FAM­I­LIES TO THE FORE

The net­works are keen to lure us with their of­fer­ings at this time of year, which means view­ers could be in for some treats

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY| TV -

The race to the end of the rat­ings year is well and truly on. En­ter “Su­per Septem­ber” and the push to get some last big viewer num­bers un­der col­lec­tive belts.

So what Aussie dra­mas should you be watch­ing? Read on for our take on the cream of the new sea­son’s small screen crop.

800 WORDS (SEVEN)

Three years ago, Eric Thom­son was handed a treat­ment for 800 Words – a drama with a comic heart about a wi­d­ower who moves his un­will­ing kids to a small town in New Zealand.

He was so taken with the premise that Thom­son not only con­vinced Seven to get on board, he also signed on as as­so­ciate pro­ducer.

But while Thom­son plays another “dad” role, in this case wi­d­ower Ge­orge Turner, Packed to the Rafters this is not.

“It’s a start­ing-over story, a fish out of wa­ter story,” he says.

In other words, think SeaChange or Al­ways Greener.

A strong ensem­ble cast, in­clud­ing new­com­ers Melina Vi­dler and Ben­son Jack An­thony as the Turner chil­dren, and fel­low Aussie trans­plant Rick Don­ald as a res­i­dent surfer/life coach, make this new cross-Tas­man drama a must-see.

Plus 800 Words gets bonus points for en­gi­neer­ing the TV re­turn of Bri­die Carter.

“Au­di­ences will fall in love with these char­ac­ters,” says Carter, who plays Turner’s late wife’s best friend as well as his boss. “The writ­ing is beau­ti­ful … There’s a light­ness and a comedic el­e­ment but a lot of heart as well.”

PETER ALLEN: NOT THE BOY NEXT DOOR (SEVEN)

While the spotlight will ob­vi­ously turn to Joel Jack­son, the break­out star of this hotly an­tic­i­pated two-part minis­eries about the life and work of en­ter­tainer Peter Allen, two of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing ladies will also de­liver un­miss­able per­for­mances.

Re­becca Gib­ney plays Peter Allen’s mother Mar­ion Wool­nough and has been singing the praises of Si­grid Thorn­ton as Judy Gar­land since the cast gath­ered for the first ta­ble read­ing back in Fe­bru­ary.

The SeaChange favourite is re­mark­able as Gar­land, the showbiz icon who took Allen un­der her wing as his US man­ager and then as his mother-in-law when he wed her daugh­ter, Liza (played by Sara West).

And Thorn­ton has re­turned the love. “We’re ac­tu­ally a part of a mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion so­ci­ety,” she says.

As Thorn­ton ex­plained, it was Gib­ney’s range that im­pressed. “She has to play her from quite a young woman to quite an el­derly woman. It’s been ex­tra­or­di­nary to watch that trans­for­ma­tion.”

A PLACE TO CALL HOME (SOHO)

With Fox­tel hav­ing re­vived the pe­riod drama, ac­tor Sara Wise­man says ex­pect a change in pace for all of the char­ac­ters on the show when sea­son three be­gins in its brand new home.

“They’ve upped the ante for ev­ery­one,” Wise­man says.

“That’s how it goes. It can’t all be smooth sail­ing be­cause that’d be bor­ing. And as they say, boats aren’t made for sit­ting in the har­bour.”

Wise­man’s char­ac­ter Carolyn Bligh gets a heavy sto­ry­line and she ad­mits to be­ing “out of sorts” dur­ing the height of film­ing.

The scenes were “con­fronting and ter­ri­fy­ing” for the per­former at times, but sat­is­fy­ing to play, she says.

“It has a bit of a whiplash re­sponse that comes from it,” Wise­man hints.

“Her out­look on the world, her opin­ions and self-belief ... how she han­dles her­self – ev­ery­thing is im­pacted.

‘‘There’s quite a sur­prise in store.”

Pic­ture: TONY MOTT/SEVEN

Joel Jack­son as Peter Allen in Chan­nel 7's new biopic,

Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.

Rick Don­ald and Erik Thom­son star in

800 Words.

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