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The Sydney Morning Herald

New year fireworks

Date: 19/01/1998
Words: 971
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: The Guide
Page: 4
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 buttons.

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 regular crew.

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 else entirely.

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.

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