Blue Heelers: articles

Brought to Heel

LIKE all good dramas, the future of Seven's Blue Heelers is a cliffhanger.

Speculation the rural police drama, in its 11th series, faces the chop has strengthened as All Saints' ratings consolidate and Seven prepares to launch new soap Headland.

"There's no progress at this juncture," Seven's programming chief Tim Worner said. "We just haven't sat down to look at next year's schedule yet and it's quite normal that these shows would be renewed week-to-week."

A spokesperson for producer Southern Star didn't sound so confident: "It is due for renewal and we're waiting for a decision."

Neither are the fans, with already running a petition to save the series. Only weeks ago, medical drama All Saints was also under pressure but continued strong ratings of 1.3 million-plus appear to have secured its immediate future.

Blue Heelers did average similar figures earlier this year after its revamp, until a recent slump to 1.1 million viewers when pitted against Ten's success, House.

Blue Heelers' fortunes have waned as Headland's have risen. Trumpeted as one of Seven's hot new dramas for the year, starring Libbi Tanner, it failed in audience testing. Its first two episodes were thrown out and its script executive dumped.

Seven is now bullish about the drama's prospects, which will screen two hours a week, probably from this summer.

September 06, 2005
The Daily Telegraph

Heelers on ropes

THE future of Melbourne-made Blue Heelers hangs in the balance.

The long-running police drama has seen a decline in national ratings, though its home audience is holding up.

Industry sources say Channel 7 could be about to cut the show. But programming head Tim Worner said no decision had been made.

"We are still very much focused on continuing to improve our share for this year and haven't sat down to make decisions on next year's programming yet," he said.

Blue Heelers has averaged 1.3 million viewers a week for most of the year.

But it slipped to No. 38 in the latest ratings survey with 1.122 million viewers.

It was beaten in the competitive Wednesday timeslot by Channel 10's new medical drama House (No. 12, 1.419 million) and Channel 9's CSI Miami (No. 23, 1.325 million).

In Melbourne, Heelers rates a solid 385,279, beating CSI Miami (336,991) but still behind House (441,677).

The show costs about $400,000 an episode and questions have been raised about its worth.

CSI Miami costs $3.5 million an episode, but the budget is offset by its worldwide distribution deal. And the cost to Nine is much less than a local production.

Blue Heelers' executive producer Gus Howard refused to speculate about its future.

"All the questions being asked about the future of Blue Heelers are being asked by people who will never provide the answers, and have no stake in the elements of a decision," he said. "We are shooting episodes at full tilt, writing scripts for next year, and making the best show we can."

There is also concern Heelers "skews old", seen as a negative in the advertising sector.

The show, which premiered in 1994, had a cast revamp last year.

The move seemed to work, and Blue Heelers pulled in almost 1.4 million viewers.

By Garry Williams
September 05, 2005
The Herald Sun