ABC coy on Gruen’s return as broadcaster unveils its 2016 programming slate

Gruen-234x137The future of adland’s favourite marketing show Gruen is once again up in the air with ABC management last night coy on whether the show will be revived following this month’s series finale which drew a metro audience of almost 950,000 viewers. 

Speaking to Mumbrella at last night’s ABC Upfronts, director of television Richard Finlayson refused to be drawn saying: “No word yet (on Gruen). It may come back – maybe, maybe not.”

The lack of clarity once again leaves the future of the show uncertain after it returned to the air after a two-year hiatus. Many TV critics argued this most recent season of the show was among Gruen’s strongest.

The public broadcaster did announce a range of new shows for 2016 including a strong digital focus with the ABC signing Youtube comedy stars The Katering Show for a new season which will be exclusive to iView.

It also announced a strong slate of drama including an adaption of Christos Tsiolkas’s novel Barracuda and a US coproduction called Cleverman, with the ABC vowing to have first run Australian drama on air ever week of the 2016 ratings year.

“We are really interested in bringing back returning favourites, the big brands we have created and bringing them back to audiences,” Finlayson told Mumbrella. “That is not only good for audiences it is smart business as well.”

Among the dramas planned for 2016 are a number of returning programs including Janet King, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Rake and The Code.

Finlayson also touted the ABC’s ability to drive the national conversation with factual shows including specials on the education and hospital systems and a show called Hatch, Match & Dispatch which goes behind the scenes of the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages and The Public Trustee.

“We are also trying to create a series of really big moments over the course of the year – big tentpole moments – the best in drama with things like Cleverman and Barracuda but also on the factual side with Keeping Australia Alive and The Great Education Experiment.

“These are conversation starters for the whole country.”

The ABC also announced a raft of comedy shows with the Bondi Hipsters to get a second season of Soul Mates, while Black Comedy, Upper Middle Bogan, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering and Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, will all be returning in 2016.

The ABC TV boss said pushing digital was a key focus for the public broadcaster.

“The other big focus is on iView digital first content creating a pathway for fresh young talent to come through,” said Finlayson.

“We want exclusive content for iView so we can make it more than just catchup TV. We want it to be a broadcast service. That’s the goal over the next decade and therefore we are investing in it now.”

In an interview with Mumbrella earlier this year, Gruen host Wil Anderson said: “We go into every season assuming that it is the last. That has been the case in every single season we’ve done from the start… but the two most successful versions of the show we’ve done have been our Olympics one – Gruen Sweat – and politics one – Gruen Nation. Next year we have both.”

Nic Christensen 


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