Programmer’s Wrap 2024: SBS

Energetic local drama Swift Street, Alone in NZ, Shaun Micallef, Ray Martin, UK drama This Town, and Eurovision goes to Malmö, this year on SBS.


In the final Programmer Wrap this season, Natalie Edgar, Channel Manager, SBS and SBS VICELAND, outlines highlights across the upcoming year on the multicultual broadcaster’s main channel.

They include SBS Original dramas and documentaries as well as entertainment, and a long congaline of international dramas.

This week Irish crime drama Kin returned for its second season while UK mystery The Good Ship Murder, premieres tonight in a new drama timeslot the network is trialling.

“It’s like The Love Boat with a murder mystery”

“It’s like The Love Boat with a murder mystery. It’s really good. This series is light, fun, it’s kind of a silly summer drama. We’re really interested in fostering that Friday night slot. Nobody else is doing drama at that time,” she declares.

Celebrity Letters & Numbers returns with Michael Hing, David Astle & Lily Serna also in a new Monday 7:30 slot next week.

“We’ve tried it in a number of different slots. I think the way the world is right now, we really wanted to start the audience off on a Monday with something that’s easy, lean back, a bit of fun, light entertainment, rather than starting with something tough.”

Australia Uncovered premieres next Thursday with Hitler’s Jewish Soldier? the first of four stand alone documentaries: The Carnival, Last Chance to Save a Life, and The Miracle Fix.

Edgar points to Carnival as her pick of the bunch.

“People interact with the carnivals that come to town, but you don’t really know what goes on and how people end up in those jobs and how they travel. It has a really interesting insight into that community,” she suggests.

Aussie doco The Matchmakers, which begins on Valentine’s Day, follows three matchmakers across different cultures.

Mastermind is back in March hosted by Marc Fennell with 85 brand new episodes.

Dateline also returns in early March as Australia’s longest-running international current affairs show, now celebrating its 40th anniversary. More details about plans for the year ahead are yet to be revealed.

Insight also returns with host Kumi Taguchi although Edgar teases. “We’re thinking of potentially doing a different strategy this year” in terms of its playout.

“We’re going to teach everybody how to sleep better”

Dr. Michael Mosley will return for a three part series in March, Australia’s Sleep Revolution.

“Our audience just loves Michael Mosley,” says Edgar. “The statistics are ridiculous. It’s something like half of all Australians have some sort of sleep disorder at some point in their lives….. this is really going to be a great series, I think, for people who have troubled sleep. We’re going to teach everybody how to sleep better.

“(Producers) Artemis have also partnered with Flinders University. Apparently Michael Mosley himself is a real insomniac, so he’s putting himself under the microscope.”

Alone Australia is due in the first quarter as ten more Australians confront the merciless forces of nature, hunger, and isolation in a new location.

“Our most successful commission ever”

Alone Australia is very much top secret and under wraps. But it’s been our most successful commission ever. So I think we’re really excited to bring the second series to audiences. And of course, this time, our contestants have to deal with the wilds of New Zealand, which is going to be fascinating,” she continues.

“We’ll also have a companion podcast this year presented by (S1 winner) Gina Chick.”

The first of two SBS local Australian dramas, Swift Street (pictured top), is due around March / April.

The series created and directed by Tig Terera, features Hollywood actor Cliff Curtis, Tanzyn Crawford and Keiynan Lonsdale. It centres around 21-year-old Elsie who discovers that her old-school hustler father is being hunted down by a merciless crime boss over a bad debt. When she decides to help him, it sparks the beginnings of a reconciliation and a dubious reign as partners in crime.

“It’s laugh-out-loud, funny, but also heartbreaking”

“It’s a really fast-paced dynamic and creative drama series from Tig Tierra. I think what makes it exciting for me is that at times it’s laugh-out-loud, funny, but also heartbreaking. Tig’s got such a distinctive voice that the series is really going to blow audiences away,” Edgar insists.

“Cliff Curtis is brilliant as always, and I think Tanzyn Crawford in the role of Elsie is also just going to be a revelation for audiences.

“I also think it speaks volumes for (Scripted exec) Julie Eckersley and the team in terms of how they’re fostering new talent. It’s amazing.”

In Q2 Australia is off to the Eurovision Song Contest again. While there will be no Australia Decides again this year, SBS is yet to confirm who will compete on behalf of the nation.

“We’re really excited that this year it’s going to be in Sweden. We’re thrilled that we are going to send an artist to compete, so I think there’ll be more information on that as it progresses.”

Who Do You Think You Are? returns for Series 15 with confirmed participants Miranda Otto, Pat Rafter and Wayne Blair -more are yet to be announced.

UK dramas DI Ray and The Responder return.

“DI Ray is back for series two, that probably will be the first half of this year. We will go pretty close to the UK global premiere. I haven’t seen anything on it yet, but the first series did really well for us, particularly On Demand.”

“People just loved the characters”

Northern Irish Police Drama Blue Lights is also back.

“I think we all really loved it internally,” says Edgar. “But it was a bit of a surprise that audiences really came to it because there’s such a glut of that kind of police drama. I think people just loved the characters in that series and the complexity of the story. We’re expecting that to come in the first half of the year.”

TV Tonight can reveal BBC Drama This Town from Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Rogue Heroes) is coming to SBS.

This Town is such a fantastic new series,” says Edgar. “It’ll be in the first half of 2024 as 6×60 mins. At the heart of it, it’s a family drama, but at the same time it follows a group of young kids in the 80s in the West Midlands of the UK, who are finding their way in the world and trying to escape a small community. And the music is fantastic.”

Melissa Leong, Samuel Johnson and Costa Georgiadis will work alongside staff in public healthcare in The Hospital: In the Deep End.

“It’s pretty harrowing but it gives a really clear insight into what’s happening in the health sector. That will be in first half of the year.”

And it wouldn’t be SBS without Trains with Michael Portillo in more Great British Railway Journeys, potentially just after the Olympics.

How does SBS look at the Olympics period?

“We’ve got a really strong lead-up to the Olympics,” Edgar claims. “We’ll have a bit of a French season. We’ll obviously have the Tour de France pre-Olympics, and Guillaume with Plat du Tour. We won’t launch premiere programming during the Olympics, but post-Olympics is where we’re going out all guns blazing, just like everybody else does.”

“Our audience just adores Stanley Tucci”

A new series of Going Places with Ernie Dingo will screen and there is a second season of Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.

“He travels to places like Venice and in Series Two he goes to London of all places because he’s obviously based there. Our audience just adores Stanley Tucci, both on our linear channel as well as On Demand.”

Ray Martin takes a deep dive into death down under in The Last Goodbye from BBC Studios Australia.

“Ray’s an audience favourite”

“Ray’s an audience favourite. I think he just brings such warmth to a subject matter that is still taboo. He plans his own funeral in the series. I think he’s such a lovely way in for people to have difficult conversations with their family.”

Cameras will film his own staged funeral -does that mean Ray is actually in a coffin at some point?

“I don’t want to spoil it for you…..” Edgar teases.

Shaun Micallef’s Origin Odyssey is a comedy travelogue due later this year.

“This is probably one of the most exciting things, to have Shaun back on the network,” she continues.

“It’s a six part series, taking celebrities or people of note back to their origins and where their family are from. I think this is going to be a really fun exercise in family DNA in the latter half of this year.

“Who doesn’t love being in nature?”

SBS viewers are also getting a second season of Great Australian Walks with Julia Zemiro  this time with additional guest hosts Susie Youssef and Alone Australia’s Gina Chick.

“We were really pleased with how the first series went… There was a lot of chatter internally about the series perhaps skewing towards our older audience. But in fact, we saw a really strong audience under 50, because who doesn’t love being in nature?”

Marc Fennell also has a yet-to-be titled documentary investigating the story of a revolutionary Australian start-up that went to war with one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

A final season of The Handmaid’s Tale, will at last wrap things up for June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) for those who have stuck with the series (you know who you are!).

“We’re really hopeful to get a date soon. But my understanding is that they haven’t gone into pre-production yet. So it will be the second half of this year, at the earliest.”

SBS also has second window rights to Hulu’s Dopesick.

Edgar explains, “We’ll get a second window post-Disney in terms of the rights. We have linear and digital rights as well, so we do have the opportunity to place it across both platforms.”

The second of SBS Original dramas, Four Years Later, is now filming in India and is expected towards the end of this year.

The 8 part romance explores the love story of Sridevi and Yash, who have to endure four years apart right after their wedding when Yash lands a medical traineeship in Australia. Using both Hindi and English languages, the series features Indian actors Akshay Ajit Singh (24: India) playing Yash and Shahana Goswami (Bombay Begums, A Suitable Boy) as Sridevi.


Natalie Edgar, Channel Manager, SBS and SBS VICELAND

Rogue Heroes S2 is also due in the second half of the year with Connor Swindells, Jack O’Connell, Sofia Boutella and Dominic West all returning. Also coming are Babylon Berlin S4, Sherlock & Daughter but Paris Has Fallen has now been delayed, possibly to 2025.

There’s more Cycling, World Athletics, Indoor Volleyball, Badminton, World Table Tennis, International Gymnastics and Figure Skating and a raft of Motorsport events including the Dakar Rally.

Not returning are Inside Sydney Airport, Meet the Neighbours or Dishing it Up whilst there is no decision yet on Every Family Has a Secret.

This concludes TV Tonight’s annual Programmer Wrap series for 2024.

14 Responses

  1. Rogue Heroes is absolutely brilliant, good news a second series is coming to SBS later in the year.
    SBS on Demand in many respects is superior to ABC Iview – there’s a lot of varied and great content on there to sample.
    And I do enjoy Mastermind, more so than Hard Quiz, Mark Fennell is a terrific host and relates well to the contestants.

  2. My apologies for any offence caused. It was not my intention to trigger any one. When I said “no one”, I meant a very, very small portion of the population which is a fact and backed up day after day in ratings data.

  3. Still no word on Befrienders S3 then. HBO Max had scheduled it for December and development had started during 2023. However, Discovery axed all of HBO’s European shows and dumped episodes from their servers to cut costs. SkyShowtime has bought a lot of them including Beforeigners S1 & 2, but hasn’t renewed it for S3. SBS never showed S2 of The Thin Blue line, S3 is due to start soon. Aunt Lydia’s story continues in The Testaments and June’s end there too.

  4. Thanks for these Programmers Wraps this week! While a lot of these shows are not for me it is great to read what is coming up across the board, and to get more context than the upfronts which are big on gloss but not on detail.

  5. Blue Lights was a cracking good series. Can’t wait for the new season. For anyone else who wants to catch up on series one, it’s On Demand now on the SBS platform.

  6. Totally agree with Sunny. My first choices are always ABC and SBS over the three networks with Australian survivor and the NRL being the only exception. Also we usually record Survivor to chop out the ads anyway. Except 7 is a distant third for me (truly hopeless) with the way they destroy programs with ads.

    1. Me too SBS and ABC ..but I’m not much one for the commercial networks ..too much reality…I’m over finding love..squabbling about the paint colour for the walls…people being picky about food they didn’t cook. people investigating crimes that have already been investigated by others (and some being solved)…and worse repeating the same add every break until it’s becomes a brain worm… I have Foxtel too ..so I can record and FF through the adds..I’m a happy Vegemite with this line up..except for Dr Mosley..he’s on BBC Earth on Foxtel

    1. Ryan, as one of “the no ones”, I watch more on SBS and SBS On Demand (including drama) than I watch on the three major commercial networks combined. ABC is number1 for me, followed by SBS and 7,9 and 10 a distant third.

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