By Dan Barrett
While the ratings season comes to a close in the coming weeks, Foxtel has traditionally used the “off-season” to schedule events and big titles to draw attention during the quiet, summer months.
Foxtel Networks Australia head of channels and operations Stephen Baldwin has offered a preview of the programming on offer over summer. One of the titles that Baldwin is the most excited about is Vinyl, an HBO series created by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, and Terence Winter. Baldwin explained that the series is a priority for Foxtel and that it will “air hours after the US. It will either air at exactly the same time as the US, or a couple of hours later. We just need to make sure we’re not clashing with The Walking Dead on FX. We’re just working through that at the moment.
“We’re in very close contact with FX and we’re making sure that we’re scheduling all of our content at different times.”
So, between the ratings juggernaut of The Walking Dead and the hot new series Vinyl, which series does Foxtel prioritise?
“Something like The Walking Dead is huge. Vinyl we’re expecting to be just as big. We’ve bedded down a 7:30pm timeslot on Showcase and FX has bedded down an 8:30pm timeslot, so it actually works quite well.”
Superheroes are no longer the domain of the cinema and have again taken over the TV screen. Two of the biggest shows are The Flash and Arrow, which Foxtel is airing express from the US. From 6 December, the shows will be joined by another DC Comics favourite, Supergirl.
The new Supergirl series, featuring Superman’s young cousin, is being aired locally over a month after the US launch. Baldwin explained, “We generally run as much as we can completely express. There are some titles where they’re brand new and we’ll make the decision we want to get some of the episodes in so we can promote the show well. In the case of Supergirl, CBS will be taking pre-emptions over the Christmas New Year period. We will catch up and then we will run express from the US, but we didn’t want to take a break in the series.
“Australians are not accustomed to US pre-emptions. We will be dealing with them with Flash and Arrow. We run promos to let people know there has been a pre-emption in the US. We also put notices up on our website and social media.”
January will see The Golden Globes simulcast live from the US during the day and repeated later that night at 7:30pm. While the very popular red carpet coverage will be broadcast live, Foxtel will not re-broadcast the red carpet. Baldwin admitted, “The E! coverage of the red carpet, I’ll be honest with you, is generally better. We’ll leave it in the hands of those guys.”
Content from Bravo in the US is now express from the US. This includes the new seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of Cheshire. Launching in January, broadcast just hours after the US will be the latest in the franchise, The Real Housewives of Potomac.
One of the titles that Baldwin believes will surprise is the new Nigella Lawson series, Simply Nigella. Baldwin said, “I think Nigella is going to be really big for us. She’s incredibly popular here in Australia and she hasn’t done anything for 18 months and with all of that stuff that happened with her ex-husband, I think there’s a real compassion and interest in Nigella from here. I think it’s going to do great guns for us.”
With regular series off the air and viewing habits up for grabs over the summer months, many viewers may discover the recently launched SBS Food Channel. Baldwin doesn’t cite much concern over the launch of the channel, which may compete with Foxtel’s LifeStyle offering. Baldwin explained, “We’re not particularly concerned. The content we’ve got is definitely much stronger. We’re investing a lot in local production for the LifeStyle channels here. We’re confident that our offering will be much stronger than what SBS and 9Life pull together.”
DECEMBER – FEBRUARY HIGHLIGHTS
Larry Kramer In Love and Anger
This HBO documentary shines a spotlight on the author, playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer, examining the effect of one of the most important figures in contemporary gay America – a political firebrand who gave voice to the outrage and grief that inspired gay men and women to fight for their lives.
Airs 1 December on Showcase.
The Unseen Time Team Specials
Eight of Sir Tony Robinson and the team’s archaeological digs which include: Flanders: The Lost WWI Bunker Swords; Skulls and Strongholds; The Lost Dock of Liverpool; The Real Knights of the Round Table; Codename: Ainsbrook; Dover Castle; The Mystery of the Roman Treasure; and Castle of the Saxon Kings.
Airs Tuesdays at 7:30pm on History from 1 December.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Returning for season six Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards, Yolanda Foster, Lisa Rinna and Eileen Davidson are joined by new housewives Erika Girardi and Kathryn Edwards. Whether driving Ferraris in Italy, staying at a glorious house in the Hamptons or receiving VIP treatment at the world’s tallest building in Dubai, nothing will keep the Beverly Hills housewives from shedding tears and hurling accusations while still keeping up impeccable appearances.
Airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on Arena from 2 December.
The Sleeping Beauty: Behind The Curtain with The Australian Ballet
A local production, this documentary explores what it takes to stage a world-class ballet performance, showcasing all of the talented artists from dancers, directors, choreographers, set and costume designers, to the stage managers and crew.
Airs 2 December on Foxtel Arts.
The Sleeping Beauty
Once you’ve watched the behind-the-scenes drama of putting together the production, enjoy the world premiere of David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty recorded in Melbourne.
Airs 6 December at 7:30pm on Foxtel Arts
Nigella returns to the screen with a new pared-down approach to cooking and eating.
Airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on LifeStyle FOOD from 02 December.
Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El has been living on Earth since she was 13. Now 24, Kara works in magazine publishing and makes a snap decision to stop hiding and use her powers to help.
Airs Sundays at 8:30pm from 6 December on FOX8.
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Shaynna’s World of Design
In a two-part series, Shaynna Blaze visits the glamorous design capitals of Milan, Venice, New York and her hometown of Melbourne. Along the way Shaynna shares her secret inspirations and design principles, not just for lighting, but for everything in a home. You’ll never see your home the same way again.
Airs Mondays at 8:30pm from 7 December at 8:30pm.
Cosby: The Women Speak
This one-hour special offers never-before-seen interviews with more than a dozen of Bill Cosby’s accusers.
Airs 1 January at 7:30pm on CI Network.
Tiny House Australia
In Australia, where homes are among the largest in the world, why are Australians embracing the trend of trading in space for simplicity – going tiny? This eight-part series explores three homes in each 30-minute episode.
Airs Mondays at 9:30pm on LifeStyle HOME from 4 January.
2016 is the final season for American Idol. Again hosted by Ryan Seacrest, this year the judges are Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban.
Airs: Thursdays & Fridays at 8:30pm from January 7 on FOX8.
Created by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, this new drama series is set in 1970s New York. The show stars Bobby Cannavale as a record company president in an era defined by punk, disco, hip-hop and an industry defined by drugs and sex.
Airs in February on Showcase.
Baldwin explains, “Vinyl will air hours after the US.”
CHRISTMAS / NYE
Call the Midwife Christmas special
BBC First will air the Christmas special of the hugely popular series which follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House convent.
Best Of Christmas On FOOD
Every night from 1 December at 7:30pm to 24 December, FOOD has scheduled a lineup of the Christmas-themed food programs and hosts including:
• River Cottage UK
• GBBO Xmas Masterclasses
• A Donna Hay Christmas
• Delia’s Classic Christmas
• Gordon Ramsay
• Nigel Slater
• Heston Blumenthal
• Tom Kerridge
• Rick Stein
Doctor Who Christmas Special
A 2-hour special set to air on 25 December, on SyFy.
As you sit on the couch thankful you’ve avoided going to the Boxing Day sales, The LifeStyle Channel will keep you company on the couch with Gogglebox as you reflect on the TV year that was.
Pawn Stars Australia
Christmas and Boxing Day marathons will run on A&E.
Top Gear Day: Greatest Inventions
BBC Knowledge will celebrate the unique inventions developed for Top Gear, showcasing 12 episodes of the Top Gear guys at their creative best. The automotive fun kicks off from 26 December from 8am.
New Year’s Eve on [V]
Channel [V] will provide the musical backdrop to your New Year’s Eve celebrations, with coverage on 31 December from 8am until 6am 1 January. The Top 100 “best ever videos” will kick off at 8am, followed by the ultimate party anthems starting at 4pm that day. At midnight, Channel [V] launch will its Non-Stop New Year’s Eve Party to see you through until regret kicks in at 6am that you’ve been up all night.
New Year’s Eve on MAX
Starting from 8am on 31 December, The Top 100 Barbecue Anthems will serve as the soundtrack for your outdoor barbecue needs. Just be careful not to burn a rissole while singing along and dancing to “My Sharona”. From 4pm, MAX is cranking out the Top 100 Ultimate Party Anthems to keep the party going.