WHY AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION IS THRIVING
At ‘I Am Starstruck’, supporting local talent is our speciality and Editor Leeshie’s television highlight of the year is the annual Logie Awards.
So when the opportunity arose to go to the Sydney Writers’ Festival and listen to some of Australia’s phenomenal TV scriptwriters explain what makes utterly brilliant Aussie TV, we were there!
Here’s our review:
“Nina Proudman: what a mad bitch” were the first words Ruth Ritchie exclaimed at the ‘Writing Great TV’ seminar. The television critic is referring to the highly popular television character portrayed by Logie winning actress Asher Keddie on Channel 10’s ‘Offspring’.
Ritchie’s remarks were directed towards none other than ‘Offspring’ writer Debra Oswald who was on the panel to discuss why Australian television is thriving. Joining her was Christopher Lee, the writer of Australian television mini-series ‘Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo’ and ‘Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War’.
Both writers are the scripting masterminds behind television series that have revolutionised the nature of recent Australian television. And having been in the industry for over two decades, Oswald and Lee shed light on changing audience perceptions and mentalities of television networks that have carved a new era for local televised content.
Oswald’s high rating show ‘Offspring’ returned to screens last week for its fourth season, but when asked if she could have pitched the show ten years ago, she revealed, “we pitched if four years before it was wanted. We pitched it to all of the networks and everyone said no”.
So why has it taken so long for captivating ‘dramedy’, a delightful mix of drama and comedy, to replace a television landscape historically dominated by action driven cop, legal and hospital shows?
“A large part of it is the post-HBO revolution,” said Lee. He believes that the US network responsible for the production of the Sopranos and Mad Men has influenced Australian producers. “The producers in Australia had a look at this and thought we can do that.”
He also attributed the high popularity of shows like ‘Offspring’ to the shift in audience’s tastes. “The audience itself has become better educated in drama and understands the nuances of better writing and better directing,” he said.
Oswald added that this has posed a pressure on writing teams to continuously generate fresh, captivating content. “Audiences being more savvy about television does make the job sometimes more difficult… now there’s a million blogs and Facebook pages with people saying what they think is going to happen”.
Ultimately, the key attractive concept underlying a captivating script is the exploration of universal themes; life, death and sex with a speck of humour. Oswald said that Nina’s relatable multi-dimensional life of work, family and romance is what keeps audiences watching. “I think that’s like real life and it’s fun to watch.
When you sit and watch Offspring, you’ll be likely to laugh, likely to be moved and more likely to have sex with your partner”.
Image Source: Channel 10