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Seven saves The Doctor Blake Mysteries from ABC axe

Six months after being axed by The ABC, Seven has rescued The Doctor Blake Mysteries, with the network due to announce the period drama’s rescue at its Allfronts presentation later today.

News Corp reports that Seven will announce a series of The Doctor Blake Mysteries telemovies.

Doctor Blake will return

During 2016, The Doctor Blake Mysteries was the ABC’s most popular Australian-made program, averaging 1.659m national viewers. The only regular ABC program to get a fractionally bigger audience was its rebroadcast of British TV show Doc Martin which averaged 1.67m nationally.

The show stars Craig McLachlan as Dr Lucien Blake and Nadine Gardner as his housekeeper Jean, and is set in Ballarat in the 1950s.

The ABC is currently airing its final season. Last week’s episode averaged 944,000 viewers. The finale airs on November 12.

News Corp reports that Seven will spread the telemovies across the year and market them as “event television”.

The move is by no means the first time a drama has shifted networks. In the most celebrated example, Ten rescued Neighbours after Seven dropped it 1985. More recently, Foxtel rescued A Place To Call Home after it was axed by Seven which still produces the program.

October 27 update: Seven has now confirmed details of the commission. The announcement:

DOCTOR BLAKE IS BACK!
The number one Australian drama finds a new home on Seven.

(29 October 2017) Channel Seven is thrilled to confirm it becomes the new home of number one Australian drama, THE DOCTOR BLAKE MYSTERIES, in 2018.

The return of the hit series will see much-loved stars Craig McLachlan (Blake) and Nadine Garner (Jean) back on our screens, as well as other familiar faces and some new players.

Julie McGauran, Seven’s Head of Drama, said: “The Doctor Blake Mysteries is not only the number one Australian drama, it has one of the most adoring fan bases a show could wish for. With the passionate vision of Team Blake, the extraordinary cast led by Craig McLachlan and Nadine Garner, and the commitment from the Blake Army, we feel this series is a perfect fit for Channel Seven.”

George Adams, Series Co-Creator and Showrunner, said: “We are all beyond excited to call Channel Seven the home of Blake and we cannot wait to open this exciting new chapter in the extraordinary journey that has been and still is The Doctor Blake Mysteries. This is a sweet reward for our loyal Blake Army, and it will be a pleasure to continue the success of Blake with Seven who have already
encouraged us to new heights in our storytelling.”

Tony Wright, Series Co-Creator and Creative Director December Media, said: “It is a testament to everyone who has been involved in making The Doctor Blake Mysteries the success it is that it has found a new home at Seven.”

Craig McLachlan said: “The people have spoken and the good folk at Seven were listening. Their enthusiasm for the show has been amazing. And the support we’ve received from the Blake Army has been genuinely overwhelming. Our ever-loyal audience continues to demonstrate their love for their favourite Aussie drama by tuning in each week in jaw-dropping numbers. To them, on behalf of the entire ‘Blake team’ I say thank you.”

In 2018, the series will pick up in 1963 as Australia sits on the cusp of a brave new world… a world awash with murder, mystery and mayhem. JFK has just been assassinated and the universe may never be the same again. Blake and Jean face greater challenges than they could ever have imagined. Haunted houses, flying saucers, deadly dentists, long lost daughters and much, much more. They’re challenges the two of them will face together. Buckle up – it’s going to be a hell of ride!

THE DOCTOR BLAKE MYSTERIES is a December Media production in association with Film Victoria for Channel Seven.

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