Whatever Happened to Orange is the New Brown?

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – the time when the Australian television networks proudly announce all the old formats they’ll be reviving in the new year while quietly burying all the revivals from this year that didn’t catch on. This week: Channel Seven announces a whole lot of foodie shows for 2019.

“Food is a major part of our DNA and always has been,” scheduling chief Brook Hall said at the network’s 2019 programming launch on Friday.

You know what also used to be a major part of Seven’s DNA? Comedy: for well over a decade Fast Forward and its various spin-offs made Seven a serious comedy threat. This is the network that gave Eric Bana and Shaun Micallef and Jimeoin their big breaks; Andrew Denton got his first tonight show on Seven. Kath & Kim got their start there on the short-lived Big Girl’s Blouse, as did Chris Lilley on Big Bite. They even worked with Working Dog for a while. So what have they got in store for us in 2019?

My Kitchen Rules returns early next year (with a 10th anniversary special series to air in late-2019), along with new seasons of House Rules, Interview with Andrew Denton, The Front Bar, Instant Hotel, First Dates, Border Security, Highway Patrol, Motorbike Cops, Surveillance Oz, Sunday Night, Sunrise, The Morning Show, The Chase, Home and Away and Better Homes and Gardens. Surprise renewals include Ninja Warrior-inspired series Australian Spartan, which was bumped to the Easter non-ratings period this year due to poor ratings, and Zumbo’s Just Desserts, which last aired in 2016.


Okay, The Front Bar can be pretty funny, but otherwise that’s a 2019 line-up completely devoid of scripted comedy. Even Channel Nine managed better than that.

And yeah, what happened to Seven’s only scripted comedy of 2018, Orange is the New Brown? There was a flurry of activity around an announcement that it was “coming soon” at the start of September, and then nothing – it’s not even one of the 2018 shows like Australian Gangster and Undercurrent that Seven has announced they’re holding over until 2019.

To announce a year devoid of scripted comedy is unfortunate; to announce a sketch comedy show and then lose it seems like carelessness.

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