High marks for The Principal from viewers

TV pundits who were quick to categorize the overnight ratings for the premiere of Essential Media and Entertainment’s 4-part drama The Principal on SBS as disappointing were too hasty – and misleading.

The broadcaster and producers were more than happy with the combined nationwide figures for the first screening and the repeat the same night.

The first episode last Wednesday drew 361,100 viewers in the five metro cities and a further 115,100 in the regions, for a total of 476,200.

The encore screening on the same night was watched by 98,900 in the metros and 37,800 in the regions for 136,700 combined, so the total was 612,900, with the time-shifting/consolidated figures to come.

“The program has received rave reviews, a lot of commentary on social media and SBS is very happy with the ratings,” producer Ian Collie tells IF. “It’s a great boost to SBS drama's credentials with its appetite for edgier and compelling stories about our diverse, vibrant communities.”

The second episode of the drama set in a multicultural high school, directed by Kriv Stenders and starring Alex Dimitriades, Rahel Romahn, Mirrah Foulkes and Aden Young, pulled in 456,600 viewers- 364,100 in the metros and 92,500 in the rest of the country. The final two episodes go to air this Wednesday and Thursday.

The Principal is screening this week in the inaugural TV drama competition at the International Film Festival Mannheim -Heidleberg in Germany, with the winner to be announced next Saturday. Collie and co-creator Kristen Dunphy are attending the festival. Alice Addison wrote the other two episodes.

Stenders tells IF, “With this being my first foray into television, it’s incredibly satisfying to receive such a great response, not only from reviewers and festivals but more importantly from audiences as well. It’s been a wonderfully collaborative adventure and I’m so thrilled and proud of the whole team both in front of and behind the camera. I think everyone will enjoy the further surprises ahead in eps 3 & 4, especially the finale which I’m hoping will really blow people’s socks off.”

Meanwhile Stenders starts pre-production this week on two episodes of Hunters, the US sci-fi cable series shooting in Melbourne, produced by Matchbox Pictures for Universal Cable Productions and Valhalla Entertainment’s Gale Anne Hurd.

The13-part drama stars These Final Hours' Nathan Phillips as Flynn, a headstrong Baltimore FBI agent who uncovers a secret government unit assembled to hunt a group of ruthless terrorists — shadowy figures that may or may not be from this world.

Britne Oldford (American Horror Story) plays Regan, one of the government’s most valuable operatives, with Julian McMahon as McCarthy, an unhinged junkie and Hunter cell leader. It will premiere on Syfy in the US next April.