Doctor Who? Governments invest to keep December Media drama on air

• Nadine Garner stepping into lead role in rebranded Doctor Blake Mysteries

Film Victoria and Screen Australia are investing with Seven in a new direction for the drama series rebranded The Blake Mysteries.

The 90-minute telemovie being made by December Media will now skip three years ahead and focus on The Doctor Blake Mysteries character Jean Beazley (Nadine Garner, pictured above) who will take on the central role in the drama.

Not returning in his lead role is Craig McLachlan, who has been the subject of harassment allegations. In late January producer December Media conducted an investigation and reported there were no findings of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or workplace bullying by Craig McLachlan or any other person on the series.

A statement from Film Victoria yesterday claimed Federal and State government support of the popular and successful Victorian-made series will deliver strong economic benefits to regional Victoria and screen businesses, while shoring up employment for approximately 200 Victorian screen workers.

Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher said: “Our commitment to The Blake Mysteries is an investment in Victorian screen businesses, crew and associated services who rely on this production for employment and skills development.

“We support new and diverse storylines and have great confidence that December Media, who mirror our commitment for ensuring safe and supportive workplace environments, will produce a high-quality and entertaining telemovie.”

Film Victoria recently released its updated Victorian screen industry Code of Conduct. The updated Code reflects a zero tolerance approach to unsafe workplace practices and behaviours including discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Screen Australia matched Film Victoria’s investment in The Blake Mysteries in an out-of-rounds special funding commitment.

“Screen Australia is generally only a direct investor in early seasons of television shows. However, due to the prospect of the Blake franchise not proceeding and the resultant sudden job losses, in this instance we will fund the telemovie as a one-off,” said Sally Caplan, head of production at Screen Australia.

“It is essential for Screen Australia to support the cast and crew in this unique situation, and there is no doubt audience demand for this Australian story remains. The Blake Mysteries will offer viewers the chance to see this beloved tale through Jean Beazley’s eyes and we’re proud to support this new direction.”

The Blake Mysteries is a December Media and Gambit Media production for Seven with principal production investment from Screen Australia and Film Victoria.

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