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Blake Miseries for Seven as Craig McLachlan fans stay away

The first outing of the Doctor Blake franchise without former lead Craig McLachlan delivered Seven a mediocre ratings result on Friday night.

McLachlan: Removed form the series after allegations

The Blake Mysteries: A New Beginning was fronted by actress Nadine Garner, who played housekeeper Jean in the original series. But it rated less than half of the audience of its final outing on the ABC.

Doctor Blake was axed by the ABC in March last 2017 after five series, despite being the national broadcaster’s most popular TV series. Its final episode on the ABC saw 891,000 metro viewers tune in.

However, late last year the show was then rescued by Seven, which announced the commission of a series of The Doctor Blake Mysteries telemovies.

Before the franchise could go into production McLachlan, who played Dr Lucien Blake in the drama set in 1950s Ballarat, was accused of sexual harassment.

McLachlan is now suing the ABC, Fairfax Media and actress Christie Whelan Browne for defamation over the allegations.

Seven and production house December Media eventually decided to go ahead with a telemovie without McLachlan, renamed The Blake Mysteries.

Garner stepped up to lead the show

Set two years later, it featured Jean Blake who had married Dr Blake shortly before he mysteriously disappeared.

A late time slot, on a traditionally low viewing night of the week did not help The Blake Mysteries find an audience. Airing between 8.30pm and 10.30pm, the telemovie delivered Seven a metro audience of just 450,000. With regional viewing, this rose to 697,000.

However, Seven still dominated the ratings. Seven News – with a combined metro and regional audience of 1.2m – was Friday’s most watched program.

And Better Home and Gardens rated 882,000 nationally.

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