Fremantle to produce ‘Breathless’ for Network 10 and UK’s Channel 5

Brett Tucker and Charlie Brooks.

Fremantle will produce Breathless, a four-part thriller created by Neighbours executive producer Jason Herbison for Network 10 and the UK’s Channel 5, using a production model designed as a precursor for more short-run dramas.

Directed by Scott Major (Neighbours, Playing for Keeps), the miniseries will feature Aussie Brett Tucker (The Americans, Station 19, Mistresses) and former EastEnders star Charlie Brooks as a couple in the UK who seek a fresh start in Australia after infidelity threatens their marriage.

That’s until they hire a nanny (yet to be cast), who isn’t as innocent as she appears and there are deadly consequences.

This is the first co-commission by 10 and Channel 5 since the completion of the ViacomCBS merger. The sibling networks collaborated on Neighbours spin-off series Neighbours: Erinsborough High, which premiered on their respective digital streaming services 10 Play and My5.

Herbison tells IF he has long wanted to make a short-form drama, taking advantage of the production resources of Fremantle’s Neighbours studio in Nunawading.

“We have come up with a terrific, cost-effective model, which is attractive to broadcasters,” he says.

The four week shoot plus second unit is due to start at the Nunawading studio and on location in March, produced by Brett Popplewell and Natalie Mandel, with funding assistance from Film Victoria. Thea McLeod is the casting director.

Herbison is executive producing for Fremantle and writing two episodes. Former Wentworth script executive Anthony Ellis, whose writing credits include Packed to the Rafters and Neighbours, and Margaret Wilson (Home and Away, Neighbours, Packed to the Rafters) are each writing one ep.

Major won the Australian Directors Guild award for Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Serial episode this year. “As a former actor he’s a real actors’ director,” Jason says.

Network 10 chief content officer Beverley McGarvey said: “Having worked with Channel 5 on a number of projects previously, we’re really excited to be working with them once again to bring this captivating new drama to Australian audiences, this time as a sister company. It’s a great example of the opportunities the ViacomCBS merger can bring to markets around the world.”

Ben Frow, director of programs for ViacomCBS’s UK networks, added: “Breathless promises to be a really compelling addition to our expanding line-up of quality drama that is proving popular with British audiences across both our TV networks and streaming services.

“At the same time, it’s a great way of extending our partnership with Network 10. There is obvious potential to explore further opportunities for content sharing now Channel 5 and Network 10 are part of the same family.”

Chris Oliver-Taylor, Fremantle CEO, Asia Pacific, said: “Jason Herbison has created a fantastic world of deceit, thrills, twists and turns that will keep the audiences in both the UK and Australia guessing.”