Ash Ricardo, Dominic Monaghan and Todd Lasance in ‘Bite Club’. (Photo: Lisa Tomasetti)
Unveiling its 2018 slate, the Nine Network highlighted a raft of new local dramas, factual and reality shows including the first multi-million dollar commission for digital channel GO!
The line-up includes Playmaker Media’s crime thriller Bite Club, Screentime’s Date Night, Eat Well for Less and Driving Test and Endemol Shine Australia’s Buying Blind.
Announcing the slate at a glitzy event at Fox Studios Australia on Wednesday afternoon, Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks bragged about the flagship channel’s prime-time audience share, which is up 2.6 per cent in all people and 2.9 per cent in 25-54s this year.
Streaming platform 9Now has registered a 114 per cent growth in audiences, reaching nearly 4.9 million people.
The event was attended by talent including Karl Stefanovic, Doctor, Doctor star Rodger Corser, Michael Caton, Erin Molan and Shaun Micallef, who will host the ITV Studios Australia (ITVSA) quiz Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation for the network next year. The show previously aired on Network 10 from 2009-2012.
ITVSA is producing an Australian version of UK reality hit Love Island, which will screen on GO! and 9Now. Love Island Australia will follow young Aussie singles as they look for romance in Spain, with weeks of dates, challenges, eliminations and new contestants, voted on by viewers. Season three of the UK show was among the most watched series on 9Now.
Bite Club stars Todd Lasance and Ash Ricardo as detectives who hunt down a serial killer after surviving a shark attack. The 8-part series is scripted by Sarah Smith and John Ridley and directed by Jennifer Leacey, Geoff Bennett, Wayne Blair and Peter Andrikidis.
The cast includes Dominic Monaghan (100 Code, Quantum Break), Damian Walshe-Howling, Deborah Mailman, Robert Mammone and Pia Miller.
The drama slate includes a third season of Doctor, Doctor from Easy Tiger Productions and Screentime’s Underbelly Files: Chopper, which centres on gangster Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, starring Aaron Jeffrey, Michael Caton and Todd Lasance, scripted by Justin Monjo and directed by Peter Andrikidis.
Date Night is an original format which takes the form of an online dating game as family and friends help singles to try to find the perfect match.
Eat Well for Less will offer practical suggestions to cash-strapped and time-poor families on how to eat better and save money, based on a BBC format.
Driving Test will follow the highs and lows of people in Darwin as they learn how to drive, from the first lesson to the licence test.
Nine and Cavalier Television’s The Block, which averaged 1.8 million viewers per episode this year, up 20 per cent on last year, returns for its 14th season. The challenge will be to modernise an 80-year-old former hotel in St Kilda which for 50 years has provided budget accommodation.
Aiming to feed off the success of The Block, Buying Blind will follow couples who are searching for their dream home. Each couple will hand over their life savings to three property experts, trusting them to make the biggest decision of their lives.
Among other returning series, ESA will make a second season of Australian Ninja Warrior, based on the long-running Japanese action gameshow, with 300 contestants competing on Mount Midoriyama for $200,000. Season 1 was the most watched non-sports program this year, averaging 2.5 million viewers per episode.
The fifth season of ESA’s Married at First Sight will see relationship psychologist John Aiken, neuro-psychotherapist Trisha Stratford and dating expert and psychologist Mel Schilling trying to create 10 perfect matches.
ITVSA will produce the seventh edition of The Voice, again featuring coaches Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland and Boy George, plus a fourth coach yet to be announced.
Radio Karate will make a second series of True Story with Hamish & Andy, in which co-hosts Hamish Blake and Andy Lee meet Australian storytellers whose yarns are simultaneously recreated by a cast of top performers. The debut season this year drew more than 2 million viewers including encore screenings and streaming on 9Now.
Another 2017 hit, This Time Next Year, an in-house production based on the Twofour format/ITV series, will return, following everyday Aussies as they strive to achieve significant personal goals over the course of a year.
Among other renewals are the Nine-produced Travel Guides, which premiered this year, based on the Studio Lambert format that screens on ITV in the UK; in-house comedy clip countdown 20 to One; and Screentime’s long-running observational doc RBT.