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“There’s always a hashtag… ‘# excluding Home & Away'”

Seven exec defends its serial too often overlooked as its biggest cash investment and with programming unmatched by any other network.

EXCLUSIVE:

In their 2022 Upfronts Seven announced one new local drama, true crime drama Claremont due later this year, but with no sign of a return for the well-received RFDS.

But Seven maintains Home & Away is it’s biggest drama commitment.

Whilst Neighbours is facing its conclusion on multichannel 10 Peach, Seven screens its home-made drama to its biggest audience possible.

If the show deserves more respect for its consistency, then Seven scheduler Brook Hall is ready to sharply remind it’s critics.

“I know it’s not a sexy thing to say, but Home & Away is our main drama that we run pretty much all year. It’s an expensive drama, a high quality one, it runs on our main channel in primetime,” he tells TV Tonight.

“It’s not something that we use on the multi to get drama points. It is our most expensive outlay of content. And that gets lost.

“There’s no other network would have as big a price a tag on a show. It’s our biggest production of the year.”

While Drama sub-quotas were recently removed, networks must still meet 250 points in commissioned drama / documentary / children’s, with documentary (including reality) capped at 50 points. Without Home & Away Seven would need to find other ways to meet obligations, such as series, miniseries, movies or more.

Yet Hall is not happy that too often in conversations around local drama outputs, the serial is frequently overlooked.

“There’s always a hashtag… ‘# excluding Home & Away‘. That seems very unfair and unreasonable. I’m very proud of Home & Away, and it’s arguably our most important show, and our biggest cash outlay. We don’t have to do it. We believe in it.

“Our competitors meet their drama quota by spending nothing like we do with Home & Away. We don’t do it because it’s a drama quota, we do it because it’s an amazingly successful show.”

Over the decades the Summer Bay serial has also been a pipeline of acting talent, even if some have opted to overlook their time in the show.

“Our most successful acting exports over the last 20 years have come from the show that people don’t want to count as premium drama. It’s a great thing on actors’ resumes for LA because it has such good training,” Hall insists.

“Even though some of the actors don’t like talking about it when they get over there.”

Home & Away, under Drama boss Julie McGauran, last week drew an average of 513,000 metro viewers, but it lifts to around 1.00m in Total TV numbers and has been the solid lead-in for some of the network’s biggest franchises.

In its 35th year, no wonder the network is right to sing its praises.

26 Responses

  1. H&A is a farce not a drama. All residents of Summer Bay are white Anglo Saxons. No-one seems to works yet can afford to eat out constantly, never see anyone pay. Those that surf – Dean & Ziggy are never, ever wet when they come out of the water. All problems are solved by a walk on the pier. Promiscuity is rife. So many are interrelated. 99% of actors are “pretty people” & why do all the muscle bound men have to shave their chests? A micro “town” that has a major hospital within walking distance. Kangaroo is supposedly a teacher yet never goes to a school. Alf’s bait shop never, ever has customers. Any time a problem arises those that do “work” can just walk out for a break without telling anyone. The latest murder situation is a real farce, Mia & her dopey daughter just wander around as if nothing has happened & why wasn’t Mia thrown in the clink for speeding around with a dead body in a stolen car. It may be a jumping off point for some actors but is really just a load of…

    1. Some valid points., And where is Marilyn? Actress Emily Symons has made no appearances on the soap since it resumed for the year, with, as far as I know, no explanation as to where her character is gone. At least with Ada Nicodemou we know her character Leah is overseas visiting her son.
      My own feeling is that Home and Away reached it’s Use By date 5 years ago.

      1. Marilyn went to visit Jett and Raffy in the city after her gas poisoning ordeal at the end of last year. I guess no one has really mentioned it as the Stewarts who she lives with have their own problems but Irene did say she was running the Diner by herself with Leah and Marilyn away. Emily and Ada are offscreen at the moment as this was filmed during the Sydney lockdown of last year and they had to homeschool their children.

  2. Pretty silly on Seven’s behalf to outright lie about the cash investment into Home and Away when the UK sale is well in excess of the cost of an ep. I understand it is a far more secure deal than Fremantle’s Neighbors deal also with CH5..

  3. If we are going to be honest about Home and Away here let’s call it what it is.

    It’s a soap.

    I know since Seven no longer makes any Australian dramas they like to use the word drama – but let’s be honest.

    It’s a soap. The format is soap.

  4. Tucked away in this story is the word miniseries. Why are our commercial networks so reluctant to revisit this genre? Essentially the story has a beginning, middle and end. From the viewers point of view a mini series doesn’t require a long term investment. If streaming services are doing it, why not commercial networks? Personally I don’t watch H&A or Neighbours as I find the stories are stale and repetitive.

      1. So almost every Australian drama bar H&A and Neighbours is a miniseries then? Apart from The Heights which was also a soapie, I can’t remember the last time an Aussie drama had over 10 episodes in a season (APTCH maybe?).

  5. Very true, everyone looks down their noses at Home and Away yet without it the whole local industry would suffer. Having said that, it’s not excuse for Seven not making any other decent drama of note. RFDS would obviously have been insanely expensive to make, but why can’t they put some serious coin behind more one hour drama that doesn’t involve such scale? I think they do hide behind Home & Away and will continue to do so as long as it covers their drama points.

  6. You know Seven aren’t wrong. They invest in the show and it runs almost all year 4 episodes a week sometimes more without fail. It even wins Logies when everyone else thought something else would win but it has a loyal audience and 500-600k nightly might seem low but times have changed and in tv terms, thats quite a lot of people and it does increase as shown too. Yes we can judge it because its “just” Home and Away but people still watch and Seven invested in it. Can’t say the same for Neighbours. Ten made a decision to outsource that show and depend on the UK to keep it afloat but they put it on a multichannel and now look where we are with that. Neighbours wasn’t doing that badly at 6:30pm before everything changed either but at that time,10 gutted everything.
    What i will say too is I am personally disappointed they cut the string on RFDS. That show was really well done and deserved much much more.

    1. … Ten didn’t make “a decision to outsource that show” … it was always an external company production – Reg Grundy which was then bought by Pearson and became Fremantle …

  7. So if it’s such a success why can’t they fund other local new drama, even with generous government subsidies? Seems to me Seven are hiding behind Home and Away’s undisputed success and using it as an excuse to not take risk on new concepts. They also misfired badly with the bizarre flop Between Two Worlds which no doubt cost a fortune.

    1. Well now you’re getting back to the argument around quotas, which Screen Producers argued would mean Seven and 10 would basically not have to make anything else. Networks denied this. They did take a risk with an admittedly broad show in RFDS, it’s a shame it hasn’t been renewed. Claremont coming later.

      1. What happened with kids TV program quotas? They have abandoned local industry and local jobs in the 30+ years Home and Away has been on air. No one in their right mind disputes the success of that show, I’m just not sure it’s a good justification for declining investment in local television productions. What has the fact that Seven cut all those kids game shows and scripted shows and even hourly dramas over the years- got to do with the fact that Home and Away is and has been a success since its inception 30+ years ago when Seven did pay to make the likes of A Country Practice, It’s Academic,TIme Masters, Total Recall, Hey Day, Blue Heelers etc. All in addition to H&A. Yes it’s more expensive now, there’s more competition too but to go from that sort of history to just 2 hours a week of scripted drama on average (even with Claremont) is disgraceful IMO.

        1. Govt allowed more flexibility for broadcasters. There is no drama / doco / children’s minimum requirement per se. There is a requirement to gain 250 points and broadcasters can mix and match however it suits them, but with no more than 50 doco points (basically to stop it all being Reality). So in effect they must make up 200 points from Drama and / or Children’s but some choose to skip the latter now.

      2. What was risky about RFDS? It was female skew, broad appeal, heritage known brand/re-do, set in outback, essentially nurses drama. International appeal for sales.

        Where is the risk?

        It’s as safe as scripted content gets

  8. … there is a key difference between Home & Away and Neighbours in that 7 owns the former outright while the latter is owned by an external production company … the production costs of H&A have been covered by overseas sales for close to thirty years and, as long as it holds its own ratings-wise in Oz it makes perfect sense to keep it … it would be interesting to see the rhetoric from 7 should the UK fall over in the same way as Neighbours …

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