ABC adds ‘Stargazing Live with Brian Cox’, two new dramas to its 2017 line-up

10 February, 2017 by Jackie Keast

The ABC has added additional titles to its 2017 line-up, including two new dramas in early stages of production.

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At a media launch in Sydney today, director of television Richard Finlayson said the public broadcaster’s slate aimed to be “ambitious, accessible and Australian”. 

“We want to use the best talent we can possibly find. We want to continue to be the most awarded network. We want to be recognised for the best TV in Australia. But not just in Australia, in the world,” he said.

Finlayson said the ABC wanted to be bold in its programming, and show that the broadcaster's content was "for everybody” via big national stories.

“We want to make big, noisy prime time shows, but we’re going to also make sure that we’re giving emerging creatives the opportunity to access audiences as well. They’ll be doing that a lot on iview,” he said.  

Indeed, iview content was “key”. “We want it to eat our linear network,” said Finlayson. “We’re very happy for that to happen over the next five to 10 years or so. And it has to be easy; the bar is super, super high in the VOD space as we all know.”

Overall, the outgoing exec, who finishes up at the end of March, said there was no doubt that it was “a golden time” for TV.  

“Local audiences do want to see Australian shows… Internationally our shows have huge demand. We are seeing a lot of overseas money flow in to the finance plans, particularly our dramas and also our factual shows now. There are massive opportunities ahead for producers and for the ABC."

Among the new slate is medical drama Pulse, produced by Kristine Wyld and Antony Ginnane, which follows a high-flying financial analyst who is inspired by the man who saved her life to become a doctor.

Two-part mini-series The Easybeats, from Playmaker Media’s David Taylor and David Maher, will explore the story of how five newly arrived immigrants to Australia went on to form the legendary 60s rock band. 

They join previously announced new dramas Newton’s Law, Seven Types of Ambiguity and The Warriors, as well as new seasons of Cleverman, Glitch, Janet King and The Doctor Blake Mysteries. 

The broadcaster also offered up a bolstered factual slate. Stargazing Live with Brian Cox in Australia, to air over three consecutive nights in April, will follow the scientist as he looks up at the southern skies. Ian Thorpe will host Bullied, which sees school-aged children film their experiences of bullying using undercover cameras. Cyberhate with Tara Moss will look at the effects of trolling and cyberbullying. 

In War on Waste, Craig Reucassel will explore how much waste we produce in Australia, and what we can do about it. Meanwhile Todd Sampson’s Life on the Line will see the advertising guru put his life in the hands of physics through a series of experiments. Sampson told the launch he hopes the show will “make science engaging and interesting for a whole other generation of people who have lost faith it in it.”

New on the arts slate is Hannah Gatsby’s Nude, a two-parter, which will see the comedian explore the nude through art and culture. It joins anticipated three-part series David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema. 

Speaking at the launch, Stratton said the series came about after he and Margaret Pomeranz wrapped At The Movies, and the ABC approached him for a program about his relationship to Australian cinema. 

“It was not and is not ever intended as a history of Australian cinema, not at all. It’s really my reflections on certain aspects of Australian cinema,” said the critic. 

The program will air after the theatrical premiere of a feature version, David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, which is being released via Transmission. The distributor approached Stratton and co. in the middle of the series shoot, interested in a cinema-version of the material. The two versions are “significantly different,” said Stratton.

“The emphasis is different and obviously there’s a great deal more material in TV version,” said Stratton. He explained that the two different titles “reflect fairly accurately the two different approaches,” with the feature more heavily biographical. 

Stratton credited director Sally Aitken for both the film and series, though conceded “[as] a New Zealander, I had to teach her a lot about Australian cinema. But she came up trumps, I think.”

In comedy and entertainment, John Luc (Sucker) will lead the ABC’s first-ever sketch show, The China Boy. Luc (aka Mychonny) has over 300 million views on YouTube. The Katering Show’s Kates will be back and taking with new series Get Krack!n, while Shaun Micalleff-starrer The Ex-PM will return.

On iview, Pop-Ability follows The Sisters of Invention, the world’s first ever-girl band with disabilities, as they create their debut album. A music clip played at the launch played like gangbusters.

The Children’s slate includes new programs Mustangs FC, from Matchbox Pictures; Get Grubby TV, and the 13-part Joey’s Big Adventure – featuring Play School’s newest toy. They join the previously announced doco My Year 12 Life, which looks at the stress of the HSC on school students. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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