1. Nov 11
    Food Glorius Food

    rom The Chef Presents on Channel Seven in 1957 through to a whole menu of food shows on SBS, ABC and Foxtel, not to mention the juggernauts of My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef, Australia has always loved its food programming. At this month’s TV Talks we’ll meet some of the on-screen stars and behind-the-scene creators of our current foodie programming and go behind the scenes to uncover the true story behind our fascination with food.  We’ll also be talking about what Australia’s food shows say about our society - and where the food journey will take us next.


    • Sonja Armstrong – Executive Producer, What’s The Catch
    • Manu Feildel  - Chef and co-host, My Kitchen Rules
    • David McDonald- Co-executive Producer, Masterchef
    • Lyndey Milan -  Foodie and host,  Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia
    • MC: Denise Eriksen

    Panellist Bios

    Sonja Armstrong: Before co-founding Essential Media & Entertainment with partners Chris Hilton and Ian Collie, Sonja was a corporate banker with Citibank, Business Affairs and Finance Director with London based distribution and production company Enterprise Pictures and Development and Production Executive at the Australian Film Commission.

    Her credits span across history, popular culture, science, health and food with a particular interest in food: Heat in the Kitchen (Producer), High Steaks: Neil Perry (Producer), Gourmet Farmer (Series 1-3 (Producer and then Executive producer), and EP of Gourmet Farmer Afloat and Shane Delia’s Spice Journey (Series 1-2).

    Sonja is currently executive producing What’s The Catch? – an investigative campaign series on Australia’s fishing industry.  In this series food becomes a vehicle to campaign for social change.

    Manu Feildel: At a young age Manu started as an apprentice in his father’s restaurant and quickly progressed to a fine dining restaurant to finish his apprenticeship. But soon thereafter the travel bug bit Manu and he packed his knives and headed for London. It was there, working in the top French restaurants in the UK, that Manu really began to understand and love the career he had chosen.

    In 1999 Manu flew to Sydney, Australia where his career started to move at a lightning pace — opening Sydney Morning Herald Chef’s Hat winning kitchens across Sydney, and eventually his own restaurant in Paddington.  His newest restaurant venture, Le Grand Cirque, opened in Melbourne in March 2014.

    Manu is one of the most popular personalities on Australian television as co-host of the long-running Channel7 series My Kitchen Rules, but he has been a feature on Australian television for over a decade. His appearances include Channel Ten’s Ready Steady Cook, The Circle, Sunrise, Channel 7′s Morning Show, 9am with David & Kim and co-hosting the series Boys Weekend.

    My Kitchen Rules debuted in 2010 and has been a huge hit with the finale of the fourth series being the most watched Australian TV event for 2013. The fifth series screened in 2014 and again attracted huge ratings success. In 2011 Manu won the 11th series of Dancing with the Stars showing that he has an array skills outside the kitchen as well!

    David McDonald is a director, writer and producer who most recently was Co-Executive Producer on four series of MasterChef, including the series MasterChef the Professionals which won the 2013 AACTA award for Best Reality Series.

    Previously he was head writer, producer and director of the SBS satire series Life Support (2001-2003). David has also directed The Election Chaser (2001) for the ABC and Comedy Inc (2003-2004) for the Nine Network. As well as directing, he also produced and was a writer for Comedy Inc – The Late Shift (2005) resulting in AFI nominations for Best Direction in Television and Best Comedy Series, 2006 Logie Awards nominations for Most Outstanding Comedy Series and the 2005 Golden Rose of Montreaux Award for Best International Comedy Series.

    David also directed the 2009 Disney Channel’s series As the Bell Rings which won the Astra award for best short form series.

    Lyndey Milan, OAM: Since 2011 Lyndey has hosted six television series: Lyndey Milan’s Baking Secrets (2014), Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia (2014), Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Ireland (2013), Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas, and most recently, Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast, co-hosted with spice king Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill and Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece which follows Lyndey and her late actor son and co-host Blair on a tour of the Peloponnese seeking culinary delights and adventure Lyndey’s profile extends globally.

    In 2000 she presented a live segment on Australian food on the top rating NBC Today Show. She also appeared with Anthony Bourdain when he was filming in Australia, taking him to Tetsuya’s restaurant and was featured in Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey. During Lyndey's time on Fresh on the Nine Network Australia, she regularly hosted such visiting chefs as Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay. Lyndey is a popular presenter on morning shows on all commercial networks and was previously co–host of Fresh for over eight years. She contributes to Selector magazine, and spent over ten years at ACP, principally as Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

    Lyndey is constantly in demand at various food and wine shows and festivals running masterclasses and as a facilitator, debater, food judge and presenting. She won The Vittoria Legend Award at the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide 2012 awards and was named as a NSW finalist in the Hudson Private & Corporate Sector Award category of the Telstra Business Women's Awards. In 2014 Lyndey was awarded an OAM in the Australia Day Honours List for service to hospitality, the food and wine industry and the community.

  2. Oct 07
    Don't Go There
    This month, at TV Talks, you’ll meet three Executive Producers who make programs on subjects that most producers avoid: mental illness, homeless people, child marriage and abduction, prostitution, obesity, sexual perversions – you get the picture. Getting access and clearances for these programs is only part of the battle. Convincing broadcasters that this is must-see content, and then dealing with the moral and ethical questions that inevitably arise when dealing with the most vulnerable in our society mean that getting these programs on air can be a major battle.

    Alison Black’s most recent production Changing Minds is a three-part series premiering on the ABC on October 7 (straight after TV Talks), which goes inside Liverpool Hospital’s Mental Health Unit. Tom Malone, as EP of current affairs program Sixty Minutes, is regularly called upon to make difficult ethical and moral calls in the name of journalism. Martyn Ives, EP of series Forbidden and Taboo has worked on some of the more “shocking” hours of television you might get to see and has also had to regularly ask the question – how far is too far?


    • Alison Black: Executive Producer, Northern Pictures
    • Tom Malone: Executive Producer, 60 Minutes, Nine Network
    • Leo Faber, Head of Factual Development Asia/Pacific, Essential Media
    • MC: Denise Eriksen

    Panellist Bios

    Alison Black - Executive Producer, Northern Pictures, is trained as a newspaper journalist straight from school before joining the BBC as a researcher. Alison specialised in foreign news, becoming ITN's youngest ever foreign news editor at 26. During that period she was responsible for coverage of events such as Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first Gulf War. From her London base she was assigned to Washington DC, Paris, Tokyo and lots of other places with great air miles.
    At 30, Alison moved into non-news programming at the BBC. She was labelled a “genre-misfit' by the HR Department, based in Entertainment and Comedy, making factual programs.

    In 2001 she negotiated the first 'access all areas' series in a sexually transmitted infection clinic in Glasgow. That series Sex, Warts and All became a bit of a hit for BBC Three, who made four series, one shot with the porn industry in Los Angeles and another called Sex, Warts and All Down Under.

    The glowing reference from the clinical director of the STI clinic turned out to be a fantastic calling card which enabled access into other 'difficult' environments and since then has Alison has specialised in getting documentary cameras into places where cameras hadn't gone before, from dodgy weight loss clinics to homeless hostels.

    Choir of Hard Knocks, which followed the progress of a group of homeless people as they came together with Jonathon Welch to form a choir, won a Logie for the Most Outstanding Factual Program in 2008. The Choir has just celebrated the 8th anniversary of their first rehearsal. Changing Minds -  the first Australian documentary shot in the locked wards of a mental hospital - airs October 7-9 on the ABC at 8.30pm. 

    As befits her 'genre misfit' status she has worked on programs as diverse as Farmer Wants A Wife and Top of The Pops. More recently Alison discovered Silvia Colloca whilst casting for Recipe to Riches at FremantleMedia. Silvia's first series Made In Italy premieres on SBS next month, and she's tipped to be the next big thing in Australian food programming.

    She is now back in Development at Northern Pictures, looking for new talent and the next major access-based documentary series. 

    Tom Malone - Executive Producer, 60 Minutes, joined the Nine Network's flagship current affairs program 60 Minutes as Executive Producer in October 2012.

    Prior to this Tom was Executive Producer of the Today Show from 2006 to 2012, leading it to reclaim the top breakfast program spot in Sydney, Melbourne and along the East Coast.

    In 2004-05, he was a Senior Producer for the Mike Carlton breakfast radio show on 2UE. In 2003, Tom was a reporter for the Steve Price breakfast show on 2UE, covering the Iraq War.

    While backpacking overseas in 2002 he reported for 2UE and Sky News on the death of the Queen Mother and the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

    Tom was the 2UE Political Correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery from 2000 to 2002, covering the 2001 Federal Election and the United Nations Millennium Conference.

    Leo Faber has over 15 years’ experience in factual story telling as both writer, series producer and director involved in award-winning programs such as Whatever! The Science of Teens, Miracle in the Storm and Masterchef.

    Prior to joining Essential Media as Head of Factual Development, Leo was responsible for writing and producing hundreds of hours of factual programming for Australian and international broadcasters such as the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery, Channel 4 and ITV.

    While working for Beyond Productions, he worked as a Series Producer on Forbidden (Beyond Productions/Discovery Networks International) which deals with some of the most off-the-wall subcultures: from PonyPlay - where people take on the persona of a horse, to Rubber Dolling - an extreme form of cross dressing, through to  M-Preggers, men who pretend to be pregnant and Producer of Taboo (Beyond Productions/National Geographic) where cultural taboos were under the microscope.

  3. Sep 02
    Producing Yourself
    Producing, and appearing in, your own programs can be challenging. Wearing both the producer and performer hats is double the responsibility – and double the work.

    This month we’ll be talking about what it’s like to do these dual roles. What do you do when the network complains about what the talent is wearing? Who do you tell when the social media trolls mention how untalented/badly dressed/annoying your talent (ie you) is? Who do you trust to get honest feedback on your own performance, when you are also the “boss”? These and other tricky questions will be discussed by Mr Bogan Hunter himself - Paul Fenech – and Craig Recaussel of The Chaser, Balls of Steel and The Checkout fame, with MC Denise Eriksen.


    • Paul Fenech: Producer, Director, Performer
    • Craig Recaussel: Comedian, Producer and Writer
    • MC:  Denise Eriksen

    Panellist Bios

    Paul Fenech began his TV career as a stagehand at ABC TV and for the following seven years, worked his way up the TV chain, from sound assistant to floor manager, before realising his ambition of becoming a director. In 1996 Paul’s film Space Pizza won the Tropicana Award at Tropfest and in 1998, won the big one with the film Intolerance starring Austen Tayshus. His first low budget feature called Somewhere in the Darkness was the first Australian film to be selected for competition at the Slamdance Film Festival in the US.

    Paul began working at SBS on various documentaries, before Pizza the TV series was born. Since its inception, almost seventy episodes of Pizza have been made since 2000. Fat Pizza, the feature film, is also one of the only Australian films to turn a profit recently, and is currently ranked in the top 100 Australian films that have performed well at the box office.

    His next creation was Swift and Shift Couriers, a comedy series based on the employees and a typical working day within a courier company. Swift and Shift Couriers season 1 & 2 features TV legend, Ian Turpie and Amanda Keller.

    The first series of Paul’s Housos gained media attention and publicity when Channel 9’s, A Current Affair program, mistook the comedy for a “government – funded reality show.” Despite the controversy surrounding the series, Housos went to air in October 2011 on SBS. The series held the 10pm timeslot on Monday nights but continued to pull high ratings.

    In November 2012, he released the feature film Housos vs Authority, based on the television series. This was followed by a second series of Housos in 2013, which won the 2014 Logie Award for ‘Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program’. Paul’s most recent series Bogan Hunters, involved a nation-wide search for ‘Australia’s Greatest Bogan’ and aired on 7mate in May 2014 – the series received some of the highest ratings for 7mate since the channel’s inception.

    Currently, he is working on Fat Pizza vs Housos, a feature film which brings together characters from two of his most popular television series.  It is due for theatrical release in late November 2014.

    Craig Recaussel is an Australian writer and comedian who is best known for his work on ABC’s The Chaser, and more recently The Checkout.

    Craig and a group of satirical comedians founded The Chaser newspaper, which led to a number of ABC TV Chaser programs including The Election Chaser, CNNNN, The Chaser’s War on Everything and most recently, Yes We Canberra.

    He was born in South Africa but moved to Australia at a young age. The only Chaser to be educated in the public school system, Paul went to school first in Adelaide and later in Bowral. He graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics (Social Science) and Law.

    He has also co-hosted the Triple J shows Today Today, Bloody Sunday and The Race Race with fellow Chaser Chris Taylor and been the host of The Comedy Channel Series Balls of Steel.

  4. Aug 05
    Defining Reality

    What is Reality? When someone talks about Reality (with a capital R) TV to you – what do you think they are talking about?

    Shiny Floor shows?  Cooking/renovation/weight-loss/true love competitions? Constructed commercial doco series like Real Housewives or Wife Swap or Farmer Wants a Wife?  Serious ABC/SBS style constructed docos like Go Back To Where You Came From and Making Australia Happy?  What about "ob docs" like Bondi Rescue, or Kings Cross ER? Are they "Reality"? Or are they just "reality". 

    Is the difference only in definitions by funding bodies and what gets left out (or put in) in the edit?  To discuss, define and deliberate is this month's panel: Peter Newman (Creative Director, Shine Australia), Sonya Wilkes (Executive Producer, Seven Network) and Marion Farelly (Director, Media Tribe) with MC Denise Eriksen.


    • Peter Newman, Creative Director, Shine Australia
    • Sonya Wilkes, Executive Producer, Seven Network
    • Marion Farelly, Director, The MediaTribe
    • MC:  Denise Eriksen

    Panellist Bios

    Peter Newman is the Creative Director of Shine Australia. Having worked in the Australian, the UK and the US markets Peter has built a significant track record in originating and delivering award winning, talked about content for broadcasters around the world.

    Before joining Shine Australia he was Head of Production and Development for Australian broadcaster SBS where he managed the commissioning team across all genres. Prior to that Peter was Factual Commissioning Editor. His crowning achievement to date was the critically acclaimed and multi award winning Go Back to Where You Came From, which received the Best of Rose at the 2012 Rose D’or.

    Before moving to Australia from his native city of London in 2008, Peter was Head of Development for Outline Productions. Whilst there the company delivered hit factual entertainment shows such as Dumped for Channel 4 and The House of Tiny Tearaways for the BBC. His career began at the BBC where he produced and directed for eight years.

    Sonya Wilkes is an Executive Producer at Channel Seven, and part of the development team charged with creating new programs and deciding which programs we put to air. Sonya is currently producing and developing Bringing Sexy Back, a new reality/ob doc makeover show due to go to air August 2014.

    She has worked in the production department of Channel Seven since 2000, and in recent years has been involved in the development and production of reality shows like House Rules, World’s Strictest Parents, Conviction Kitchen, Celebrity Survivor and My Restaurant Rules. Sony has also worked with production companies on shows like Please Marry My Boy, Four Weddings, etc.

    In the early 2000’s Sonya did her time in lifestyle television and ob doc, on shows like The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie, Border Security, The Real Seachange, and The Great Outdoors.

    She started her career as a news journalist with Prime Television in Tamworth, before moving to Channel Seven News in Sydney as a producer/reporter, then a couple of years at London News Network. She returned to Sydney in 2000 to work on the Sydney Olympics for Channel Seven. She has a degree in journalism from QUT in Brisbane, and a Masters in English from the University of Sydney.

    Marion Farelly was part of the teams that created, launched, or produced the first series of UK shows like The Big Breakfast C4, Restoration BBC2, Light Lunch C4, Late Lunch C4, Friends Like These BBC1, Dog Eat Dog BBC1, Step up to the Plate BBC1 & 2, Your Kids Are In Charge BBC2, Must Be The Music Sky 1, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner BBC1, Eden C4, LA Pool Party BBC3, Young Doctors BBC3, and in Australia, Friday Night Live Network 10, Friday Night Download Network 10, My Favourite Book ABC and The Recruit, Fox 8. Most won awards or went on to be successfully recommissioned for years, some both.

    Marion has reworked  some the world's largest existing brands - Big Brother C4 UK and Network 10 Australia,  The X Factor C7 Australia, Ready Steady Cook Network 10 Australia, The Celebrity Apprentice C9 Australia, The Farmer Wants a Wife C9 Australia, It Takes Two BBC2 UK and Strictly Come Dancing / Dancing With The Stars UK.

    Recently she was Executive Editor of Format Entertainment in the UK then was head hunted by Fremantle Media Australia as Director of Television Content alongside Cathie Scott – when the slate included The X Factor, The Farmer Wants a Wife and The Celebrity Apprentice.
  5. Jul 01
    Get a Life
    Lifestyle television has been a staple of Australian TV for more than two decades. We love to see how we can improve our house/garden/wardrobe/holidays/hobbies/life – even if we don't actually do any of it!  So how do Australian networks keep "Lifestyle" fresh – and on our agenda? How do the producers keep coming up with new content? What are the trends for the future? And most importantly, do the producers who make the shows have fantastic houses/gardens/wardrobes/holidays/lives themselves?  Join MC Denise Eriksen and our hugely experienced panel for answers to all this, and more.


    • Kristy Gillespie, Executive Producer, Better Homes and Gardens
    • Paul Rudd, Executive Producer, The Living Room
    • Sonia Harding, Series Producer, Selling Houses Australia
    • MC:  Denise Eriksen

    Panellist Bios

    Kristy Gillespie is Executive Producer of the Seven Network’s Better Homes and Gardens.  Now in its 20th year on air Better Homes is Australia’s longest running lifestyle program and has won 12 Logie awards for Most Popular Lifestyle Program. 

    Producing more than 80 hours of TV a year, Kristy lives and breathes food, renovation, gardens and DIY. Kristy’s career has included The Great Outdoors, The Outdoor Room, Mythbusters, Taboo, Today Tonight, 11AM and Sydney Weekender.

    Paul Rudd
    has worked in television for over thirty years. He was an editor on the pioneering lifestyle show Burke's Backyard before he became a producer and helped start up several lifestyle shows including Getaway and Sex. Since the early 1990s, Paul has worked as a Series Producer and Executive Producer on information shows for all of the free-to-air networks including RPA, Enough Rope, The Nest and Top Gear Australia.

    Paul has been Executive Producer of the TEN lifestyle series, The Living Room, since it started in 2012.

    Sonia Harding
    is the Series Producer of Selling Houses Australia. The show is produced by Beyond Productions, and is the highest rating series in Foxtel’s history. Sonia has series produced the show since it was commissioned seven years ago and has been heavily involved in adapting and developing the original UK format. As a trained Interior architect, Sonia is passionate about design and is able to bring that design knowledge to the makeover element of the show.

    Sonia has also series produced other lifestyle shows such as Hot Property, What’s Good for You and Renovation Rescue. Sonia is currently working on series 8 of Selling Houses Australia and a number of design focused specials which are due to air on Lifestyle in the coming weeks.

  6. Jun 03
    Diversify or Die?

    In an increasingly competitive market, it is an ongoing challenge for content producers to stay in business in the Australian media marketplace. A handful of companies seem to dominate access to broadcasters commissioning dollars, and production costs (and the expectations of production quality) are dramatically increasing.

    So how do small production companies not only stay in business, but grow? This month’s TV Talks presents reps from three expanding Australian production companies and their strategies; diversification of genres being one of them. We’ll also be looking at the challenge for 'creatives' in putting their 'business' heads on. All three companies received funding in the first round of Screen Australia’s Enterprise Funding initiative in 2009.
    MC, Andrew Mercado, will also be asking them about how that helped.


    • Alan Erson:  General Manager and Head of Factual, Essential Media
    • Chris Oliver-Taylor: Managing Director, Matchbox Pictures
    • Michael Cordell: Creative Director, CJZ
    • MC:  Andrew Mercado

    Panelist Bios

    Alan Erson is General Manager and Head of Factual at Essential Media and Entertainment Australia. He runs a focused development team and a factual slate of approximately 30 hours of Television. He is the EP of hundreds of non-fiction series and films including Kids on Speed?, Contact and The Prime Minister is Missing. Alan is an award winning writer, director and producer. Until June 2012 he was Head of Documentary and Factual at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation leading the commissioning team responsible for over 70 hours of TV and multiplatform content each year.

    Essential Media and Entertainment is one of Australia’s leading independent television producers of high quality content for both local and international audiences with offices in Sydney, Los Angeles and Toronto. Recent production’s from Essential include:  Jack Irish, Rake, Kids on Speed, Bubble Bath Bay, Shane Delia’s Spice Journey, Gourmet Farmer, Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide and the feature film Saving Mr Banks.

    Michael Cordell is one of Australia’s most established producers and directors. His projects straddle many genres and have won numerous awards. 

    Michael’s recent directing credits include the documentary feature Three Boys Dreaming and On Trial - the first murder trial filmed in Australia. Michael was EP and writer on the ground-breaking SBS series Go Back to Where You Came From which garnered a Logie, two Walkley nominations, two UN Media Awards and SPAA Independent Producer of the Year. In an Australian first the format also won the Rose d’Or for the best international TV production of 2011 and an International Emmy in 2013. It is now in its third series.

    In 2013 Michael executive produced true crime series Wanted, the documentary feature JFK: The Smoking Gun and docudrama The Outlaw Michael Howe. He also oversaw the latest season of six-time Logie winner Bondi Rescue and Two Men In China featuring Tim Flannery and John Doyle. In drama, Michael produced The Great Mint Swindle for the Nine Network and is currently producing a telemovie on the world’s wealthiest woman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

    'Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder' is a partnership with comedy and drama producer Nick Murray. The recent purchases of 'Zapruder’s Other Films' and New Zealand production company 'Greenstone' makes CJZ the largest privately owned independent in Australia.

    Other CJZ titles include Gruen Transfer, The Checkout (with The Chaser team), Recruits, You’re Skitting Me, Shitsville Express! and Dumb Drunk and Racist.

    Chris Oliver Taylor is managing direcotor of Matchbox Pictures. He started his career at the BBC in London, working across a number of production roles and programs, from Top of the Pops and The Generation Game, to Match of the Day and Westminster Live. Chris emigrated to Australia in 2000 and worked at the ABC initially as production manager in Queensland and then in Melbourne, in Arts and Entertainment programming such as Strictly Dancing, New Inventors, Enough Rope and Spicks and Specks. He then worked as a production executive, overseeing the business side of ABC Drama, Arts & Entertainment and Comedy. Programs that Chris was involved with included Kath & Kim, MDA, Fireflies, We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High.

    Chris was promoted to Head of Production in 2005 responsible for the production, delivery and resource allocation of the entire ABC TV slate, over 2500 hours of content. In 2008, he took on the role of Head Business & Operations for ABC Television and in 2011, moved to the independent production sector as Managing Director of Matchbox Pictures with oversight of all strategic and operational aspects of the business.

    Managing a team of experienced producers to deliver a diverse content plan across all networks in Australia and in partnership with NBC Universal internationally Chris is also currently deputy chairman of Screenrights and a Board member of the Screen Producers Australia.

    Matchbox Pictures develops and produces scripted and non-scripted television programs and feature films for audiences throughout the world. Formed in 2008 by Tony Ayres, Penny Chapman, Helen Bowden, Michael McMahon and Helen Panckhurst, Matchbox is one of the most dynamic production houses in Australia.

    In  2011, NBC Universal took a majority stake in Matchbox Pictures acquiring full ownership of the company in January 2014 allowing Matchbox to diversify its content and produce television drama, children’s programming, factual and entertainment, animation and feature films for the domestic and international marketplace including; The Real Housewives of Melbourne, Nowhere Boys, Formal Wars, The Slap, Underground: The Julian Assange Story and The Straits.


  7. May 06
    You're Kidding
    Australia produces some of the best kids TV content in the world, and yet it’s a constant battle for producers to get projects funded and on air. In this month’s TV Talks we’ll meet the people who hold the Kids TV 'purse strings' in Australia and find out what’s happening in this incredibly varied and exciting part of our industry, and how you might be able to get your hands on some of their dollars!

    This month's host Wendy Gray (Head of AFTRS Open) will ask the panel how they found their way into the world of Kids TV and what they love about it.


    • Deirdre Brennan (Head of Children’s TV, ABC ) 
    • Hugh Baldwin  (Director Television & Digital Content, Nickelodeon)
    • Andy Ryan (co Head of Drama, Nine Network) 
    • Niki Hamilton (Supervising Producer, Children’s TV Network Seven) 

    Panelist Bios:

    Deirdre Brennan is Head of Children’s TV at the ABC and is a dedicated public broadcaster with a passion for the children’s genre. Deirdre commenced her new role as Head of Children’s Television, ABC TV with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in December 2013.

    In April 2013, BBC Worldwide appointed Deirdre Brennan as Director of Content Australia & New Zealand, taking responsibility for content management and development in the region - overseeing the editorial delivery of the ANZ channels, format production and drama investment. Deirdre joined BBC Worldwide Australia as Director of Television in August 2010, managing production, programming, acquisitions, on-air promotions and presentation for the local portfolio of channels. 

    As General Manager/Director of Channels and Branded Services Australasia from January 2012, Deirdre was responsible for the ongoing performance and development of the linear channel portfolio – UKTV, UKTV NZ, BBC Knowledge, BBC Knowledge NZ and CBeebies - as well as managing local operations for BBC World News and branded non-linear services in the market, including Global iPlayer.

    Her extensive television career has included roles at MTV Networks and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She joined BBC Worldwide from Nickelodeon Australia, where she was Director of Programming from 2007 to 2010. Under Deirdre's tenure, Nickelodeon twice won ASTRA's Channel of The Year (2007, 2009). From 2001-2007, Deirdre Brennan was Children’s Programmer for ABC TV, establishing ABC Kids as the number one destination for Australian families and an internationally recognized brand. She became one of Australia's first female television announcers when she joined ABC in 1986 whilst studying Economics/Law at Sydney University, before moving to roles in ABC Marketing and ABC TV Programming (1998-2001). She extended her on-air experience with radio broadcasting, as well as project direction, stage management and choreography. Deirdre is a Member of the International Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences.

    Hugh Baldwin is Director of Television and Digital Content for Nickelodeon Australia and New Zealand. Hugh’s mission is to drive the network’s evolution towards a single-minded content strategy across platforms, locally and globally and his responsibilities see him driving Nickelodeon’s programming and content strategies, including the management and planning of intellectual properties, programming acquisitions and development, and media planning for television, online, mobile and social. 

    He also currently sits on the board of Screen Tasmania where he has been a board member since 2008. He was on the advisory committee for the Australian Council’s Story of the Future project. He has taken forever to complete his thesis for his PhD in Children’s Interactive Digital Television production – but he vows to finish one day… hopefully. 

    Hugh worked on early interactive and ‘enhanced’ television projects in Australia, including with the Seven Network on their enhanced digital channel coverage of the Athens Olympics, the 2005 Australian Tennis Open and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Prior to that, Hugh spent three years working as sports journalist and early internet producer. He travelled to Korea and Japan to cover the 2002 FIFA World Cup. At the turn of the millennium, Hugh was the editor and online producer for a Sydney-based sports-entertainment company, NextGenSports, overseeing the production and delivery of broadband and narrowband sports content.

    Prior to joining Nickelodeon, Hugh worked as a freelance script-and-screenwriter. Hugh has also worked as a director and producer for children's theatre, animation, live action, radio, television, the internet and video. Hugh is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

    Andy Ryan is Co Head of Drama, at the Nine Network and oversees the development, commissioning and production of Nine Network’s Australian drama output. He has responsibility for commissioning around 70 hours of original, first-run Australian drama each year for both prime time and children’s drama. Drama commissions for 2013/14 include Fat Tony & Co, Love Child (series 1 & 2), Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, Underbelly: Squizzy and House Husbands (series 2 & 3). Children’s drama series currently in production include: Pirate Express, Heidi, Buzz Bumble and Adventures Of The Skinner Boys.

    In 2012, Andy was Executive Producer of the telemovies, The Great Mint Swindle and Beaconsfield; the mini-series Underbelly: Badness and HOWZAT! Kerry Packer’s War; and the series House Husbands and Tricky Business.

    As Network Script Executive at Nine (2006-11) he oversaw the development and production of multiple award-winning productions including Underbelly (series 1-4), Sea Patrol (series 1-5) and Rescue: Special Ops (series 1-3), the telemovies Scorched, Wicked Love and Blood Brothers, and three Underbelly: Files telemovies – as well as the children’s dramas Lockie Leonard, Dogstar, Stormworld, Gasp! and Dennis & Gnasher.

    Following two years as script producer on the top-rating McLeod’s Daughters, Andy joined Nine as Network Script Executive in 2006. After completing a Master of Arts in screenwriting at AFTRS in 1997, his television career began as script editor and writer on All Saints. Three years later he moved to Home & Away as story editor before branching into children’s animation as script producer on two Australian/German co-productions: The Adventures of Blinky Bill and Flipper & Lopaka.

    Niki Hamilton: Supervising Producer, Children’s TV Network Seven. Niki Hamilton has over 20 years of television experience producing and managing an extensive range of television programming for Australian broadcasters and independent productions companies. Not many producers can say their careers have moved successfully between live sport, news and current affairs to reality and children’s TV.

    Niki started as a cadet in the Channel Seven newsroom but quickly moved into Seven’s production department where she cut her TV teeth on the Network’s vast range of live sport, children’s TV, entertainment, sitcoms, drama and emerging reality television. She then spent six years honing her producing and story-telling skills travelling with the Beyond 2000 team. She feels her early career enabled her to learn the craft of making television and these skills have enabled her to move between many types of TV.

    Niki’s resume includes 12 years producing live sport which included Channel Seven's summer and winter Olympics, Grand slam tennis and three rugby world cups.  More recently Niki has been involved with Seven’s current affairs Sunday Night program, SBS’s Insight and Channel 10’s remake of Young Talent Time. This chameleon of television is now heading up Channel Seven’s Children’s TV and feels the TV landscape is changing so quickly that success is only possible if program makers keep up with the changing demands of their audience and Children’s TV is at the cutting edge of this revolution.

  8. Apr 01
    But did it Rate ?

    The success of most TV series (and many careers) depends hugely on those magic numbers that arrive in in-boxes around the country every single day: the ratings results. To many, these figures are make-or-break. To most, they are a puzzle. How are they collected? Are the results really indicative of a programs audience? How else can we measure success in television? And what is the future of audience measurement in the future?

    These and many more curly questions will be discussed by our panel, with event MC Denise Eriksen:


    • Doug Peiffer: Chief Executive Officer, OzTAM 
    • Russel Howcroft: Executive General Manager of Network TEN 
    • Tim Clucas: Television Executive

    Panelist Bios:

    Doug Peiffer is CEO of OzTAM, Australia's official source of television audience measurement for the five mainland capital cities and nationally for subscription television. He has more 25 years of experience in television audience measurement and research, with particular expertise in its use in advertising strategy and business development.

    Doug began his media career installing people meters for Nielsen Media Research in the US. Over a 12-year period he worked his way up to establish and run television ratings operations in several Latin American and Asian countries. His tenure with Nielsen included the roles of Vice President of Media Services Latin America and Managing Director of Media Services in Singapore.

    In 1998 Doug joined TNS Media Australia as Joint Managing Director, where he led TNS’s bid for the Australian television audience measurement contract. In 2001 he became General Manager of Strategy, Integration and Research for Australian national commercial television broadcaster, Network Ten. During his time with TEN, Doug was responsible for all research activities for the Network and worked closely with the sales and program development teams.

    He joined OzTAM as Chief Executive Officer in December, 2010, where he works closely with OzTAM's clients - which include television networks, media agencies, advertisers and program producers - to help them make full use of OzTAM ratings data in their planning and forecasting decisions. He is also driving the expansion of OzTAM's ratings service to include measuring and reporting viewing of internet-delivered broadcast TV content.

    Doug is a founding member of the NSW Information and Privacy Advisory Committee, established to provide expert advice on matters of privacy and access to government information.

    Russel Howcroft is the Executive General Manager of Network TEN. He is responsible for TEN’s operations in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Prior to this role Russel was CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands Australia & New Zealand. In 1995 Russel returned from five years working at Lowe Howard-Spink in London and co-founded Leonardi Brandhouse. He spent the next 11 years running his own agencies with various partners, before joining George Patterson Y&R, Australia's oldest agency brand, in 2006. The group includes The Campaign Palace, VML, ideaworks and Brand Asset consulting. He fell in love with the advertising industry after doing a week's work experience at advertising agency McCann Erickson while part way through a marketing degree at Chisholm Institute (now part of Monash University).

    Through his appearances on ABC1’s hugely successful show The Gruen Transfer Russel has become the very public face of brand marketing and advertising in Australia. Media mogul Harold Mitchell even awarded Russel a much coveted Charlie Award on the basis of personal brand creation. Russel is also the former Chairman of the Advertising Federation of Australia. He has been a regular commentator on radio in Melbourne. He also sits on the boards of the Melbourne Football Club, The Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts & Free TV Australia.

    Tim Clucas’ immense television experience has been gained from all sectors of the industry – in Australia and internationally, in production and development, both with broadcasters and independent producers.

    Launching his career as a newspaper journalist before moving into Television in the 1970s, Tim’s greatest successes have been in developing, producing and managing the production of reality, lifestyle, light entertainment and information-based programs. That career has seen him sit on both sides of the TV fence working with Networks and Independent Production companies including Network Ten, FremantleMedia Australia, Beyond Productions, and the Nine Network.

    Tim has just completed four years with FremantleMedia Australia (FMA) as Director of Programming where he was responsible for many exciting television formats that have struck a chord with Australian viewers. That diverse production slate included The X Factor, Celebrity Apprentice, Australia’s Got Talent, The Farmer Wants a Wife, Grand Designs Australia, Project Runway and Recipe to Riches. Tim is 'gardening' at the moment and looking forward to new challenges.

  9. Mar 04
    Publicity Blues?

    Life as a TV publicist has changed dramatically in the last decade, with social media and multichannel delivery making the job much more demanding, and tricky. At this month's TV Talks meet three publicity powerhouses with years of experience between them, and different perspectives on the industry of 'spin".

    Find out what they do, their challenges, why they love their work - and how they got there.


    • Neil Shoebridge: Director of Corporate and Public Communications, Network Ten
    • Heidi Virtue: Publicity & Events Consultant, FOXTEL
    • Lesna Thomas: Former Head of ABC TV Publicity
    MC: Andrew Mercado

    Guest Bios:

    Lesna Thomas: Former Head of ABC TV Publicity: Lesna lead the ABC TV Publicity team for 14 years until mid last year. During her time at the ABC it expanded from just ABC1 to four channels including one exclusively for children. Lesna oversaw this massive expansion publicity-wise and was responsible for the on-going publicity and issues management for all four channels.

    Prior to joining the ABC, Lesna worked for Southern Star as Head of Corporate Publicity for nearly four years. This involved promoting the companies productions overseas at TV markets alongside the sales teams and maximizing international consumer media in countries that bought Southern Star programming. She was also a key player when the then privately-owned company Southern Star launched on the stock exchange to a record opening price.

    Lesna also worked in house for Film Australia for three years working closely with all Australian TV Networks and international sales markets. She worked for Prue MacSween and Associates for  several years when she arrived in Australia from New Zealand, where she had worked as a newspaper journalist for 12 years.

    Lesna is now undertakes consultancy projects she is interested in and mentors various young publicists.

    Neil Shoebridge: Director of Corporate and Public Communications, Network Ten: Neil joined Network Ten in February 2012, initially responsible for corporate communications, including media and investor relations. He added responsibility for the network's publicity department six months later, covering all content and talent across TEN, ELEVEN, ONE and www.tenplay.com.au

    Before Ten, Neil worked for Fairfax Media for 25 years, including stints as Editor then Managing Editor of BRW magazine and Marketing and Media Editor of The Australian Financial Review. He reported on the media industry for most of those 25 years and his weekly Shoebridge opinion column ran in one or both publications for two decades. He moved from reporting on to working in television because he wanted a challenge and a change. He got both.

    Neil has written two books, Great Australian Advertising Campaigns and The Secrets of Successful Marketing, and was a regular business commentator on radio stations as diverse as 2GB, 3AW and Triple R.

    Heidi Virtue: Publicity & Events Consultant, FOXTEL: Heidi Virtue commenced her career in media in the Promotions Department at Radio 2UE, after completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney. In 1994, Heidi joined Channel Nine as a Junior Publicist and worked her way up to Sydney Publicity Manager. During the 1990s and 2000s, Heidi worked on nearly every show the network produced and/or screened - and with every major network talent.

    Heidi briefly left Nine in 1999 to work as the publicist for the opening of Sydney's FOX Studios, but returned in 2000.

    In 2004, after 10 years in television publicity, and in search of more experience, Heidi became Public Relations Manager for Australia's leading fashion designer, Collette Dinnigan - using her skills in a related, but very different industry.

    Heidi returned to her passion for television in 2006 as a Senior Publicist at FOXTEL, but in 2007 was lured back to Channel Nine as Director of Publicity & Talent Relations a role she had always worked so hard to achieve. Heidi spent fiv years in this challenging role overseeing the publicity strategy for Nine's entire talent pool and program schedule nationally. At the end of 2012, Heidi stepped down to spend more time with her two year old daughter continuing to work part-time as a publicity consultant for FOXTEL.

  10. Feb 04
    Is Development Hell ?

    "Trapped in Development Hell" is one of those phrases you hear thrown around Hollywood screenplays and script guru's autobiographies. But most of the TV Industry seems to spend a lot of time "In Development" - so is it really that bad?

    Our panelists this month have responsibility for developing new programs for their companies, but in the current climate where Australian Broadcasters are risk-averse and lean towards tried and tested overseas formats, is it possible to get an original Australian idea up on our screens?  Find out what our panel thinks about this much-debated topic, and we'll also ask them about their inspirations and predictions for the future.

    • Elliot Spencer: Head Of Creative Services & Development, Shine Australia
    • Caroline Spencer: Director of Development, FremantleMedia
    • John Gregory: CEO Freehand TV
    • Hilary Innes: Director of Entertainment and Development, ITV Studios
    • MC: Denise Eriksen

    Guest bios:

    Elliot Spencer: Head Of Creative Services & Development, Shine Australia

    Elliot leads the development team at Shine Australia and is responsible for the development of Shine's original unscripted programs, the adaption of third party formats for the local market and the creation, implementation and management of the department's overall strategy.
    Prior to joining Shine Australia as a development producer in 2011, Elliot spent 7 years as a writer and presenter in children's television. His most successful run was at the helm of the Australian Broadcasting Commission's daily afternoon show Rollercoaster. In that role he wrote, produced and presented over 1000 episodes of original content, building a large and engaged audience ahead of the launch of ABC3, a digital channel dedicated to youth programming.
    Caroline Spencer: Director of Development, FremantleMedia Australia

    Caroline is the Director of Development for FremantleMedia.  Prior to this recent appointment she was a jobbing Executive Producer (her words) and her most recent credit as EP was on Recipe to Riches on Network TEN. Her other credits and experience over the twenty-plus years she's been in the Industry include:  EP of Farmer Wants a Wife (Series 8), EP Master Chef  (Series 3) and Series Producer of Series 2 and numerous producing credits on Celebrity Master Chef, The Biggest Loser, The Phone, Project Runway  Australia, Family Circle TV and Gladiators. Caroline also worked in New Zealand for a number of years, including being Head of Production at NHNZ for 3 years and prior to that as a Senior Production Manager at Beyond Productions.
    John Gregory: CEO, Freehand TV

    John Gregory is currently CEO of Freehand TV, but has previously worked as Vice President Business Affairs at Grundy International, General Manager of Beyond International, and Co-CEO of Imagination Entertainment.
    At Grundy International John was a member of the senior management team that established the Grundy television business in Europe, South America and South East Asia and readied it for eventual acquisition by Pearson Television.
    At Imagination Entertainment John helped establish one of Australia's first cross-platform media business and developed a range of successful brands that delivered content across both traditional and non-traditional platforms.
    John understands that the media business is no longer just about traditional TV. New media means new opportunities for reach, revenue and mutual benefit between channels and producers.
    Freehand has always made a significant commitment to developing its own IP (original shows include Planet Cake, Bush Slam and Costa's Garden Odyssey ) and recognises that the development process has never been more relevant or more important to TV businesses both big and small.
    Hilary Innes: Director of Entertainment and Development, ITV Studios

    Hilary Innes has nearly 30 years experience in television production and has been at ITV Studios Australia for 9 years. During this period she has overseen and developed projects as diverse as "Please Marry My Boy", "Come Dine With Me", " The Royal Flying Doctor Service", 'The Contender", "Dancing On Ice", "Battle of the Choirs", "Australian Princess", "An Aussie Goes Barmy", The "Australia's Next Top Model" franchise and many more. Hilary was a co-creator and oversaw the development and production of the highly successful and awarded "Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation".
    Prior to Granada she worked at the Nine Network as Head of Entertainment for two years. In this role she oversaw programs like "This Is Your Life", "RPA", "Comedy Inc", "Australia's Funniest Home Video Show" and developed "Mornings with Kerri-Anne" and "Micallef Tonight".
    Her Executive Producer credits at the Nine Network include two Logies, the Arias, The National IQ Test and the New Years Eve live broadcast 2001.
    Prior to this she worked at the 7 Network for some years developing and Exec Producing successful brands like "Harry's Practice", "Where Are They Now" and special events such as "40 Years of Television" & "The People's Choice Awards".


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.