Blue Heelers: articles
Boot for Heelers
POPULAR Australian police drama Blue Heelers is the first television casualty of the year, with cast members told yesterday they no longer have a job.
The axing follows speculation last week that Channel Seven had overspent in its successful bid for the AFL TV rights and may be forced to cut back on locally made drama.
The series’ producer Gus Howard phoned each of the stars yesterday morning to tell them of the decision to axe the show after a 12-year run.
The cast are currently on holidays and were due to resume production at the end of the month. After months of speculation over the show’s future, insiders admitted the decision - although disappointing - had not come as a major surprise.
Last year Blue Heelers lost ground in the ratings battle against US hit series House.
“Australian drama is very expensive to produce and when it gets around 1 million or 1.2 million viewers you just can’t make money,” Fusion Strategy media analyst Steve Allen said.
“There will be howls of protest but the simple fact is programs of that quality have to perform to pay their way.”
Just last week The Daily Telegraph predicted Seven’s costly bid to secure AFL rights could come at the expense of Australian drama, a suggestion quickly rejected by a network spokesman.
“The acquisition of AFL does not affect our decision-making on prime-time programming,” he said. “Programs that rate are successful. Those that don’t aren’t successful.”
Blue Heelers made many household names, most notably Lisa McCune.
“Obviously it’s a very sad day and as I look back I realise this is the show that launched my career and so many others.” McCune said.
Channel Seven’s director of programming and production Tim Worner singled out perennial Gold Logie nominee and pioneer cast member John Wood for special mention.
“He has been with Seven for nearly 20 years, starting with Rafferty’s Rules through to his award-winning act as Sergeant Tom Croydon.
“Blue Heelers is an institution and has long been the breeding ground for some of Australia’s finest acting, writing and directing.”
The final 11 episodes of the Melbourne-based series will be seen in the first half of the year and will equal Homicide as the longest running weekly drama with 510 episodes.
The network promises a fitting farewell to 12 years in Mt Thomas.
By Sarrah Le Marquand
Australian Television Information Archive <www.australiantelevision.net>|
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