PROGRAMMING WRAP | Still To Come On ABC In 2019

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths in Total Control
image - ABC

Last month, TV Blackbox published a featured series on the three commercial networks, focused on the shows still to come in 2019.

We had a great response, but we also had plenty of people asking 'What about the ABC?'

Well you ask, and we deliver!

The public-owned broadcaster has so far produced a solid result in 2019. Series including The Recording Studio and Old People's Home for Four-Year-Olds have received huge acclaim from media reviewers. However, apart from Hard Quiz, the network has struggled to produce a huge ratings success.

As we enter the final months of the year, the ABC still has an impressive amount of Australian content ready for broadcast. Highlights include another keenly anticipated reunion special for Spicks and Specks, and the powerfully controversial drama series Total Control from Blackfella Films.

Here is a look at some of the shows still to come on ABC in 2019:

The Pool – September 22

An exploration of Australian culture and identity told through the prism of the pool, a focal point throughout history that evokes deep nostalgia and childhood memories, as well as national triumphs and iconic moments of conflict, leisure, design and reconciliation.

Directed by Emmy-nominated Sally Aitken, and written by Christos Tsiolkas, these key moments will be unpacked on locations across the nation by Australian luminaries as well as everyday people – each providing their unique commentary on the role of the pool in our collective imagination.

Gruen - Wednesday 25 September

The show that tracks advertising almost as closely as advertising tracks you, returns soon for an all new season.

Wil Anderson is back in the hosting seat, joined by a crack team of experts who will reveal industry secrets and watch every single ad so you don’t have to. The lineup includes Todd Sampson, Russel Howcroft, Dee Madigan, Claire Salvetti, Christina Aventi, Karen Ferry and some fresh faces.

How Australia Found Its Mojo with Russel Howcroft – October 1

In this one-hour documentary, Russel Howcroft, the man whose passion for clever communication has been a cornerstone of Gruen’s success, explores one of the most influential chapters in Australian advertising history.

At the centre of this story are Alan (Mo) Morris and Allan (Jo) Johnston who in the 70s and 80s co-founded the Mojo agency. Their toe-tapping, catchy ads made Australians feel good about themselves. Who wasn’t singing along to “How do you feel?”, “Going, going Amoco-ing”, “You oughta be congratulated”, “A week without The Weekly’s not the same” and the iconic clarion call to cricket fans, “C’mon Aussie c’mon c’mon”?

Featuring the incredibly nostalgic and sumptuous archive content, Russel also talks with Allan (Jo) Johnson, Ian Chappell, Delvene Delaney, Hugh Mackay, John Singleton, Paul Hogan and other key people from the time, to explore the influence Mojo’s body of work had on our pop culture and beyond.

Catalyst - October 8th

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘no risk, no reward’ – but how do you assess how risky a decision or situation really is?  And why are some people more likely to risk everything, while others consistently play it too safe?

Mathematician Lily Serna sets out to answser these questions by understanding some of the maths of chance – but for her this means getting stuck into some nail-biting situations like power sliding a supercar and learning how to trapeze.

She investigates how the latest work in psychology and brain science helps explain why some of us are risk avoiders and learns from an Australian woman who’s climbed Everest twice the surprising truth about what really goes on inside the mind of someone deciding whether to risk it.

The Show Must Go On - October 8th

The Show Must Go On follows former Home & Away actor, Ben Steel, on a soul-searching investigation into why so many entertainment workers are struggling with mental wellbeing issues.

Ben’s love affair with screen started from an early age, taking acting classes and appearing in television commercials as a teen. Like most actors, he wasn’t prepared for the journey he would face as a professional in the entertainment industry. This lack of knowledge and support led to him developing issues that resulted in anxiety and depression.

In addition to his own experiences, Ben shares intimate conversations with key creatives, crew, actors, dancers, musicians, performers – many of them household names – about how they too have struggled with mental health and how they’ve survived.

It’s the first film to shed light on the mental health issues of 42,000 people working in the industry. While ‘show business’ is often seen as glamorous, fun, and well paid, recent research from Entertainment Assist and Victoria University paints a darker picture. Anxiety symptoms are 10 times higher; sleep disorders are 7 times higher and symptoms of depression are 5 times higher than the national average. Suicide attempts in the industry are also double the national average.

Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery - 9 October

Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery returns for a new series. Over the 10 episodes, Julia invites a well-known faces to take a trip down memory lane. This series her guests include: Magda Szubanski, Costa Georgiades, Nakkiah Lui, Bill Bryson, Judith Lucy, Gillian Triggs, Ian Chappell, Bill Oddi, Shane Gould and Adam Liaw.

Together they travel through time to the guest’s childhood home. It’s here that the guest has a moment to consider the directions their life has taken, the paths that have been wandered.

It’s then onto the surrounding neighbourhood and on all the way to the school gate, reliving formative moments, talking about life, love and achievement, about the past, present and future. Along the way Julia will meet the pivotal people in her guest’s life such as the inspirational school teacher or the childhood best friend. Julia draws out what makes her guest tick and what inspires them.

Total Control (formerly Black B*tch) – October 13

Made by Blackfella Films, the television event, Total Control is a story of high stakes ambition, betrayal and treachery, playing out in the nation’s capital.

A six-part drama series starring Rachel Griffiths as the cunning Prime Minister of Australia, Rachel Anderson, and Deborah Mailman as a charismatic indigenous up-and-coming politician, Alex Irving. Rachel wants to use Alex to further her own agenda, but Alex is wise to her antics and her revenge may break the whole system.

Frayed – October 16

Simone (Sarah Kendall) thinks her glamorous London life is perfect and the envy of all. Then her husband has a fatal heart attack while with a prostitute. Left with nothing, she returns home to Australia with her two kids, where her past isn’t anything like what she told everyone. Set in 1988, this comedy also stars Kerry Armstrong and Ben Mingay.

In addition to the above titles, the ABC has confirmed to TV Blackbox that the following programs will also air in 2019, broadcast dates are yet to be confirmed:

Spicks and Specks

Off the back of last years’ hugely popular Reunion Special (ABC’s most watched show for 2018*) Adam Hills, Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough have been lured back to ABC’s Melbourne Studio 31, for more SPICKS AND SPECKS! 

Australia’s favourite music quiz show will return in November to once again celebrate ABC’s Ausmusic Month, along with an impressive line-up of stars from the music and comedy worlds.


INXS frontman Michael Hutchence was a complex and shy man who spent the bulk of his life in the public eye. Unique archival footage and recollections of friends, lovers, band-members, family, collaborators and Hutchence himself paint a trajectory from troubled family background, up to the peaks of rock’n’roll stardom, and down to the depths of the depressed, addicted person he became after an accident caused him to lose his sense of smell and taste, affecting his mental health and his ability to deal with his unravelling personal and professional life.

Love On The Spectrum

A four-part series that looks at relationships and dating for those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The uplifting series draws on relationship coaching to help young people with neuro-diverse conditions find love and shift the public perception of disability.

The Strange Chores

Two teenage wannabe warrior-heroes and a spirited ghost girl master the skills they need to replace an ageing monster-slayer by doing his strange, supernatural chores…

Dream Gardens - New Series

Join leading landscape designer Michael McCoy as he showcases some of Australia’s most lavish and magnificent gardens from the first spade hitting the ground to the incredible end result.

Backburning - Delayed until 2020

Originally promised for 2020, the ABC has now confirmed with TV Blackbox a documentary special ‘Backburning’ on the band Midnight Oil has now been delayed.

The Midnight Oil documentary is the story of a band born in the politically aware 1970s, in the midst of a punk movement. Over 40 years, its music has spanned generations and big changes in public attitudes about what makes Australia.