As 2018 draws to a close I’ve looked back over the faces who helped define the year in Television (in a positive way).
It’s a list that could go on forever, so here is how I have summarised.
And the winner is: Hannah Gadsby
With her unbridled Netflix special Nanette, comedian Hannah Gadsby personalised the response to “#metoo” by cleverly endearing her audience with self-deprecation before turning her narrative inside-out to compelling effect. On social media it left viewers lost for words and men seeing behaviour from a different perspective.
Becoming an “overnight success” on the international scene, Gadsby had effectively painted herself into a corner, having pledged in her show to give up Comedy.
I can’t think of a better reason to concede a total backflip.
Rising Stars: Scott Ryan, Dylan Alcott, George Pullar, Tess Haubridge & Superwog.
- “Who the hell is Scott Ryan?” the industry was asking after Mr. Inbetween landed on FOX Showcase, written by and starring a man with no acting experience and approaching middle age. Praised in the US after its rare FX screening it proceeds straight to a second season.
- Paralympian Dylan Alcott and triple j broadcaster proves a natural at TV hosting on ABC music show The Set and notably on the Invictus Games where he coaxed Prince Harry into wearing budgie smugglers on air. Next stop, Nine’s tennis coverage.
- Previously on A Place to Call Home, George Pullar (Playing for Keeps, Fighting Season) is named as one of the Casting Guild of Australia’s Rising Stars of 2018. Joining him is Pine Gap‘s Tess Haubrich who now steps into the upcoming Bad Mothers role vacated by Jessica Marais.
- Reckless Superwog brothers Theodore & Naithan Saidden unleash full throttle comedy, writing, directing and starring (in multiple roles) in this fresh ABC Comedy series.
Reality TV: Shane Gould, Nick Cummins, Married at First Sight.
- Australian Survivor winner Shane Gould for showing senior women on TV still kick butt, or in her own words “Don’t f*** with Shane Gould.”
- Nick Cummins for drawing in male viewers on The Bachelor and ending it (apparently) on his own terms, for appearances on Netflix and National Geographic and rising above that dreadful ACA confrontation.
- Married at First Sight for finally toppling My Kitchen Rules ratings and attracting an inordinate amount of magazine publicity (although the sheer vitriol in a series supposedly about love was nearly enough to negate it all).
Aussie Drama: Neighbours, Mystery Road, Wentworth
- Neighbours screens the first same-sex wedding in an Aussie drama and gets Magda to officiate. Extra points for the very first Christmas Day episode from an Australian drama.
- Mystery Road pulls in ratings, critical acclaim and tops the industry awards.
- Wentworth nabs the double of Most Outstanding & Most Popular Drama at the Logies, saving it from permanent day release. New stars Leah Purcell deliver the Hector Crawford Memorial Lecture at Screen Forever Conference & Susie Porter gives Keynote Address at the Women In TV Breakfast.
International: Sandra Oh, Richard Madden, Darren Criss, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jodie Whittaker.
- Sandra Oh, one of two bonafide stars of Killing Eve, becomes the first Asian-American woman to be nominated for Lead Actress at the Emmy Awards. Now co-hosting the Golden Globes.
- Richard Madden, smouldering star of smash hit Bodyguard. ‘Nuff said.
- Darren Criss delivers a star turn in the theatrical The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
- Patrick Melrose was confronting stuff but star Benedict Cumberbatch was dazzling as its addicted, broken leading man.
- Transforming Doctor Who from male to female was a mighty tall order but Jodie Whittaker made it work, if slightly more interesting than the episodes themselves.
Industry execs: Hugh Marks, Patrick Delany, Michael Ebeid, Angus Ross, Chris Oliver-Taylor.
- High marks for Hugh Marks who oversees the biggest media takeover of the year, alas sadly ending the 177 years of Fairfax Media. While the jury is still out, Nine’s coup can’t be ignored.
- Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany is making his stamp helming Subscription TV giant with bold market moves such as 4K television. But it is Kayo Sports, notably unlinked to the Foxtel brand, that is a game changer.
- In a year of public broadcaster turmoil Michael Ebeid quietly departs SBS with a top track record and the fond farewells of his staff. Such a contrast to fortunes at ABC.
- 2018 may not have been Seven’s strongest in programming but Angus Ross still pulls out a winning year and delivers record shares.
- Former Matchbox CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor shifts to running Fremantle, in a few short months securing a new deal for Wentworth, new hirings in Jennifer Collins, a partnership with Marta Dusseldorp and even a surprise comeback for Australia’s Got Talent.
Classy exits: Lee Lin Chin, Bill Collins, Ian Henderson
- In striking PVC attire Lee Lin Chin exited SBS after 30 years: “I take my leave with sadness. Over the years all my colleagues have featured very prominently and positively in both my life at the network and in my personal life. I’m saddest of all to leave you the audience. Thank you for watching, and a very good night.”
- It took 2 takes for Ian Henderson to depart ABC after 38 years: “Thank you for all your kind and thoughtful messages of the past fortnight and for welcoming me into your homes all these years. It has been a rare privilege and a real pleasure.”
- Bill Collins departs FOX Classics, handing over duties to the erudite Graeme Blundell, and wrapping 55 years of TV presenting: “To all my fans, I want to say thank you for your support of the Golden Years of Hollywood. Thank you so much, you’ve brought me so much pleasure. We’ve got some wonderful movies available On Demand from the Golden Years of Hollywood. I hope you continue to support and enjoy these films.”
TV presenters: Joh Griggs, Tom Gleeson, Sarah Ferguson, Joel Creasey, Andrew Winter, Jennifer Keyte.
- Joh Griggs, joined by Basil Zempalis, absolutely let rip following the dreadful Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony, apologising to viewers for what they had just sat through. “I’m sorry, you’re being way too polite,” she told Zempalis. “People are thinking that Channel Seven has chosen not to show pictures of athletes …… They made the decision not to have the athletes enter the stadium. They made the decision not to show the flag bearers and I’m furious! They are actually wrecking a tradition that is so important.”
- Tom Gleeson disrupts the Logie Awards by conducting a late run campaign for Grant Denyer to win Gold (which he did). Also for unstoppable ratings for Hard Quiz.
- Sarah Ferguson for another year of Four Corners, with particular reference to tackling ABC’s very own “Killing Season” at the heart of the broadcaster and coverage of the Thai Cave Rescue.
- Joel Creasey for turning a fairly ordinary game show in Take Me Out into his own hosting showreel & Eurovision.
- “Who the hell is Andrew Winter?” the press was asking after landing Foxtel’s very first Gold Logie nomination. No explanation needed. Viewers knew and voted accordingly. Kindly catch up.
- Jennifer Keyte surprised everybody when she jumped ship from Seven News to TEN Eyewitness News, and did it her way.
Programming stunts: Pilot Week, Slow TV.
- Not every show was a winner, and there was that press yarn about too many blokes. But the fact we had a Pilot Week on TEN was a positive and fingers crossed may see some shows have a long life.
- The Ghan on SBS was all of these at the same time: bold, compelling, ludicrous, boring, polarising. More trains are coming, duh.
- News Breakfast turns 10
- Home & Away turns 30
- Behind the News turns 50
- 50 years since Skippy the Bush Kangaroo