Erik Thomson: “Drama was in their DNA”

When Dave Rafter laments the state of Australian drama...

Actor Erik Thomson took to social media following Seven’s Upfronts to lament the state of Australian drama, noting that just one new local drama has been commissioned for 2022: the 2 x 2hr Claremont.

On social media he wrote, “So the Seven Network has only one new first play drama for 2022: a four part True Crime series about the Claremont killer in WA. Fortunately, they have Home and Away for their drama points.

“But it really is remarkable how quickly their drama slate has declined. In my time there over 14 years and three series, I heard the various CEOs say that ‘Drama was in their DNA’. It seems that is no longer the case. Nine and 10 will fare similarly with only the ABC producing numerous high quality drama and comedy series. But the ABC as an entity is under constant threat.”

Thomson, who recently appeared in ABC comedy AfterTaste and the Seven-produced Back to the Rafters (for Amazon Prime Video) added to the call for local quota points on streaming services -something the Federal Government is still considering.

“There is hope that the big streamers will take up the slack, but unless a content quota is legislated, I get the feeling that their involvement will be shallow and piecemeal. We really need a bilateral political agenda to protect the Australian TV drama industry. Or we will be facing very lean times with crippling competition well into the foreseeable future,” he wrote.

In late 2020 the government introduced flexible local quota points, a complex system of 250 points which networks can amass via a mix of scripted, documentary or children’s content of their own choosing.

Last year when the government suspended quotas temporarily, Seven met the suspended Drama quota, but was dismally low in Children’s TV, 10 just missed the annual quota in Drama and fell short in Children’s TV while Nine was well short in both Drama and Children’s overall.

At their 2022 Upfronts Nine announced new dramas, Underbelly: Vanishing Act and jury drama After the Verdict. 10 unveils their slate next week.

5 Responses

  1. Home & Away is a soap & shouldn’t be included in their drama category. Actually 10 have a few new dramas coming. They are airing on Paramount+ first. And 9 have had 2 or 3 dramas some years.

  2. Thats the problem these days but also the fact people want to sit down and binge a whole season in one or two sittings. Another thing too is networks are pushing out so much reality that there is just no good dramas out there anymore and when Seven actually get one, they shuffled it about the schedule on a Wednesday night starting at various slots for its run. Its no wonder people don’t watch (at least initially). RFDS was such a great drama this year and looks like they’re going to cancel it. Seeing Rafters again this year too, was such a breath of fresh air. We need more. However the days of All Saints, Blue Heelers, City Homicide, Water Rats, McLeod’s Daughters and more are long gone. Its disappointing really and yeah ABC do give us some drama but another problem i find is they are full of the same stars over and over so it’s hard to see certain actors as different characters if that makes sense.

    1. There are ways around that though, noteably stripping dramas across a week which would in theory suit the Aussie networks.

      If it’d good enough a big drama can bring in a weekly audience still.

  3. And the family used to all sit around in the lounge room watching the consensus pick. Dramas rated 1.5-2m 5MC. Then came cheap VCRs, DVRs and Streaming and people started watching what they wanted, when they wanted, without watching the ads. This week I’ve been watching A Million Little Things (S3 is much better than S2) and few other shows. So plenty of Drama for free.

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