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Highlights of ABC TV’s 2016 line-up

Arts & Culture

The ABC has revealed its TV line-up for 2016 – a mix of new and returning shows – with a promise that the public broadcaster will have first-run Australian drama airing every week of the ratings season.

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The network is again boosting its streaming content, with more available via iview than ever before (including high-profile original content for the service), and a new comedy initiative which gives viewers a surprising amount of control.

The returning shows include Rake, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Janet King, Black Comedy, The Code, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, Upper Middle Bogan and Jack Irish.

Here are just a few of the new shows that have caught our eye.

Cleverman

Cleverman is a six-episode dystopian, futuristic drama which will see the ABC team up with US cable channel SundanceTV (owned by AMC). It follows two gifted, non-human brothers, played by Rob Collins and Hunter Page-Lochard, who join together to fight for survival.

The series is directed by Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell, who both most recently worked with the ABC on Redfern Now. It was commissioned by the ABC’s Indigenous department and blends Aboriginal dreamtime stories into this futuristic landscape.

Cleverman features some of Australia’s leading Indigenous actors, including Deborah Mailman, as well as Scottish actor Iain Glen (Game of Thrones) and Golden Globe nominee Frances O’Connor.

Barracuda

After its huge success with The Slap, the ABC is adapting another Christos Tsiolkas novel for the small screen in Barracuda. 

The story of Danny Kelly – an aspiring Olympic swimmer whose life goes awry – will be told across four one-hour episodes. Newcomer Elias Anton will star as Danny, with a supporting cast featuring Rachel Griffiths, Matt Nable and Ben Kindon.

The series will be directed by Robert Connelly (The Slap, The Turning, Romulus My Father) and produced by Matchbox Pictures.

ABC - Barracuda

Howard on Menzies

Yes, that’s right. The ABC, which has come under consistent fire over the last 18 months for its supposed left-leaning bias, has handed over the reins to former prime minister John Howard to create two one-hour specials about one of his heroes, Robert Menzies.

Looking all the way back to Menzies’ 18 years in office (from 1949 to 1966), and featuring Howard interviewing Bob Hawke, this is one for the hardcore political observers.

Keeping Australia Alive

The ABC takes a close look at Australia’s healthcare system, using 100 cameras to film 24 hours in hospitals and doctors’ offices all around the country. The series is produced by ITV Australia and promises to cover both the human drama and our relationship with the system as a whole.

The Katering Show

If you’ve never watched the hit home-grown webseries The Katering Showyou should do so immediately.

Starring and created by Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, the hilarious series is a satirical cooking show all about a food intolerant and an “intolerable foodie”.

ABC has commissioned a second series of the show (which has already racked up millions of views on YouTube) exclusively for iview.

ABC Comedy Showroom

So you think you can commission better than the powers that be at the ABC? In 2016, the ABC will produce half-hour pilot episodes of comedies from Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney (The Katering Show), Eddie Perfect, Ronny Chieng and Lawrence Mooney. Viewers will then vote via iview for which of the series should go into production.

Luke Warm Sex

Luke McGregor, a brilliant stand-up comedian and a breakout star of ABC’s Utopia, stars in this new series all about sex. Across six episodes, the sexual, erm, novice experiences all kinds of sexual activities in a quest to become better at sex.

In a similar vein to Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey, the series should be riotously funny while examining Australia’s attitudes towards sex.

ABC - Luke-Warm-Sex

David Stratton’s Story of Australian Cinema

We’re still not entirely used to seeing David Stratton without Margaret Pomeranz, but if you can stand seeing them apart, Stratton’s three-part look at the history of Australian cinema is bound to be fascinating.

Stratton, who is considered one of the leading authorities on Australian film, will trace the themes and evolution of our local industry throughout the 20th century and right up to today.

Tomorrow, When the War Began

John Marsden’s beloved young adult fiction novel Tomorrow, When the War Began already had a big-screen adaptation back in 2010, but the episodic Tomorrow series is arguably a far better fit for TV. And it’s more relevant than it’s ever been – all about how young people react to new and unknown forces in their previously sleepy country town.

The series, made up of six one-hour episodes, will air on ABC3, and should attract a younger audience across to the digital channel.

This article was first published on The Daily Review.

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