On the Box: Australian Television 2012 – Part 2

By Simon Elchlepp

In Part 1 of this article, we scanned some of the Australian Dramas, Mini-Series and Telemovies set to grace our small screens this year. Now it’s time to look at the funny business – Comedy and Light Entertainment – as well as at Reality TV and some kid’s programs we’re looking forward to seeing.

Comedy & Light Entertainment

Andrew Denton and his new game show RANDLING

For many viewers, Wednesday nights are a regular couch-date with ‘Aunty’. This may well continue with the premiere last week (2 May) of ABC1’s new Wednesday night line-up.  First there’s the hotly anticipated word-based game show Randling (8.30pm), featuring multi-AFI Award winner Andrew Denton’s return as show host. Following this battle of wits and words, AACTA Award-winning series Laid (9pm) returns in its second series, with Roo’s world turned upside down in another flurry of hilariously awkward situations. It’s all capped off by Agony Aunts (9.30pm) in which Julia Zemiro, Myf Warhurst, Judith Lucy and other high profile Australian women give men advice on how to navigate the difficult terrain of the modern relationship.

Here are some others we’re looking forward to:

Shaun Micallef Is Mad As Hell (ABC1, from 25 May 2012, 10 x 30min)


Satire is notoriously difficult to get right, but Shaun Micallef’s satirical look at Australian news in 2007/08’s Newstopia was one of those shows that succeeded. Now Micallef is back for more in Shaun Micallef Is Mad As Hell, and the Newsfront­-inspired title promises a piercing look at how our media report about the world around us and shape our view of it. The ABC calls it “a half-hour weekly round-up, branding, inoculation and crutching of all the important news stories,” and in the absence of any Gruen Transfer this year, Shaun Micallef Is Mad As Hell could be just the media-skewering show we’ve been looking for in 2012.

Hamish And Andy’s Euro Gap Year (Channel Nine, first half of 2012, series)

Hamish Blake and Andy Lee of HAMISH AND ANDY’S EURO GAP YEAR

Some people are lucky enough to enjoy not just one, but two gap years. After Hamish And Andy’s Gap Year unleashed the two larrikin comedians on an unsuspecting USA, in 2012 it’s Europe’s turn to brace itself for a visit from Hamish and Andy. With a disused pub in London as their studio, Hamish and Andy’s Euro Gap Year will screen on Nine leading up to the Olympics. Sport will not, however, be the focus. Instead Hamish and Andy will travel the continent and visit Bosnia, Russia and France, among others, to introduce Australians to the curious yet endearing characters and customs of Europe’s various countries, which apparently include  ‘bus pulling,’ ‘ice-swimming’ and ‘festivals of snails’.

Lowdown Series 2 (ABC1, 2012 TBC, 8 x 30min)

Paul Denny, Dailan Evans, Adam Zwar and Beth Buchanan reunite for LOWDOWN SERIES 2

There are few things on the telly that are as satisfying as a satire which sets its aims on a mock-worthy target – and hits the spot. And so fans of Frontline and The Hollowmen will greet Lowdown’s second season with open arms. Adam Zwar returns as the Sunday Sun’s star entertainment reporter who compensates for his lack of a moral compass with a keen sense of which stories will drive up circulation. From exposing political sex scandals and violent actors, to outing gay sportsmen and setting up cheating TV chefs, Alex will do what it takes to save the Sunday Sun’s declining figures. Lowdown Series 2 reunites AFI Award winners Adam Zwar, Kim Gyngell (as the Sunday Sun’s editor) and series producer/writer/director Amanda Brotchie to poke fun at the tabloid press.

Sporting Nation (ABC1, 2012 TBC, 3 x 60min)

John Clarke ready to entertain us with SPORTING NATION

All those disappointed by the sad news that there’s no The Games: London Calling will be delighted to hear that 2012 will not pass without John Clarke having another go at the follies of organised sport. As has been well documented, Australians tend to be somewhat crazy about sports, so it’s time to find out why we take it so seriously. Meeting legendary sporting heroes, sports fans, sporting sages and sporting cynics, Byron Kennedy Award winner Clarke discovers that the story of Australian sport has all the elements of great drama – a rich golden age, a crisis that threatens its very existence, and a re-emergence against colossal odds. And it’s based largely on fact.

This Christmas (ABC, second half 2012, six-part series)

The Moody family from ABC comedy THIS CHRISTMAS

There’s hardly any time of the year that is riper for comedic potential than Christmas. No matter how far you’ve run to escape your family, the fights, bad gifts, boring uncles, overbearing in-laws and shocking family secrets, it will all catch up with you during the Merry Season. Each episode of This Christmas is set a year apart, as Dan (Ian Meadows) visits his dysfunctional family every year at Christmas. AFI Award winners Phil Lloyd (At Home With Julia) and Trent O’Donnell (The Chaser’s War on EverythingLaid) have mined similar territory before with Review with Myles Barlow – Christmas Special and will know how to milk this comedic setup for all it’s worth to generate plenty of laughter.

Josh Thomas

Please Like Me (ABC1, 2012 TBC, 6 x 30min)

This Christmas isn’t the only ABC comedy series of 2012 that will look at all the entanglements and embarrassments that family life brings with it. Well-known to comedy buffs through his stint as Generation Y team leader on Talkin’ ‘bout Your Generation, comedian and Logie Award-winner Josh Thomas writes and stars in Please Like Me. For Josh life is just kicking off, now that he lives in a share house and makes his steps towards being an adult and turning twenty-one. But then he’s forced to move back home to care for his divorced mother and grow up a bit quicker than he expected to. For AACTA and AFI Award-winning director Matthew Saville, Please Like Me marks his return to comedy after his work on We Can Be Heroes, while the show’s cast includes Debra Lawrence, David Roberts and Caitlin Stacey.

Also tracking:

An as of yet untitled Jane Turner and Gina Riley project on Seven (maybe more Kath & Kim following their upcoming feature film Kath & Kimderella?); ABC2’s multiplatform comedy The Strange Calls about a hapless city cop (Toby Truslove) who is demoted to night duty in the sleepy beachside village of Coolum; Myf Warhurst’s Nice on ABC1, which sees the former Spicks & Specks presenter take a nostalgic journey through popular taste, cultural icons and her own childhood.

Reality Television

If there’s something Australian TV viewers can’t complain about, it’s a dearth of reality TV formats. In only a few years, reality TV has seen a meteoric rise in popularity on Australian television screens. Buoyed by the success of MasterChef’s first season back in 2009, reality TV has now become the most watched TV genre in Australia, bumping sports broadcasts to second place. No wonder then that reality shows have become a crucial part of Australia’s television output. Reflecting this growth, and the industry talent and innovation within the genre, AACTA has announced a new Award for 2013 – the AACTA Award for Best Reality Television Series. Here’s a quick scan of just some of the shows on offer this year.

The Voice (Channel Nine, from April 15 2012)

There have been many talent casting shows in which singing hopefuls try to convince a panel of judges of their musical skills – but very few have been as strikingly successful as the Nine Network’s The Voice. With a jury that includes Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Seal and Joel Madden, chances for the show’s success were always good, but few would have predicted that The Voice would turn into the ratings juggernaut that it has become. With the show entering its final stage of live competitions and the start of audience voting, you can expect The Voice to continue dominating ratings and watercooler discussions.

Judging THE VOICE: Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Joel Madden and Seal.

My Kitchen Rules (Seven Network, January 31 – February 23 2012)

Following two successful seasons, My Kitchen Rules truly took off earlier this year and successfully challenged the MasterChef empire. Adding a team from New Zealand certainly increased the sense of competition and you can be sure to see more teams in 2013 turning their homes into an instant restaurant to serve dinner for the judges and the other contestants and aiming to impress with their culinary skills.

Manu Feildel and Pete Evans – judges of MY KITCHEN RULES 2012

Australia’s Got Talent (Seven Network, from April 16 2012)

First screening in 2007, Australia’s Got Talent has truly established itself as one of Australia’s most enduring reality TV shows. Amidst a sea of competitors that focus on singers, dancers or other artists battling it out for the sympathies of juries and audiences, Australia’s Got Talent sets itself apart and gives all self-made performers – be they singers, magicians or comedians – a chance to shine. Judges Dannii Minogue, Brian McFadden and Kyle Sandilands make their return for the show’s sixth season.

The Block (Channel Nine, from April 16 2012)

Before MasterChef or Australia’s Got Talent, there was The Block, the Nine Network’s reality show for all hobby renovators. After a six-year break, The Block returned in 2010 and has been going strong ever since, and has already been confirmed for another season in 2013. Set in Dorcas Street in Melbourne (just a few blocks down from the AFI | AACTA’s Melbourne offices!), The Blocks current season once again taps into our national obsession with giving our homes a face-lift and demonstrating our DYI skills.

MasterChef  (Network Ten, May 6 2012)

Originating in the UK, MasterChefs brand of reality competitions arguably kicked off the current reality TV craze. Much has changed though since those early days when the show dominated the field, and competition is fiercer than ever, not least after My Kitchen Rules‘ success earlier this year. After season 3 of MasterChef  came in for some criticism for its tough challenges and tests, in 2012 the show promises to return to its basics: celebrating its contestants and their ambitions.

Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston – the testing trio of judges on MASTERCHEF.

Next Stop Hollywood (ABC1, 2012 TBC, 6 x 30min)

Next Stop Hollywood puts a spin on the format that is bound to appeal to film and TV fans. The show follows six aspiring young actors from Australia as they try to make their mark during pilot season – the frenzied period in LA when network television pilot shows get the go-ahead and casting begins. All of these young talents will have to fight to make it in the cutthroat US system. Produced by AFI Award-winning production house Matchbox Pictures, Next Stop Hollywood finally puts the cameras of reality TV onto the industry itself and promises to deliver captivating insights.

Aspiring Australian actors try to make it big in NEXT STOP HOLLYWOOD

Bollywood Star (SBS, from June 2 2012, 4-part series)

The popularity of Bollywood movies has exploded in recent years and more than a few have filmed in Australia. There’s no question that the films’ exuberant  and colorful dance numbers and songs make for enthralling viewing. To deliver not just another singing and dancing competition, SBS had the bright idea of tapping into our fascination with Bollywood movies with their new reality show Bollywood Star. The show will follow the search  for an Australian Bollywood star: an unknown who will go on to win the prize of a lifetime – a coveted place in the next movie by renowned Bollywood producer and director Mahesh Bhatt.

Bollywood meets iconic Aussie landmarks – BOLLYWOOD STAR.

Children’s Television

The Flamin’ Thongs (ABC3, 2012 TBC, series)

Whale Bay is home to Australia’s least visited tourist attraction, the Giant Thong. But that may be about to change, for all the wrong reasons. Behind this animated series are AFI Award-nominated director Colin South (DogstarThe CircuitStone Bros.) and writing team Bruce Griffiths and Simon Dodd, both veterans of Good News Week and each with four AWGIE (Australian Writers’ Guild) Awards to their name.

In Your Dreams (Seven Network, 2012 TBC, series)

Noel Price, one of Australia’s most prolific producers of first-rate children’s television, returns with In Your Dreams. Having produced children’s TV classics such as Blue Water HighDon’t Blame the Koalas and Spellbinder, two-time AFI Award winner Price sets In Your Dreams in both Australia and Germany. Price’s previous series, the country-hopping A gURLs wURLd, already looked at cultural differences and In Your Dreams takes this one step further, as Australian teenage twins Samantha and Ben Haselton discover what ‘culture shock’ is all about when they spend the summer with some eccentric, aristocratic and accident-prone relatives who live in a remote German castle.

Conspiracy 365 (Movie Network Channels, Family Movie Channel (FMC), 2012 monthly, 13 x 60min)

Conspiracy 365 is an action thriller adapted from Gabrielle Lord’s best-selling young-adult book series. It follows the life of teenager Cal Ormond (AFI award winner Harrison Gilbertson) as he ‘searches for the truth behind a deadly family secret’. Joining Harrison on the Melbourne shoot are Marny Kennedy (The Saddle Club), Taylor Glockner, Rob Carlton (Chandon Pictures, Underbelly), Julia Zemiro (Charlotte’s Web, The Wedge), Kate Kendall (Stingers), Ryan O’Kane (City Homicide) and David Whiteley. With the story unfolding as monthly instalments over the course of 2012 and the final episode to air in January 2013 now is still a perfect time to join the fun.

Marny Kennedy, Harrison Gilbertson and Taylor Glockner from CONSPIRACY 365

Mako Mermaids (Network Ten, TBC, 26 x 30min)

Reef Doctors (see part 1 of ‘On The Box’) isn’t AFI Award-winning producer Jonathan M. Shiff’s only new show to be shot in the tropical waters of Queensland. After three successful series and an AFI Award win in 2008, H2O: Just Add Water see a continuation of sorts with big-budget spin-off Mako Mermaids. The $12.3M series focuses on three mermaids who are charged with the task of protecting their magical Mako Island from trespassers, only to be thwarted by the arrival of 16-year-old land-dweller Zac, who forms a special connection with the island and is granted a fish-like tail and amazing powers. Filming on Mako Mermaids has only begun this week, so we’ll have to wait and see if this promising new adventure series will air this year – but in any case, we’re looking forward to it already.

More mermaids for H2o’s Jonathan M. Schiff. MAKO MERMAIDS has just begun production.

That’s it for our quick wrap-up of Australian television. Feel free to tell us below what you’re looking forward to most. And if there’s a particular show you think we’ve missed out on, tell us that too or email our editor (editor [at] afi.org.au) with details.

You may also be interested in On the Box: Australian Television 2012 – Part 1.

On the Box: Australian Television 2011


For the third year running, we preview some Australian television highlights for the year ahead. (You can read the 2009 and 2010 stories to see if we got it right). With more channels than ever, and Pay TV on the rise, the television landscape is in flux. Audiences are increasingly fragmented and demanding – as they can afford to be, with so much choice available. They want quality entertainment, up-to-the-minute news, and flexible catch-up options to snare their missed favourites. Increasingly, viewers expect to be able to extend their interests on a show’s website, and to be able to chat about their interests on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, thus participating in a virtual community of viewers and fans.

Television may be a global industry, but the demand for excellent local content with an Australian accent remains strong. Here is just a small selection of what we’re looking forward to in 2011. We’ll focus broadly on those categories celebrated in the AFI Awards: drama, comedy, light entertainment, and children’s television – and of course we can’t mention everything. (Note: Some of these shows have already screened and are currently in their encore broadcasts; others are vaguely dated for late 2011.) Here’s the run-down:

Drama: Series, Mini-Series and Telefeatures

Rake, Series 1  

(ABC2, Mondays, 8:30pm – encore screenings, 8 x 60 min)

Now in its encore season, Rake follows the exploits of a lovable rogue, criminal defence barrister Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) who defends the indefensible – from bigamists to cannibals and everything in between. He’s champion of the lost cause …both in the court room and in the bedroom. An excellent cast includes Matt Day, Geoff Morrell, Adrienne Pickering, Danielle Cormack, Russell Dykstra and Caroline Brazier. Rake is created by Peter Duncan and Richard Roxburgh (who also produce alongside Essential Media’s Ian Collie), and co-written by Andrew Knight. Directors include Rachel Ward, Jessica Hobbs and Jeffrey Walker. A second series is rumoured to hit screens in 2012. Rake
Winners & Losers  

(Seven Network, currently screening Wednesdays, 8:30pm)

The first episode was a ratings winner with 1.6 million viewers. From the creators of Packed to the Rafters, Winners & Losers is a drama about four 20-something friends who were rejects and ‘losers’ ten years ago at school. Now they’ve reunited and won the lottery, forcing them to negotiate the pleasures and pitfalls of being ‘winners’. How will this affect their friendships and their love lives? A likeable cast includes Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, Melissa Bergland, Melanie Vallejo, Virginia Gay, Denise Scott and Francis Greenslade. Produced by Bevan Lee, John Holmes and AFI Award nominee MaryAnne Carroll (All Saints) and directed by Nicholas Bufalo and Ian Gilmour. Winners & Losers
Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo 

(ABC1, Sunday 17 April & Monday 18 April, 8:30pm, 2 x 110 min)

The blurb sounds great: “It’s 1972. Skirts are up, pants are down. Girls can have anything: fabulous careers, fashionable clothes, oral sex. And riding the wave of sexual liberation and feminist freedom is Cleo magazine – fresh, bold and naughty. Two ambitious, young upstarts – Ita Buttrose and Sir Frank Packer’s unregarded second son, Kerry – create their own legends as they fling the modern girl headlong into the passion and politics of this turbulent era.” Starring Asher Keddie as Ita, and Rob Carlton (Chandon Pictures) as a lean and hungry Kerry Packer, Paper Giants is produced by Southern Star’s John Edwards and Karen Radzyner and directed by Daina Reid and Emma Freeman. Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo
Small Time Gangster 

(Movie Extra, Tuesdays, 8:30pm from 19 April, 8 x 60 min)

Tony Piccolo (Steve Le Marquand) is a devoted suburban family man who works hard in his carpet cleaning business. He also happens to be Melbourne’s toughest stand-over man, with another secret ‘family’ headed up by terrifying underworld boss Barry Donald (Gary Sweet). When the two worlds threaten to collide, there’s black comedy aplenty. Small Time Gangster stars Sacha Horler as Tony’s loving wife, Geoff Morrell as an ex-hitman and mentor, and Gia Carrides as streetwise mover and shaker. Written and created by Gareth Calverley (Spy Shop) and Joss King (H2O), Small Time Gangster is directed by Jeffrey Walker (Rake, City Homicide). Small Time Gangster
East West 101, Series 3 

(SBS One, Wednesdays, 8:30pm from 20 April, 7 x 60 min)

This is the third and final series of the AFI Award winning and critically acclaimed East West 101 from producers Steve Knapman and Kris Wyld and director Peter Andrikidis. Tense, exciting and politically relevant, this third series explores the fallout from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through crimes committed in Australia. Don Hany returns as the tough and troubled Muslim cop working alongside a cast including Susie Porter, Aaron Fa’aoso, Daniella Farinacci, Aden Young, Tammy McIntosh, Matt Nable, Aaron Jeffrey, Robert Mammone and Rena Owen. East West 10, Series 3 has just been nominated at the Monte Carlo Television Festival for Outstanding International Producer (Wyld and Knapman), Outstanding Actor (Don Hany and Aaron Fa’aso), and Outstanding Actress (Susie Porter and Rena Owen). Winners will be announced in June. In the meantime we’re looking forward to this top-shelf drama. East West 101, Series 3

(Showcase, Sundays, 8:30pm from May 22nd, 6 x 120 min)

The long-awaited screen adaptation of Tim Winton’s acclaimed bestselling novel tells the story of two rural families who suffer separate catastrophes and flee to the city to pick up the pieces of their lives and start again. Living in the same house at No.1 Cloud Street, the Lambs and the Pickles share numerous tragedies and triumphs that draw them closer together, until the roof over their heads becomes a home for their hearts. Set in Perth during the 1930s and 40s, Cloudstreet boasts an outstanding ensemble cast including AFI Award winning actors Stephen Curry, Essie Davis, Emma Booth, Geoff Morrell, and is directed by AFI Award winner Matthew Saville (The King, Noise) and adapted for the screen by Ellen Fontana and Tim Winton. Cloudstreet
Offspring, Series 2 

(Network Ten, May 2011, 13 x 60 min)

Will Nina (Asher Keddie) and Chris (Don Hany) finally get it together? Tune in for the second series of the charming and frustrating drama about the messy and humorous loves and lives of the Proudman family. Produced by Southern Star’s John Edwards and Imogen Banks, Offspring features a stellar Australian cast including Kat Stewart, John Waters, Eddie Perfect, Richard Davies, Linda Cropper and Deborah Mailman – fresh off the back of her recent AFI Award win for her performance as Cherie. Directors include Kate Dennis, Ken Cameron, Daina Reid, Shirley Barrett, Emma Freeman. Offspring, Series 2
Blood Brothers 

(Channel Nine, May TBC, 90-minute telemovie)

Based on the true story of the Gilham family murders, one of Australia’s most sensational criminal cases, Blood Brothers is produced by Playmaker Media and stars Lisa McCune, Tony Martin and Michael Dorman. Based on the book by Robin Bowles, with a screenplay by Victoria Madden, the telemovie promises to be “a chilling portrait of crime and punishment, a compelling insight into human nature, and a relentless fight for justice.” Blood Brothers
Packed to the Rafters, Series 4 

(Seven Network, mid-2011, 22 x 60 min)

Australia’s highest rating drama series returns with the rest of Series 4 mid-year. Following the ongoing trials and tribulations of the Rafters family with affection and wit, Packed to the Rafters features an ensemble cast led by AFI Award winners Rebecca Gibney and Erik Thomson  as Julie and Dave Rafter. and boasts some of Australia’s leading directors including AFI Award winners Shirley Barrett and Cherie Nowlan at the helm in 2011. Packed to the Rafters, Series 4
Sea Patrol, Series 5 – ‘Damage Control’ 

(Channel Nine, mid 2011 TBC, 13 x 60 min)

Following the crew of the HMAS Hammersley as they patrol the coastline of Australia and protetct the nation’s borders, this is the fifth and final series of Sea Patrol. Lisa McCune again heads up the cast, along with Ian Stenlake, Conrad Coleby, John Batchelor, Matt Holmes Kristian Schmid and Tammy McIntosh .Sea Patrol is produced by McElroy All Media and was filmed at Mission Beach, Far North Queensland and at Warner Bros Studio on the Gold Coast. Sea Patrol, Series 5 – ‘Damage Control’
The Slap 

(ABC1, late 2011, 8 x 55 min)

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own, setting off a ripple of consequences among those who witness it. Based on Christos Tsolkias’ bestselling novel about a group of friends and family in contemporary Melbourne, this miniseries stars Melissa George, Sophie Lowe, Sophie Okonedo, Essie Davis, Jonathan LaPaglia, Oliver Ackland, Alex Dimitriades, Diana Glenn and Anthony Hayes. A team of four AFI Award winning directors – Jessica Hobbs, Matthew Saville, Tony Ayres and Robert Connolly each direct two episodes. The Slap is produced by Matchbox Pictures’ Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden and Michael McMahon. The Slap
Tangle, Series 3 

(Foxtel/Austar, Showcase, late 2011 TBC, 6 x 60 min)

When Tangle debuted in 2009, it explored an interconnected family and friendship group across two generations – the world of 40-year-olds and their teenage children. The second season looked at what happens when tragedy strikes. Season three promises to pull apart and examine just how the generations separate from one another and how the ties of family are stretched. Produced by Southern Star’s John Edwards, the cast includes Justine Clarke, Kat Stewart and Catherine McClements, who last year won an AFI Award for her performance as Christine in this surprising and original series. Tangle, Series 3
Spirited, Series 2 

(Foxtel/Austar, W Channel, 2011, 10 x 60 min)

Claudia Karvan returns to her role as Suzy Darling, the uptight Sydney dentist who happens to be sharing her apartment with the ghost of Henry Mallet, a wacky 80s rock star (Matt King). A strange and impossible love affair begins. In this season, Suzy’s ex-husband (Roger Corser) continues to try to win her back, while Henry is joined by an entourage of other ghosts, including ‘The King’ played by Simon Lyndon. Another Southern Star production, Spirited boasts a team of accomplished directors, including Stuart McDonald, Michael J. Rowland, Jonathan Teplitzky, Rowan Woods and Jonathan Brough. Jacquelin Perske heads up the writing team, comprising Tony McNamara, Lally Katz, Alice Bell, Jessica Redenbach, Tommy Murphy, Ian Meadows and Mandy McCarthy. Production began in February, with the series expected to air later this year. Spirited, Series 2
Rush, Series 4 

(Network Ten, second half 2011, 13 x 60 min)

Since 2008, Rush has established itself as an action-packed series with exceptional production values, winning the 2010 AFI Award for Best Television Drama Series and AFI Award for Best Direction in Television (Grant Brown). This year we can expect more breathtaking stunts and punchy emotional drama than ever before. Yet another Southern Star production, Rush stars Roger Corser, Callan Mulvey, Joelene Anderson, Nicole da Silva, Catherine McClements, Samuel Johnson, Ashley Zuckerman, Kevin Hofbauer and Josef Ber. Production will commence on the 13-part series mid-year. Directors include Andrew Prowse, Grant Brown, Daina Reid, Ben Chessell, Darren Ashton, Adrian Wills Rush won the AFI Awards for Best Television Drama Series and Best Direction in Television (Grant Brown) in 2010. Rush, Series 4
Underbelly: Razor  

(Channel Nine, late 2011, 13 x 60 min)

Following on from the Underbelly Files: Tell Them Lucifer Was Here; Infiltration and The Man Who Got Away, the new Underbelly series, Razor will hit screens later this year. Set in Sydney in the 1920s, Underbelly: Razor is the story of that bloody, decade-long, tit-for-tat rivalry between Tilly Devine, a sharp-tongued Cockney who ran a chain of 40 brothels, and her bitter rival Kate Leigh, an Aussie battler who’d built an empire out of sly grog, thieving and cocaine. Heading this series will be Danielle Cormack (Rake) as vice queen Leigh and Jack Campbell (All Saints) as Jim Devine, Tilly’s husband. Underbelly: Razor is produced by Screentime’s Peter Gawler and Elisa Argenzio. Underbelly: Razor
Killing Time 

(Foxtel – TV1, 2011, 10 x 60 min)

Fremantle Media’s Killing Time follows the true story of Andrew Fraser’s rise from small time lawyer to successfully defending the most infamous criminals this country has ever seen, and then his ultimate downfall and imprisonment for five years in maximum security. Written by Ian David (Blue Murder), Mac Gudgeon (Halifax) and Katherine Thompson (Satisfaction) and starring AFI Award winners David Wenham, Colin Friels and Anthony Hayes, Killing Time is one of the most eagerly anticipated series in years. Delayed by legal woes, the series will make its long-awaited debut on Foxtel’s TV1 later this year. Killing Time

(ABC1, 2011, 22 x 60 min)

Focusing on five eager young lawyers who work in the Department of Public Prosecution, Crownies is a 22-part drama produced by Screentime Australia for ABC TV. Fresh out of law school, the young solicitors work in a highly stressful and fast-paced environment, liaising with police, victims and witnesses of crime – as well as dealing with the moral and social dilemmas of single life. An ensemble cast includes relative newcomers Todd Lasance, Hamish Michael, Ella Scott Lynch, Andrea Demetriades and Indiana Evans, together with Marta Dusseldorp, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Jerome Ehlers and Jeanette Cronin. Crownies is written by Greg Haddrick, Jane Allen, Kylie Needham, Tamara Asmar, Blake Ayshford and Justine Gilmer. Directors include Tony Tilse, Chris Noonan, Cherie Nowlan and Grant Brown. The series is produced by Karl Zwicky with Carole Sklan, Des Monaghan and Greg Haddrick as executive producer. Crownies
Wild Boys 

(Seven Network, late 2011, 13 x 60 min)

Set in the 1850s, in a gold rush world of horses and bushrangers, this new colonial western will focus on a gang of four young men who stage holdups and struggle to stay one step ahead of the lawmen and the noose. Daniel MacPherson, Michael Dorman and David Field will star, alongside Zoe Ventura, who will play a single mother with a business to run. The Southern Star series is produced by Sarah Smith and Julie McGauran and will be filmed in NSW. Written by John Ridley, Jeffrey Truman, James Walker, Dave Warner, Michelle Offen and Margaret Wilson, Wild Boys will be directed by Arnie Custo, Chris Martin-Jones, Ian Watson, Jeffrey Walker and Ken Cameron. With production scheduled to begin now (March) the series is expected to air later this year.

Also Tracking: ABC’s Bed of Roses, Series 3; Channel Nine’s Rescue Special Ops, Series 3; Channel Nine telemovie Panic at Rock Islandand perhaps later in the year Steven Spielberg’s QLD-filmed time-travelling dinosaur adventure series Terra Nova. We’re also intrigued by the sound of The Straits, an ABC crime drama about a family of smugglers, set in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

Comedy & Light Entertainment

Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight 

(ABC1, currently screening, Wednesdays, 8:30pm)

This live weekly talk show is fast becoming an enjoyable Wednesday night appointment for those missing Spicks & Specks. Host Adam Hills is likeably naughty as he chats with a variety of guests and interacts with the studio and online. Clad in a dinner suit, Hannah Gadsby provides a nicely twisted version of Girl Friday as she assists Hills with pranks and props from the sidelines.  Visit the website for Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight for heaps of extras and add-ons. Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight
The Jesters, Series 2 

(Movie Extra, Tuesdays, 8:30pm, encore Saturdays)

Professing to “lift the skirts on the making of a TV comedy show”, The Jesters is back for another wry and often hilarious second series. Mentor and boss Dave Davies (Mick Molloy) wonders whether he’s created a monster by giving the young upstart comedians their own stunt-based show. Helped by his producer and right hand woman Kat (Emily Taheny) and Machiavellian network boss Julia (Susie Porter), Dave’s kept in check by his long-time agent and ego-stroker, Di (Deborah Kennedy). The Jesters, Series 2

(Encore Screenings – ABC2, Wednesdays, 9:00pm, 6 x 30 min)

Haven’t been Laid yet? You better catch the repeats on ABC2 (Wednesdays, 9pm) and stand by for series two. Written by Marieke Hardy and Kirsty Fisher and produced by AFI Award winner Liz Watts (Animal Kingdom), Laid is a black romantic comedy about Roo McVie (Alison Bell), a woman whose sexual past catches up with her in the most unusual of ways. Co-stars include AFI Award winner Abe Forsythe (Marking Time). Laid

(ABC1, 2011, 8 x 30 min)

Comedian Frank Woodley (of Lano and Woodley fame) writes, produces and stars in this physical comedy about an exasperating 40-year-old man-child. He’s sharing custody of his eight-year-old daughter and trying to win back his long-suffering ex-wife (Justine Clarke), who has just started dating a local psychiatrist (Tom Long). Early indications suggest this will be hilarious and unique, a comic drama from one of our best contemporary clowns. Woodley
Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable 

(ABC1, 2011, 6 x 30 min)

Comedian Laurence Leung’s latest documentary series adventure is tipped to be Mythbusters meets Ghostbusters as he embarks on mind-bending quests to examine the irrational and the impossible. With his curious scientific research and somewhat ludicrous real-life experiments, Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable pokes fun at our own misconceptions and tests the limits of our beliefs.
The Gruen Transfer 

(ABC1, 2011)

Wil Anderson, Russell Howcroft and Todd Sampson will be back later in the year with a brand new series of the 2010 AFI Award winner for Best Light Entertainment Television Series, The Gruen Transfer. Advertising executives beware! In the meantime, you can follow the Gruen Team on Twitter http://twitter.com/gruenhq The Gruen Transfer
Angry Boys 

(ABC1, 2011, 12 x 30 min)

2008 Byron Kennedy Award winner Chris Lilley will soon be back on our screens with his new mock doco series Angry Boys. Produced in association with HBO and BBC TV and shot in various locations across the globe, Lilley introduces us to a bunch of new and familiar characters as he explores what it means to be a boy in the 21st century, and all the angst, anger, anticipation and absurdity that comes with it. Angry Boys

(SBS, mid-2011 TBC)

Multi Logie nominee Paul Fenech’s particular brand of irreverent humour was in full force in Pizza and Swift & Shift Couriers and garnered him a devoted fan base. His new series Housos, about the residents bikie gang living in a public housing estate, is set to continue Fenech’s penchant for biting parody and lampooning of ethnic stereotypes that will entertain many and ruffle a few feathers. The Housos cast will include Fenech, Anthony Salame, Angry Anderson, Ian Turpie and Amanda Keller. Housos
Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey 

(ABC1, mid 2011, 6 x 30 min)

Judith Lucy is lost. Now, ready or not, she’s going on a journey to find herself. This six-part series follows the droll and dry comedian Judith Lucy on a very personal path from devoutly religious child to determined young atheist to adult searching for something to believe in. She tries on different faiths for size, revealing what’s on offer for the spiritually curious, and reliving the hilarious, bizarre and profound moments in her life that have shaped who she is today. A co-production between ABC TV and Bearded Lady/Pretty Good Productions, this comedy/documentary is written by Judith Lucy, produced by Todd Abbott (Micallef Tonight, David Tench Tonight) with directors Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards) and Tony Martin (The Librarians, The Late Show). Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey

(ABC1, mid 2011, 6 x 30 min)

Starring Christine Anu, Adam Richard, Ben Gerrard, Paul Ireland and Toby Truslove as the members of a gay science fiction fan club, Outland is a comedy series about their lives, loves and passion for the worlds of science fiction. Orbiting around their shambolic meetings at each other’s apartments, this is a series about how you cope if you’re gay and a geek. Filmed in Melbourne and produced by Princess Pictures – the same team behind the highly popular Summer Heights High and John Safran’s Race RelationsOutland is written by John Richards and Adam Richard and directed by Kevin Carlin (City Homicide, Packed to the Rafters). Outland
Hamish & Andy  

(Channel Nine, late 2011)

Details are being kept under wraps for the much anticipated show by radio kings, Hamish Blake and Andy Lee.  Having dominated the airwaves for the past 5 years, audiences wait to see what shape their foray back into television will take.  The show will be produced through their Radio Karate production company. Hamish & Andy

(ABC2, 2011, 6 x 30 min)

Created and starring Jess Harris (Hamish & Andy’s Real Stories, Rove) and Josh Schmidt (5 Lost at Sea) Twentysomething is the story of two best mates, Jess and Josh, who never went to uni, never had a clear talent, and never really had a drive to grow up. While their friends climb the corporate ladder and start settling down, Jess and Josh begin to tire of their dead-end jobs. They decide to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. Produced by Nicole Minchin (Lowdown) and directed by Paul Currie, the comedy series also stars Hamish Blake as Jess’s on-again off-again crush, and Leah de Niese (Offspring) as another ‘back-up’ friend, Abby. Filmed in Melbourne in December and January, the series is expected to air later this year. Twentysomething

Also Tracking: SBS comedy spoof about 60s-era spies on a mission to kill Hitler in Danger 5; John Clarke’s The Games: London Calling (Channel Nine); Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee host a new Channel Nine discussion program The Joy of Sets, produced by Zapruder’s Other Films; and of course new series of SBS’ Rockwiz and ABC’s Spicks and Specks, which is returning after Easter.

Children’s Television

Go Lingo! 

(ABC3, premieres Monday, April 11, 11.25am)

New to ABC3 this April is the children’s game show Go Lingo! Each episode sees three contestants aged 11-12 battling it out to gain the most points while competing in a series of fun, hi-tech intellectual and physical games designed to test their spelling and grammar. If the website is anything to go by Go Lingo! sounds like a blast with a pit of oversized letters for the contestants to jump in to as well as digital basketball and paint ball to master. The show will also showcase Indigenous languages from around Australia with a segment titled ‘My Country’ and will be hosted by 19-year-old Torres Strait Islander Alannah Ahmat, who was selected after a nationwide search. Go Lingo!

(Fox8, August 2011, 10 x 60 min)

Filmed in Brisbane, Fox8’s new teen drama Slide follows the unpredictable exploits of a group of teenagers as they prepare to face life after school. The 10-part drama will be produced by Playmaker Media and Hoodlum. Hoodlum has gained international recognition for US projects including Lost and Flash Forward. The cast of Slide features Gracie Gilbert (Lockie Leonard), Brenton Thwaites, Ben Schumann (Neighbours, Kick) , Adele Perovic and Emily Robins (The Elephant Princess, Shortland St.). The series is aimed at an audience of 17 to 25-year-olds and draws upon youth for its story development. Produced by David Maher (Supernova), Nathan Mayfield (Hard Choices, Fat Cow Motel), Tracey Robertson (Feeling Sexy, Fat Cow Motel), and David Taylor (Blood Brothers, Crash Palace). Slide
My Place, Series 2 

(ABC3, late 2011, 13 x 30 min)

Mischief and adventure continue to abound in My Place, winner of last year’s AFI Award for Best Children’s Television Drama and co-winner of the 2011 international KidScreen Awards . Produced by multi AFI Award winner Penny Chapman (RAN, The Road from Coorain) from Matchbox Pictures, the story is based on the acclaimed book by Nadia Wheatley, about several generations of Australian children who have lived in the same place for over 130 years. The second series is written and directed by well known Australian talent including; Rachel Ward (Beautiful Kate), Wayne Blair (Lockie Leonard), Catriona McKenzie (The Circuit), Sam Lang (Monkey’s Mask), Greg Waters (Dance Academy), Nick Parsons (Dead Heart), Alice Addison (RAN), John Alsop (RAN, Brides of Christ), Dallas Winmar (Aliwa!), Tony Briggs (The Sapphires) and Michael James Rowland (The Last Confession Of Alexander Pearce). My Place, Series 2
Dance Academy, Series 2 

(ABC3, late 2011, 26 x 30 min)

Tara (Xenia Goodwin) returns to the National Academy of Dance with the goal of representing Australia in the world’s most prestigious ballet competition. But perhaps she should be more focused on just surviving Second Year, where having climbed to the top in her first year at the Academy – in dance, in life, in love – she now has a very long way to fall. The highest rated drama on ABC last year, and co-winner of the 2011 international KidScreen Awards, Dance Academy has also been shortlisted for the 2011 NSW Premier’s Script Writing Award. Produced by two-time AFI Award nominee Joanna Werner (Bring it On Again, H20: Just Add Water), the show also stars Tara Morice (Strictly Ballroom), Alicia Banit (Summer Heights High), Dena Kaplan (City Homicide, The Flight of the Conchords), and Tom Green (Emerald Falls).

Also Tracking: a brand new 3D animated series of Bananas in Pyjamas; the ABC’s hugely popular Australian version of Prank Patrol; and a second series of the inventive children’s animation series The Adventures of Figaro Pho (from AFI Award winner Luke Jurevicius).