Programmer’s Wrap 2022: Foxtel
Foxtel draws on star power with Kylie Minogue in 2022, Hamish Blake, Sam Neill, Marta Dusseldorp and a new Rom-Com on the way.
EXCLUSIVE: Brian Walsh reveals Kylie Minogue in a 2022 project, Hamish Blake & Zoe Foster-Blake for Celebrity Gogglebox, new HBO dramas and a new romantic comedy from Trent O’Donnell.
“I think if there was a word I’d use to define the year ahead for the Foxtel Group, it would be it would be ‘Star Power'” says Foxtel Group’s Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh.
“Because that comes through with all of our acquired content and certainly, with our local commissions.”
And there are A-list stars to be seen across Foxtel / Binge titles in 2022 with the announcement of an Aussie icon.
“The big name who will be seen on the Foxtel Group this year with a special project is Kylie Minogue,” he teases.
Whilst there’s no further detail on the music-related project as yet, the partnership reunites Minogue with Walsh who was a publicist for Neighbours in the 1980s.
“Neighbours was doing well in Melbourne, but it was a disaster in Sydney. When I started bringing Jason and Kylie, Guy Pearce, Peter O’Brien and Annie Jones up to do Westfield Shopping appearances every week it finally kind of started to work!” he reminisces.
But the big names don’t end there, with Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake confirmed for a Celebrity Gogglebox special in early March.
“We were only interested in the A-Team for Celebrity Gogglebox. What we’ve gathered is a fantastic line-up. We’re confident it’s going to be popular, and I would hope that it becomes a regular fixture of the Gogglebox season.”
A new Romantic Comedy series is also announced from writer / director Trent O’Donnell (A Moody Christmas, No Activity, New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ghosts).
“It is laugh out loud and kind of new territory for the Foxtel Group. We’ve had our swings of comedy with Stand Up and series like Open Slather. But we haven’t done a lot in the traditional comedy space,” he continues.
“Upright is more of a dramedy, but this series we have in pre-production has razor-sharp scripts. I think that’s what audiences are looking for. We became famous for doing very premium high drama, in the strictest sense, and I think we need to correct the balance.”
There are big stars too in the upcoming new jury drama, The Twelve, currently in production in Sydney. Set to screen mid year, it’s based on a Belgian drama but adapted by Australian writers.
“The Twelve is very much an essay of the jurors studying the case whilst it’s being presented in the courtroom. It’s one of the biggest casts ever assembled for an Australian television series. You’ve got the A-storyline, which is the character of Kate (Kate Mulvaney) who is on trial for the alleged murder of her niece, and the defence attorney is played by Sam Neill. The prosecution is played by Marta Dusseldorp.
“This is a big, big series”
“The A-storyline is quite a complex rich storyline, but it’s really about the jurors and their backstories, how they bring their personal lives and prejudices to the courtroom,” he explains.
“It’s a fascinating process to watch as a viewer. This is a big, big series. I don’t think there’s been a series on this scale on Australian television before.”
“Series Two is a very much Meg’s story”
Upright S2 begins production in Queensland in coming weeks with Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock returning.
“Series one was really about the road trip of Lucky and Meg going from Sydney to Perth, with Lucky’s piano, to see his mother before she passed away from cancer. It was very much a personal story of Lucky’s. Series Two is very much Meg’s story. It will always be Tim Minchin’s show but Milly’s character has a much more significant presence in Series Two.”
The timing could not be better for Foxtel with Milly Alcock having a starring role in House of the Dragon, the highly-anticipated Game of Thrones prequel.
The 10-part series tells the story of the origins of the House Targaryen and also features Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Savannah Steyn, Theo Nate, Matt Smith, Graham McTavish and Aussie Ryan Corr.
Through Foxtel Group’s output deals with HBO, Warner, FX, BBC, there’s a treasure trove of international titles coming in 2022.
“It’s probably Foxtel’s answer to Downton Abbey and The Crown.”
“Hotel Portofino (Feb 8, pictured below) set in the Italian Riviera is an historical drama about a British family who emigrate to Portofino after the end of World War One. It’s probably Foxtel’s answer to Downton Abbey and The Crown.”
S6 of Outlander premieres on March 7; 10 part drama Our Flag Means Death is based loosely on the true adventures of Stede Bonnet, an aristocrat turned pirate; The Time Traveller’s Wife starring Rose Leslie is adapted by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock); Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty chronicling the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers stars John C. Reilly, Quincy Isaiah, Jason Clarke, Adrien Brody; and there are new seasons of Westworld, The White Lotus and Barry.
There are profile new HBO dramas coming in 2022.
We Own This City by George Pelecanos and David Simon (The Wire) is a six-hour limited series chronicling the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force — and the corruption and moral collapse that befell an American city. The cast includes Dagmara Dominczyk, Treat Williams, Gabrielle Carteris, Jon Bernthal. Also coming is The Idol in which a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult enters a complicated relationship with a rising pop idol. Set against the backdrop of the music industry, the cast includes The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, Suzanna Son, Steve Zissis and Aussie Troye Sivan.
Lifestyle remains a major part of the Foxtel offering, with two further new local shows coming in 2022.
Walsh describes The Repair Shop, hosted by Dean Ipaviz (Escape From The City) as feelgood television.
“It’s an extraordinary look at these amazing artisans, who are specialists on fixing and repairing things. People of all ages bring in something that’s a family heirloom or that means a lot to an individual, because of the family connection. Our artisans go to work to bring them back to life and make them brand new. Like all of these shows, it’s a story about the people not so much the repair,” he says.
Based on a UK format and produced by Warner Bros. Bros International Television Productions, it will screen mid year -and more property is on the way.
“It’s a show that will work with first home buyers and young married couples”
“Selling in the City takes the concept of Selling Houses Australia into high rise Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, in particular. It’s a show that will work with first home buyers and young married couples who are wanting to move up the real estate ladder.”
Selling Houses Australia returns with Andrew Winter joined by interior designer (and LifeStyle exec) Wendy Moore and landscape designer Dennis Scott. Longterm Foxtel presenter Deborah Hutton hosts Find Your Dream Home by Abode Entertainment while Fremantle’s Grand Designs Australia returns. BBC Studios favourite The Great Australia Bake Off is currently screening.
Walsh confirmed The Real Housewives of Melbourne is “under review” with Matchbox Pictures. Not returning is UK – Australian co-production The End.
“Sky (UK) has indicated that they won’t be continuing and the business model for The End was very much predicated on having international partners on board.”
Meanwhile there has been rapturous acclaim for Binge drama Love Me, with a second season looking extremely promising.
“The reaction to Love Me has been extraordinary, both critically and for our subscribers. We promoted it as a multi-generational story and it was resoundingly well-received by audiences of all demographics and ages. So many people said how wonderful it was to see people in their 60s having romance and a sex life. It’s not what you normally see on television, that’s usually the domain of people half their age. Hugo Weaving and Heather Mitchell really set the bar and Emma Freeman is the actor’s director. If you talk to any of the actors who worked on The Newsreader or going back to Secret City, they can’t speak highly enough of Emma.
“We’re very optimistic that we’ll move into a second series”
“We’re very optimistic that we’ll move into a second series of Love Me, very quickly actually.”
Upcoming docos include Lady Boss: Jackie Collins Story and Secrets of Playboy.
Also pivotal to Foxtel and Kayo is Sport including every match of the AFL and NRL seasons live and ad-break free during play alongside Super Netball for the first time in 2022.
Other highlights include the return of Supercars, Moto GP, Golf, Surfing and the Women’s Cricket ODI World Cup which will be live, exclusive and free via Kayo Freebies.
Select matches and events will also be broadcast in 4K Ultra High Definition on Foxtel including the return of the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Melbourne this April.