SBS in 2019: Slow TV month, 6pm daily game show & a rebrand

“SBS, a world of difference”

SBS has revealed its 2019 program slate, with claims it is offering Australians entertaining, genre-bending and impactful content that audiences won’t see anywhere else.

SBS managing director James Taylor said at the start of the presentation: “As our sector continues to experience unprecedented change, SBS has embraced the opportunities this presents, and today we are proud to be connecting with more Australians than ever before.

James Taylor

“In a cluttered market, SBS continues to offer a genuine point of difference, championing the benefits of an inclusive society to inspire Australians to better understand and respect each other.

“As we navigate the changing face of modern Australia and the shifting needs of audiences, SBS’s 2019 lineup will continue to exemplify our unique purpose with distinctive multiplatform content relevant to all Australians.”

Director of TV and online content Marshall Heald said: “At SBS, we tell stories and show people on screen that you don’t see anywhere else, giving a voice to communities that would otherwise go unheard. We thrive on telling stories that explore complex issues and can have meaningful impact. We look for creative approaches that scare us and concepts that will emotionally connect with audiences.

Marshall Heald

“We also want to celebrate the ways in which diversity enriches Australia, so even if we’re grappling with a serious issue, we are optimistic in our approach, and are always looking for the light in the dark.”

SBS also revealed a its new brand positioning for 2019 – “SBS, a world of difference” – which follows on from previous brand statements: “Bringing the world back home”, “The world is an amazing place” and “Six billion stories and counting”.

Director of marketing Jane Palfreyman said: “Over the last 40 years, SBS has become a trusted and much loved part of our culture, as the only network to reflect the true makeup of Australia. In 2019 SBS’s new brand proposition beautifully sums up our belief that together, our collective differences make for a better society… and better entertainment.

“These differences don’t just make a difference – they make ‘a world of difference’.”

Jane Palfreyman

SBS programming notes: New for 2019

Hungry Ghosts is a new four-part Australian drama series produced for SBS by Matchbox Pictures (Safe Harbour, The Family Law) that takes elements of the Japanese and Korean “supernatural thriller” genre to explore the lives of three generations of Vietnamese Australian families dealing with the aftermath of war. It’s about lost loves, buried secrets, and how unresolved trauma can be handed down through generations until a young woman, planning for the future, connects with her past as a way forward.

The Hunt delves into one of the biggest issues of the social media era – cyberbullying.

The new drama series intimately imagines the lives of four teenagers, their friends, their families, their teachers, their communities during the lead-up, revelation and aftermath of a nude photo-sharing scandal. Produced by Closer Productions with major funding from Screen Australia, and using teenagers and non-actors to tell the story, it is the kind of provocative local drama that only SBS would make.

Following the success of SBS On Demand’s first drama commission, Homecoming Queens, comes new comedy Robbie Hood. The six-part online series produced by Ludo Studio and Since1788 with major investment from Screen Australia follows Robbie, a teenage troublemaker with a heart of gold living in a remote Aboriginal community, and is the heart-warming story of three friends who are fixing injustices they see. While they have the best of intentions, it doesn’t always go quite to plan.

After a hugely successful 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, SBS will continue to unite communities through sport in 2019, as the exclusive free-to-air broadcaster of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France from June 7. Australians can follow The Matildas in their pursuit of football’s biggest prize with every Matildas match, and the complete finals series, live and in HD as well as daily highlights and analysis shows from the SBS team at home and on the ground in France.

SBS’s commitment to women’s sport doesn’t stop there, with coverage of the Australian domestic football competition the W-League, and the WNBL Women’s National Basketball League, highlighting our homegrown female athletes at the elite level.

Documentary programming for 2019 sees SBS explore the complex multicultural history of everyday Australians with new commissioned series including My Family Secret (working title), hosted by Noni Hazelhurst, Australia in Colour, which features archival footage brought to life in glorious colour showing this country’s true multicultural face, and Medicine or Myth in which Dr Charlie Teo leads an expert panel as they put family remedies to the test.

The network will also have more returning commissioned documentary series than ever before, building on successful titles and bringing consistency to the schedule.

In 2019, SBS will delve further into key themes such as religion, social disadvantage and cross cultural relationships with new seasons of Who Do You Think You Are?, Secrets of Our Cities, Marry Me Marry My Family, Struggle Street, Untold Australia, and the follow-up to Muslims Like Us – Christians Like Us.

International documentaries will screen every night at 7:30pm with programs including Dr Michael Mosley’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, the return of the 7 Up series, one of the boldest documentary experiments of all time; a special local version of Michael Portillo’s successful Railway Journeys series with Great Australian Railway Journeys; and the epic BBC series Civilisations, which was shot in six continents, 31 countries and celebrates everything there is to say about human ingenuity and creativity.

SBS introduced viewers to slow TV with The Ghan, which was a ratings smash in 2018. Next year, the network presents Slow Summer – featuring one “nail-biting” slow TV event each week in January, including two new Australian productions – an east/west train journey on The Indian Pacific and a boat ride through The Kimberley.

After relaunching last weekend, the newly evolved SBS Food channel builds on this offering with a premium serving to audiences. The dedicated food channel is now less reality and more real food, and features more famous Australian and global food personalities including SBS’s homegrown favourites like Adam Liaw, Poh Ling Yeow, Shane Delia, Peter Kuruvita, Luke Nguyen, Maeve O’Meara, Kylie Kwong, as well as international chefs like Nigella Lawson and Rick Stein.

Wednesday nights are dedicated to food with a commissioned content slate that includes the return of SBS’s food brands Gourmet Farmer with Matthew Evans, and celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott’s Australian explorations in Ainsley’s Market Menu. SBS will also unite its audiences’ love of trains with one of the network’s most loved chefs Luke Nguyen in the ultimate SBS series, Luke on a Train. Nguyen returns to Vietnam for a culinary train trip from north to south of the country on the Re-unification Railway.

International dramas in 2019 include a TV adaption of the multimillion-selling novel, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. The new eight-part drama series stars John Turturro as an 8th century Franciscan monk who witnesses a series of murders at a secluded monastery in the Italian Alps.

From the acclaimed team that made Gomorrah, the recently acquired Zero Zero Zero follows three different worlds, all participating in a single shipment of cocaine from three different perspectives that will explore what globalisation means – its consequences and contradictions. Shot on four continents, predominantly in English as well as Spanish, French, Wolof, Arabic and Italian, this new drama stars Gabriel Byrne and airs exclusively on SBS and SBS On Demand in Australia.

International Emmy Award-winning Anna Friel stars in the heartfelt Butterfly, about the acrimonious relationship between separated parents and their division in opinion over how to support their gender variant child.

Academy Award-nominated Sharon Stone, John Malkovic and Jude Law team up in the sequel to Paolo Sorrentino’s The Young Pope in The New Pope.

Mark Hamill joins the cast of the second season of Knightfall, the critically acclaimed legal drama The Good Fight welcomes Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominee Michael Sheen to the upcoming third season fast-tracked from the US, the epic Vikings saga continues and the popular award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale returns.

SBS’s entertainment offering will extend to the competitive 6pm slot in 2019 with an all-new Australian version of the iconic BBC game show, Mastermind, to play five nights a week. Famous for its challenging questions and intimidating setting, Mastermind is a true global smash. Each night, four contestants will take the iconic Mastermind chair to answer questions on their own specialist subject and compete for the prestigious title of Australia’s Mastermind.

SBS is saving the announcement of the host for now.

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