Nine Announces New Shows
Rebecca Gilling in the original Return to Eden.
To much fanfare yesterday, Channel Nine announced its upcoming productions, the shows designed to cash in on the audience lured by The Voice and hopefully convince them that Nine is back. Sadly there was no The Shire knockoff (yet), no Real Housewives of Baulkham Hills, just another instalment of the Underbelly franchise, another look at the legend of Gallipoli and the remake of a classic Australian mini-series, Return to Eden. ''This will be the final word, the Band of Brothers of Gallipoli,'' Nine's Andy Ryan promised of the war series.
Nine Network CEO David Gyngell has forecast a golden decade of Australian made television drama, after announcing a $20 million miniseries for the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli.
Gyngell on Thursday unveiled Nine's plans for three new home made series, predicting all three commercial networks would spend less on buying overseas made content in the next 10 years and redirect their investment into Australian made products. Nine's next instalment of Underbelly will be based on Victorian gangster Squizzy Taylor, while there will also be a resurrection of the 1980s drama series Return to Eden plus the Gallipoli miniseries.
Underbelly and Return to Eden are scheduled to screen in 2013 while Gallipoli will premiere on Sunday, April 19 2015.
"The budget for Gallipoli is $18 to $20 million and Return to Eden is less and in the vicinity of $10 million," Gyngell told AAP after the announcement.
Gyngell said the success of shows like Network Ten's Offspring, which has just been commissioned for another two seasons, and the Seven Network's investment in Packed to the Rafters and Winners & Losers, highlights a strong appetite for quality Australian made dramas.
Nine has invested heavily in House Husbands, starring Gary Sweet, Firass Dirani and Rhys Muldoon, along with its two-part miniseries Howzat: The Kerry Packer Story, which screens in August, and the latest Underbelly franchise Badness.
Gyngell said there were very few overseas made products making a big impact on Australian television and the local movie and television industry was about to benefit in a huge way.
"All the networks are making great Australian dramas," Gyngell said.
"The appetite of Australians for overseas programming is waning and original programming produced by Australians for Australians over the next 10 years is going to boom.
He said Nine, Seven and Ten spend more than $300 million per year on overseas shows and there were only three - Revenge, Downton Abbey and The Big Bang Theory - that have really made an impact in the ratings this year.
"There will be more opportunities for Australian actors and I think the economics is going to favour local production."
But it's the Return to Eden announcement that catches our eye more than anything. This was, after all, the 1983 mini-series starring Rebecca Gilling as mega-wealthy Stephanie Harper, pushed into the jaws of a crocodile by her unfaithful husband. She survived and returned (after plastic surgery) to have her revenge. It was a cracking story and a ratings winner, but we can only hope the remake borrows just as heavily from it as it does from the the 1988 Bollywood remake of the same story, Khoon Bhari Maang. In this version it was the beautiful Aarti (played by the Bollywood star Rekha) who is thrown to the croc by her husband Sanjay (Kabir Bedi) and, unlike the Aussie version, there's singing dancing and the most inspired additions of all, Raja the horse and Jumbo the dog, two super-intelligent animals who aid Aarti in her vengeance. Fingers crossed they're in the new production.