ABC-TV unveils 2014 slate

27 November, 2013 by Don Groves

Comedies from Matchbox Pictures, Princess Pictures, Working Dog and The Bondi Hipsters are among the highlights of ABC-TV’s 2014 schedule.

The drama slate includes the previously announced Anzac Girls (Screentime), which stars Georgia Flood, Antonia Prebble, Laura Brent, Anna McGahan and Caroline Craig in the saga of five young military nurses from Australia and New Zealand during the Gallipoli and Western Front campaigns; The Code (Playmaker Media), a political thriller about two brothers who stumble across information that people in power will kill to keep secret, starring Ashley Zukerman and Dan Spielman; and Old School (Matchbox), which features Bryan Brown and Sam Neill as a retired crim and ex-cop who solve crimes and unravel scams while avoiding the wrath of the police and the underworld.


Among the other dramas are Janet King (Screentime), a legal drama starring Marta Dusseldorp; crime thriller The Broken Shore (Essential Media); second series of The Time of Our Lives (JAHM Pictures) and The Doctor Blake Mysteries (December Media); and the return of Guy Pearce in Jack Irish: Dead Point (Essential).  

The ABC also announced it would launch a pay-per-view service on its iview platform late next year, offering recent and archival programs.

Matchbox is producing Maximum Choppage, a Kung Fu comedy series about three unlikely heroes in Sydney's western suburbs who learn martial arts to save their favourite comic bookstore and to win their hearts' desires. The cast includes Lawrence Leung.

Laura Waters of Princess Pictures and Chris Lilley are making Jonah, a six-part series which follows the further adventures of the bored Tongan teenage delinquent from Summer Heights High. Whether he’s in Tonga or Sydney, school life is still not cool for Jonah and his Poly-posse, who continue to spread his trademark swearing, telling of tall tales and signature ‘Dicktation’ tagging all over school grounds.

Working Dog’s Santo Cilauro, Rob Sitch, Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner and Michael Hirsh will produce Utopia, a satirical comedy about the absurdity of government-sponsored schemes, set in  the offices of the ‘'Nation Building Authority.'  The cast includes Sitch (who is directing), Celia Pacquola, Dave Lawson, Luke McGregor, Kitty Flanagan, Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehmann, Emma-Louise Wilson and Michelle Lim Davidson.

The Chaser team returns with We’ll Have to Leave it There and there will be a new series of Spicks and Specks, hosted by Josh Earl with singer-songwriter Ella Hooper and comedian Adam Richard as team captains.

YouTube sensations The Bondi Hipsters (Christiaan Van Vuuren and Nick Boshier) make their TV debut with Soul Mates, the tale of two friends who find themselves bound together throughout the course of human history. They're stuck on the same cycle of death and rebirth, constantly being reincarnated, and finding each other in each lifetime. "It's  a bromance that spans the course of human history," says Christiaan, who will co-star with Boshier. The creators are Connor Van Vuuren, Christiaan Van Vuuren and Nick Boshier, directed by the Van Vuuren brothers.

The factual slate includes Afghanistan: The Australian War (Essential Media), which tells the story of Australia’s longest war from the viewpoints of  those who fought it.

Brilliant Creatures retraces the footsteps of Germaine Greer, Barry Humphries, Clive James and Robert Hughes as they departed Australia bound for the world stage, written and presented by Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, produced by Mint Pictures & Serendipity.

The Flying Miners (Screentime) follows the eclectic group of ‘fly-in fly-out’ miners and Australian mining executives. Produced by Wildfury, Save Your Life Tonight! examines Australia’s health system.

The children’s line-up includes Blue Zoo (Air Pig Productions, David Atkins Enterprises), which looks at eight teenagers from Ireland and Australia as they train as marine experts, working with dolphins, seals and turtles that have been rescued and rehabilitated or born into human care.

MY24 (Essential Media) is an interview-based series that profiles young people whose lives have been profoundly transformed by a single event that happened within the space of one day.

Hoopla Doopla (Beyond Screen Production, China Television Drama Production Centre) is a pre-school, live-action, non-verbal comedy series.

For the first time, iview will premiere two programs created for the online service: sketch comedy Fresh Blood and Wastelander Panda, billed as an epic story of loyalty and betrayal in an environment where no-one can survive alone.