With the streaming industry never larger or more crowded, the major platforms are competing by pumping out vast amounts of content – from marquee titles like Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power to smaller productions targeting more specific audiences. Feeding the constantly ravenous streaming beast thankfully involves investing in Australian productions, with the likes of Netflix, Stan, Prime Video, Paramount+, Disney+ and others having announced plenty of local commissions.
- READ MORE: The 10 best Australian TV shows of 2022
Last year the total spent on Aussie shows across streaming and subscription platforms for the first time surpassed investment from free-to-air broadcasters. As we roll into a new year, now’s a good time to take stock of the big Australian productions arriving on streaming in 2023. Here are 10 of them.
1Mother and Son
Running from six seasons from 1984 to 1994, Mother and Son is one of the great Australian sitcoms, featuring endless, hilarious squabbling between Ruth Cracknell’s senile old lady and Gary McDonald’s long-suffering son. The ABC show’s very Anglocentric portrait of domestic Australian life will be redeveloped in a reboot incorporating the migrant experience, with Matt Okine (who is half-Ghanaian) in McDonald’s role and Denise Scott in Cracknell’s. To say they have big shoes to fill is an epic understatement.
2The Last King of the Cross
Night clubs, cocaine, the underworld – but enough about my weekend. Tim Roth lends star power to this 10-part Paramount+ series about the seedy underbelly of Sydney’s Kings Cross circa the ’80s and ’90s. Expect drugs, crime, sex and other sorts of jiggery-pokery in a narrative inspired by the real-life story of entrepreneur John Ibrahim. Sometimes referred to as the “King of the Cross”, Ibrahim has been accused of being the “lifeblood of the drugs industry of Kings Cross” but, as noted in a Sydney Morning Herald article, the police have never proven any serious criminal conduct.
3The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart
Sigourney Weaver stars in and executive produces Prime Video’s adaptation of author Holly Ringland’s best-selling novel, described by The Sydney Morning Herald as a “delicate and dark as a fairytale” that’s “driven by an undimmed sense of wonder at the darkness and light.” The series follows the titular character: a nine-year-old girl who loses her parents in a fire and subsequently learns secrets about her family’s past. The series will be directed by Glendyn Ivin, whose credits include excellent TV shows The Cry and Safe Harbour.
According to the wellness industry, silent retreats and activated almonds are better for you than mosh pits and shots of tequila. Ridiculous, right? In her book Wellmania, author and journalist Brigid Delaney set out to test many staples of wellness culture, from yoga to colonics and group psychotherapy. Her exploits led to this new Netflix comedy series, starring Celeste Barber as a Delaney-inspired character who pursues her own wellness journey. Delaney is co-creator and co-producer alongside Benjamin Law.
5Ten Pound Poms
The colloquial phrase “10 pound Poms” refers to British citizens who migrated to Australia and New Zealand between 1945 and 1982 and generally paid the aforementioned sum in processing fees. Creator Danny Brocklehurst has described his Stan/BBC co-production as “a big, bold character piece about what it means to start again,” with a focus on families adjusting to a new life Down Under.
6The Artful Dodger
The nickname “The Artful Dodger” refers to the pickpocket Jack Dawkins from Charles Dickens’ beloved novel Oliver Twist. This Disney+ series co-created by David Maher and David Taylor follows Dawkins into adulthood, where he’s relocated to Australia and is working as a surgeon. But, according to the official synopsis, cheeky ol’ Jack “can’t shake his predilection for crime.” The cast includes Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Thewlis, Damon Herriman, Miranda Tapsell and Tim Minchin.
7Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe
In their previous series Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun, the absurdly entertaining comedy troupe Aunty Donna chose a sharehouse setting as the central location, allowing a simple knock on the door to trigger an infinite array of zany scenarios.
Their new show for ABC maintains that potential by shifting the setting to a cafe. Who knows what kind of clientele or surreal moments will ensue? The group have described the series as a “heightened, ridiculous sitcom.” They had me at “Aunty Donna.”
8Boy Swallows Universe
Well, he must have been hungry? Trent Dalton’s acclaimed coming-of-age novel revolves around a boy named Eli Bell, who is surrounded by addicts and criminals and must “face off against truly bad guys and fight to save his mother from a certain doom – all before starting high school.”
Felix Cameron will play the lead, backed by a stacked supporting cast including Phoebe Tonkin, Travis Fimmel, Bryan Brown, Deborah Mailman and Anthony La Paglia. The directors on the Netflix production include Jocelyn Moorhouse and Kim Mordaunt, who recently co-directed the magnificent ABC series Wakefield.
Aisha Dee gave a fiendishly entertaining performance as a social media influencer in the Australian horror film Sissy. She leads the four-part SBS thriller Safe Home in what appears to be a more conventional dramatic role, playing Phoebe, a woman who gets a new job working at a family violence legal centre and “finds her life turned upside down when she gets entwined in a brutal murder.” One of the show’s three writers is playwright Anna Barnes, who was reportedly inspired by her own experiences at a Melbourne family legal centre.
Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan created comedy gold with two snappy satires: the YouTube cooking show spoof The Katering Show and breakfast TV parody series Get Krack!n. Their next production, for Prime Video, changes tack as a “Tasmanian noir comedy” set in a town named Deadloch. The corpse of a local appears on the beach and two female detectives team up to solve the case.
There’s no shortage of Australian shows involving small town mysteries (2022 alone included Troppo, Savage River, The Tourist, Mystery Road: Origin and True Colours) so let’s hope the Kates put their own distinctive spin on it.