ABC is making a concerted push into more Indigenous content in 2020 with a slate of factual and dramas.
At its recent 2020 slate presentation, the broadcaster confirmed Adam Goodes documentary The Australian Dream, Dark Emu with author Bruce Pascoe, nuclear fallout doco Maralinga (working title), kids’ series Are You Tougher Than Your Ancestors?
There’s more of Mystery Road, Black Comedy and Little J and Big Cuz. These come on top of embedding more Indigenous performers into shows such as Play School and The Heights.
Development is also underway for more of acclaimed drama Total Control, if not necessarily for 2020.
Head of Entertainment & Specialist Michael Carrington is proud of the range of content ABC has announced. But with NITV already as an Indigenous broadcaster, he ismindful that ABC can bring the content to a large and broad audience.
“The ABC has a responsibility to connect with as many Australians as possible and a huge part of that community is our First Peoples,” he tells TV Tonight.
“I think the ABC is able to provide broad inclusive stories that maybe another network might not be able to do. So those big stories that we’re doing, whether it’s the Adam Goodes story, or whether it’s bringing to life an award winning book, by Bruce Pascoe, Dark Emu, I think it’s just testament to our ability to make stories inclusive for all Australians. Whether they’re Indigenous or other.”
On the prospect of more Total Control he added, “It’s been a huge success and I think we knew all the way through it was going to have an impact and audiences were definitely going to engage with it. So there is thinking around season 2.”
Meanwhile there are still more drama and comedy titles to announce, once formally commissioned.
Of profile docos presented by the likes of Craig Reucassel and Sarah Ferguson, Carrington says, “We’re really trying to create emotional, factual content that means something to the audience. That draws them in.”
But what of shows yet to be renewed -such as a second season of hit series Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds?
“The development process to get there will take us a long time. We will obviously need to recast because those four years will be five years,” he continues.
“It’s had a huge impact. But what comes next will need some really careful thinking. So it’s in the thinking.”
The future of music series The Set is also unknown.
“It’s wonderful to be able to bring Australian music to life. So that is in development. It’s only just in the thinking. I don’t know what form that will take whether it will be another big studio show. Or it might be more attuned to the way that that audience connects with it. But I’m a really great supporter of The Set and Australian music in general. So we will find a way to bring The Set back. Just when I don’t know.
“Ausmusic month is really important to us and we do it every year. We put a lot of effort into creating content for it. Which is kind of where The Set was inspired, originally. So it’s something that’s important to me personally.”
Les Norton is in development for more while Diary of an Uber Driver is yet to be renewed.
Carrington also has good news for fans of The Heights.
“I love The Heights. We are totally going to give you a better timeslot. We’re working on it right now.
“But yes, more Heights, which is wonderful because it’s new talent both on screen off screen, whether they’re writers, directors, producers. And I’m really proud of it.”
Upfronts 2020: ABC: Docos, drama & Hamish Macdonald