Wentworth completed its final filming on Friday, bringing to an end 100 episodes of the acclaimed Foxtel series.
There were speeches in the lunchroom, with special thanks to Line Producer Sue Edwards and Head of Production Brett Popplewell for navigating filming through the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria. The show’s original set-up director Kev Carlin helmed the final episode.
Foxtel sent individual bottles of champagne to thank the team for their extraordinary efforts.
While Season 8 Part I is currently screening on air, Part II will air in 2021.
The Fremantle show is Foxtel’s longest-running local drama and is remarkably still drawing in subscribers.
TV Tonight understands the On Demand audience (where Drama viewing is almost entirely played out on the Foxtel iQ) is still ferocious -along with the fanbase. Which leads to the next question…. is it really the end? There are several schools of thinking on this front.
Foxtel is rightly proud of what it has achieved, drawing popular and critical acclaim, awards and subscriptions. But Drama funding is expensive and limited. It has other projects, other stories, in the pipeline it wants to green light. It views the series as going out on a high at 100 episodes -also Australia’s longest running drama on air, outside of two serials.
But the fans remain devoted to the show.
They rallied hard to save it after Season 7. They trigger online petitions and attend Wentworth conventions around the world. Through Netflix, the show has a global fanbase, and on IMDb nearly half the User ratings give it a 10 / 10 score. Those with long memories will remember Prisoner, too, enjoyed a diehard following. In Los Angeles bikers gave Franky Doyle (Carol Burns) a funeral in 1979 when the character was shot during an escape.
Many shows have switched platforms after being axed, and Netflix may well express interest given they have global rights to existing seasons. Another future could be a spin-off of some kind….
COVID-19 has also reset the game.
In the US broadcasters have renewed more “on the bubble” shows than ever before. It’s safer to proceed with existing shows than the risk of new, both in terms of audience and in getting production in the can. Wentworth has proven it can complete a season under Stage 4. While it doesn’t attract the Producer Offset incentive after 65 episodes, Season 8’s 2 x 10 eps qualified for Location funding -for which there is no episode cap.
If this sounds like a clarion call to rethink the conclusion, it’s just that. But it’s made from observations of scripts, performance and global audience in a COVID world.
We owe much gratitude to Foxtel for having the gumption to think it could reimagine what was already an Aussie drama classic. Executive producers Penny Win & Jo Porter delivered a knockout drama -will we ever see another Aussie drama reach 100 episodes?
I hope so.