In 2019, two very different characters, Laura Gibson from SeaChange played by Sigrid Thornton and Jane Halifax played by Rebecca Gibney, will be part of Nine’s new drama programming slate.
Andy Ryan, Nine’s Co-Head of Drama, says drama is the key to offering audiences greater diversity in programming, with SeaChange and Halifax Retribution commissioned alongside the new series Bad Mothers and returning viewer favourite Doctor Doctor.
“One of the things we aim to do with Nine drama every year is to provide diversity in the tone and genre of our programming,” Ryan says.
“One show I’m really excited about for 2019 is Halifax Retribution. Rebecca Gibney who played the character Jane Halifax in a series of telemovies in the past is coming back to Nine to reprise the role of the forensic psychiatrist.”
Ryan says the crime thriller, which is filming in Melbourne, adds more variety to Nine’s drama lineup.
“Halifax is a different vibe altogether to SeaChange and Doctor Doctor. It’s an event mini-series with one of Australia’s greatest actresses who’s back on Nine after a long break. This is a show that will appeal to a wide audience with its strong female lead investigator who is putting her personal and professional life on the line.”
In SeaChange, Laura Gibson will also be making Nine her home 20 years after the program premiered on television.
“SeaChange was a blockbuster starring Sigrid Thornton which really changed the face of Australian drama. Now, 20 years later, Sigrid will revisit Pearl Bay to bring back the magic of SeaChange for a whole new generation of viewers,” Ryan says.
“In commissioning SeaChange we will be broadening the appeal of this outstanding program to a whole new generation who may have never seen or heard of it.”
Alongside these familiar, returning dramas is Nine’s brand new series Bad Mothers, starring Melissa George, Daniel MacPherson, Michala Banas, Mandy McElhinney, Shalom Brune-Franklin and Jessica Tovey.
“Bad Mothers is a real heartland show with a strong contemporary edge. It feels very modern, it feels very fresh,” Ryan says.
“But the issues this drama approaches and attacks are universal ones about love, betrayal, death, raising families, work-life balance. It’s entertaining, it’s aspirational and it has a very broad demographic feel. It will have a fantastic life not just on Nine but also on digital platforms.”
For Ryan, the key to attracting audiences on any platform is always the fundamentals of good stories and good characters.
“Drama is the most intimate form of television. It’s storytelling where you bond with the characters, you invite them into your family home. If we get those fundamentals right our audiences will want to spend time with our characters regardless of the delivery mechanism,” he says.
Ryan points to Doctor Doctor – which heads into its fourth season in 2019 – as an example of the power of the bond that drama can create with an audience.
“Doctor Doctor been an outstanding success story not just for Nine but for Australian drama more generally,” he says.
“Right from episode one it captured the heart and imagination of Australian audiences on free-to-air, and it has also proven popular for us online and on-demand.
“In 2019, bad boy Hugh is back with a vengeance in season four. Watch out, everyone around him is going to scramble.”