, Tom Gleeson, Kate McLennan & Kate McCartney, Charlie Pickering, Russel Howcroft, Aaron Fa’aoso, Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor, Sammy J, Roz Hammond, Tosh Greenslade, Emily Taheny, Stephen Hall.

The ABC will celebrate remarkable Australian stories in 2019 with distinctive new dramas, documentaries and comedies that showcase the country’s creative talent. Highlights include the return of firm fan favourites Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and Anh’s Brush with Fame.

Major highlights revealed today include new drama series Black B*tch (working title, Blackfella Films), starring Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths and directed by Rachel Perkins.

Just in time for the federal election is the documentary Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? (Joined Up Films), examining the barriers to having an Indigenous national leader. The ABC’s commitment to distinctive Indigenous voices will also see the return of drama Mystery Road (Bunya Productions), currently in development, building on the record-breaking success of season one.

The ABC is the home of Australian comedy in 2019, with a bumper six series slated for broadcast. Firm favourite Utopia (Working Dog Productions) was today confirmed for a fourth season and joins a stellar line up, with new series Frayed (Merman Television), starring Sarah Kendall, and returning seasons of Squinters (Jungle Entertainment), Rosehaven (What Horse? and Guesswork Television), Get Krack!n (Katering and Guesswork Television) and The Letdown (Giant Dwarf).

ABC Factual programs will include Australian premieres Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds (Endemol Shine Australia) and Love on the Spectrum (Northern Pictures), as well as the return of the award-winning series You Can’t Ask That and Employable Me (Northern Pictures). Together, these warm and insightful series affirm the ABC’s invaluable role in telling diverse Australian stories.

Beautifully voiced by Barry Humphries, Magical Land of Oz (Northern Pictures) sees the ABC getting back into the natural history genre. In a sweeping journey across Australia, this high-quality documentary plays out across the land, with a cast of unique creatures and landscapes.

Upcoming Arts programs include documentaries China Love (Media Stockade), a look at the phenomenon of Chinese wedding photography, Mystify (Ghost Pictures), the story of INXS’ Michael Hutchence; and Backburning: Midnight Oil (Beyond Entertainment & Blink TV), the story of the iconic Australian band Midnight Oil.

Following on from children’s programming announcements this year, the ABC also announced new series The Unlisted (Aquarius Films) and new episodes of smash hit animation Bluey (Ludo)!

The ABC would like to thank our State and Federal funding partners for their continued support, particularly Screen Australia, who is our primary funding partner on the majority of scripted and documentary titles today; and further thanks to Create NSW, Screenwest, Screen QLD, Screen Canberra, Screen Tas, Film Vic, SAFC and Screen Territory.


Black B*tch (working title)
When Alex Irving (Deborah Mailman), a charismatic and contradictory Indigenous woman, is thrust into the national limelight after a horrific event, Australia’s embattled Prime Minister Rachel Anderson (Rachel Griffiths), sees a publicity goldmine for her party. In a bold power play, she handpicks Alex for the Senate. But Alex wants to be more than just a political stunt: she wants to make a difference. So, when the Prime Minister’s cynical calculations betray her, Alex sets out for revenge that will send the political establishment into meltdown. 

The Cry
The Heights
Diary of an Uber Driver

Aftermath: Beyond Black Saturday
Love on the Spectrum
Backburning: Midnight Oil
Blue Water Empire
China Love
Escape from the City
How Australia Found its Mojo with Russel Howcroft
Magical Land of Oz
Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds
Storm in a Teacup
The Crown and Us: The Story of the Royals in Australia
The Cult of the Family
The Pool
The Recording Studio
Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister?


Mystery Road

Get Krack!n
Hard Quiz
The Weekly
Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell
Black Comedy
Sammy J
The Letdown

Anh’s Brush with Fame
Back Roads
You Can’t Ask That
Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery

Employable Me

Dream Gardens
Gardening Australia
Restoration Australia


Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders
Midsomer Murders
Death in Paradise
Call the Midwife
Wow! That’s Amazing
Food Investigators
Secret Life of Boys, Series 3
So Awkward, Series 5


Anzac Day
New Year’s Eve
Aus Music Month
Australia Day
Science Week

More to come incl. News & Kids…. this post definitely updates!


  1. Looking forward to Escape from the City, The Cry and Heights. Been saying for ages ABC needs a long form drama. Cannot wait for new Dream Gardens, Utopia and Rosehaven!

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