Changi: articles

ABC cast go to war

ONE of the immediate problems facing new ABC head of drama Robyn Kershaw and TV boss Sandra Levy is seeking a resolution to what has become known as the "Something in the Air affair".

The show's production company, Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier, has been critical of the ABC's handling of the series, in particular the move to 7.30pm on Saturdays.

At the core of the company's displeasure is the fact the show was commissioned and designed to screen as four half-hours a week.

The ABC this year decided to screen the show in one-hour blocks on Saturdays, which simply comprise two of the half-hours being put together.

The cast and crew of the series have threatened industrial action.

They claim that if the ABC continues to screen only two half-hours each week, the show will be seen through to September next year.

The current series of Something in the Air finishes production on August 24 this year.

The cast say that if, as expected, the show is axed in August but screens until September next year, it will limit their chances of being signed for other work during the next 12 months.

Something in the Air is the ABC's top-rating Australian drama series.

The second series cost $16 million to produce, of which the ABC paid $11 million, leaving Beyond Simpson Le Mesurier to recoup the other $5 million through overseas sales.

Discussions are continuing, with Levy considering the issues.

The ABC is hoping its new drama series, Changi, will become its flagship drama for this year.

Set to screen in August and written by John Doyle of H.G. and Roy fame, the series tells of Aussie POWs in the Japanese prison camp during World War II.

Heading its list of stars are Bud Tingwell and Matthew Newton.

Former ABC head of drama Sue Masters, now at Network Ten, has described the scripts as the "greatest I've ever seen".

Former ABC head of television Gail Jarvis was equally impressed.

"It is in every sense of the word quality television and one of the most exciting series I've ever seen," she recently told the Guide.

By Robert Fidgeon
June 27, 2001
The Herald Sun