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ABC reveals its 2024 showcase, including Shaun Micallef’s new comedy series

Shaun Micallef jumps for joy as he prepares material for a new show next year.

Shaun Micallef jumps for joy as he prepares material for a new show next year. Photo: ABC

The ABC has unveiled its Upfront showcase for 2024 with new and returning shows and updated streaming technology for better live experiences and an improved iview product.

Kitty Flanagan is back with Australia’s number one comedy, Fisk, while comedian Shaun Micallef returns with a brand-new show after his Mad as Hell run. Plus, ABC Breakfast sports presenter Tony Armstrong has been tasked with finding some “extra-ordinary things”.

“The biggest kids show in the world”, Bluey, is also recommissioned, while former ABC Melbourne radio broadcaster Virginia Trioli is back on television with a primetime art show, Creative Types.

Following the unveiling of next year’s programming at the other four free-to-air networks over the past two months – Nine, Seven, Ten and SBS – the broadcaster said that “no other network caters to all Australians in the way ABC does”.

The ABC’s chief content officer Chris Oliver-Taylor told a captive audience at the ABC Sydney headquarters on Thursday that this was the “most diverse slate of landmark Australian commissioned drama series, high-impact factual programs bringing humour, joy, discovery and storytelling and the largest slate of comedy commissions in Australia”.

“Our children’s content is world-leading and world class … we’ll have the big events that bring the country together for moments of national celebration like the New Year’s Eve fireworks, NAIDOC and Mardi Gras.

“Our entertainment heavy hitters will all be returning, and we have an expanded arts coverage with two new shows.”

Oliver-Taylor said the next generation of ABC iview will be available to all Australians, “bringing more personalisation, better navigation, more channels and more features – always free and always ad-free”.

A number of ABC iview pop-up streams will also launch from December, including one dedicated to Fisk.

All the heavy hitters gather in Sydney for next year’s content slate. Photo: ABC

Shaun Micallef’s Unnamed Project

In July last year, the ABC confirmed Micallef’s Mad as Hell would not return after its 15th season and 172 shows.

“After 10 years and 15 seasons, Shaun Micallef has decided to take some time away from Mad As Hell at the end of the upcoming season,” an ABC statement said at the time.

“The ABC and Shaun maintain a great working relationship and we look forward to continuing to work together. Shaun will be back with the new season of Mad As Hell which starts on Wednesday 20 July [2022] and will also appear on the ABC as part of other projects next year.”

One of those “other projects” is Shaun Micallef’s “Unnamed Project” and it “is sure to delight taxpayers”.

“I can’t tell you too much about what we’ll be doing,” teased Micallef
at a recent Senate Hearing.

“Suffice to say, it will not feature cooking, home renovations, marriage, singing, sport, RBT units, dogs, wilderness survival, quiz questions, news clips, stock footage, wearing masks, border security, amazing races, Lego, sitting on a panel or being marooned on an island in your underwear,” he said.

fisk

Co-creator and star of Fisk, Kitty Flanagan won the most popular actress Logie. Photo: ABC

Fisk

The official synopsis for season three tells us Helen (Flanagan) is now a name partner at Gruber & Fisk which means new responsibilities and pressures, largely due to Ray (Marty Sheargold) having other things taking up his time.

He has a new love interest while Roz (Julia Zemiro) has a midlife crisis, Viktor (Glenn Butcher) resigns as Roz’s assistant, and George (Aaron Chen) jumps ship to work for Conch Mediation.

“On the home front, Helen has finally moved out into a place of her own. But true to form she soon gets her new neighbour offside. And in an ironic twist, Helen and Viktor become the stereotypical, over-emotional, irrational, bickering family members when Dad (John Gaden) decides to update his will.”

Debi Mazar, Miranda Otto and Jessica De Gouw head back to the ’60s in the heartwarming drama series Ladies in Black. Photo: ABC

Ladies in Black

Following on from the film of the same name and drawing inspiration from the much-loved 1993 novel, Ladies In Black sees the beloved women from Goodes Department Store fling open their shop doors to the fabulous 60’s.

“The heartwarming six-part drama series takes place in 1961, six months after the events of the original story, where amidst this backdrop of major societal shifts, the women embracing more freedom and independence are forced to confront personal choices and challenges which cast shadows over their once cherished dreams,” says the ABC.

This is a K-Pop-infused, action-packed, wild ride filled with revelations, surprises and a large helping of Asian pop culture. Photo: ABC

White Fever

Ra Chapman stars as Jane, a cocky Korean Australian adoptee with a love of hairy white guys – the hairier the better! in this new comedy

When her friends call her out for having a white man fetish she sets out to try and reprogram her libido, reignites a connection with childhood friend Yu Chang (Chris Pang) and stumbles into the process of finding out who she really is.

Tony Armstrong had success with Great Australian Stuff earlier this year. Photo: ABC

The ABC also announced these programs for next year

  • Tony Armstrong’s Extra-Ordinary Things – In this five-part series, Tony Armstrong unfolds his bike and goes on the road to learn about the untold history of Australia and uncover what Australians cherish.
  • UK actors Ben Millar and Sally Phillips team up with Michael Theo (Love on the Spectrum) to star in a delightful new comedy called Austin.
  • Grand Designs Transformations hosted by Anthony Burke and Yasmine Ghoniem, showcasing everyday Australians transforming their homes.
  • Return to Paradise – a home grown spinoff of the hugely popular Death in Paradise  promises fiendishly clever murder mysteries, all set against the backdrop of the Australian coastal landscape.
  • Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths return with more political machinations in the award-winning series Total Control.
  • Spicks and Specks – Adam Hills, Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough host some of Australia’s best comedians and stars of the music industry, as they return for another season of Australia’s most popular music quiz show. Also returning will be the music, humour, stories, and games the show is known for –  including the Secret Song.
  • Maggie Beer’s Big Mission – Food icon Maggie Beer is out to change the lives of older Australians.
  • A new three-part news docuseries takes you inside the recent Coalition government in a revealing tale of politics, ambition and power, where key players tell all in no holds barred interviews.
  • Miriam Margolyes Impossibly Australia – the British-Australian author and actress is returning home to Australia after almost a year overseas and not coming back the person she was. She’s had a heart procedure which has left her anxious about the future and her place in it and heads to Perth, Byron Bay and Broken Hill.
  • Tom Gleeson’s Hard Quiz, Charlie Pickering hosting The Weekly, plus Wil Anderson and his team are back on Gruen.

Heather Ewart also returns, shining a spotlight on the towns and people from across the country with more episodes of Back Roads, while Costa and the team keep our garden thumbs green with the return of Gardening Australia.

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