Perhaps the most memorable but least surprising revelation from the 2014 ABC Upfronts held in Sydney last night was the station’s decision to continue to let Chris Lilley make as many TV shows as he wanted for the foreseeable future and follow up his divisive Ja’mie: Private School Girl with a new series focused on her dick-drawing antithesis, Jonah Takalua.
Other big highlights from the annual presentation of new, acquired and returning ABC TV programs include a raft of original drama series: Anzac Girls, the story of five ANZAC nurses who witness the brutality of war during the Gallipoli campaign, The Code, a political thriller stretching from the outback to the corridors of power in Canberra, and Old School, not the Will Ferrell film about your boy Blue, an old couple procedural series about a former criminal and a retired cop who solve crimes together, starring veteran thespians Bryan Brown and Sam Neill.
On the entertainment and comedy front; the return of beloved music-centric quiz show Spicks and Specks sans OG host and team captains Adam Hills, Alan Brough and Myf Warhurst. In Hills’ place will be comedian Josh Earl, paired with new recruits in former Killing Heidi singer-songwriter Ella Hooper and comedian Adam Richard. The always bankable Working Dog team returns to ABC TV with a satirical comedy about the absurdity of government-sponsored schemes called Utopia, while The Chaser brings us We’ll Have To Leave It There, Lawrence Leung brings us a kung fu comedy series called Maximum Choppage, and YouTube satirists the Bondi Hipsters make their television debut with a centuries-spanning comedy series centering on bromance called Soul Mates.
Highlights from the documentary, factual and arts slates include a documentary about Australia’s at times questionable presence in the war in Afghanistan, Afghanistan: The Australian War, Brilliant Creatures, a documentary series investigating the decision of four high profile Australians to depart from their homeland in search of professional and creative fulfillment (namely Germaine Greer, Barry Humphries, Clive James and Robert Hughes), The Flying Miners, the story of a unique Australian work-life balance (you can have it all if you have planes?), and, Save Your Life Tonight, a series all about health.