Paramount ANZ to bring drama and comedy in 2023

Paramount ANZ has announced its line-up for 2023.

Paramount ANZ has more drama coming to fruition across 10 and Paramount+ than there’s been “in a very long time”, according to senior vice president for content and programming Daniel Monaghan.

The company announced its 2023 titles in-person for the first time in three years today, highlighting a mix of returning and new brands.

Much of the scripted slate comprises previously announced series, with Helium’s pop-group drama Paper Dolls and Beach Road Pictures’ crime thriller North Shore set to debut on Network 10.

On Paramount+, Helium’s Last King of the Cross will be joined by a feature adaptation of Melanie Tait’s book The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, also a State Theatre Company play.

Set in the Southern Highlands of NSW, the story follows Penny, a GP who returns from the big smoke to set up shop in her hometown of Appleton. Her focus soon becomes the town’s great event the Appleton Potato Race as she attempts to correct the disparity between the men’s and women’s prize. Production details for the film are still to be announced.

Monaghan told IF he expected the project to resonate with both regional and city audiences, especially those who have moved interstate.

“We are about telling Australian stories that aren’t so much about the red dirt or the beach, but tell a really good tale about Australian characters that have an Australian nuance about them,” he said.

“We knew of the play and knew it was a good story.”

Monaghan said Paramount was coming out “full swing” with its drama and comedy programming.

“It’s a good time because we did struggle to get those scripted shows up during the pandemic but now they are coming to fruition,” he said.

Headlining the comedy line-up for next year is a local version of BAFTA-winning UK format Taskmasters, to be produced by Avalon and Kevin & Co for 10.

Hosted by Tom Gleeson, with Tom Cashman in the role of assistant, the premise involves five comedians completing a range of ridiculous tasks designed to bamboozle brains and put funny bones to the test. Completing the challenges will be Julia Morris, Luke McGregor, Jimmy Rees, Nina Oyama, and Danielle Walker.

Executive producing are Alex Horne, Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett, James Taylor, Jon Thoday, and Andy Devonshire, who also acts as series director.

Endemol Shine Australia will again make multiple contributions to the new programming in the form of Location, Location, Location, in which a team of property experts scour markets all over Australia for the perfect property, and also Dessert Masters, featuring 12 of the nation’s best pastry chefs battling it out for the title of Dessert Master under the lights of the Masterchef kitchen.

MasterChef Australia is among several formats returning to 10 next year, joining Gogglebox Australia, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Have You Been Paying Attention?, and The Cheap Seats, The Bachelors, Australian Survivor: Heroes V Villains, and The Dog House Australia, as well as spin off Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.

In the factual stakes, new series The First Inventors, first announced in 2020, will join the returning Ambulance Australia and Bondi Rescue.

Monaghan said the company was aware that while its familiar brands continued to succeed, audiences were ready to embrace new programs.

“When we consider the best way to serve our audience in the future, top of mind is the way content is consumed,” he said.

“It’s constantly evolving. And we have to constantly evolve as well.”

Outside of its programming line-up, Paramount revealed several new partnerships with brands such as Samba TV, Pluto TV, Innovid, Twitter, and KERV Interactive.

The company has also become a seed investor for Sustainable Screens Australia (SSA), an initiative that aims to integrate sustainability into everyday practices within production, as well as build capacity at all levels to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.

This will be done via an online hub for best practice checklists and toolkits, industry-specific training, a vendor/services database, and social impact partnerships.

Monaghan said Paramount ANZ was “quite proud” to be the first commercial broadcaster to support SSA, noting the business was always looking at how it “can fit best in this world”.

“We are all about sustainability in everyday practices and that is something that is core to both us and Paramount.”