TV Week has the rundown of what to expect in TV’s new and returning dramas in 1996:
- Blue Heelers returns with a two-part storyline focusing on Maggie Doyle (Lisa McCune), whose life will be in danger during a hospital siege. “We plan to have a few two-parters at the start of the year,” Blue Heelers supervising producer Ric Pellizzeri told TV Week. “We will be getting into some strong, meaty stories.” Another two-parter to come will see Nick Schultz (William McInnes) investigate a death in the Mt Thomas police cells. In other storylines, publican Chris Riley (Julie Nihill) has a big falling out with the police; Adam Cooper (Damian Walshe-Howling) gets injured; and Wayne Patterson (Grant Bowler) falls in love. “We will also be introducing a lot of guest characters,” Pellizzeri said. “And we will give some of them a longer run. One officer will be in for four episodes. We’ll be able to do a story with him that we can’t do with the normal Blue Heelers, because they always have to be heroes.”
- Neighbours returns for its 11th year with the fallout from the discovery of the secret affair between Annalise (Kimberley Davies) and Stonefish (Anthony Engelman). Annalise’s boyfriend, Sam (Richard Grieve), thought Stonie was a good mate, so he decides to punch him out. The affair sees Annalise move out of Ramsay Street, while Sam throws himself into his work, trying his luck at modelling, and building his Handy Sam fix-it business. Meanwhile, Cheryl (Colette Mann, filling in for Caroline Gillmer) has plans for son Brett (Brett Blewitt) to study law, but Brett has other ideas — including a fling with his mum’s best friend, Judy (Merridy Eastman). Stronger storylines are also in the pipeline for Danni (Eliza Szonert) and Luke (Bernard Curry), and Clive James is set to make a guest appearance as a postman!
- Home And Away returns with Shane (Dieter Brummer) fighting for his life following a motorcycle accident — and will the stress cause Angel (Melissa George) to miscarry? Meanwhile, Dr Kelly Watson (Katrina Hobbs) is still waiting the three months to undergo the AIDS test she needs after an accident at work. Selina (Tempany Deckert) moves into Saul’s commune, but discovers that Saul (David Ritchie) may have a hidden agenda for wanting her there. His interest seems more sexual than spiritual, but what will she have to do to escape? And romance seems to be developing between Fisher (Norman Coburn) and Marilyn (Emily Symons).
- GP enters its eighth year with some new cast, new titles and theme music and a whole new look. Dr Henry King (Steve Bisley) is now in charge of the Ross Street surgery and is renovating the upstairs floor to use as a flat. Meanwhile, Dr Sonia Kapek (Zoe Carides, pictured) finds herself caught in a mysterious tragedy at the start of the year, and Vesna (Lenka Kripac) moves in to the receptionist’s chair full-time. Vesna is forced to change her nightclubbing ways after being diagnosed as an epileptic and later decides to go on a nature adventure in New Zealand. Joining the Ross Street surgery in the new year are Dr Maureen Riordan (Melissa Jaffer) and Dr Yasmin Richards (Leah Vandenberg). Guest stars in the new year include Terry Serio, Alex Dimitriades, Scott Major and Lucy Bell.
- Police Rescue returns in March for its fifth and final season. Joining the cast is Heartbreak High star Salvatore Coco as Joe Cardillo, a big-mouthed but loveable 20-year-old rookie. Also joining the cast is Leah Purcell as Constable Tracy Davis. Meanwhile, Mickey (Gary Sweet) finds himself going some serious soul searching after several frightening blackouts are diagnosed by a psychiatrist as panic attacks. His condition becomes so serious that he may be forced to take on a desk job.
- The Nine Network‘s new drama series Water Rats follows the water police squad patrolling Sydney Harbour. The series stars Colin Friels and Catherine McClements (pictured), joined by, Sophie Heathcote, Brett Partridge, Jay Laga’aia and Aaron Jeffery. The first episode, to go to air in February, literally goes off with a bang with a ferry blown up on Sydney Harbour. Produced by Hal McElroy-Southern Star, creators of Blue Heelers, Water Rats has already been sold to 11 countries, including France and Germany. “I’m confident that we have a very unusual looking show,” executive producer Hal McElroy told TV Week. “I’m confident that not only will everyone in Sydney want to see it, but all of Australia will too. With Sydney to host the 2000 Olympics, there is worldwide interest (in this city). If we do this series with Sydney and its beautiful backdrop — and do it well — then I think we’re on to a sure winner.”
- The second series of Fire opens dramatically with a spectacular blaze that sees Repo (Andy Anderson) facing a brush with death. Shocked by the experience, Repo decides the time has come to make some changes to his life, studying to become an officer in the brigade. But Repo ends up being investigated when a fire that he was supervising ends up with the death of a junior firefighter. New cast members for the second series include Tottie Goldsmith, Robert Morgan, Damian Rice, Damian Pike and Danny Adcock. Garry McDonald (pictured) will be making a guest appearance as Mike Lucas, the arson squad detective leading the investigation into Repo.
- Nine‘s new late-night series Pacific Drive promises to tell the story of the lives and loves of the young, beautiful and often ruthless residents of Australia’s “best address”, Pacific Drive. The opening episode kicks off with the murder of powerful socialite Sonia Kingsley. Her husband (Lloyd Morris) and sister (Kate Raison) raise the alarm, and Detective Martin Harris (Joss McWilliam) is assigned to the case. Also drawn into the murder mystery are Laura Harris (Simone Buchanan), model Bethany Daniels (Melissa Tkautz), and Bethany’s boyfriend, Rick (Andre Eikmeier). Guest stars in the early episodes include Grant Dodwell, Virginia Hey and Angelo D’Angelo.
- Mercury is ABC‘s new 13-part series set in the offices of a fictional newspaper, The Sunday Mercury. The series will follow the lives of the journalists who pursue the stories that make the papers. Geoffrey Rush plays the newspaper’s editor, Bill Wyatt, and Susan Lyons (Eggshells) is Wyatt’s deputy. Also in the cast is David Roberts (Phoenix, Law Of The Land) as investigative journalist David Gibson, and Fast Forward star Michael Veitch as a gossip columnist.
- Heartbreak High returns with headmaster Jim Deloraine (Stephen O’Rourke) leaving Hartley High, being replaced by tough headmistress June Dyson (Diane Craig). Among the school’s students, Danielle (Emma Roche) has a romance with a new character, Declan Costello (Rupert Reid), while Con’s (Salvatore Coco) love life hits a hurdle when Bolton (John Pollard, pictured) develops a crush on Con’s girlfriend, Katerina (Ada Nicodemou). New cast members in Heartbreak High this year include Tara Jakszewicz and Sebastian Goldspink, with guest stars including Steve Carfino and Simon Baker-Denny.
- The Bite is a new two-part thriller about drug-running in South East Asia, starring Hugo Weaving, Pamela Rabe, Frank Gallacher, Shane Feeney-Connor, Rebekah Jay and Theresa Wong. The ABC series is loosely based on a real-life case and is filmed in Thailand, England and Australia. It is due to go to air around April.
- The Seven Network has denied speculation that Melbourne newsreader Jennifer Keyte was left a little put out when the network announced it had hired Ten‘s David Johnston to co-anchor the Melbourne Seven Nightly News. “Not true,” Seven says. Adding fuel to the speculation are reports that Keyte has had quiet discussions with the Nine Network.
- Production on the final series of ABC‘s Police Rescue has wrapped up. Cast and crew gathered on set to witness Gary Sweet, whose character Mickey is facing an uncertain future, deliver the last line in the last scene.
- It looks like Frontline will be back for a third series — but it is likely to be the last. According to one cast member, “We feel we’ve got enough to do a third series, but that will probably be it.”
- Production on a pilot for Network Ten‘s new medical drama Adrenalin Junkies is due to start in April with plans for 13 episodes to follow.
- Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show host Jo Beth Taylor is set to join the Hey Hey It’s Saturday team in 1996. The show has long struggled to feature a strong female presence since Jacki MacDonald left the show in the late 1980s and Denise Drysdale‘s brief stint that followed. Last year’s signing up of Kimberley Joseph was a disaster, as she quit the show before she even started to move across to Seven‘s Gladiators.
- The Seven Network‘s Aussie rules football show Four Quarters is not expected to return for the 1996 AFL season.
- Drive time radio stars Tony Martin and Mick Molloy have revealed that hey knocked back an offer to host the Nine Network‘s Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. “We must have been offered 20 TV shows this year and they’ve all been totally inappropriate for us,” Martin told TV Week. “We were offered Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. But we weren’t interested, because there seems to be this craze of ripping off shows from overseas. If someone came to us with an idea that wasn’t based on an American or British idea, we’d probably say yes!” Ironically, the pair spent much of 1994 trying to pitch their own show to the TV networks, but none were interested. They then turned it into a radio show, Martin/Molloy, which has now become a hit across Australia.
Top TV Shows of 1995:
|2||Four Weddings And A Funeral||Nine||2429000|
|4||Lethal Weapon 3||Nine||2310000|
|5||The Mighty Ducks||Seven||2149000|
|7||Dennis The Menace||Nine||2055000|
|1||AFL Grand Final||Seven||2377000|
|2||Rugby League: NSW v Qld. (1st)||Nine||2182000|
|3||Rugby League: NSW v Qld. (2nd)||Nine||2139000|
|4||Rugby League: NSW v Qld. (3rd)||Nine||1933000|
|5||Rugby League: Aus v NZ. 1st Test||Nine||1365000|
|6||1995 Brownlow Medal Count||Seven||1349000|
|7||Rugby League: Aus v NZ. 3rd Test||Nine||1308000|
|8||Rugby League: Aus v NZ. 2nd Test||Nine||1263000|
|9||Rugby League: Qualifying Final 2||Nine||1226000|
|10||AFL Early Evening Final Series||Seven||1148000|
Program Highlights (Melbourne, December 30-January 5):
Saturday: The Second Test: Australia versus Sri Lanka (3.40pm, Nine) has limited live coverage to Melbourne from the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the series return of Heartbreak High (7.30pm, Ten), the gang decides to make a documentary about harassment after a run-in with two local policemen. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Debate (8.30pm, Seven) discusses whether Money Is The Root Of All Evil, with adjudicator Wendy Harmer.
Sunday (New Year’s Eve): The Hopman Cup (1pm, ABC) begins daily coverage from Burswood Dome, Perth, presented by Karen Tighe with commentators Steve Robillard and Glen Mitchell. Sandra Sully hosts Rewind 95 (5.30pm, Ten), taking a look at the highs and lows of the year 1995. The classic German-produced comedy sketch Dinner For One (7pm, SBS) makes its traditional New Year’s Eve appearance. The nostalgia special 50 Fantastic Years (7.30pm, Nine) is given a repeat run. And what is set to become a New Year’s Eve tradition for Nine — the 1980 Village People movie Can’t Stop The Music (1.45am, Nine).
Monday (New Year’s Day): Benson & Hedges World Series Cricket (2.20pm, Nine), Australia versus West Indies, is live from the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Tuesday: In a one-hour A Current Affair special (6.30pm, Nine), Angry Anderson looks at the work done by the RSPCA.
Wednesday: The Benson & Hedges World Series Cricket (9.50am, Nine), features Sri Lanka versus West Indies, live from Hobart.
Thursday: In Law Of The Land (7.30pm, Nine), a crown witness and $5000 disappears and all evidence points to Nick Rogers (Bruce Hughes) as being involved; and a federal cop reveals a dark side to Nick’s past.
Friday: The Benson & Hedges World Series Cricket (2.20pm, Nine), Sri Lanka versus West Indies, is live from Brisbane. Coverage of the Hopman Cup (9.30pm, ABC) shifts to prime-time.
Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 30 December 1995. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.