A Chronological History of Australian Soap

Carrie Fairchild

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Crash Palace - 2002
Crash Palace was born out of the directive that subscription channels like FOX8 had to start investing 10% of their budgets on local programming and from FOX’s desire to produce a show that could be aired internationally across their various TV networks. Breakers creator Jimmy Thomson was developing projects at FOX at the time. He responded to the call for an international project, with an idea inspired by Kings Cross, the backpacker packed area of Sydney that he was living in at the time. Crash Palace’s setting of The Royal (based on real life backpacker hostel, Original Backpackers on Victoria Street) was to be filled with a cast of characters from around the world (their nationalities would be dictated by whichever countries invested in the show’s production) and it would be edgier and feature “swearing, sex and drug taking” as well as “nastier characters” that you wouldn’t see on the likes of H&A or Neighbours.

The original opening premise was to revolve around a fire at an illegal hostel but the similarities to the real life Childers hostel tragedy in 2000 made the British backers Sky veto that plot. Instead, the show opened with British backpackers Tina (Hollyoaks star Stephanie Waring) and Kirsty (Rachel Aveling) arriving in Sydney and immediately getting involved in drama when they picked up the wrong backpack at the airport, which happened to be full of ecstasy tablets. They landed into the Royal, which was run by George (Tim McGunn) and his Brazilian wife Isabella (Lisa Bailey) who oversaw the various bedhopping and backstabbing among guests including American couple Wendy (Amelia Barrett, daughter of Carmen Duncan) and Ricky (Daniel Billet) and mother and daughter Penny (Tandi Wright) and Miranda (Jess Gower), who were both out to snare the same man, good guy caretaker Dave (played by H&A’s Dieter Brummer). Also part of the UK contingent were sleazy John (Warren Derosa - another migrant from Hollyoaks), his drug dealer mate Bryan (Toby Truslove) and Scottish Angie (Simone McAullay) who had her eye on Ricky. Argentinean Inez (Tory Mussett) and her lesbian best friend Carla (Victoria Hill) who was secretly in love with , rounded out the cast.

And so began the merry go round of drunken sexual shenanigans where people hopped in and out of each others beds, got chased by drug dealers and turned to sex work. Amidst all of the drunken debauchery that made up most of the action, the show’s two most notable plots involved the sexual assault of Tina, where every man in the hostel was a suspect (it turned out to be hostel owner George) and the sudden death of Dave following a diving accident (that may not have been an accident). The role of Dave was originally supposed to be played by Craig McLachlan and was always only going to be short term. When he dropped out, they wanted another familiar soap name and Dieter Brummer was drafted in for the limited role.

The show ran for 30 minutes, twice a week on FOX8 in Australia, Sky One in Ireland and the UK and on FOX stations in Spain and South America. After 65 episodes, series one drew to a close with cliffhangers involving a drug overdose and a dodgy hitchhiker. International partners had lost interest but Sky were due to fund a second series that would be sexier than the first. After a year passed and new management took over at Sky, it became clear that a second series wouldn’t be happening and the cliffhangers were left unresolved. To date, I believe this is the only time that an Aussie subscription channel has dipped its toe into the world of soap.
 

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Crash Palace - 2002
Crash Palace was born out of the directive that subscription channels like FOX8 had to start investing 10% of their budgets on local programming and from FOX’s desire to produce a show that could be aired internationally across their various TV networks. Breakers creator Jimmy Thomson was developing projects at FOX at the time. He responded to the call for an international project, with an idea inspired by Kings Cross, the backpacker packed area of Sydney that he was living in at the time. Crash Palace’s setting of The Royal (based on real life backpacker hostel, Original Backpackers on Victoria Street) was to be filled with a cast of characters from around the world (their nationalities would be dictated by whichever countries invested in the show’s production) and it would be edgier and feature “swearing, sex and drug taking” as well as “nastier characters” that you wouldn’t see on the likes of H&A or Neighbours.

The original opening premise was to revolve around a fire at an illegal hostel but the similarities to the real life Childers hostel tragedy in 2000 made the British backers Sky veto that plot. Instead, the show opened with British backpackers Tina (Hollyoaks star Stephanie Waring) and Kirsty (Rachel Aveling) arriving in Sydney and immediately getting involved in drama when they picked up the wrong backpack at the airport, which happened to be full of ecstasy tablets. They landed into the Royal, which was run by George (Tim McGunn) and his Brazilian wife Isabella (Lisa Bailey) who oversaw the various bedhopping and backstabbing among guests including American couple Wendy (Amelia Barrett, daughter of Carmen Duncan) and Ricky (Daniel Billet) and mother and daughter Penny (Tandi Wright) and Miranda (Jess Gower), who were both out to snare the same man, good guy caretaker Dave (played by H&A’s Dieter Brummer). Also part of the UK contingent were sleazy John (Warren Derosa - another migrant from Hollyoaks), his drug dealer mate Bryan (Toby Truslove) and Scottish Angie (Simone McAullay) who had her eye on Ricky. Argentinean Inez (Tory Mussett) and her lesbian best friend Carla (Victoria Hill) who was secretly in love with , rounded out the cast.

And so began the merry go round of drunken sexual shenanigans where people hopped in and out of each others beds, got chased by drug dealers and turned to sex work. Amidst all of the drunken debauchery that made up most of the action, the show’s two most notable plots involved the sexual assault of Tina, where every man in the hostel was a suspect (it turned out to be hostel owner George) and the sudden death of Dave following a diving accident (that may not have been an accident). The role of Dave was originally supposed to be played by Craig McLachlan and was always only going to be short term. When he dropped out, they wanted another familiar soap name and Dieter Brummer was drafted in for the limited role.

The show ran for 30 minutes, twice a week on FOX8 in Australia, Sky One in Ireland and the UK and on FOX stations in Spain and South America. After 65 episodes, series one drew to a close with cliffhangers involving a drug overdose and a dodgy hitchhiker. International partners had lost interest but Sky were due to fund a second series that would be sexier than the first. After a year passed and new management took over at Sky, it became clear that a second series wouldn’t be happening and the cliffhangers were left unresolved. To date, I believe this is the only time that an Aussie subscription channel has dipped its toe into the world of soap.
Inez was meant to be originally Spanish, and was played by Tory Mussett, an Aussie. She became Argentinian after the South American backers noticed she was speaking a perfect Argentinian accent.

Daniel Billet was actually American, but the American backers didn't think he was convincing at first. And Toby Truslove was actually Aussie, but Sky thought he was British because of the convincing accent.

Damien De Montemas, Jenni Baird, and Julian Garner also later appeared playing characters from France, Canada and Germany, although all 3 actors were from Australia. (In Jenni's case, it probably helped doing a North American accent as she was cast in The 4400 later).

Location filming in Kings Cross was difficult. Tory Mussett did a scene where she was handing flyers to a nightclub event, but attracted members of the public than just the extras. That, and the beach scenes being filmed in winter.
 
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AndyB2008

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Crash Palace - 2002
Crash Palace was born out of the directive that subscription channels like FOX8 had to start investing 10% of their budgets on local programming and from FOX’s desire to produce a show that could be aired internationally across their various TV networks. Breakers creator Jimmy Thomson was developing projects at FOX at the time. He responded to the call for an international project, with an idea inspired by Kings Cross, the backpacker packed area of Sydney that he was living in at the time. Crash Palace’s setting of The Royal (based on real life backpacker hostel, Original Backpackers on Victoria Street) was to be filled with a cast of characters from around the world (their nationalities would be dictated by whichever countries invested in the show’s production) and it would be edgier and feature “swearing, sex and drug taking” as well as “nastier characters” that you wouldn’t see on the likes of H&A or Neighbours.

The original opening premise was to revolve around a fire at an illegal hostel but the similarities to the real life Childers hostel tragedy in 2000 made the British backers Sky veto that plot. Instead, the show opened with British backpackers Tina (Hollyoaks star Stephanie Waring) and Kirsty (Rachel Aveling) arriving in Sydney and immediately getting involved in drama when they picked up the wrong backpack at the airport, which happened to be full of ecstasy tablets. They landed into the Royal, which was run by George (Tim McGunn) and his Brazilian wife Isabella (Lisa Bailey) who oversaw the various bedhopping and backstabbing among guests including American couple Wendy (Amelia Barrett, daughter of Carmen Duncan) and Ricky (Daniel Billet) and mother and daughter Penny (Tandi Wright) and Miranda (Jess Gower), who were both out to snare the same man, good guy caretaker Dave (played by H&A’s Dieter Brummer). Also part of the UK contingent were sleazy John (Warren Derosa - another migrant from Hollyoaks), his drug dealer mate Bryan (Toby Truslove) and Scottish Angie (Simone McAullay) who had her eye on Ricky. Argentinean Inez (Tory Mussett) and her lesbian best friend Carla (Victoria Hill) who was secretly in love with , rounded out the cast.

And so began the merry go round of drunken sexual shenanigans where people hopped in and out of each others beds, got chased by drug dealers and turned to sex work. Amidst all of the drunken debauchery that made up most of the action, the show’s two most notable plots involved the sexual assault of Tina, where every man in the hostel was a suspect (it turned out to be hostel owner George) and the sudden death of Dave following a diving accident (that may not have been an accident). The role of Dave was originally supposed to be played by Craig McLachlan and was always only going to be short term. When he dropped out, they wanted another familiar soap name and Dieter Brummer was drafted in for the limited role.

The show ran for 30 minutes, twice a week on FOX8 in Australia, Sky One in Ireland and the UK and on FOX stations in Spain and South America. After 65 episodes, series one drew to a close with cliffhangers involving a drug overdose and a dodgy hitchhiker. International partners had lost interest but Sky were due to fund a second series that would be sexier than the first. After a year passed and new management took over at Sky, it became clear that a second series wouldn’t be happening and the cliffhangers were left unresolved. To date, I believe this is the only time that an Aussie subscription channel has dipped its toe into the world of soap.
Foxtel did dip into soap (sort of) with Shark Bay, created primilarly as a short filler into the next programme, as little or no advertising space was sold at the time.
 
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Carrie Fairchild

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That, and the beach scenes being filmed in winter.
They also had to fill them in the early morning to avoid crowds, making for a less than exotic experience for the freezing actors.
Foxtel did dip into soap (sort of) with Shark Bay
It was more of a soap parody wasn’t it? I’d love to see episodes but there seems to be no trace of even a clip online.
 

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Headland - 2005 to 2006

Despite their popularity, Australian soaps never really exploited their spin-off potential in the same way that their American counterparts did. There’s been one off films (Bellbird’s Country Town), DVD specials (Home & Away: Secrets and the City) and miniseries (Erinsborough High) but an ongoing spin-off or same universe offshoot never came to pass. In 2002, Seven started discussing plans for a spin-off of its flagship soap H&A, in the hope that it’s new UK broadcast partner Channel 5 would come onboard as a co-producer. Soap maestro Bevan Lee was tasked with coming up with the goods and pitched Away from Home, which was to follow various Summer Bay residents (Dani Sutherland was rumoured to be one of them) as they attended Yabbie Creek University. Channel 5 opted out and reportedly asked Seven to rework the idea, as they didn’t want a H&A spin-off being scheduled opposite them on a rival station. Seven obliged and the great retooling began. The connection to Summer Bay was dropped and the show underwent several name changes including Ten Degrees South (nixed for fear of it being confused with BBC cop show 55 Degrees North) and Campus, before settling on Headland (stylised as headLand).

Set in the fictional coastal university town of South Heads, the show opened with Craig (Sam Atwell, former H&A bad boy Kane Phillips) crashing his car into a tree, as him and a group of friends sped away from a party as one of them was overdosing in the backseat. With Craig the only survivor and now comatose, mystery surrounded the circumstances that led to the crash. Newly returned Adam Wilde (Conrad Coleby) found himself involved in his own mystery as he tried to work out if his estranged father Ben (John Brumpton) - who’d recently been released from prison after serving 15 years for murdering Adam’s mother - was actually his father or if local barman Mick (Steve Rodgers) was his real daddy. Future H&A star Josh Quong Tart (a lot of the cast would eventually migrate to Summer Bay in different roles) played Adam’s best mate Will while Sasha (Rachael Taylor) was the show’s blonde bombshell. The show also marked the first regular TV role for Yvonne Strahovski, who is now best known for US shows Chuck and The Handmaid’s Tale. Aussie soap veteran Libby Tanner played a main role as Grace while familiar soap faces Anne Tenney and Vanessa Downing popped up in guest spots.

Seven clearly had high hopes for the show, as a second series had been greenlit and was already in production before the first season even made it to the air. However, the show’s July 2005 premiere was pushed back to the end of that year’s ratings period, after lukewarm test screenings resulted in the pilot being reworked. Eventually premiering November 15th, it was slated to air hourlong episodes every Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm for its first four weeks, before expanding to three episodes over the summer months to allow the show to “bed down an audience”. It opened to promising ratings of 1.3 million, with a Seven spokesperson saying "We are very happy with the opening nights audience figures for Headland. This is a program that builds and settles into a very strong storyline and character development. The opening episode is always the hardest." Rachael Taylor’s portrayal of Sasha won praise and comparisons to Melrose legend Amanda Woodward but there was criticism that some of the rest of the oversized cast of characters appeared interchangeable. Within a fortnight of the first episode, it became a case of “burn off episodes” rather than “bed down an audience” as ratings collapsed and the show was shifted to 7pm Monday to Thursday in a bid to capture the H&A audience while that show was on summer hiatus. By January 2006, after only two months on air, it had been removed from the weeknight schedule altogether, to make way for the return of H&A and the start of the Australian Open. It aired on Saturdays for a few weeks before production was officially halted on January 24th 2006, with no further episodes airing on Seven after that date. There was talk of the show being revisited later in the year with Seven stating "We still believe in the show, and we think it deserves a chance,". That chance never came to pass and Headland’s failure to maintain an audience above 800k and a perception that audiences preferred US drama over homegrown shows were cited as reasons for its demise. The remaining episodes of season one and the six episodes that had been produced for season two, eventually saw the light of day in 2009 when the show was repeated weekday mornings on newly launched digital channel 7two. It’s full run has also since been added to Seven’s streaming service 7plus. Viewers in Ireland and the UK got to see the show in September 2006, when it was re-formatted into half hour episodes and aired Monday to Friday at 7.30pm on E4. It failed to draw viewers there too and it was eventually moved to a daytime slot on Channel 4, where the remainder of the episodes were shown in their original hourlong format.
 

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Headland - 2005 to 2006

Despite their popularity, Australian soaps never really exploited their spin-off potential in the same way that their American counterparts did. There’s been one off films (Bellbird’s Country Town), DVD specials (Home & Away: Secrets and the City) and miniseries (Erinsborough High) but an ongoing spin-off or same universe offshoot never came to pass. In 2002, Seven started discussing plans for a spin-off of its flagship soap H&A, in the hope that it’s new UK broadcast partner Channel 5 would come onboard as a co-producer. Soap maestro Bevan Lee was tasked with coming up with the goods and pitched Away from Home, which was to follow various Summer Bay residents (Dani Sutherland was rumoured to be one of them) as they attended Yabbie Creek University. Channel 5 opted out and reportedly asked Seven to rework the idea, as they didn’t want a H&A spin-off being scheduled opposite them on a rival station. Seven obliged and the great retooling began. The connection to Summer Bay was dropped and the show underwent several name changes including Ten Degrees South (nixed for fear of it being confused with BBC cop show 55 Degrees North) and Campus, before settling on Headland (stylised as headLand).

Set in the fictional coastal university town of South Heads, the show opened with Craig (Sam Atwell, former H&A bad boy Kane Phillips) crashing his car into a tree, as him and a group of friends sped away from a party as one of them was overdosing in the backseat. With Craig the only survivor and now comatose, mystery surrounded the circumstances that led to the crash. Newly returned Adam Wilde (Conrad Coleby) found himself involved in his own mystery as he tried to work out if his estranged father Ben (John Brumpton) - who’d recently been released from prison after serving 15 years for murdering Adam’s mother - was actually his father or if local barman Mick (Steve Rodgers) was his real daddy. Future H&A star Josh Quong Tart (a lot of the cast would eventually migrate to Summer Bay in different roles) played Adam’s best mate Will while Sasha (Rachael Taylor) was the show’s blonde bombshell. The show also marked the first regular TV role for Yvonne Strahovski, who is now best known for US shows Chuck and The Handmaid’s Tale. Aussie soap veteran Libby Tanner played a main role as Grace while familiar soap faces Anne Tenney and Vanessa Downing popped up in guest spots.

Seven clearly had high hopes for the show, as a second series had been greenlit and was already in production before the first season even made it to the air. However, the show’s July 2005 premiere was pushed back to the end of that year’s ratings period, after lukewarm test screenings resulted in the pilot being reworked. Eventually premiering November 15th, it was slated to air hourlong episodes every Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm for its first four weeks, before expanding to three episodes over the summer months to allow the show to “bed down an audience”. It opened to promising ratings of 1.3 million, with a Seven spokesperson saying "We are very happy with the opening nights audience figures for Headland. This is a program that builds and settles into a very strong storyline and character development. The opening episode is always the hardest." Rachael Taylor’s portrayal of Sasha won praise and comparisons to Melrose legend Amanda Woodward but there was criticism that some of the rest of the oversized cast of characters appeared interchangeable. Within a fortnight of the first episode, it became a case of “burn off episodes” rather than “bed down an audience” as ratings collapsed and the show was shifted to 7pm Monday to Thursday in a bid to capture the H&A audience while that show was on summer hiatus. By January 2006, after only two months on air, it had been removed from the weeknight schedule altogether, to make way for the return of H&A and the start of the Australian Open. It aired on Saturdays for a few weeks before production was officially halted on January 24th 2006, with no further episodes airing on Seven after that date. There was talk of the show being revisited later in the year with Seven stating "We still believe in the show, and we think it deserves a chance,". That chance never came to pass and Headland’s failure to maintain an audience above 800k and a perception that audiences preferred US drama over homegrown shows were cited as reasons for its demise. The remaining episodes of season one and the six episodes that had been produced for season two, eventually saw the light of day in 2009 when the show was repeated weekday mornings on newly launched digital channel 7two. It’s full run has also since been added to Seven’s streaming service 7plus. Viewers in Ireland and the UK got to see the show in September 2006, when it was re-formatted into half hour episodes and aired Monday to Friday at 7.30pm on E4. It failed to draw viewers there too and it was eventually moved to a daytime slot on Channel 4, where the remainder of the episodes were shown in their original hourlong format.
Headland had the first look episode of Hollyoaks as a lead in, so C4\E4 were hoping the Hollyoaks audience would stay for Headland.

Unfortunately not the case.

C5 spin off channel Fiver (now 5*Star) had the same idea after Neighbours was acquired when they got the repeat rights to short lived soap Out of The Blue. (Southern Star, who produced and distributed the show, hoped if it was successful on Fiver than it was on the BBC, the show may be revived).

Out of The Blue was given the Neighbours lead out slot at 7.30pm (Neighbours was airing at 7pm back then), with repeats of the sitcom 8 Simple Rules moving to a earlier timeslot. Out of The Blue sadly with the lead in was rating lower than 8 Simple Rules was.

8 Simple Rules returned to 7.30pm, and Out of The Blue was moved to 4pm midway.
 

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Ref Out of the Blue from my previous post, maybe one of the reasons for it failing was the whole murder mystery plot running throughout the show.

It probably works for something in a primetime slot like Broadchurch where you can invest in it once a week, but not for a 5 days a week Australian daytime soap where the UK audience want something less taxing at that time of day.

Hence probably why Murder She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder, which were airing before OOTB took the slot, did well. (Probably why 8 Simple Rules did well)

(When Out of The Blue moved to BBC2, live sport forced the show to take breaks, not to mention it could only air 4 days a week than 5 due to the flagship Daily Politics having an extended Wednesday programme until 1.30pm to cover Prime Minister's Questions. As a result, RTE overtook the BBC broadcasts and ended the series before the BBC).
 
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Ref Out of the Blue from my previous post, maybe one of the reasons for it failing was the whole murder mystery plot running throughout the show.

It probably works for something in a primetime slot like Broadchurch where you can invest in it once a week, but not for a 5 days a week Australian daytime soap where the UK audience want something less taxing at that time of day.

Hence probably why Murder She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder, which were airing before OOTB took the slot, did well. (Probably why 8 Simple Rules did well)

(When Out of The Blue moved to BBC2, live sport forced the show to take breaks, not to mention it could only air 4 days a week than 5 due to the flagship Daily Politics having an extended Wednesday programme until 1.30pm to cover Prime Minister's Questions. As a result, RTE overtook the BBC broadcasts and ended the series before the BBC).
Out of The Blue is actually next on my list of shows to cover here. The main issues were that the BBC never really gave it a chance. They shoved it off to BBC2 after a very short time. Also, Ten didn’t know what to do with it in Australia. They wouldn’t air it in the early evening because of Poppy’s relationship with a woman, so they put it on at 10.30pm instead.
 

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Out of The Blue is actually next on my list of shows to cover here. The main issues were that the BBC never really gave it a chance. They shoved it off to BBC2 after a very short time. Also, Ten didn’t know what to do with it in Australia. They wouldn’t air it in the early evening because of Poppy’s relationship with a woman, so they put it on at 10.30pm instead.
As I mentioned, Fiver gave it the post Neighbours slot and pushed 8 Simple Rules to a earlier time, which in effect gave it a block of Aussie soaps (H&A, Neighbours, Out of The Blue) from 6.30pm-8.00pm.

At least Fiver persisted with it for a while, but despite Neighbours leading in, Out of the Blue was clearly rating lower, which prompted them to bring 8SR back to the 7.30pm slot and push OOTB out of primetime.

Maybe the Fiver audience preferred light hearted fare like 8SR and weren't interested in having to sit through another soap. The murder mystery arc required the audience to commit 5 days a week, which they may not
have the time to do - a reason why, besides the BBC being impatient, was why the public preferred silly less taxing fare like Murder She Wrote.

(It wasn't like Broadchurch or The Bay on linear TV, where you can could commit once a week, and be watching the next episode a week later. You were having to watch across the week.)

Add to that the slot OOTB had on Fiver did place it against already established soaps.
 
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Out of the Blue - 2008 to 2009
IMG_9894.jpeg

In early 2007, rumblings began that the BBC might drop Neighbours from its schedules, due to protracted negotiations over the renewal of their contract to broadcast the show. In April of that year, a BBC spokesperson said “If a deal is not reached in the very, very near future, we will withdraw the money and move it elsewhere. We hope that Neighbours will remain on the BBC but no programme is indispensable and it has to come at the right price." ITV and Channel 5 were rumoured to be making rival bids around the same time and by May, it was all over. After 21 years as a staple of the BBC daytime lineup, Neighbours would be moving to Channel 5 in early 2008.

At the time, Neighbours and Home & Away (also on Channel 5) were the only daily half hour soaps still airing on Australian TV, so there was no immediately obvious Aussie replacement for the vacated timeslot. So the BBC decided to commission their own Australian drama. In December 2007, they announced the commissioning of Out of the Blue, following the lives of a group of thirtysomething friends living in the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly. Produced by Southern Star, the team behind The Secret Life of Us, the BBC initially ordered 130 episodes. BBC fiction controller Jane Tranter described it as “an ambitious project that we think will break new ground” while Southern Star’s chief exec Hugh Mars said it would be “full of life, contemporary and very broad in its appeal". In Australia, Ten snapped up the broadcast rights to the series, stating “We are thrilled to have secured Out Of The Blue. The BBC have a reputation for commissioning exceptional dramas and we look forward to working with them again after having formed a firm relationship over the years on Neighbours. Out Of The Blue has a great script, exciting casting and is a fresh and engaging series from the very first minute”. Ironically, it was touted as possibly becoming Ten’s 6pm lead in for Neighbours, the very show that it was replacing on the BBC or maybe going up against H&A in the 7pm slot.

Produced by John Edwards (Love My Way, The Secret Life Of Us, Police Rescue) and Julie McGauran (Home and Away) the series opened with a group of friends getting back together for a school reunion, some of whom never left Manly and some who haven’t been back since the graduated all those years ago. There was married couple Jarrod (Clayton Watson) and Tracy (Charlotte Gregg) who’d been together since they were teenagers, Jarrod’s screw up brother Addo (Daniel Henshall), hippy dippy Poppy (Katherine Hicks), Bec (Renai Caruso) who was having a secret fling with a younger man and Philby (Dylan Landre), who’d returned from London with his pregnant wife Tess (Olivia Bonnici) to stay in the lion’s den that was his family home, where Iron Lady matriarch Diane Craig (Diane Craig) tried to keep a rein on Philby’s loose cannon younger brother Daniel (Aidan Gillett). Soap veterans Noel Hodda (Sons & Daughters) and Maggie Dence (Prisoner) also starred. By the end of the school reunion, Philby would be dead and the ensuing whodunnit mystery would form the first months of the new show.

The biggest mystery that the viewers actually ended up dealing with was keeping up with when the show would air. With homegrown soap Doctors now taking the old Neighbours timeslot, Out of the Blue premiered in the UK at 2.15pm on April 28th 2008. It opened to positive reviews and ratings of 1.2m but when audiences had halved by the following week, the BBC announced that they’d be moving the show to the 1pm slot on BBC2, a channel not really known as the home of soaps, starting May 19th. BBC said at the time “The afternoon slot on BBC One, which the series had been in, is very competitive and by moving the show to BBC Two, we hope it will find a stronger home”. In less than a fortnight, Out of the Blue was essentially dead in the water at the BBC. In addition to changing channels, the show also fell victim to being pre-empted by sports coverage and other events, meaning that keeping up with it in the UK became something of a protracted process. Any hopes that Australian broadcaster Ten might step in and save the show were soon dashed too. In addition to being spooked by the poor performance in the UK, Ten were also grappling with the fact that some of the more adult content around the murder mystery wouldn’t suit the G-rated 6pm slot they’d planned to air it in. There was also talk that they’d have issues with the representation of Poppy’s same sex relationship in that timeslot. Instead of launching in June in Australia as planned, the show was pushed out until “later in the year”.

With ratings falling as low as 100k on BBC2, it was announced in July that the show was officially cancelled. The rest of the episodes played out here and there on the BBC2 schedule until early 2009. Australian viewers finally got to see it in November 2008, when Ten started airing it at 10.30pm each weeknight. By January it was only airing once a week on Sundays and again, started bouncing around timeslots, with some episodes going out as late as midnight. It enjoyed better success internationally, with Irish station RTÉ airing episodes 5 days a week and reaching the finale in November 2008, before the show came to a close on BBC. After the show did eventually wrap up on BBC in January 2009, digital channel Fiver started airing repeats starting February 2009, prompting some speculation that Five would step in and recommission the series. It wasn’t to be but the show does live on through reruns on Amazon.
 
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