ABC promises ‘nation-defining’ content for 2020

Content with more Australian faces, voices and stories than any other network is what ABC is promising for 2020, with the public broadcaster announcing local dramas, current affairs and factual programming on its slate for the next 12 months.

A docuseries with Bruce Pascoe, the writer of the award-winning novel Dark Emu, a new Shaun Micallef project, a documentary series on child abuse in the Catholic church, and returning favourites including Hard Quiz, Mad As Hell and You Can’t Ask That are all on the lineup for 2020, with director of entertainment and specialist Michael Carrington promising the broadcaster would be bold with its choices.

There’s more Australian content coming from the ABC in 2020

“Australian content helps define who we are as a nation and the ABC is the engine room of Australian creativity, putting more Australian faces, voices and stories on screen than any other broadcaster,” Carrington told the room at the ABC Celebrate event in Sydney.

Claiming that the ABC brings “more local titles to audiences than Seven, Nine, Ten and SBS combined”, Carrington name-checked the broadcaster’s Federal election coverage and Old People’s Home For Four Year Olds as programming highlights in 2019.

“The ABC is the creative voice of Australia.

“In 2020 we’ll be bold in our content and creativity, not shirk from controversy or critics, not shy away from taking risks as we entertain, educate, inform and inspire,” Carrington concluded.

Dark Emu, a two-part docuseries made with Pascoe, Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra and Adam Goodes documentary The Australian Dream are set to hit screens in 2020, alongside returning series Gardening Australia, Catalyst, Compass, Back Roads and Landline.

Hamish Macdonald was named as the new host for Q&A, replacing Tony Jones who will be leaving for China. Sarah Ferguson, who will also be heading to China to become the ABC bureau chief in the country, spoke at the event about her upcoming series Revelation, which takes cameras inside the trial of Catholic priests for the first time, and will see Ferguson interview convicted paedophile priests.

Ferguson promised a “big, red, sharp sting in the tail” for the conclusion of the series, but was unable to provide more detail.

Craig Reucassel, whose series War On Waste now claims 61.8m coffee cups were saved from landfills and 20% of Australians have become mobilised to make significant improvements to their household waste habits, returns with Fight for Planet A: The Climate Challenge and Big Weather.

Reucassel’s impact on Australia is hard to measure, although fellow ABC personality Annabel Crabb teased it was now impossible to walk into the ABC without a keep cup. Suggesting that anything announced at an upfronts event will need to come true, Reucassel jokingly announced himself as the new host of Insiders and the new Bluey for 2020. Bluey will return next year, although without Reucassel, as will Insiders.

“In a world overrun by global media giants, Australian stories have never been more important. Equally, the ABC has never been more essential to the Australian people,” said Carrington. Joining those Australian stories in 2020 is Shaun Micallef’s On the Sauce – a look at Australia’s drinking culture – and two more series of Mad of Hell, which Micallef promises neither he, nor audiences, are bored of yet.

New dramas Stateless and Fallout will join Mystery Road, Harrow and The Heights, and You Can’t Ask That and Further Back in Time for Dinner will return also. They’re joined by Gruen, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Anh’s Brush with Fame and Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery.

Hard Quiz, Rosehaven and Black Comedy are all back, and will be joined by Reputation Rehab with The Checkout’s Kristen Drysdale and Zoe Norton Lodge.

ABC Radio will be announcing its program and presenter line-ups for 2020 in early December, but Sydney breakfast hosts Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck confirmed at the event that “nobody had told them they wouldn’t be returning”.


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