ABC’s Drama slate is going from strength to strength with Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries starring Essie Davis expected to get a second season.
Scripting is understood to have begun on a new series, ahead of an official announcement from the ABC.
The drama from producers Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox has scored with audiences on the often-overlooked Friday night schedule, even out-rating offerings from commercial networks.
On the back of Logie and AACTA Awards for The Slap, the diversity of ABC Drama continues to impress.
Yet to come are Mabo, Rake Season Two, Jack Irish telemovies, Devil’s Dust looking at the James Hardie legal battle, The Doctor Blake Mysteries with Craig McLachlan and Nadine Garner, Dangerous Remedy starring Jeremy Sims, and an Indigenous drama Redfern Now (working title) headed up by UK writer Jimmy McGovern.
ABC is yet to formally announce The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.
TV Tonight also hears rumours of a new series about women in their ’40s called Time of Our Lives.
In addition to Cliffy being filmed for 2013 there are also additional scripted projects for ABC2, ABC3 and Comedy.
ABC Managing Director Mark Scott tells TV Tonight, ”We’re very proud of The Slap and The Straits, but also that we can generate something like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on a Friday night where it can attract big audiences. It’s wonderful, there are great stories, and it’s great that we can do Australian crime in such a fun way.
“I think it’s the kind of thing the family can sit and watch together. The fashion and the set designs are absolutely beautiful.
“We’re very excited about Mabo, the telemovie, very excited about the advance on that.
“Rake Season 2 is in production and I think there’s been a lot of public demand for that. So I think we want to see a bit more of ‘Cleaver’ and we will.”
The boost for ABC Drama was the result of a government funding increase several years ago which is now resonating on screen.
“It’s very diverse. I think this is where the extra money has been such a great help for us, really. You can take more risks, you can be much broader in what you attempt, you can be much more ambitious.”
It’s not all perfect however. Crownies struggled with its mix of sex and legal plots (a spin-off has been promised), The Straits has been critically praised but pulled middling numbers, while comedy series Woodley and Outland did not attract strong numbers.
Laid returns for its second season next week, paired with Andrew Denton’s Randling. ABC is hoping to restore its Wednesday comedy line-up.
“I think we have to remember that Spicks and Specks wasn’t a huge smash overnight and took a while to grow its audience,” Scott insists.
“But we’ve made a big investment with Randling, it’s wonderful to have Andrew (Denton) back, it’s got a fabulous cast, a fun format. Our audiences like quizzes and games with Spicks and Specks, Qi, so we’re confident Randling will be great and there are some other good things coming up on a Wednesday later in the year too.”
Meanwhile the historic studios that are home to Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight will eventually be sold, with the public broadcaster to extend its Southbank facility in Melbourne.
“We’re doing planning work on it now and it’s being considered by the ABC Board. Out at Ripponlea, in Gordon Street, that’s been going for 50 years. The ghosts of television, with Countdown and all that. It’s a very old building but not a very practical building for us now,” says Scott.
“So we do think we will consolidate all of the ABC in Melbourne at Southbank, build a television studio there and bring everyone together.
“The reality is that the lines between television, radio, news, online and mobile are all blurring. So it’s best to have these things side by side, converge.”
Last week Scott officially opened ABC’s new Brisbane operations.