Always Greener: articles

Now if only TV's John Howard had cheekbones like Sigrid

It used to be fashionable to explain the success of SeaChange by saying that urban Australians had a deep urge to get away to rustic simplicity. Until now, that theory remained unproven. It might have just been Sigrid Thornton's cheekbones.

But on Sunday night, urban Australia embraced escapism again—the first episode of Channel 7's series Always Greener, about a city family that swaps homes with a rural one, attracted two million viewers in the mainland capitals, easily beating Nine's 60 Minutes and Ten's All Aussie Adventures (both with 1.7 million). This was the same number who used to watch SeaChange when it was shown on Sunday nights by the ABC. Always Greener also attracted the same demographic niche: the viewers were mostly over 40 (under-40s prefer All Aussie Adventures).

Of all the capitals, Always Greener did best in Melbourne, where 690,000 viewers made it the most watched show of the night (while Sydney's 549,000 viewers put it behind Our House and Backyard Blitz).

SeaChange was also a big hit in Melbourne, and this used to be explained by it being set on the Victorian coast. Since Always Greener is filmed in Glebe and Camden, we can conclude that Melburnians hate their lives more than Sydneysiders.

Of course, Always Greener does have the advantage of starring Anne Tenney, who was the subject of Australia's most watched TV death scene (as Molly in A Country Practice) and John Howard, who played the baddie in SeaChange.

Perhaps we can't confirm the escapism theory quite yet. But at least we can eliminate the Thornton cheekbones.

• The fabled Australian obsession with sport looks more like an obsession with success, if we are to judge by the TV ratings for the Goodwill Games, which finished on Sunday night.

In the first week, 1.8 million viewers tuned in across the mainland capitals, on nights when Australians were doing well. Last Monday, the Games attracted 1.5 million viewers, but on Tuesday just 941,000, and on Wednesday 974,000.

Nine saw the rot setting in and shifted the Games off prime time, so that on Thursday the audience dropped to 318,000. On Sunday the finals of the basketball, showing mid-afternoon, drew a mere 277,000.

David Dale
September 11, 2001