Once the landing strip for hip US programs – The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210, The X-Files – Network Ten has found “all good things must come to an end” concedes head of programming David Mott.
Deals by Seven and Nine with US production houses such as Fox, Universal and Warner Bros have starved the youth-skewed network of top programs. Shows that are a natural for Ten – Buffy, Roswell, Angel and Popular – have ended up out of prime time and languishing on Nine and Seven. “We would love some of those shows,” says Mott, “but the time has come to take charge of our own destiny.”
Enter Sue Masters, the reigning queen of Australian drama, snatched by Ten from the ABC where she oversaw such hits as SeaChange and Grass Roofs. Her brief is simple: fix up Ten’s drama schedule and attract female viewers. Although many shows were commissioned before she started at the ratings-challenged network, Masters will oversee a staggering number of new dramas and commission plenty more. Vying for Nielsen figures will be new telemovies, miniseries and the drama The Secret Life of Us, described as a Number 96 for the new millennium. “It’s bloody good,” gushes Mott-but viewers will decide just how good.
High hopes are also held for the miniseries My Brother Jack, starring Matt Day; Flying Fox, with Rebecca Gibney; and the telemovie My Husband, My Killer, Stresses Mott: “The new programs are about attracting new viewers, not about losing sight of our core 16-24 demographic.” That’s where the “D’oh!” is.