There is a new weeknight soapie coming to Australian TV – something of a rarity these days apart from Neighbours (pictured) and Home And Away which have been plugging away since the 1980s – but, like those two soapie stalwarts in their earlier days, there are some quirks surrounding this new show.
Out Of The Blue was commissioned by BBC1 to fill the gap left by Neighbours when rival network Five picked up the series for local broadcast. But despite Out Of The Blue being made by the Brits, it was actually produced in Australia. Sort of an attempt to fight Neighbours‘ defection to Five with a fresh-faced sun-drenched Aussie soap, and seeing as our own networks haven’t created anything of that sort for a while BBC decided to make their own.
However, the viewers didn’t really take to Out Of The Blue when it debuted in the UK earlier this year. As a result, the series was bumped from the mainstream BBC1 to the alternative BBC2 where ratings have continued to dive.
Now it’s been announced that Five, the network whose Neighbours purchase prompted Out Of The Blue (pictured) in the first place, has picked up all 130 episodes of the series and will re-screen it on their multi-channel, Fiver, in the new year. If the show can attract a new following on the more youth-focused Fiver, as opposed to the more conservative BBC, then it may potentially pave the way for production of a second series. And if it does that, it would be very reminiscent of our own Neighbours being axed by Seven after one season, to be revived by Network Ten.
But before Five snapped up the show, Network Ten has had eyes on the show for screening here. The network has a few (pardon the pun) idle timeslots at present, not least the 6.00pm to 7.30pm bracket, and a new locally-based soap would also give them additional points to fulfilling their local drama quota and, if slotted into the early evenings, might also renew some viewer interest in Neighbours.
Curiously, news from Ten is that it does indeed plan to show Out Of The Blue in a weeknight timeslot.
A strange choice of timeslot given the series appears to have been made with a daytime/early-evening audience in mind given its BBC timeslots. It’s also an odd choice in that it bumps Ten’s late night news, after eighteen years, to 11.00pm.
Ten News had dutifully held the 10.30pm (or thereabouts) timeslot for the network since the early-’90s, when the first Gulf War erupted and Ten had the resources of news giant CNN behind it. Ten Second Edition News (not to be confused as being Ten-Second Edition News!) was first with Eric Walters at the helm, then Anne Fulwood, then Sandra Sully (pictured) since 1996. Despite Ten’s normal lightweight news position against Seven and Nine, it has fought off late-night news bulletins from both networks. Even though Nightline was axed from Nine only recently, it had long ago been bumped from the 10.30pm to a later hour to avoid competition with Ten.
It is a curious move to put in an untested series into that timeslot at the expense of the one program that has worked there for many years – and at the moment Ten has very few consistent performers in its schedule. And when it comes to news, viewers don’t like change, they like stability and consistency. So, even though Ten News is only being moved thirty minutes later, that is enough for a lot of viewers to decide to give the news a miss and head to bed. It might also see ABC1‘s Lateline pick up a few new viewers as well.
Out Of The Blue. Premieres Monday 17 November, 10.30pm. Ten.