Rounding out this year’s Upfronts was ABC’s annual showcase where the broadcaster revealed a string of new things to come in 2021, including Q+A moving to primetime, new dramas, and the launch of ABC TV Plus.
ABC stars Rachel Griffiths, Wil Anderson, Erik Thomson, Kitty Flanagan, Leigh Sales, Nakkiah Lui, Craig Reucassel and Superwog helped announce the ABC’s 2021 content slate, showcasing the best of Australian content and creativity in the way that only the ABC can.
ABC Managing Director David Anderson said no other media organisation has the breadth and depth of trusted content for all Australians.
“Support for Australian creativity has been at the heart of the ABC for the past 88 years and will continue into 2021. After a challenging year of disconnection, the ABC will bring more Australians together from more places across this wonderfully diverse country. The ABC is the creative voice of Australia and in 2021 we will bring more homegrown content to audiences than ever, across TV, online and ABC iview.”
ABC Director of Entertainment & Specialist Michael Carrington said: “The ABC in 2021 is rich, diverse and inclusive, showcasing Australia’s best and emerging talent on and off screen. ABC iview will be home to more original Australian content than ever before. Our rebranded secondary channel ABC TV Plus will celebrate Australian culture every night of the week, including live performances, premiere documentaries, stand-up comedy, and a new weekly arts show. In 2021, the ABC will deliver more Australian voices, faces and stories than any other network – that’s our point of difference. Amid so much content from overseas, Australians are right at home on ABC.”
Thursday nights will see Q+A in the new primetime slot of 8.30pm, alongside stories and characters from around Australia and the world in Backroads and Foreign Correspondent at 8pm.
Monday nights remain the home of Australian stories and investigations, with the return of Australian Story and Four Corners – which will mark its 60th year in 2021. Also returning next year are Australia’s best and most respected TV news and current affairs brands, such as News Breakfast, Insiders, The Drum, the 7pm News and 7.30.
The ABC’s role as the nation’s champion of Australian drama will be on show on ABC TV and iview throughout 2021. Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths return for the highly-anticipated second series of Total Control, Anna Torv and Sam Reid headline the cast of The Newsreader, Ioan Gruffudd is back for more Harrow while audience favourite Guy Pearce will reprise his iconic role as Jack Irish.
Set in the scenic Blue Mountains, the ground-breaking new series Wakefield, starring Rudi Dharmalingam, Mandy McElhinney and Geraldine Hakewill tackles the taboo subject of mental illness head on – with all episodes premiering on ABC iview. A year on from last summer’s catastrophic natural disasters, the six-part series Fires is inspired by the extraordinary people who lived to tell the tale.
The ABC will bring more diverse and inclusive content to audiences in 2021, with an impressive line-up of new and returning factual content. Annabel Crabb examines the struggles of Australia’s female politicians in Women in Parliament, while Aaron Pedersen and bestselling author Holly Ringland will guide viewers through the Australian landscape in the stunning new natural history series Back to Nature.
Bondi Hipster Christiaan Van Vuuren investigates the state of Australia in The As Yet Unnamed Democracy Project (working title) and audience favourites Love on the Spectrum and Old People’s Home for 4- Year-Olds make a welcome return. Four-part series Beyond the Towers revisits the terrorist attacks that changed the world, 20 years on, while Quoll Farm takes an intimate look at the life of an unassuming Australian marsupial.
Staying with the animal world, families will fall in love with four-part series Muster Dogs, which follows five graziers from across rural Australia who have been tasked with turning a gorgeous Kelpie puppy into a working dog. The challenges we face in old age will be examined in the thought-provoking documentary, Laura’s Choice, which documents a 90-year-old Australian’s decision to end her life on her terms.
COMEDY AND ENTERTAINMENT
The ABC will bring together all Australians for a laugh with new episodes of Spicks and Specks, while Charlie Pickering and Annabel Crabb will think the unthinkable in a new series of Tomorrow Tonight. Sarah Kendall puts on her big hair for more Frayed, while Erik Thomson joins ABC’s comedy alumni, starring as a disgraced chef in the delightful new series Aftertaste. Nakkiah Lui leads a fresh line-up of talent in Preppers, while Kitty Flanagan brings her singular and hilarious voice to the fast-paced comedy Fisk, about a high-end lawyer who is forced to work in a shabby suburban law firm.
ABC TV Plus (previously ABC Comedy)
Launching January 1st and airing from 7.30pm to 2am daily on channel 22 on your digital TV, channel 134 on Foxtel or channel 126 on Optus, our newly-rebranded secondary channel ABC TV Plus will celebrate Australian culture and content every night of the week.
Complemented by an exciting suite of international shows, ABC TV Plus will cater for all Australians with diverse new programs, from Saturday stand-up comedians to primetime premieres of religion, science and natural history documentaries, along with the best of the arts – three nights a week. ABC TV Plus will warm the heart, challenge the mind and tickle the funny bone, with the premiere of new comedy series Why are You Like This, which follows three 20-something friends as they hilariously navigate life’s complexities.
The ABC’s unrivalled support for Australian arts and artists will be showcased in 2021, with the launch of a new weekly arts program on ABC TV Plus, alongside feature-length documentaries and live performances of music, ballet, musical theatre, film and opera.
Over on our main TV channel, Claudia Karvan delves into the world of Australian literature, from the classics to the page-turners in the three-part Australian Book Series with Claudia Karvan (w/t). Justine Clarke embarks on a memorable road trip to uncover Australian country music in Going Country, while Rachel Griffiths shares her passion for portraiture in Finding the Archibald. The fascinating story behind Australia’s pre-eminent Indigenous dance company Bangarra is explored in the feature-length documentary Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra while Step into Paradise celebrates the enduring success of designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson.
In 2021, supporting the ABC Five Year Plan, ABC iview will offer even more to viewers through improved user features, greater personalisation and a bigger and better catalogue of original Australian content. Headlining the ABC’s streaming service will be our high-end dramas including Wakefield, comedy with Aftertaste and Fisk as well as the return of the not-so-average teenagers – Superwog and Johnny – in a new series of the #1 trending show Superwog.
Joining the boys on ABC iview will be the powerful documentary Strong Women, which follows four resilient competitors as they strive to become Australia’s strongest woman, and Chopsticks or Fork?, which explores regional Australia’s love affair with Chinese restaurants. ABC iview will also launch Indigenous comedy series All My Friends are Racist, while ABC Australia’s That Pacific Sports Show will celebrate the sporting achievements of Pacific Island athletes and nations for our viewers in the region.
ABC ME and ABC Kids
Australia’s No 1 kids show Bluey will be back in 2021, headlining the ABC’s unrivalled commitment to homegrown children’s content. Aussie kids can have all their curly questions answered with the help of new ABC Kids’ show The Wonder Gang – which features some adorable quokkas. In its 55th year on air, enduring favourite Play school will be back with five new specials, including an episode in honor of Emergency Service workers.
Little kids around the country will get to meet wannabe hero joey Pounce in the animated series Kangaroo Beach, while big kids will be treated to the full throttle, action-packed series MaveriX, set in the Alice Springs world of motocross. The return of favourites such as the Emmy Award-winning Hardball, ITCH and Good Game Spawn Point will ensure that the ABC has trusted kids content well and truly covered.
ABC shows that audiences know, trust and love will be back in the new year, including: Gardening Australia, Gruen, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Anh’s Brush with Fame, Hard Quiz , The Set, Dream Gardens, Catalyst, You Can’t Ask That and Landline in its 30th year – plus many more beloved programs.
Add to this the ABC’s coverage of major events throughout the year, including New Year’s Eve, Anzac Day, and the Australian of the Year ceremony. These programs and events are just some of the ways the ABC will connect all Australians, keeping them entertained, informed, and engaged in 2021 and beyond.
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