The World of Tomorrow

Press release time! And it’s a doozy so we’re just going to present the highlights:

ABC Upfronts connecting all Australians in 2021 

Audiences will be right at home on the ABC in 2021, with diverse Australian dramas, comedies, documentaries, news, arts, entertainment, and children’s programs. ABC stars Rachel Griffiths, Wil Anderson, Erik Thomson, Kitty Flanagan, Leigh Sales, Nakkiah Lui, Craig Reucassel and Superwog helped announce the ABC’s 2021 content slate, showcasing the best of Australian content and creativity in the way that only the ABC can.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson said no other media organisation has the breadth and depth of trusted content for all Australians. “Support for Australian creativity has been at the heart of the ABC for the past 88 years and will continue into 2021. After a challenging year of disconnection, the ABC will bring more Australians together from more places across this wonderfully diverse country. The ABC is the creative voice of Australia and in 2021 we will bring more homegrown content to audiences than ever, across TV, online and ABC iview.”

ABC Director of Entertainment & Specialist Michael Carrington said: “The ABC in 2021 is rich, diverse and inclusive, showcasing Australia’s best and emerging talent on and off screen. ABC iview will be home to more original Australian content than ever before. Our rebranded secondary channel ABC TV Plus will celebrate Australian culture every night of the week, including live performances, premiere documentaries, stand-up comedy, and a new weekly arts show. In 2021, the ABC will deliver more Australian voices, faces and stories than any other network – that’s our point of difference. Amid so much content from overseas, Australians are right at home on ABC.”

Highlights for 2021

DRAMA

[who cares?]

FACTUAL

[as if!]

COMEDY AND ENTERTAINMENT

[here we go]

The ABC will bring together all Australians for a laugh with new episodes of Spicks and Specks, while Charlie Pickering and Annabel Crabb will think the unthinkable in a new series of Tomorrow Tonight. Sarah Kendall puts on her big hair for more Frayed, while Erik Thomson joins ABC’s comedy alumni, starring as a disgraced chef in the delightful new series Aftertaste. Nakkiah Lui leads a fresh line-up of talent in Preppers, while Kitty Flanagan brings her singular and hilarious voice to the fast-paced comedy Fisk, about a high-end lawyer who is forced to work in a shabby suburban law firm.  

ABC TV Plus (previously ABC Comedy)

Launching January 1st and airing from 7.30pm to 2am daily on channel 22 on your digital TV, channel 134 on Foxtel or channel 126 on Optus, our newly-rebranded secondary channel ABC TV Plus will celebrate Australian culture and content every night of the week. Complemented by an exciting suite of international shows, ABC TV Plus will cater for all Australians with diverse new programs, from Saturday stand-up comedians to primetime premieres of religion, science and natural history documentaries, along with the best of the arts – three nights a week.  ABC TV Plus will warm the heart, challenge the mind and tickle the funny bone, with the premiere of new comedy series Why are You Like This, which follows three 20-something friends as they hilariously navigate life’s complexities.

ARTS

[this is just celebrities – by which we mean “much-loved” actors – hosting vanity projects. Ignore] 

ABC iview

In 2021, supporting the ABC Five Year Plan,  ABC iview will offer even more to viewers through improved user features, greater personalisation and a bigger and better catalogue of original Australian content. Headlining the ABC’s streaming service will be our high-end dramas including Wakefield, comedy with Aftertaste and Fisk as well as the return of the not-so-average teenagers – Superwog and Johnny – in a new series of the #1 trending show Superwog.  Joining the boys on ABC iview will be the powerful documentary Strong Women, which follows four resilient competitors as they strive to become Australia’s strongest woman, and Chopsticks or Fork?, which explores regional Australia’s love affair with Chinese restaurants. ABC iview will also launch Indigenous comedy series All My Friends are Racist, while ABC Australia’s That Pacific Sports Show will celebrate the sporting achievements of Pacific Island athletes and nations for our viewers in the region. 

ABC ME and ABC Kids

[blah blah Bluey blah blah]

NEWS

[Q+A is now on at 8.30pm Thursdays! Guess it’s the new Footy Show]

RETURNING FAVOURITES

[oh god]

ABC shows that audiences know, trust and love will be back in the new year, including: Gardening Australia, Gruen, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Anh’s Brush with Fame, Hard Quiz , The Set, Dream Gardens, Catalyst, You Can’t Ask That and Landline in its 30th year – plus many more beloved programs. 

Add to this the ABC’s coverage of major events throughout the year, including New Year’s Eve, Anzac Day, and the Australian of the Year ceremony. These programs and events are just some of the ways the ABC will connect all Australians, keeping them entertained, informed, and engaged in 2021 and beyond.

Short version: shit, this looks grim. Usually we walk away from a press release about the ABC’s upcoming line-up thinking “hey, at least Mad as Hell is coming back”, but even that’s not the comfort it once was.

Four sitcoms across an entire year would be a new low for the main ABC channel, but after 2020 we’re guessing they’re hoping nobody will notice that comedy has been cut back – sharply – yet again. Especially as Aftertaste was due this year and was bumped back due to Coronavirus-related delays.

And what kind of line-up is this? Aftertaste is the unfunny dramedy for the ABC’s core viewers to stop them asking where Rosehaven‘s gone and Preppers is a roll of the dice on fresh faces we may never see again, which leaves Fisk and the returning Frayed as the only real hope for actual laughs. The ABC has four categories for comedy – for the oldies, fresh blood, something that worked last time, and something that might be actually good – and they’re just giving us one of each.

(also, what happened to all that overseas funding that we used to hear so much about?)

Meanwhile over on ABC Comedy ABC TV Plus, we have an entire channel devoted to… what exactly? A mish-mash of undifferentiated “content” they can’t even be bothered to name? And also Why Are You Like This, which as literally the only new show across the entire network – albeit one which was first announced last year – is going to have its work cut out for it and then some. It doesn’t matter how good the end product is if nobody knows how to find it.

At least iView has two comedy series lined up – the return of Superwog and All My Friends Are Racist – along with a vague sense that the ABC actually gives a shit about what’s happening there.

It’s difficult to work out if this is a steep decline or a gradual downhill slide in the amount of comedy being made, which is exactly how the ABC likes it. We had two series that seemed headed for 2020 held over until 2021 but we did get two extra corona-themed comedies instead, though considering they were (relatively) cheap and (relative) rush jobs it’s unlikely they “count” as two entire shows as far as costs and resources go.

Basically, without the two holdovers we’d be looking at five short run comedy series across all the ABC outlets in 2021, which is what, half an hour of scripted comedy a week for around half a year? Fun fact: HYBPA? manages more than that, and that’s just one show.

It gets worse. There’s no new panel shows this year, no new attempts at a comedy quiz show, no comedy tonight show, no “lets laugh at a bunch of clips” show, no attempt to try and win over a mainstream audience by putting on a bunch of fresh but cheap comedy in a regular timeslot and hoping it become part of the audience’s viewing habits. We know the ABC’s budget is tiny and vanishing, but comedy is cheap: they should do better.

And all this is the good news! Don’t think we missed this:

The ABC will bring together all Australians for a laugh with new episodes of Spicks and Specks, while Charlie Pickering and Annabel Crabb will think the unthinkable in a new series of Tomorrow Tonight

Hopefully Tomorrow Tonight will feature the ABC programmer who decided to bring that pointless Hypotheticals photocopy back, because clearly they’re an expert in “thinking the unthinkable”.

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