The Courier-Mail

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From homegrown dramas to big US blockbuste­rs and everything in between, TV lovers can expect an onslaught of new programs over the next month

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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 their collective belts.

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

AUSSIE DRAMA

800 WORDS [Seven]

Three years ago, Erik Thomson was handed a treatment for 800

Words — a drama with a comic heart about a widower who relocates his unwilling kids to a small town in New Zealand.

And 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 Sea

Change 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 hotlyantic­ipated 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 in February.

The Sea Change 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 which 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 to expect a change in pace when season three begins in its 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. The scenes were “confrontin­g and terrifying” 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.”

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BOY NEXT DOOR
PETER ALLEN: NOT THE BOY NEXT DOOR

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