Grace Beside Me.
NITV has commissioned its first ever scripted live-action series, Grace Beside Me.
Adapted from the novel by Sue McPherson, the 13 x 26 series – pitched as “the story of an extraordinary girl trying to lead an ordinary life” – is produced by Magpie Pictures, with investment from Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Screen Queensland, the ABC, as well as assistance from Screen NSW.
Aimed at 8-12 year olds, Grace Beside Me follows Fuzzy Mac, a 13-year-old who discovers she can see ghosts and spirits. However, all she wants to do is fit in, as it’s “hard enough navigating the highs and lows of becoming a teenager while living with your eccentric Nan and Pop, without also having to deal with needy ghosts, mischievous totems and cantankerous Ancestors.”
Mac is said to have “one foot in the Indigenous realm of culture, Country – and spirits – and the other firmly planted in the world of a 21st century teenager.”
Grace Beside Me will premiere on NITV, with a secondary broadcast on the ABC before a third release on subscription channel Disney Australia.
The series is produced by Lois Randall (The Gods of Wheat Street, Nan and a Whole Lot of Trouble) and Dena Curtis (8 MMM Aboriginal Radio, Nan and a Whole Lot of Trouble), with direction by Beck Cole (Black Comedy, Redfern Now,The Warriors) and Adrian Russell Wills (Wentworth, Redfern Now, The Warriors).
McPherson (Nan and a Whole Lot of Trouble) will also write on the series, alongside Danielle MacLean (Little J and Big Cuz, Double Trouble, Blown Away), Jon Bell (The Gods of Wheat Street, Cleverman), Briar Grace-Smith (Being Eve, Kaitangata Twitch), Adrian Russell Wills (Redfern Now, Ready for This), Tristan Savage (Gubbament Man, Un-Australian) and Erica Glynn (Little J and Big Cuz).
“This is another hugely exciting step for NITV and testament to the beauty and depth of our storytelling,” said NITV channel manager Tanya Orman.
“Our goal is to create award-winning children’s content that speaks to a new generation, and this is truly unique storytelling from the world’s oldest story tellers for Australian children. The story of Fuzzy Mac is told with warmth, humour and pathos by the best of our Indigenous screenwriters.”
Screen Australia’s head of Indigenous, Penny Smallacombe, said: “Reaching young audiences with Indigenous and culturally diverse content is an incredibly important focus for Screen Australia. We are proud to be supporting Grace Beside Me, which is helmed by an all-female producing team, including Aboriginal producer Dena Curtis, and are confident that with three Australian broadcasts this unique story will resonate with audiences around the country.”
“Grace Beside Me presents opportunities to our local practitioners that allows us to grow a stronger and richer industry base with long-lasting economic and cultural significance for all Australians,” Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira said.
ABC head of children’s and education Michael Carrington said: “I’m thrilled that we are building strong ties with NITV talent and offering a much-deserved additional platform for Indigenous talent both on and off screen. Children’s audiences across Australia are bound to enjoy Grace Beside Me, a smart funny drama series made specifically for them”.
The series is currently in pre-production, with plans to commence filming in the first quarter of this year.