EXCLUSIVE: SBS has confirmed the cast for its next season of its documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From.
Set to air in August, the next season switches from unknown Aussies to prominent Australians including former Howard Government minister Peter Reith undertaking a journey designed to ignite discussion about asylum-seekers and the immigration debate.
The six are:
– Peter Reith, former Howard Government minister, including Minister for Defence.
– Angry Anderson, rock singer and aspiring National Party Candidate.
– Allan Asher, former Commonwealth Ombudsman.
– Catherine Deveny, writer and social commentator.
– Mike Smith, radio shock jock.
– Imogen Bailey, model, former Neighbours actress and Celebrity Big Brother contestant.
All six names were leaked by media early last month but had not yet been confirmed by SBS until now.
Last year the series captivated the nation and attracted global publicity, including in the NY Times. It went on to win awards from the Logies, Director’s Guild, United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards and won the prestigious Golden Rose at the Rose D’Or Festival in Switzerland.
TV Tonight can reveal the new season will once again travel to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The six participants will undertake “a life-risking journey…..with new twists and turns.”
SBS Commissioning Editor John Godfrey said the success of the first season meant the broadcaster didn’t want to repeat the exercise with more ordinary Australians.
“After the success of series one, we just had to do something different,” he says.
“In particular we wanted to increase the level of debate and choose a cast of prominent Australians that had a connection to the subject and strong opinions.
“Some of these participants will surprise people.”
Godfrey rejects notions the show is detouring down the “Celebrity Reality” path.
“This isn’t a Reality format. It’s a constructed Observational Documentary series. We couldn’t repeat what we did in Series One. This isn’t like a series that will go on and on and on,” he says.
He also believes the success of the first season with the raw reactions of such participants as Raquel and Rae were unlikely to be matched in casting more ordinary Aussies.
“Last series nobody could have predicted what happened. The producers didn’t know what would happen when they started filming. The reactions and experiences of those participants probably don’t get any better as a means of exploring that debate,” he explains.
“For series two we felt it was important not to try and duplicate that.
“We wanted to bring a level of intelligent debate that was missing last time.”
All the participants were approached by production company, Cordell Jigsaw. Returning to accompany them is author and refugee expert Dr David Corlett.
Michael Ebeid, SBS Managing Director, said: “Go Back to Where You Came From has set the benchmark for new SBS television content and will once again provoke national debate about how Australia responds to this tough and complex global issue.
“Seeing how they experience the confronting situations they encounter, and how they challenge each other, is going to make for compelling television.”
Three of the cast are known for their conservative views: Reith, who was synonymous with the “children overboard” incident, Anderson and Smith, while Deveny, Asher and Bailey take more liberal views.
Godfrey is confident the six will provide plenty of drama and attract national interest.
“The fact that Peter Reith is in there is surely of interest and fascination to the Australian public, given his history,” he says.
“People don’t realise Imogen Bailey is a strong animal rights advocate. There’s a reason why she wants to do it, but in order to find out you’ll have to watch the show.”
SBS will air season two as a three-part series in August, followed by a special episode of Insight hosted by Jenny Brockie.
Disclaimer: David Knox blogs Eurovision for sbs.com.au