Mysterious visitors, love triangles and even, gasp, international arms
dealing ... MICHELLE HAMER reveals some of the dramas ahead for watchers of
Australian soaps and series.
AUSTRALIAN drama series and serials are set to deliver another year of screen
hatches, matches and dispatches for loyal fans. Our longest-running soap,
Neighbours, will celebrate its 3,000th episode on Friday after returning to Ten
at 6.30 tonight to tie up some of last year's loose ends. Ben (Brett Cousins) is
still in a coma after escaping from a fireball when his car flipped, and as
shocked looks are perfected all along Ramsay Street his mysterious bedside
visitor will affect the whole family.
Anne (Brooke Satchwell) is nursing a broken heart after walking in on Billy
(Jesse Spencer) kissing Caitlin (Emily Milburn). The scheming teen temptress
will continue to pursue Billy and cause Anne heartache. And get ready with the
tea and sympathy for Madge (Anne Charleston), who is set for health problems,
neurological tests and a nasty fall.
The fifth season of Blue Heelers (Seven) will continue the on-again,
off-again romance between Maggie (Lisa McCune) and P.J. (Martin Sacks) that
flared after Maggie arrested her brother for drug use in last year's final
episode. Viewers concerned that Sergeant Tom Croydon (John Wood) has been lonely
since his wife died will be glad to see a love interest put a shine on his
The sun will continue to shine on the beaches of Home and Away (Seven) but
there is drama ahead, and there will be fresh characters when a new family moves
into town. Cast changes have been mooted, but Seven says any departures will be
positive rather than tragic.
Pippa has some worrying times ahead with Justine (Bree Desborough) showing
the same liking for alcohol as she did for drugs. A new boy arrives on Irene's
doorstep - Will Smith (Zac Dryson) - and causes trouble between Irene and Joey.
The new family settling in Summer Bay, Joel and Natalie Nash (David Woodley
and Angelica La Bozzetta) and offspring Tom (Graeme Squires) and Gypsy
(Kimberley Cooper), bring fresh love interests and sparring partners for the
Vinnie quickly decides he can juggle two women and starts to check Gypsy out
behind Justine's back, guaranteeing fireworks; the girls look set for a
good-fashioned bitch fight, but when they are thrown together in an all-girl
band have to sort out their differences.
Chloe (Kristy Wright) plays activist as she rallies round with a petition to
get her dad out of prison and Summer Bay hots up as locals debate the merits and
detractions of having a Burger Barn built in town.
In that other teen world, Heartbreak High (ABC), the relationship between
Anita and Drazic will continue to be rocky and wise guy Ryan is in for a big
shock. An interesting love triangle between Nikki, Ryan and Kurt will amuse and
annoy Nikki as she fends off the attention.
Kurt is in for a bumpy ride this year as he deals with his dad's alcoholism
and competing with Ryan for Nikki's attention. The daggy Sarah is set to blossom
this year under the supervision of Anita and may even stand up to her mum. And
a newcomer, feisty Asian Mai Hem, will step into the show dragging a mysterious
past behind her.
Ten, in need of a success after flops with Echo Point and Sweat, is banking
on the appeal of Bondi as the setting for its new soapie, Breakers. The writers
have given themselves plenty of fodder, scripting a hotel, cafe, community
newspaper, modelling school, homeless agency and family flats into the plot.
Breakers will premiere on February 2 at 4.30pm.
Big Sky is heading in a new direction, with Chris Manning (Gary Sweet) taking
on surveillance work for a federal operative (Bille Brown). The fed will employ
Big Sky to keep an eye on drug smugglers, arms dealers and other bad dudes,
adding a darker, edgier element to the series. Romance is in the air for Manning
who will enjoy the attentions of Grace (Joy Smithers) and early in the season
Jimbo will get a windfall from the scriptwriters with the return of his ex-lover
Jodie (Sharon Hodgson).
Two new pilots will take to the sky this year - Rosie (Peta Brady), who will
also play Scotty's (Martin Henderson) love interest, and Blake (Tim Campbell).
Mid-February will see the debut of Seven's All Saints, a drama about hospital
life as seen through the eyes of the nursing staff and starring Georgie Parker.
Nine's quirky Good Guys, Bad Guys will return in early February with hopes of
again attracting last year's national average weekly audience of almost a
million. The second series will see Elvis Maginnis (Marcus Graham) and the
sharp-tongued Stella (Alison Whyte) in church for a wedding, which may be a
happy result of the romantic tension between the pair last season - or something
Guest stars will include Val Lehman (Queen Bea of Prisoner); Matthew Newton,
son of Bert; Alise May, the Price is Right model, as a junkie call girl; the
comedian Marg Downey; and Alison Whyte's husband, Fred Whitlock.
Ten has confirmed that Medivac will be back, but is not saying when. Melissa
Tkautz (E Street) will join the cast alongside last year's newcomer, Dieter
Brummer, and Garry McDonald will guest star in four episodes. The show has
struggled with cast changes and a lukewarm response from audiences and critics.
State Coroner, starring Wendy Hughes, will be back on Ten in mid-1998, with
Bob Baines, Elaine Smith and Christopher Stollery also returning for the second
year of the popular series.