Cover: Bruce Samazan (E Street)
Fast Forward fever!
There seems to be a lot of activity — and confusion — behind-the-scenes as Seven‘s new-look Fast Forward begins to take shape for 1993. Fast Forward favourite Magda Szubanski will not be appearing in the new-look series, although Seven says this is news to them. The network concedes that there have been some “communication problems” between them and the show’s producers Artist Services. Meanwhile, comedy duo Empty Pockets were reported to have signed contracts to the new-look show, but 48 hours later the opposite seemed to be true. Despite Szubanski stepping away to pursue an acting career and other comedy ventures, it appears that most of the Fast Forward line-up will be involved in the new-look show in some capacity… but on the condition the show’s title is changed as they consider the Fast Forward chapter closed. Seven is not happy with this condition but wants to keep the stars happy. Also throwing confusion into the situation is Seven commissioning a separate sketch comedy series from the producers of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show. The new show, with the working title It’s A Mall World, is having trouble securing talent as Artist Services have been making competing offers to the same performers. “Seven have all this comedy talent floating around and don’t know what to do with it all,” a Seven source told TV Week. “And they’re trying to keep the ‘new’ Fast Forward looking as much like the ‘old’ Fast Forward without upsetting the cast!”
Sneak Preview: Soaps in ’93:
TV Week previews some of Australia’s popular dramas for when they return in the new year:
- Neighbours (Ten) is set for a big year as it approaches its 2000th episode. Producer Sally-Anne Kerr told TV Week that despite rumours that ratings have been flagging and that the show was headed for the axe, the future is looking bright. “We are happy with our ratings everywhere except Sydney, and we are working on that,” she said, adding that some upcoming storylines will be based in Sydney. The outlook also looks optimistic as the BBC has just re-signed the show for another two years in the UK. Meanwhile, joining the series in the new year will be school teacher Wayne Duncan (Jonathan Lee) and hairdresser Annalise Hartman (Kimberley Davies, pictured). Also joining the cast will be Sarah Vandenberg, playing the part of Lou’s (Tom Oliver) daughter. Early episodes in the year will also feature the wedding between Phoebe (Simone Robertson) and Stephen (Lochie Daddo), and a fishing trip for Brad (Scott Michaelson) and Doug (Terence Donovan) goes horribly wrong.
- Home And Away (Seven) fans will find out if Blake’s (Les Hill) attempted rescue of Finlay (Tina Thomsen) from a scuba-diving accident is successful. Meanwhile, teen mum Sophie (Rebekah Elmaloglou) makes the painful decision to sign custody of baby Tamara to Mary (Janet Kingsbury). Shane (Dieter Brummer) starts his sentence in a youth detention centre but could find himself in further trouble on the inside when he reluctantly joins in a contraband operation. And a new resident at the caravan park (John Adam, pictured near right) gets offside with Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher, pictured far right) who is keen to drive him out of town… but the newcomer’s true identity could lead to some red faces.
- Former Cop Shop star Joanna Lockwood (pictured) joins the cast of E Street (Ten) as Sally McKinnon, a new love for publican Ernie Patchett (Vic Rooney, pictured). Undercover cop Jack Brown (Andrew Williams) becomes a target for hit woman Laura Fielding (Antionette Byron) — and failure in her mission could cost her son’s life. And young police officer Max (Bruce Samazan) becomes the target of affection for three Westside females — Bonnie (Melissa Bell), Nikki (Melissa Tkautz) and Rebecca (Melissa Thomas) — with varying degrees of success.
- Former E Street star Brooke Anderson will be a guest star in GP (ABC) in a controversial storyline of two artists who paint a rainforest scene featuring a naked child. Julie Winters (Denise Roberts) could have met the man of her dreams, played by Chris Hayward, or will it all turn sour? There will be a crisis for William (Michael Craig, pictured) after a melanoma operation on a patient. Meanwhile, there is expected to be more drama for the Browning family as teenage daughter Donna (Tracie Sammut), who has down’s syndrome, copes with the onset of maturity and the need for independence.
- A Country Practice (Seven) returns for its 12th year and approaches its 1000th episode. Former guest star Allan Penney has been signed on as a regular as his character, Perc Hudson, vies for the affection of Esme Watson (Joyce Jacobs) and tries to knock some common sense into his flower-powered daughter Bernice (Judith McGrath). The romance between Darcy (Kym Wilson) and Hugo (Gavin Harrison) is set to be tested, while newlyweds Anna (Anne Looby) and Tom (Jon Concannon) deal with the fact that they may never be able to have a baby. And there could finally be romance for Terence (Shane Porteous) and Rosemary (Maureen Edwards). A Country Practice will also tackle various social issues, including abortion, rape and lack of concern for the elderly.
- Tonight Live now looks likely to lose newsreader Jennifer Keyte as she wants to focus on her role as newsreader at Seven Nightly News in Melbourne as it continues to battle top-rating National Nine News with Brian Naylor. Naomi Robson is tipped to take over the newsreader role at Tonight Live.
- Ann Sanders is set to host the return of Australia’s Most Wanted for Seven. The series, which invites viewers’ help in solving crime cases, is tipped for the all-important Sunday 7.30pm timeslot.
- Despite earlier reports that Mike Willesee‘s Street Stories had been axed by Nine, and with the show’s crew now assigned to other projects, it now appears that it will be back sometime in 1993.
- Hey Dad producer Gary Reilly is considering re-casting the role of teenager Sally following the exit of cast member Sarah Monahan. Reilly had originally intended to write out the character with Monahan’s departure.
- Former Perfect Match and Blind Date host Greg Evans (pictured) is making his return to radio as the summer co-host of 3AW‘s breakfast program. It is his first radio gig since leaving 3MP in 1985 but he has no desire for a full-time return to the medium.
- ABC reporter Ian Henschke, from the Adelaide edition of The 7.30 Report, has knocked back an offer to host ABC’s planned new early morning news program set to tackle Today. The new program, aimed at the under-30 age group, is due to debut in March.
Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
“It has reached that time when people who write columns resort to summaries of their highlights and lowlights of the year, but once again I want to avoid doing that. In many ways, we did need Her Majesty to remind us that it has been annus horribilus. We already knew that. Do I, however, detect just a hint of kinder times returning to the entertainment industry and, specifically, television? There are some interesting projects being nurtured for 1993, so let’s hope they bear fruit.”
- “If you’re in the toilet and you press the half-flush and the full-flush at the same time, do you get one-and-a-half flushes?” — Jimeon, Tonight Live, Seven.
- “I feel like the only sane man in the asylum.” — Alex Taylor (Jeremy Sims), Chances, Nine.
Program Highlights (Melbourne, December 27-January 2):
Sunday: SBS debuts Chill Out, a eight-part series of children’s programs from Australia and various representative countries of the European Broadcasting Union. The first program to feature is Australia’s contribution, Gotcha! Sunday night movies are Spy (Nine) and Educating Rita (Ten) up against the debut of mini-series Onassis: The Richest Man In The World (Seven).
Monday: Ten begins a repeat screening of mini-series Poor Man’s Orange, starring Anne Phelan and Kaarin Fairfax. Nine starts to wind up its late-night series Chances by screening it over the next three nights to have it finished by the new year. It marks a fairly inglorious end to the controversial series after a two-year run.
Wednesday: ABC series A Life features Dame Mary Durack talking about her writing career, her family history and her sadness about the sale of the Durack properties.
Thursday: ABC’s New Year’s Eve line-up includes two specials featuring The Three Tenors followed by a special end-year review of Backchat, including the 1992 Nitpicker’s Award, and all-night music videos on Rage. David Johnston presents Ten’s 1992 — The Year In Review and SBS has its traditional New Year’s Eve feature, the German comedy skit Dinner For One.
Friday (New Year’s Day): Clive James’ New Year Special (ABC) features the former Australian’s views of the events of 1992, as well as some of the times and people we’d rather forget.
Saturday: Seven begins its summer of tennis coverage with the Hopman Cup, live from Perth. Nine starts coverage of the Third Test, Australia versus West Indies, live from the SCG.
Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 26 December 1992. Southdown Press