You’d be forgiven if you thought Australian television has just eaten itself.
The showpiece for Foxtel’s year to come (and Network Ten’s, for that matter, but we’ll get to that later) is an Australian version of the UK reality series Gogglebox, in which you watch people as they watch television.
In the UK it has proven an award-winning hit and oddly compelling as average punters comment on everything from the day’s news to cooking programs.
Broadcaster Channel 4 sums it up as: “What do Britain’s most opinionated telly fanatics really think of the country’s biggest TV programs?”
In Australia the series will be broadcast on the Lifestyle Channel and the company in charge of installing the cameras in Australian living rooms will be Shine Australia, which makes MasterChef, The Voice, Bachelor Australia and Beauty and the Geek.
In an Australian first, it will also screen on Network Ten the very next night. For the first time, Foxtel and a free-to-air channel have jointly commissioned a show.
“Gogglebox is like nothing else ever seen on Australian television. It is a true game changer that is set to hook audiences in a fun and entertaining way and we can’t wait to see your reaction when we share it in 2015,” said Brian Walsh, Foxtel’s executive director of television.
The UK reality show. Warning: content may offend
The launch event was also used to champion a series of technological changes to the Foxtel platform, including the launch of the iQ3 service and a bundled TV, broadband and home phone offering.
Foxtel also confirmed some of the series that will appear on the new BoxSets channel, with full seasons of Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Band of Brothers to feature.
Comedy Channel was a big winner on the night, with two new series. Pacific Heat is an adult animated comedy series from Working Dog (the production house behind Front Line and Utopia). There will also be a new 20-episode comedy series from producers Rick McKenna (Kath and Kim) and Laura Walters (Angry Boys).
The 2015 centenary of the Gallipoli campaign will be marked on Foxtel through Deadline Gallipoli, the series starring and executive produced by Sam Worthington as a journalist covering the action.
Another new Australian drama is The Kettering Incident, an eight-episode mystery thriller starring Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) and Matthew Le Nevez (Offspring). The series, about two girls who disappear 15 years apart, will be the largest television production ever filmed in Tasmania.
A third series of prison drama Wentworth was announced, while BBC First also confirmed the co-production Banished, a convict drama starring David Wenham as Captain Arthur Phillip.
Crucially, Foxtel announced an extension of its deal with HBO, ensuring it will retain the first run on hits such as Game of Thrones and True Detective, plus new series including The Knick, starring Clive Owen, and Olive Kitteridge, starring Frances McDormand and Bill Murray.
As in reality, in drama Foxtel has changed the landscape in its already-announced two new series of A Place To Call Home, which it “saved” from the axe when it commissioned it from Seven earlier this year. Foxtel announced it will replay the first two seasons in 2015, the second with an alternate ending that will set the story on the path to the two new ones.
For Walsh, there was no doubt that the network had made the right decision. He described the series as “Australia’s most loved-drama series that has captured the hearts of millions of fans across the country”.
This article was first published on The New Daily.
Full episodes of the UK Gogglebox are available for viewing on the show’s official YouTube channel.