The return of The Alice

Nine Network will show a movie-length episode of The Alice on Sunday 31 July ahead of the series which goes to air in the weak 7:30pm timeslot on Mondays.

The original tele-movie of The Alice was the highest rating movie on Australian TV last year with 1.83 million viewers.

But attempts to turn it into a series have been fraught with problems and upheavals in staff, in funding, and delays in the completion of some episodes. Instead of being filmed solely around Alice Springs, much of the shooting has been done near Sydney, with tonnes of red sand trucked in for a Central Australian feel.

This one is a big test for Nine’s head of drama Posie Graeme-Evans – it’s only the second episodic drama series she has managed to launch on Nine in the past three or four years. If it has anything like the quirkiness of the tele-movie, it could do well.

Aunty yanks The Bill

Last year it was Fireflies, now the Saturday evening episode of The Bill has been yanked by ABC TV management due to falling viewing numbers. But hold on, I keep hearing from the National broadcaster that ratings aren’t important when considering programming.

Here’s a choice quote from a story on the decision in the Daily Telegraph:

ABC’s head programmer, Marena Manzoufis, said it was only an eight-week break for the much-loved drama. The show set in the London police station of Sun Hill will continue to screen on Tuesdays. “It’s just having a little rest,” she said. “We’ve often rested The Bill on a Tuesday night but this year that audience had really strengthened but the Saturday night audience has fallen away.

The Bill changed from being episodic, self-contained stories to a soap-opera style of character and story development, in an attempt to stop sliding ratings. But it hasn’t worked and its end must be approaching.

But the real reason for the ABC’s decision must surely because Inspector Lynley on Seven, which is a self-contained format, has been taking viewers from The Bill.

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners

A draw: 27.1% each for Seven and Nine. In was a good night for Seven with the top four programs: Border Security (1.752 million), Medical Emergency (1.532 million), Today Tonight (1.521 million) and Seven News (1.503 million).
The Losers

Ten: nothing really got going for the network all night. But it did get a good share of the 16 to 39 age group, so sees itself as a winner. Frasier is looking a touch weak and Nine’s Two and a Half Men at 8pm is looking like Spakfilla. Seven’s Last Man Standing is still standing on Tuesday nights and tugged in 718,000 viewers. Boston Legal, ahhh, such high hopes at Seven for this program, but so few viewers (392,500). Death watch is being mounted. Likewise Nine’s Taken, with only 816,000 viewers.
News & CA

Seven’s Today Tonight and News again won nationally from Nine News and A Current Affair. Seven won Sydney. TT won Melbourne, and Nine News beat Seven. Nine won Brisbane, split Adelaide and Seven scored its now usual big win in Perth to clinch the national win. Seven’s Sunrise had more than 100,000 margin over Nine’s Today from 6am to 9am.
The Stats

With the draw last night, there’s no clear win yet for Nine this week. The 27.1% share for Nine, though, is a lower share than it’s accustomed to, pointing to more pressures on rates and revenues. Ten was on 24.1%, the ABC on 15.5% and SBS on 5.7%. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and lost Adelaide narrowly. But it was a big win in Perth to Seven that saw the network draw level.
Glenn Dyer’s comments

Nine will be frustrated after last night. A win was in the bag, but Seven’s lock on Perth saw it home. Seven’s programming after 8:30pm is only average. Blue Heelers at 1.239 million people does the job but couldn’t threaten a repeat of CSI on Nine (1.326 million). Tonight Nine returns McLeod’s Daughters to its schedule. That will be closely watched.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey