ABC gives the green light to surfing drama ‘Barons’

ABC greenlights surfing drama Barons. A picture of John Molloy and Michael Lawrence.
John Molloy and Michael Lawrence.

Business and the beach are set to collide in the ABC’s Barons, an eight-part ’70s-set surfing drama from Fremantle, Micanical Media and 2Jons, due to kick off later this year in NSW.

The ABC has been developing the series, created by Micanical’s Michael Lawrence, 2Jon’s John Molloy and scribe Liz Doran, since 2019, confirming that it has taken it to commission today.

Shawn Seet and Emmy-Award winning surf director Taylor Steele will helm the drama, which has parallels to the Billabong and Quiksilver sagas.

Barons follows a group of surf-crazy hippy friends who turn their backs on the world in search of their ideal patch of surfing paradise. 

Little do they know that their desire for ultimate freedom and the perfect wave, will take them from the beach to the boardroom, creating billion-dollar empires. But in selling their surfing dream to the world, these best friends will become fierce rivals and the question for this found family is – once you sell paradise can you ever get it back again?

Writing with Doran are Marieke Hardy and Matt Cameron, with producer Justin Davies heading Fremantle’s creative team.

Justin Davies and Liz Doran.

Lawrence and Molloy said: “In the 70s, Australia sat at the edge of the world, an isolation that allowed us to explore who we are, and imagine who we want to be. Barons revels in the energy and potential of this time – the beautiful, the bad, the wild and the unknown. We hope these characters will find a place in your heart.”

ABC head of drama, entertainment and Indigenous Sally Riley said: “With a free-spirited sense of adventure, a cast of extraordinary characters and stunning ocean backdrops, Barons promises to take audiences on an unforgettable ride. It’s a uniquely Australian story from a stellar creative team and we can’t wait to dive into production.” 

Executive producers include Chris Oliver-Taylor, Nick Cook, Steele, Doran, Jon Adgemis and the late Michael Gudinski. ABC EPs are Brett Sleigh and Rebecca Anderson.

Screen Australia has provided major production investment, with support from Screen NSW.

Cast and crew are expected to be announced in the coming months. Barons will air on the ABC in 2022, with Fremantle International handling sales.