Why I Adore… Reality Television

By Emma Ashton | 

Reality television has always been the unruly child amongst television genres – passionately loved by some, but barely tolerated by others, many of whom hoped and predicted that viewers would move on and it would eventually die out and never be heard of again.

Much to the chagrin of many, this naughty (and rumoured to be illegitimate) child, through sheer force of personality, continues to demand attention.

In the past decade, reality television shows have dominated ratings, created many stars, unearthed hidden talents, reinvigorated flagging careers, and provided much media chatter – both of the superficial and the deeply intellectual and sociological kinds. In fact, there’s no ignoring reality shows in any discussion of contemporary television programming.

In the beginning…

The beginning of the 2000s was the start of reality TV as we now know it. In Australia the networks bought up overseas formats like Big Brother, Survivor, The Mole, Dancing With The Stars, and Idol, producing local versions and variations.

The first big hit was the first series of Big Brother Australia, broadcast on Network Ten in 2001. This was the Australian version of the Endemol format, which originated in the Netherlands and now has franchises all over the world which follow the basic format: a diverse group of (usually) young people are confined in a house, with their interactions monitored like lab rats, and regular evictions eliminating all but the winner from the house.

The first Australian series captured the imagination of audiences (which averaged 1.4 million in the three-month period of series 1) and continued on yearly until the three-year hiatus after the low-rating 2008 series. (Big Brother has recently been revived for a ninth series, currently screening on the Nine Network.)

The first season of AUSTRALIAN SURVIVOR aired on the Nine Network in 2002.

In the early days, an important part of the voyeuristic pleasure of Big Brother was the ability to watch the action live on the new-fangled invention, the internet. Viewers could then interact with the show by voting to eliminate contestants through SMS, and also by talking about it online in fan forums.

The rise of reality TV thus coincided with the rise of social media, which enticed viewers to watch shows live in order to discuss them in real time. This was something the critics and naysayers had not counted on: the explosion of social media and the perfect way it married with reality television programs.

After Big Brother, other international reality formats quickly found their way onto our screens, including the first series of Australian Survivor (Nine Network, 2002), Australian Idol (Network Ten, 2003), Dancing with the Stars (Channel 7, 2004), Australia’s Next Top Model (Fox 8, 2005) and many others.

The Masterchef phenomenon

It was Masterchef Australia which finally forced the industry and the critical viewer to give the reality genre some respect. The first series of this show hit our screens in April 2009 (Network Ten) as a replacement for the dead Big Brother, and it showed that a cooking show could pull in huge viewing numbers night after night. Ratings averaged more than 3 million viewers a night, peaking at 4.11 million in the final episode.

Julie Goodwin and Poh Ling Yeow – winner and runner-up for MASTERCHEF Series 1, 2009.

Other networks were desperate to find a reality show that would get people tuning in. Channel Nine achieved this with The Block (revived with great success in 2010) and most recently The Voice (2012); as has Seven with My Kitchen Rules (first season 2010) and The X Factor (first season 2005, revived in 2010). In fact, it should be acknowledged that Seven persisted with those latter two shows despite slow first seasons, eventually turning them into mega hits.

In 2009, viewers who had previously hidden their love of reality TV, along with new viewers who’d just discovered it, were suddenly talking about Masterchef, passionately involved in whether their favourite contestants would win or be eliminated. The success of this program showed that reality TV was not going away, but instead was a force to be reckoned with. Viewers who had finally crossed to the “dark side” were now willing to test the water with other shows in the reality genre.

Indigenous? Muslim? Middle-Aged or Mumsy? Please apply

Personally, what I love about reality TV is its diversity of casting. For the first time in primetime history, there were people from different backgrounds, ages, sizes and sexuality on our television screens, and look at how we have embraced them! It could be argued that this has paved the way for more risks to be taken in casting within drama series, other television formats, and even feature films.

Winner of BIG BROTHER, Series 4, the Fijian-born Trevor Butler and runner-up Bree Amer, 2004.

Who can forget Trevor Butler, of Fijian background, winning one million dollars on Big Brother 2004 and going on to have a media career? Or Casey Donovan, who won the reality singing show Australian Idol 2004 at the age of 16, voted for by viewers who did not care about her Aboriginal ancestry or her size? The hugely talented Indigenous singer Jessica Mauboy also obtained her start on Australian Idol, where she was runner-up in the 2006 series. Without this start, it’s possible she’d never have been discovered, and we wouldn’t be enjoying her talents in feature films like Bran Nue Dae and most recently, The Sapphires.

Journalist, television host and radio broadcaster Chrissie Swan may never have had a media career without the kick start she got from appearing as runner-up in the 2003 series of Big Brother.  Nine years on, she still battles criticisms for her weight, her parenting and her refreshing candor, but she forces the industry to treat her with respect because of her popularity with audiences, a popularity which culminated in her winning the Most Popular New Female Talent Logie Award in 2011.

Jessica Mauboy, runner-up in the 2006 series of AUSTRALIAN IDOL and now gracing cinema screens in THE SAPPHIRES.

Amina Elshafei, who was open about her Muslim religion on the 2012 series of Masterchef Australia, was loved by the audience. She showed that a Muslim girl, wearing a hijab and avoiding pork, can be sassy, talented and ‘Australian’. As did Mo and Mos (Mohammed El-leissy and Mostafa Haroun) who were the extremely funny bumbling team on the first season of The Amazing Race Australia. Australian born Muslims of Egyptian background, these two friends were one of the reasons the 2011 show was such fun to watch.

Reality singing TV shows were initially considered an illegitimate way for a person to enter the industry as they had not done the “hard yards” in the music circuit. However shows like Idol, The X Factor and The Voice gave talented singers the opportunity to showcase their skills when previously they may not have had the right ‘look’ or the necessary connections to get ahead in the industry.

Without Australian Idol, would record executives ever have considered signing up 2003 winner Guy Sebastian? A Sri Lankan/Malay boy with an afro, who was not shy about talking about his belief in God or the fact that he was a virgin, he was not exactly made in the traditional pop star mould, yet he continues with chart success and as a judge on The X Factor.

Winner of the 2012 series of The Voice, Karise Eden has a big, gravelly voice and a troubled background, growing up in foster care with low self esteem. It’s highly unlikely that she’d ever have succeeded in getting a demo tape onto a recording executive’s desk without The Voice. And fellow contestant Darren Percival’s demo tape would have been stamped “too old” and “been gigging too long”. Through The Voice, however, he was able to reach his audience – the mums at home who don’t have the time, money or energy to get out to live shows.

The award-winning hit, GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM, Series 1, SBS1.

Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS, 2011) brought the genre respect by highlighting the important and contentious issue of refugees. The program used the tricks and conventions of reality TV productions, placing the cast of six ‘ordinary’ Australians outside their comfort zone and pushing them to their emotional limits. The three-part series took its Australian participants on a confronting 25 day journey which saw them challenge their preconceptions about refugees and asylum seekers. The resulting show, along with its discussion forum and social media frenzy, increased viewers’ understanding of global issues, increasing our empathy for the plight of dispossessed people. The series garnered a number of awards, including the coveted Golden Rose for Best of 2012 at the Rose d’Or Awards ceremony in Switzerland, the TV Week Logie Award in 2012 for Most Outstanding Factual, and two awards at the 2011 United Nations Association of Australian Media Peace Awards for best television documentary and for its promotion of multicultural issues.

Now with the second series of Go Back to Where You Came From (currently broadcast on SBS1), the same production team have created a celebrity version of the show, with participants including former hardline Liberal politician Peter Reith and former ‘shock jock’ Michael Smith. This is attracting similar accolades from the press and audiences.

In a society where education, race, gender and socio-economic background strongly determine opportunities, reality TV has surprisingly allowed these barriers to be challenged and crossed, changing our cultural perceptions and norms in the process. This can only be a good thing.

Connection, emotion and fantasy – why reality works for me

Another aspect of the reality genre which I love is watching people receive the opportunity to transform their lives. It may just be with the big cash prize, but also in other ways.

Would winner of Masterchef Australia season one, Julie Goodwin, a middle-aged stay-at-home mum, ever have dreamt her life would change so much when she auditioned for the show? Anyone bored with the humdrum of their everyday life would cheer her on for jagging a Woman’s Weekly column or her television cooking show. It is not just the winners, however, who change their lives. The vast majority of the Masterchef contestants have changed their lives as a result of being on the show.

South Australian winners of MY KITCHEN RULES, Leigh Sexton (left) and Jennifer Evans – who was initially seen as a ‘villain’.

What really draws love, however, is being able to emotionally connect with the contestants. Like modern day Vaudeville, these shows cause us to fall in love with some, and fervently dislike others. In fact, some contestants are set up to be villains, and this need not be seen as a  negative, as the savvy reality TV contestant realises this role will get them more air time and a higher media profile. In fact, the villain can even transform into the hero. For example, this year’s My Kitchen Rules winner, Jen (Jennifer Evans), started off being quite disliked for her forthright views, however she forced the audience to treat her with respect, due to her superior cooking skills and her entertainment value.

I also love the fact that I can be personally involved in reality television shows through voting and social media interactions. Yes, we viewers are sometimes manipulated by the editing, but it feels good to be supporting the people we like.

Another aspect I enjoy is the sheer quantity of fresh faces that appear on our screens with each new show. As each new series starts, I can’t help but  wonder who will be the star, who will have the talent? Which contestant will I hate, and which ones will  make me laugh?

Hosts with the most – to gain

I also love seeing the fresh (or re-freshed) faces of the cast of judges and hosts who front these shows. At one point it may have been considered a career dead-end – though faded 80s rock stars must have been grateful for the boost to their retirement funds. Now, however, these are prized jobs. Media identities know that if they can appear on a top rating reality show, they may just reinvigorate careers, find whole new fan bases, sell merchandise and showcase another side of themselves.

Revived careers – the judges for THE VOICE AUSTRALIA, Season 1: Joel Madden, Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem & Seal. 2012

It was no coincidence that most of the coaches on The Voice had singles, marketing campaigns and ticket sales commencing at the time the show was broadcast. Delta Goodrem had not had a hit for five years and now she’s everywhere. Within Australia, Keith Urban was considered a niche talent, more famous for his movie star wife, Nicole Kidman, than for his own talents. But with The Voice he cemented his identity as a likeable and approachable talent within the mainstream.

Deserving Respect – a new Award for reality TV

One of the chief criticisms leveled at the genre has been that it steals jobs away from real actors and from creative talents involved in scripted drama, as well as leaching resources from hard news and traditional documentary formats. These are probably issues for someone other than a rabid reality fan to answer!

However, it must be acknowledged that the popularity of reality productions (many of which are more popular here in Australia than their international counterparts) has meant that they are a huge employer within the local industry and a training ground for many new talents both behind and in front of the camera. Live television events, such as those orchestrated by reality television shows, seem to be the future of free to air television, and one of the few formats resistant to time-shifting, illegal downloading and audience fragmentation.

The reality TV genre is broad and continually evolving. Reality television shows have given Australian viewers many of the iconic television moments of the last ten years, and it’s clear now that this genre will continue to thrive in the competitive television landscape.

As an obsessive fan and prolific commentator on reality television, I must say that I’m thrilled to see this much-maligned form of entertainment – which is such an important aspect of the yearly television schedule – now being acknowledged with its own Award by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). The people involved in producing, commissioning and working on reality television shows certainly deserve to have an award that recognises excellence within their genre, thus giving legitimacy and acknowledging excellence within these formats.

I’m eagerly looking forward to November, when we’ll find out which shows have been nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Reality Television Show. Bring it on!

About the author:

Emma Ashton is Editor/Publisher of Reality Ravings (www.realityravings.com). You can also follow her on Twitter @RealityRavings where she’s sure to be tuning in live and tweeting about the latest reality offerings on Australian television.

Advertisements

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)

Shaun Micallef of SHAUN MICALLEF IS MAD AS HELL

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.