ABC considers Crownies spin-off

By David Knox on November 25, 2011 / Filed Under News 70

EXCLUSIVE: Ambitious legal drama Crownies will have its final episode on ABC1 next week, but the drama may have life in the form of another spin-off.

Crownies won’t be coming back as Crownies,” ABC1 Channel Controller Brendan Dahill tells TV Tonight.

“But we are talking to (producers) Screentime about a spin-off. There are lots of things I love about Crownies and lots of things that were done brilliantly, and I’m really proud of Crownies.

“I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t engage a bigger audience than it did. Genuinely surprised. But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are plenty of brilliant things in it and we’re talking to Screentime at the moment.

“That’s why we haven’t made the announcement yet about no Season Two. It’s not a Season Two of Crownies, it’s a spin-off from Crownies that takes Crownies and the characters in a slightly different direction.”

The 22 part drama was ABC’s most ambitious and expensive drama in years, but launched to modest ratings and mixed reviews.

“The criticism comes in the more soapie elements and fair enough. But there were plenty of really on-the-pulse moments. The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, babies dying of dehydration in the car because people leave them there. There were so many cases when you open your paper they’re right there and the production team were right on the pulse of what Australian courts are inundated with,” Dahill explains.

The show was not announced as returning during ABC’s 2012 Programming Launch this week because Dahill says he was still considering his options in recent weeks.

“I’ll be completely honest, I was undecided. There’s bits of Crownies that have really worked and I didn’t want to throw them away because of (poor) ratings,” he says.

“So what Screentime have come up with is a really great compromise that allows us to keep the best bits, and learn and move on.”

He also cites Hamish Michael and Marta Dusseldorp as two of his favourite performers in the show.

“Hopefully they will get recognised when Awards season comes around, but they’re up against some stiff competition.”

A spin-off is rare in Australian drama but it isn’t unprecedented. As far back as 1976 Solo One was a spin-off from Crawford Productions’ Matlock Police. E Street also had a major makeover while The Flying Doctors became RFDS. Pacific Drive was changed from a late night M rated show to a PG daytime show when it got axed. A Country Practice and Neighbours also switched networks while Chances bore no resemblance to its original premise.

Dahill emphasises it is still early days on the development of the spin-off.

“Nothing is signed. We’re still talking through creatively how it’s going to look.

Screentime is positive, creative and energised all the time and we’d love to keep that going.

“I’m hoping it might be late 2012, but it might end up in early 2013, purely because we’ve got such a rich drama slate in 2012 and I will be hard-pressed to get it in the schedule.

“We’ve learned from the experience and Screentime have learned.

“Hopefully next time round we’ll get it better.”


  1. Lenny March 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm -

    Thursday night was one of my favourite TV nights, absolutely looked forward to each episode of Crownies. Why would you kill a fantastic program because of ratings? Surely quality means more than quantity? Brilliant program & I’m still annoyed that it’s not returning in its original format. Love the existing cast & their interaction. Sadly missed.

  2. Patrick February 2, 2012 at 10:01 pm -

    This was the best drama on ABC all year!!! I am very disappointed to hear that it is not coming back.

  3. Gab January 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm -

    Glad to hear it will be back- we loved it. Clever story lines ,the court room sub plots were great along with the running legal battles.

  4. Robert January 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm -

    I loved it, I think it had great story lines. It needs to come back as is you can’t end the series with a bomb shell like that and just say it wont be back as the Crownies but as a spin off WTF just saying.

  5. Joanne January 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm -

    I cannot believe you wouldn’t follow this up. It is the best Aussy show I have seen in a long time. If ratings were poor then it wasnt for poor performance. Perhaps poor advertising. I am totally involved in all characters and story lines and am very upset that the show is not continuing. I have bought the 22 episodes and will watch them a lot but I want more!! Please reconsider.

  6. Tracy Cowell January 21, 2012 at 10:14 am -

    I was astounded to learn that Crownies has been axed! From the first episode I was captivated by the slick production of this legal drama, and the brilliant portrayal of characters by the ensemble cast. At last a well-made, intelligent Australian series! My husband has a saying “it’s all about the money” which sadly is often true and has been an issue with the ABC for many years. Surely, though, common sense and public opinion should prevail? Hopefully Crownies will attract a swag of much-deserved awards, and the people of Australia (at least if not internationally) will be rewarded with another season at best or a reincarnation at least. Bring it back! Hurry, before the cast is snapped up elsewhere!

  7. Tracy January 15, 2012 at 12:17 am -

    The only Australian show worth Watching. The rest are all crap. Will have to go back to international dramas now. Shame really. Marta Dusseldorp was incredible. Would love to see more of her.

  8. Trena January 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm -

    What a great show ABC1 You did a great job all the characters were so real and believe able please bring the show perserve as you do with other shows !

  9. Annabel January 11, 2012 at 8:25 am -

    Please bring back Crownies. My husband and I both loved it and I have spoken to lots of people that enjoyed it also. Where do the ratings come from?!??. Agree that we should bring back Richard, Janet, but also Tracey, Tony, Ben and Tatum. I thought they were fantastic and entertaining. The story lines were great and once we watched one episode, we couldn’t wait to watch the next.

  10. Jenny January 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm -

    Why does this happen? A good show that opens your eyes to another world and they shut it down. It was actually a show I stayed up for. While watching Crownines I actually started watching other ABC shows. Please think about a spin off or a return.

  11. Nadsy January 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm -

    I discovered it after it finished. Loving it through iTunes at the moment. Love the characters, silly or otherwise. Was hoping for a season 2.

  12. Amanda January 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm -

    Initially I thought Crownies was going to be soapy garbage from the adverts and teasers that ran prior to it airing, so I came to see it on iview. There were certainly soapie elements to the show and every week someone was having sex but I loved the cases and the drama. It reminded me of my days at law school. I’m sorry to hear it won’t be returning for a second season but will be watching out for the spin off. In the meantime, I’ll be buying the DVDs!

  13. Nic December 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm -

    My partner and I Loved crownie’s and would Love a season 2! Please reconsider – a great show, great mix of characters and some great aussie drama for once! Well done and what a shame it might be all over. I think season 2 would generate more interest as time goes on. FIngers crossed we see it again soon

  14. Helen Barnett December 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm -

    I don’t know why people didn’t tune in to Crownies – I loved it. I grew fond of all the chracters and their foibles and adventures and would have had great pleasure in watching another series just the way it was.

  15. Jim and Caz December 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm -

    We are 30 and thought this show was awesome, and so did our parents. We only found it mid season and loved it. Great characters, storylines and all Australian. Please come back for a Season 2. It was not a great time slot. Would love to see it back next year, it was compulsory viewing this year.

  16. Paul McVicar December 23, 2011 at 8:33 am -

    Crownies was good because it followed a formula that the quality American shows use. Watch West Wing and Greys Anatomy and you can see the same structures, characters and comedy that makes a great TV show. Well done Crownies it was very entertaining to watch.

  17. Vicki December 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm -

    I loved Crownies, better than all the American CSI and beyond bullshit that is on. Great Aussie actors. Hamish Michael was brillant, although I may be biase he grew up in my home town, a fair few years younger than me but knew his sisters and other brothers. Well done Hamish, I wish you well. Bring back Crownies!

  18. Kelsey December 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm -

    I am really surprised that there was not a bigger audience for this show, all of my friends watch Crownies and would love it to return

    Dont understand a spin off, why not just return the show?

  19. Maryann December 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm -

    The only thing I would have changed would be to make the Janet going into labour scenes and the hospital scenes more realistic. I would not have had her and Erin panic and rush to the hospital before she has even had one contraction. Just once I wish a fictional show would get labour and birth right. But otherwise, bravo.

  20. Maryann December 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm -

    loved it and I want more!

  21. Jack December 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm -

    I think Crownies was brilliant. I liked all of it, the characters, the cases and yes even the “silliness”. I despair for our Australian society if quality shows like this aren’t appreciated. It’s as realistic as it can be while still being entertaining to watch. The silliness factor that others are ridiculing is far more common than most people think. People are fragile and often stupid beings that make crazy decisions in the heat of the moment. No one is perfect.

  22. kim December 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm -

    Crownies was complete rubbish.

  23. Denna December 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm -

    I loved Crownies. It was the best show of 2011. I cannot believe season 2 won’t be made, please, please reconsider…..

  24. Jeremy December 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm -

    Crownies is very well-written and well-cast. I love how it portrays the lives of these young lawyers in our modern world. I also love all the cases they deal with and their relevance to today’s society. They give us an interesting perception on all these different issues. I certainly hope they make a second series using the same cast and concepts as in the first series. Well done to the entire production team and thanks to ABC for showing us this entertaining series!

  25. Kate December 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm -

    I really enjoyed Crownies and never missed an episode. I’m extremely disappointed it isn’t coming back and hope it is reconsidered… Definitely the best show on TV this year!!

  26. Kerrie December 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm -

    Loved it! Please do a second series/ spin-off whatever! Just bring it back.

  27. Lynn December 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm -

    I watch Crownies on ABCIView each week and have watched some episodes twice. This is a brilliantly made TV show and am sorry to see it is finished. I applaud the fineness of this show and please do more Aussie shows. Beats CSI etc etc which I never watch. The cast and the acting was brilliant. Thank you

  28. Solveig larsen December 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm -

    I thought “Crownies” was an excellent show.. Good writing, acting, production.. dealing with topical complex issues in sensitive, creative and realistic ways.. Particularly loved Richard and Tamsin’s characters.. Please make sure the show is brought back to screen, but for goodness sake, don’t “dumb it down” or sensationalize for the sake of more audience. instead, up the ante, and keep the writing, characters and plot tight.. It is a relief to have complicated but likeable characters such as the ones portrayed.. all of them. Good work, ABC..

  29. Antonia December 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm -

    Very sorry it’s ending. Really looked forward to watching it each week. More enjoyable than most other stuff on the box.

  30. carmel December 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm -

    Will miss my Thursday night fix of Crownies! In a sea of Crappy American sitcoms and crime shows Crownies was one of only a few shows that was worth watching on Free to air TV. I just don’t understand the masses obsession with inferior American shows over quality Home grown or English shows!

  31. TONY December 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm -

    I think that Crownies has been 1 of the best tv programs this year, it had everything, even the sillyness was realistic. It touched upon sensitive issues, and overall a very entertaining series. I for 1 will be sorry for this series to end, and find it hard to comprehend some of the criticisms that have been made.

  32. Paul December 1, 2011 at 8:34 am -

    I was frustrated by Crownies.
    I watched every episode and parts of each fired up well – were real and interesting and confronting.
    Then there was all this unbelievable silliness – absurd, childish, just really stupid behaviour. Self indulgent and lame.
    Let down by the writing as usual.
    Cut all that out and let’s get grown up. Could then be good.

  33. Shakira November 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm -

    Don’t know what all the negative comments are about. OK – the soapie scenes are a bit much but the drama in the DPP is fantastic. Wish we saw a bit less of Erin and Tatum and a lot more of Janet and Tony.

  34. Sarah November 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm -

    Crownie is the only tv show that l watch, and it is incredibly amazing. And to anyone that commented on here saying how bad the show was, but could write about specific details from various episodes. Why did you watch it if you didn’t like it?

  35. Andrew November 26, 2011 at 2:39 am -

    I thought Crownies was great TV…..haven’t missed an ep and I am a bit annoyed that we have to wait til 2013 but I guess something is better then nothing

  36. Alisha November 26, 2011 at 12:22 am -

    All in all, I’ve really enjoyed watching Crownies.
    I liked all of the characters, especially Richard and his continuous fuck-ups.
    I don’t want to focus on the negative points, but… The court/case drama elements didn’t mix well with the soap elements, for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing Richard’s fake gay room, but it was a little bit unrealistic. Well, very unrealistic when you think about the gravity of the cases back at the DPP.
    Some of the things that happened were almost Neighbours worthy. Funny, but not well suited to the rest of the show.
    Also, I was really disappointed with the end of the case with the murderous kid. It was a big build up and then nothing really happened.
    As for the positives… I liked all of the characters and their respective actors and actresses. The women were always sporting impeccable hair-dos, which is a plus for me! The cases seemed very realistic and some of them were quite gut wrenching. I’m really looking forward to the finale, but in another sense, I’m not! I don’t want it to end!

    I would love to see more Crownies, there is lots of room for improvement, which is always a good thing. I applaud the writers, or whoever (no idea), for branching out and mixing things into it.

    PS: Is it just me, or does Tatum have a rape/abuse secret? Maybe that is brought out in the last episode>?

  37. Simon November 26, 2011 at 12:02 am -

    I have loved every episode of Crownies. The ABC yet again provides an avenue for a drama that entertains while capturing ur attention. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than the crapola on the commercial channels. The hot female cast helps too!

  38. Jen13 November 25, 2011 at 11:19 pm -

    I tried to watch it, despite the pathetic title.
    However the first episode featuring people in sexy costumes at work (I forget the reason) was enough. The ABC lost me for Thursday nights from then on.
    (Didn’t enjoy The Slap ep 1 much either.)
    Too much good drama around on Thursdays (True Blood, now Dexter) on Fox!

  39. Sophie November 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm -

    I love crownies, I’d be happy to see it come back in any capacity.

  40. Buddha November 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm -

    Crownies was a drama primarily intended to be entertaining TV, as opposed to The Slap, which was drama made to be thought-provoking TV.
    Both have earned their place in the ABC’s line up this year, although I’d quibble with the episode orders whereby I would have ordered i.e. The Slap from 8 to 10 or 12 eps and Crownies from 22 to 10 or 12 eps.
    Overall it’s good to see quality drama back on ABC and can’t wait to see series 2 of Rake next year.

  41. Zambora November 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm -

    I enjoyed the show.
    Sometimes made me think, sometimes made me laugh.

  42. James November 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm -

    Hope it comes back in some form. What I’ve seen so far on my dvr recordings, I have liked. Wish there wasn’t so much emphasis on ratings. Rush was also good, but gone do to high production costs. Hope Crownies sticks around or they’ll be no aussie dramas left, except maybe East West and Offspring.

  43. David S. November 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm -

    Crownies is simply dreadful, there’s not a single major character that engendered any sympathy with the audience. I pity anyone who thinks it’s ‘clever’, it’s the complete opposite, it is dumb and dumber. It sucks the big one over and over again.

    I can’t think of a single one of the junior solicitor characters who doesn’t actively repel the viewer, they are stupid beyond belief, drunk all the time, absurdly juvenile in almost every situation and totally unable to make us suspend our disbelief. The sex and romance scenes are some of the worst to ever appear on Australian TV (and that’s saying something), totally laughable and again totally unbelievable. Last night’s episode was a pitiful joke with everyone panicking about who would/should get laid off, the answer was obvious – all of them! Erin’s supposedly emotional departure was cringe inducing and all I felt was relief that the silly twit was finally gone.

    The only way a spinoff might work is if they get rid of all the junior characters (and get some new writers who can give the characters some real depth and believability), and that hardly seems like something you could call a spinoff.

  44. Jamie November 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm -

    Very thought-provoking series which appealed to anyone who had the slightest of an educated background. There are so many shows based on crap and petty drama. It was so refreshing to watch Crownies. A wonderful show and I hope the ABC continue with the series in any shape or form!

  45. Jonathan November 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm -

    I really liked Crownies and I’m glad it at least has a chance to come back next year in some form. At the start I wasn’t so sure – but it got great as it went on. I particularly liked the case about the soldier who died at the training camp – that was really well done.

  46. Eden November 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm -

    Crownies is my favorite show of the week. Bring back Janet!

  47. Susan November 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm -

    So ABC’s programmer who was part of the team who greenlit Crownies and knew exactly what kind of show it was is now considering a spin-off. Mate the show was a failure both in terms of audience and creatively. Its reviews were tepid. Some of the writing was atrocious. It ploughed no new ground. You don’t make spin-offs of failures. Count your losses, strike the sets and move on. Get at least two 13 parters into development asap and this time think about who the ABC1 audience is. Surely the ABC’s head of television should step in and put a stop to this. I thought Bed of Roses was a new low in ABC drama but Crownies really took the cake.

  48. Sacs November 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm -

    I wanted to like Crownies but gave up watching it halfway through episode 3. I found the characters to be too smug and extremely unlikeable. Maybe it was too close to art imitating life. Writers need to realise that most characters should be like friends you invite over to your home for a BBQ. Of course irritating characters are necessary but they should be in the minority. IMO this is where Crownies failed.

  49. Jonno November 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm -

    Crownies was pretty good but somewhere along the way it lost me a bit. I was intrigued by Janet; thought the drunk bloke was one dimensional (but good storyline about why he see drinks); Richard was excellent but became a characature; the bird with the perky breasts annoyed me. But it was good enough to record so i have about 15 episodes sitting on TiVo for the off-season.

    If the producers are wondering why it didn’t go so well, it almost lost me with the sexed up billboards and bus posters promoting the series. Let the writers loose with some meaty topics that don’t need the pretty desert to prop them up.

  50. Rick November 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm -

    Really disappointed there’s no season two :-(

  51. Jayne November 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm -

    I am really shocked that this didn’t get great ratings! I loved the series! I didn’t miss an episode! I sure hope they work something out!

  52. Shintaro November 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm -

    “I’m genuinely surprised it didn’t engage a bigger audience than it did. Genuinely surprised…Hopefully next time round we’ll get it better.” Oh deary me. Don’t you worry, Mr Dahill. You carry on with your tinkering and take all the time and taxpayer dollars you need, mate.

  53. Steev November 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm -

    This is fantastic news. Hope they keep Janet and Richard on. I don’t think the “soap elements” were badly handled at all, that’s the stuff that made me care about the characters.

  54. Nik C November 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm -

    This is the best news! I have really enjoyed all of Crownies, greart acting storylines and all that so in anyform should be great.

  55. jessisoutthere November 25, 2011 at 11:35 am -

    I liked it the way it is but this is better than cutting it. I hope you give it another shot. The characters were fantastic and I have enjoyed watching and laughing with them. I thought the stories managed a dark and light side very well so I hope you stick with it, keep the loyal audience you have and attract a new one as well.

  56. Moanique in Brisbane November 25, 2011 at 11:30 am -

    I absolutely love Crownies, have not missed an episode. In my opinion it has been the best Aussie show on tv for years

  57. Trix November 25, 2011 at 11:28 am -

    Kudos to the ABC for trying to make this work. Crownies had many, many elements that worked very well, but the combination of the soapie element with the hard hitting legal stuff didn’t sit well together, so I’d be very interested to see what could come of tweaking the concept.

  58. Jennome November 25, 2011 at 11:17 am -

    Sounds like a decent spinoff might work, the series definitely improved as it went along. Crown solicitors with their tits hanging out all over the place didn’t ring true, a bit of a cover-up is probably in order there. And a name change would probably help.

  59. Joe November 25, 2011 at 10:38 am -

    Crownies works. It engages intelligent viewers of all ages. ABC made the mistake of adding the gratuitous soapie element to appeal to a different audience.

    A spinoff is a great idea to get back to what the show is best poised to do: bring to life legal cases which have interested australians over the last 20years.

  60. OzJ November 25, 2011 at 10:27 am -

    If Screentime couldn’t get Crownies right in the course of 26 episodes, then they’re unlikely to get it right with a spin-off.

    The problem, as with so many Aussie TV series, is the writers don’t have a clue about creating characters that are both believable and intriguing, and any story not based on legal cases (or police files, as in Underbelly) is hopelessly inept. What they did to Hamish Michael’s character, Richard, through the series was unspeakable. Most of it wasn’t remotely believable (pretending to be gay, sleeping under his desk, throwing away great wads of cash) and the result is a spineless, dim-witted, unlikeable character.

  61. sarah h November 25, 2011 at 9:19 am -

    if crownies didnt work, why would you bother with a spin off?

  62. john November 25, 2011 at 9:07 am -

    No, Crownies is the best show on TV at the moment!!

  63. Jake November 25, 2011 at 8:48 am -

    Crownies was crap…I knew it would’nt survive….

  64. Ronnie November 25, 2011 at 8:41 am -

    Screentime are already producing 2 drama series for Nine next year. The ABC should give another company the commission. There is almost a Screentime house style in Crownies and that may have been part of the problem. The ABC needs to commission bespoke drama – individualistic gems like The Slap, not assembly line soap dressed up as “issue of the week”, “ripped from the front page”. It’s just spin.

  65. Evan November 25, 2011 at 8:38 am -

    I hope the show comes back in some form next year – it’s really improved in quality in recent weeks. And yes, Hamish Michael as Richard Sterling is outstanding.

  66. J Bar November 25, 2011 at 8:30 am -

    I agree that it had some brilliant drama and was only spoilt by the soapie elements. It had the potential to be a long running workplace drama like All Saints but it was more soapie than All Saints ever was.

  67. Neil November 25, 2011 at 8:26 am -

    This show is slow boiler for me. It started modestly and slowly built upon itself with each eposide. It is not brilliant, but very enjoyable nevertheless.

  68. steph November 25, 2011 at 8:04 am -

    That’s a shame, I’ll miss it, but grateful to ABC to not tossing it completely out! Hopefully will come back bigger and better!

  69. John November 25, 2011 at 8:01 am -

    Great news!

  70. James November 25, 2011 at 5:01 am -

    I loved Crownies. It was clever and thoroughly entertaining. Not surprised they won’t renew it though, but I hope to see the characters again – even if it’s in a different form.

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