Mercado on TV: Neighbours, Les Misérables, Cleaning Up & TV legends

• Mardi Gras included Neighbours, in the parade for the first time

This week got off to a great start when SBS nailed their coverage of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The screeching and over-excitement of years gone by was gone, replaced instead with a cool calm led by 10 Perth newsreader Narelda Jacobs. Great breakout packages from Patrick Abboud again, and celebrities galore.

Mardi Gras included Neighbours, in the parade for the first time while simultaneously filming scenes to air next year in time for Mardi Gras 2020 – how’s that for pre-planning? Cast and crew then partied on into the night, which may make them more sensitive about what to air in the week following, given how harrowing this week was, particularly for emotional partygoers already struggling!

Tuesday’s two-hander (Episode 8052 on TenPlay) featured career best performances from Eve Morey (Sonia) and Ryan Moloney (Toadie) as they went on a road trip to her death. And the following night, dealing with the aftermath, has made Neighbours the best Aussie drama on TV all week.

Listen: New Mediaweek podcast: Neighbours and Australia drama with 10’s Sara Richardson and Andrew Mercado

It’s too early to pick which new British drama will be the best next week, but Les Misérables could be off and running thanks to a memorable opener next Tuesday on BBC First. It is the latest adaptation of the classic novel after countless movie versions and the long-long-running stage musical. It has also had several TV versions with Richard Jordan playing Valjean in 1978 and Gerard Depardieu in 2000 but now it’s the mighty Dominic West who is superb in the role. And given she has just won the Best Actress Oscar, can’t wait to see Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier (not to mention her playing The Queen soon for Netflix).

Cleaning Up next Friday on Seven follows a mum with a gambling problem who stumbles onto an insider trading scheme. The first episode is both slow moving and exhausting and the only thing that’s keeping me in is BAFTA Best Actress winner Sheridan Smith (Mrs Biggs and Cilla). I suspect Cleaning Up will get even sillier over the next six weeks, as Les Misérables gets more and more grim.

More grim news came with the deaths off Mike Willesee and Luke Perry. As a kid, I remember how hard my parents would laugh at the comedy skits Willesee put into A Current Affair. He will always be though of as a TV legend. And Luke Perry dying of a stroke at just 52 is rough for 90210 fans but maybe the just-announced reboot show can eulogise him.

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