SBS orders ‘Hungry Ghosts,’ revives ‘Mastermind’ and uncovers family secrets
A thriller which centres on three generations of Vietnamese Australian families as they cope with the aftermath of war, a revival of the quiz Mastermind and documentaries which uncover family secrets and medical myths will screen on SBS next year.
Among other shows unveiled at the broadcaster’s Upfronts are four “Slow Summer” documentaries in the vein of The Ghan, the third and final season of Matchbox Pictures’ The Family Law and a doc which posits that Christianity in Australia is in crisis.
Kurt Fearnley, Scott Cam, Casey Donovan and Rodger Corser are the first names confirmed for the 10th edition of Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia’s (WBITPA) Who Do You Think You Are?
SBS director of TV and online content Marshall Heald said: “At SBS we tell stories and show people on screen that you don’t see anywhere else, giving a voice to communities that would otherwise go unheard. We thrive on telling stories that explore complex issues and can have meaningful impact; we look for creative approaches that scare us and concepts that will emotionally connect with audiences.
“We also want to celebrate the ways in which diversity enriches Australia so even if we’re grappling with a serious issue, we are optimistic in our approach and are always looking for the light in the dark.”
Matchbox Pictures will produce Hungry Ghosts, a four-part drama which borrows elements of the Japanese and Korean supernatural thriller genre to explore the Vietnamese Australian families dealing with the aftermath of war.
Set in contemporary Melbourne during the Hungry Ghost festival when the Vietnamese community venerate their dead, the show’s themes include lost loves, buried secrets and how unresolved trauma can be handed down through generations until a young woman connects with her past as a way forward.
The drama slate includes Closer Productions’ previously announced The Hunt, which follows four teenagers, their friends, their families, teachers and communities before, during and after a nude photo sharing scandal.
Sophie Hyde is directing the 4-part series and producing with Rebecca Summerton, with scripts by Matthew Cormack and Niki Aken. In an innovative approach, teenagers and non-actors will tell the story.
In its first local commission since setting up a production arm in Oz, BBC Studios Australia will produce Mastermind, which will screen at 6 pm five nights a week, with four contestants in each episode answering questions on their specialist subject as they compete for the title of Australia’s Mastermind. An Australian version last aired on the ABC from 1978-1984.
Noni Hazlehurst will host Artemis Media’s My Family Secret (working title) as each week she helps two Australians uncover their family secrets. Stigmas will be confronted as secrets around suicide, promiscuity, immigration, adoption, criminal activity, infidelity, love and war are revealed.
‘Medicine or Myth?’
In WBITPA’s Medicine or Myth?, everyday Australians will put their diverse and sometimes controversial health cures and remedies to the test in front of a panel of medical experts comprising Doctors Charlie Teo, Ginni Mansberg and Ash Haque.
The “Slow Summer” docs include two productions from Mint Pictures: The Indian Pacific: Australia’s Longest Train Journey and The Kimberley Cruise: Australia’s Last Great Wilderness?
The follow-up to Muslims Like Us, CJZ’s Christians Like Us will examine the sex scandals and internal conflicts over divorce and remarriage, abortion, women priests, contraception and gay marriage which have rocked churches. The show will ask: Who are the Christians in Australia today? From fundamentalist to progressive – what do they believe? How do they practice?
Narrated by Hugo Weaving, Stranger Than Fiction Films’ Australia In Colour will use new colourisation processes to transform black and white archival footage into glorious colour to chart the nation’s history from the start of cinema in the 1900s to the heady 1960s.
The Untold Australia strand will include Heiress Films’ Business As Usual, which will provide a sneak peek into the world of Manjits, a thriving but often chaotic family-run event business in Western Sydney.
Mint Pictures’ Secret Life of Death will open a window into the hidden world of two family-owned funeral homes in Sydney, following two young women – one who works with the living, the other who works with the dead.
Also from Mint Pictures, Trans Mission will follow transgender truck driver Holly Conroy in her bid to stage a Mardi Gras in Australia’s No. 1 Christian town, Wagga Wagga.
Southern Pictures’ Young, Dateable and Disabled (working title) sees relationship counselor Liz Dore on a mission to help six young people with neurological diversity and intellectual disabilities find love.
SBS On Demand’s second commission following the drama Homecoming Queens is Ludo Studio and Since 1788’s previously announced 6-part comedy Robbie Hood, which follows Robbie, a teenage troublemaker with a heart of gold and two friends who aim to fix injustices in a remote Aboriginal community. Dylan River directed and co-wrote the series with Kodie Bedford, produced by Tanith Glynn-Maloney and Meg O’Connell and executive produced by Charlie Aspinwall and Daley Pearson.
Among the returning factual series are CJZ’s Marry Me, Marry My Family, Joined Up Films’ Secrets Of Our Cities and Lune Media’s Struggle Street.
The international docs include Dr Michael Mosley’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, an update of Michael Apted’s 7 Up series 63 Up, Great Australian Railway Journeys and the BBC’s Civilisations, which was shot in six continents and celebrates human ingenuity and creativity.
The Wednesday night food line-up will feature the return of Essential Media Group’s Gourmet Farmer with Matthew Evans and two SBS Originals, Ainsley’s Market Menu and Luke on a Train, which sees Luke Nguyen go back to Vietnam for a culinary journey from north to south on the Re-unification Railway.
The new and returning international dramas include Das Boot, The Name of the Rose, McMafia, Chimerica, Zero Zero Zero, Butterfly, The Good Fight and The Handmaid’s Tale.