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UPFRONTS | ABC puts two factual programs back in production for 2022


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Two of Australia’s favourite factual offerings are set to return to the ABC in 2022.

ABC and Screen Australia are pleased to announce that production is underway on two remarkable, prime-time factual shows.

One takes a fascinating look into the lives of everyday Australians by the irrepressible Miriam Margolyes, and the other is the return of a family favourite live event which promises big creatures, big science, and big thrills that will take the audience on a live adventure that’s as wild as it gets.

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ABC Head of Factual and Culture Jennifer Collins said:

“Miriam’s last documentary series was a huge success for ABC with her refreshingly honest observations clearly resonating with Australian audiences. With her mix of humour, warmth, and forthright views, I’m delighted that ABC audiences will once again enjoy the company of the delightful Miriam Margolyes.

“From documentary to live Event TV – Southern Ocean Live is one for the whole family. Last year we shared the wonder of coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef in Reef Live, and this year we go live from Phillip Island with Southern Ocean Live. Featuring whales, seals and penguins this spectacular must watch factual TV will ignite the passion and curiosity for our incredible natural world.”

Alex West, Head of Documentary at Screen Australia said:

“We’re proud to support these two thoughtful and insightful documentaries. Helmed by accomplished director and executive producer Karina Holden, Southern Ocean Live explores our connection to the ocean, both on and below.

Meanwhile Ash Davies, on terra firma, directs Miriam Margolyes Australia Unmasked revealing her unique and irreverent observations of Australian culture. Both programs will enrich our understanding of our national Australian identity and I am excited to see them on the ABC next year.”

The very funny, very naughty Miriam Margoles is finally out of lockdown and heading back home to Australia. In Miriam Margolyes Australia Unmasked, she’s once again packing up the campervan and striking out on the road in search of answers. Over three episodes, Miriam seeks to understand what the “fair go” means in Australia today, and how it is playing out in the diverse lives of her fellow citizens. From the outlaws to the establishment, millennials to boomers, Miriam immerses herself in lives rarely seen on our screen. Now eighty, more fragile but more fearless, Miriam looks into Australia behind the mask.

Laurie Critchley, Southern Pictures said:

“We’re delighted to have Miriam Margolyes return home to Australia to fearlessly investigate the Fair Go, from class and culture to ageism, as she makes her way from Tasmania to the West. Miriam is living proof of how things can get better with age, drawing on her strengths as a documentarian, eagle-eyed observer, and voice of the people. We can’t wait to see what she uncovers next.”

Australia’s Southern Ocean is a wild and dramatic place – full of charismatic creatures and the perfect place for the ABC’s next live broadcast adventure, Southern Ocean Live. Hosts Hamish Macdonald and Ann Jones, who will be located at Penguin Parade, on Phillip Island in Victoria, will tell the stories of many incredible creatures, including the resident fairy penguins who raucously return at dusk each night in their thousands.


Not far away, Lucas Handley and Dr Dean Miller are back to report, both on and under the water, the remarkable stories of giant spider crabs, giant cuttlefish and the other sea creatures who also appear in the safe harbour of Southern Australia including Humpbacks, Southern Right whales, dolphins, seals, albatross, and great white sharks.

Northern Pictures, Karina Holden said:

“Southern Ocean Live will be taking the live natural history format to the next level, as we attempt to bring the audience into the dark, stormy seas of our coastline in mid-winter. With water temperatures under 10 degrees, our diving crew and talent will be in layers of rubber as they broadcast from the night ocean. It will be a super challenging shoot, but we’re excited to bring audiences on this dramatic journey with our camera teams.”

Miriam Margolyes Australia Unmasked and Southern Ocean Live will both screen on ABC TV and ABC iview in 2022.

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