Foxtel has today confirmed Wentworth has been recommissioned for another 20 episodes.
Cast gathered in Sydney this morning for a formal announcement.
As recently reported by TV Tonight the Logie-winning show will now reach 100 episodes in 2021.
The renewal for the show, now the longest-running one hour local drama on air, ends speculation it was being axed by the Pay TV provider.
Brian Walsh, Foxtel’s Executive Director of Television, said: “Foxtel is proud and delighted to confirm a further 20 episodes of Wentworth. The renewal of this much loved drama is testament to Foxtel’s unwavering commitment to Australian story-telling.
“Wentworth has captivated audiences in Australia and all over the world with its gritty nail-biting storylines, remarkable performances by an extensive ensemble cast and high production values. The commissioning of these additional episodes will see it reach an extraordinary 100 episodes”.
Fremantle CEO Asia Pacific, Chris Oliver-Taylor, said: “Foxtel have nurtured and supported the confronting world of Wentworth beautifully through its first seven award-winning series and we are thrilled to be producing another 20 episodes with them. Jo Porter and Pino Amenta lead an exceptionally creative production team with Marcia Gardiner at the helm of our brilliant writing team. Wentworth is a premium global drama for Fremantle and the news of Series 8 will be celebrated around the world.”
Jo Porter, Director of Scripted at Fremantle, told TV Tonight, “It’s incredible that Wentworth will get to 100 episodes. It speaks to the power of the storytelling and the incredible cast that bring these wonderful characters to life and the connection that audiences have made to the predominantly-women and their struggles behind bars.”
Season 7, already completed, will air in 2019 with the latest announcement to hit screens in 2020. Producers are remaining coy on whether new episodes will air as two new seasons, or one split across two years, along with which cast will return.
“We never confirm or deny with those because we still have Season 7 to play out on air. But loyalty is a 2 way street. The loyalty of our cast and crew is second to none,” Porter continued.
“You make a show to connect with an audience and we all find it extremely exhilarating that it has such a passionate fanbase.”
The news also follows rare dual wins at the Logie Awards and a fan outcry when speculation gathered the show may be ending. Porter acknowledged the passion from fans around the world.
“It was humbling. It’s wonderful when you can see first-hand what it means to people. I liken it to reading a really good book and not being able to put it down. I think we all felt we wanted to find a way to keep the show going. We feel like there’s so much more story to be told,” she said.
“TV Week has verified that a show has never won both Popular and Outstanding awards in the same year. It was an amazing moment, but I think it speaks to the power of Foxtel in getting behind content that people have fallen in love with.”
Production on Season 8 will begin in late September 2019 to hit screens in 2020.
“The planning has started already on what will be Season 8. Without giving anything away there are still some more iconic characters from that original Prisoner lexicon and our story department is excited to dive into and find the essence of the characters.
But with writers twisting and turning the storylines for modern audiences, could the renewal also see the return of favourite Wentworth characters, such as Pamela Rabe’s insidious Joan Ferguson, last sighted as dead bones?
“I’ve always said ‘I never saw the DNA report!’” Porter laughed.
“Some people keep telling me it’s all a dream and she will come alive again soon. But we’ve always tried to keep it earth within the rules of our world.
“Once the characters get under your skin you become part of the ‘teal army.’ We’re very grateful to those passionate fans.”