SBS ready to court more controversy in 2018
SBS will tackle the nation's hot-button issues next year with an impressive slate of local programming.
Celebrating its largest audience share in six years thanks to shows like Look Me In The Eye, Go Back To Where You Came From and The Handmaid's Tale, the multicultural broadcaster is ready to court more controversy in 2018.
"We're trying to be as ambitious as possible," Marshall Heald, SBS Director of TV and Online Content, told NewsRegional.
"We're looking for ideas with real scale and ambition that sometimes scare us from an execution perspective."
Case in point is Go Back Live, the fourth season of SBS's award-winning documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From.
"It's a three-night TV event that's a mixture of live and prerecorded material," Mr Heald said.
"It will have nods to the earlier series, but it's a deliberate evolution. Being live will add some more urgency to the issue."
The Queensland-filmed psychological thriller Safe Harbour will explore Australia's tough border protection policies. The four-part drama follows a group of friends whose sailing holiday is upended when they cross paths with a fishing boat overloaded with asylum seekers enroute to Australia.
"We're trying to find different, creative ways to tackle hot-button issues and Safe Harbour is a chance to look at the refugee and asylum seeker debate through a fictional construct," Mr Heald said.
In Muslims Like Us, 10 Australian Muslims with contrasting world views will move into a house together for eight days.
"Obviously Islamophobia is a big issue," Mr Heald said. "We want to explode those stereotypes and show Australia the incredible diversity within that community. I've seen some of the episodes and it's incredibly fascinating and revealing; there's a lot of humour and insights."
Rachel Griffiths stars in the new crime drama Dead Lucky, which follows two feuding detectives as they hunt down a killer in Sydney.
"Dead Lucky looks at the world of recent migrants and the fragility of people's lives in a new country depending on the type of visa they're on," Mr Heald said. "It's subverting that classic, detective genre."
Charlie Teo, Natalie Imbruglia, John Jarratt and Ernie Dingo will all look into their genealogy in a new season of Who Do You Think You Are. Filthy Rich and Homeless , The Handmaid's Tale and The Family Law also return.
Combining the European phenomenon of 'slow TV' and SBS viewers' love for train shows, The Ghan will take viewers on a real-time journey on the iconic train ride from Adelaide to Darwin.
"The slow TV movement has been a European phenomenon for the past few years, and in this really needy, fast-timed world of reality TV it offer a real point of difference," Mr Heald said.
"We'll have a three-hour journey on TV ad free and then also a 17-hour version on SBS On Demand, giving audiences the chance to sit back and have a meditative experience. Hopefully it's crazy enough that it might actually work."
The broadcaster has commissioned nearly 30 local series for next year, including NITV's first foray into scripted drama, Grace Beside Me, and 'sad-com' Homecoming Queens, the first local commission for streaming service SBS On Demand.
SBS's relationship with Vice also continues to expand with locally-produced programs to air across the Australian channel and VICELAND'S global channels.
"That should see more Australian storytellers get the opportunity to be seen across 50 global channels," Mr Heald said.
"We're looking for projects between now and March, and plan to have 20 half-hours by the second half of next year."