1. Nov 10
    Drama Queens
    It’s a golden era for television drama in Australia.  Think Wentworth, Devil’s Playground, Wanted, Glitch, Secret River, The Principal, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, House of Hancock - among many others.
    And what do those dramas have in common?  All had women as their driving creative force – either as producers or broadcaster commissioners.
    In the traditionally male-heavy television industry echelons, drama is the genre which seems to bust the mould and, at November’s TV Talks, we’ll get to meet three of Australian’s leading Drama Queens.  We’ll talk about their shows, about what they have brought to the industry creatively and hear some women’s intuition on the way ahead for one of television’s major success stories.


    • Sue Masters: Executive Producer, SBS Drama
    • Jo Porter: Director of Drama, Fremantle Media
    • Penny Win:  Head of Drama, Foxtel


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bios:

    Sue Masters is one of Australia’s most acclaimed producers and executive producers and has won all Australia’s film and television awards as well as a multiplicity of international honours. She has been Head of Drama for ABC TV and was responsible for several series of Seachange, Something in the Air, Grass Roots and Changi during the 1990s, and in 2000 to 2009 was Head of Drama for Network Ten during the production of Secret Life of Us, White Collar Blue, Mary Bryant, Tripping Over and many high end mini-series and series.

    Most recently Sue has Executive Produced Serangoon Road, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and The Secret River for the ABC, and in 2010 Executive Produced The Circuit Series 2 for SBS.

    Before producing Prisoner, Brides of Christ, Paper Man, and multiple seasons of G.P which she created, Sue was a writer on the US series The Loveboat after a Specialist Traineeship at the BBC. As a writer, script and story editor, Sue has worked on hundreds of hours of Australia’s finest dramas and in 2011 wrote and produced the award winning documentary feature, Fighting Fear. Sue joined SBS as Executive Producer for Drama in August 2014 on a part time basis. Her first drama for SBS The Principal, aired in October 2015, with Benjamin Law’s funny drama The Family Law to TX in January 2016.

    Jo Porter is FremantleMedia Australia’s Director of Drama and has lead the establishment of its Drama team.  Porter, a multi-award winning producer, is currently focused on developing a range of returning and stand-alone drama series. Series one of Wentworth, a reimagining of the Prisoner series, set new records when it premiered in 2013; achieving the highest ever ratings for a drama series on Foxtel and is the highest rating Australian show on UK primetime since 2002. Wentworth has sold to over 80 territories and being remade in 2 other languages and counting. It has also received great critical acclaim and many industry awards. Porter created and executive produced Wonderland, for Network Ten. The launch episode of Wonderland was the highest premiere for a new series on Ten during 2013. Currently she is in production on a tele-movie for Network Ten, based on Princess Mary of Denmark, Wentworth series 4 and continues at the helm of iconic drama Neighbours. Prior to her time with FMA, she produced five drama series for the Seven Network, including All Saints, Always Greener and Packed to the Rafters.

    Penny Win started her media career in radio in New Zealand. She went on to work in television in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong and is experienced in both Free to Air and Pay TV. Penny came to Foxtel in 1996 after working at Star TV in Hong Kong and managed the running of Foxtel’s drama channels from 2007 -2014. Penny has been involved in the commissioning of drama for the past four years and worked on the commissioning of Spirited, Wentworth, Devil’s Playground, Deadline Gallipoli and The Kettering Incident for Foxtel. She was appointed Head of Drama in 2014.

  2. Oct 06
    What the Fact(ual)?
    Checking out any TV guide these days to find a serious take on factual content and you might struggle to find something to your taste.  Sure, serious subjects are still being covered – but they’re likely to be cloaked in a “reality” wrapper, designed to grab the biggest audiences. 

    Shows like Gold Coast Medical, Border Security, What Really Happens in Thailand, The Embassy, Kings Cross ER, Go Back to Where You Came From, Restoration Australia, First Contact and Struggle Street all cover territory previously occupied by more traditional documentary makers. But does it even matter?  In a world where fast entertainment is king, why shouldn’t we get our factual content in the same way?

    To discuss this with MC Denise Eriksen, and tell us about themselves and what’s happening in their factual worlds, we welcome Joseph Maxwell, Commissioning Editor at SBS who has Kebab Kings and Black Panther Woman coming up next month, Kylie Washington, Director of Unscripted at Matchbox Pictures who is currently working on Real Housewives of Melbourne and Lyndal Marks, EP of Factual Programming at the Seven Network who is responsible for programs including Border Security and The Force.


    • Joseph Maxwell:  Commissioning Editor, History and Science, SBS
    • Kylie Washington: Director, Unscripted Matchbox Pictures
    • Lyndal Marks: Executive Producer, Factual Programming, Seven Network


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bios:

    Prior to his role as Commissioning Editor for SBS Australia, Joseph Maxwell developed, directed and produced high-end, prime-time documentaries for many of the major broadcasters in Britain and America. Joseph also set up and ran his own production company. He started as Commissioning Editor of Documentaries for SBS in January 2012, overseeing Science and History documentaries including Who Do You think You Are and the recent series on Uranium.  

    Kylie Washington has produced 100's of hours of broadcast television over the last 15years. Kylie's entertainment credits have included international award winning program's such as Amazing Race Australia (International Emmy 2012), Amazing Race Asia (AXN, Best Reality  Asian Television Awards), Big Brother (Ch 10), I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (ITV), Prank Patrol (ABC and CBBC, Logie Nominated 2011) and Cash Cab (AXN, Best Adaption Asia Television Awards). From a foundation in independent documentary and short drama directing, her award winning documentaries and short films have been screened nationally and internationally.
    In 2012 Kylie joined Matchbox Pictures as the Director of Unscripted Content. She is responsible for the development and production of a diverse slate of original and formatted entertainment programs, including the adaptation of NBCUniversal's content for the Australian market . Her original format, Formal Wars was commissioned by Network 7 and has been sold to several territories around the world.
    Kylie is the Executive Producer of The Real Housewives of Melbourne which delivered the largest audience ever for a Foxtel reality program. Series three is now in production.

    Lyndal Marks is currently the Executive Producer of Border Security (which she’s worked on since it began) as well as The Force, Beach Cops, Surveillance and Dash Cams. Lyndal is also Executive in Charge of titles including Highway Patrol, What Really Happens in Thailand and Air Rescue and has four new shows in development.

    Her began her career at 60 Minutes as a researcher, before working as a producer working on award winning stories and investigations. Lyndal worked overseas for CBS 60 Minutes in London as the producer for Morley Safer and as the European producer/reporter for FOX TELEVISION.

    After moving to New York she joined A Current Affair on Fox Television as a Reporter/Producer.  Over 5 years she worked on countless stories including solving the murder of a young girl which resulted in the life imprisonment of the accused and was the only Australian woman on prime time syndicated television.

    After returning to Australia Lyndal joined Midday with Kerri-Anne as Executive Producer and was also EP of Funniest Home Videos. She was the Creator and Executive Producer of Fresh and EP’d ET, Malcolm Naden: Australia’s Most Hunted, Australia’s Deadliest, World’s Richest Dogs and World’s Deadliest Shark Coast!

  3. Sep 01
    Love is on the air

    In days gone by, you’d go to the pub or go online to find the love of your life. These days a selected few get to go on television and have the nation watch their efforts to snare love. Naturally, we’re fascinated to find out how the producers responsible for these lovefests – with their tears and tantrums - play Cupid.

    Given that it’s the first day of spring, we’ve decided to explore love on the telly. So come and hear some behind-the-scenes stories from The Bachelor EP Shaun Murphy, Farmer Wants a Wife EP Caroline Spencer and Shine’s Casting Director Wizzy Evans (who recently cast the new series The Bachelorette). MC Denise Eriksen will be asking all the hard questions!


    • Shaun Murphy: Head of Entertainment, Warner Brothers International Television Production Australia
    • Caroline Spencer: Director of Development, Fremantle media
    • Wizzy Evans: Casting Director, Shine Australia


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bio:

    Emmy-nominated producer Shaun Murphy is Head of Entertainment at Warner Brothers International Television Production Australia. Shaun is also Executive Producer of The Bachelor Australia, having led the show for all 3 seasons. Previously he served as Executive Producer for Australia’s Next Top Model.

    Prior to this, he led an LA based production company, producing formatted, branded, reality and documentary content, including the highly acclaimed, Emmy nominated Crips and Bloods: Made In America and Coolfuel Roadtrip (Discovery USA).

    Shaun has 20 years TV producing and directing both in Australia and the USA, and started his career as a Segment Producer on Better Homes and Gardens in Australia. He was also a Presenter & Producer on Ten’s Totally Wild (TEN).

    Caroline Spencer was promoted to the role of Director of Development of FremantleMedia Australia in October 2013. Caroline leads the development process for all non-scripted programming as well as adapting international formats for the Australian market. Prior to this appointment she had great success as an Executive Producer with FMA on programs such as MasterChef, Series 8 of The Farmer Wants A Wife and Recipe To Riches. Caroline says that Farmer has produced bucketloads of marriages (series 8 alone had two) – and a handful of babies. She says the show is considered one of the most successful – for true relationships and marriages - in the world.  

    Other producing credits include 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.

    Wizzy Evans’ casting career began over 20 years ago at Mullinars Casting in Sydney. With a focus on Film and TV, she cast hundreds of commercials, many feature films including Siam Sunset, Monkey’s Mask, Serenades and the Australian casting for Lord of the Rings. Wizzy was also honoured to be involved in casting an array of TV series including Marriage Acts, Secret Men’s Business and A Difficult Woman. In the late 1990’s, she was sent down to head Mullinars Casting in Melbourne and cast for the critically acclaimed Secret Life Of Us and Last Man Standing.

    After opening her own business in 2005 and casting Scott Hick’s film, The Boys are Back and Dean O’Flaherty’s Beautiful, Wizzy was yearning for a change of pace and had a hunger for more variety. She then joined Endemol Shine Australia in Sydney and has since headed the in-house Casting Department. Recently, Wizzy has cast many reality and factual shows including Gogglebox, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Shark Tank and The Great Australian Spelling Bee. She is known for her risk taking when it comes to casting choices and her vast knowledge of casting a variety of genres across many mediums.

  4. Aug 04
    Docs that rock

    Well made documentaries rock our world, stimulating memories, forcing change and shining a light on our world.  This month's TV Talks features two people who've made some of the best, Paul Clarke and Deb Masters.

    Paul's pop culture doc credits include Blood And Thunder: The Sound Of The Alberts, Between A Frock And A Hard Place, Long Way to the Top, as well as Whitlam: The Power and the Passion and Brilliant Creatures: Germaine, Clive, Barry and Bob. Paul's regarded as one of Australia's most resourceful and innovative filmmakers with a distinctive, subjective and empathetic approach to social history.

    Deb is renowned for her brilliant work on programs like Four Corners (A Gracious Gift on organ donations, Banking Bad exposing banking practices and People Smugglers in Australia). She also produced the highly successful The Killing Season - exposing the leadership traumas of the Labor Party.

    Their work regularly reaches huge audiences in an age dominated by mass market, reality television.  So, how do they keep delivering stories which touch a chord on often difficult subjects - making documents of record which engage audiences?

    At this month’s TV Talks with MC Denise Eriksen they'll analyse their successes and consider the place of documentary in today's television landscape.


    • Deb Masters: Executive Producer – Australian Story
    • Paul Clarke: Producer, Director, Writer, Blink TV & Bombora Film & Music Co


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bios:
    Deb Masters has a long career in producing and director key factual television series in Australia.  Deb was with Four Corners from 2009-2014, where she won multiple awards including the Gold Walkley and a Logie for the Banking Bad episode which she produced. Aside from Four Corners, she has worked on Witness, Page One, the 7.30 Report, Mike Walsh Show, Dynasties and 100 Years: the Australian Story. She is renowned for her journalistic rigour and for her superb visual story telling skills and has won numerous awards – including Walkleys – for her work over the years.

    Recent credits include The Howard Years, Dynasties and 100 Years: The Australian Story. Most recently, she was the Series Producer for the highly-acclaimed political documentary series, The Killing Season. Recently it was announced that Deb has taken on the role of Executive Producer of the long running ABC TV Series Australian Story.

    Paul Clarke is a filmmaker and entertainment producer with a proven track record as one of Australia’s most creative and successful entertainment and documentary creators.  Documentary credits as writer, director, producer and/or executive producer include: Blood and Thunder: The Sound of the Alberts, Between a Frock and a Hard Place, Hello, This is Australia, Brilliant Creatures: Germaine, Clive, Barry and Bob, Whitlam: The Power and the Passion, Abba: Bang-A-Boomerang, Wide Open Road: The Story of the Car in Australia, Lillian Roxon: Mother Of Rock, Bombora – The Story of Australian Surfing, Love is in the Air – Stories Of Australian Pop and Long Way To The Top – Stories Of Australian Rock. 

    In addition to his documentary credits, Paul has numerous Entertainment and comedy credits as producer/writer/director/executive producer including producing a range programming around the Eurovision song contest for the past 5 years, producer/writer on Bondi Rescue (Series 7), working as creator/writer/executive producer  on the first series of Spicks And Specks, 5 series of the youth program Recovery, and several Children’s TV Series and numerous music specials.

  5. Jul 07
    Is this the funny bit?

    Growing Australian TV comedy in an era of stripped reality, Netflix and the internet…

    Australians believe they have a great sense of humour but if we're such knockabout larrikins who love a laugh where is all the Australian made comedy on our TV screens? Previous generations lapped up programs like The Mavis Bramston Show, Kingswood Country, Paul Hogan, Aunty Jack, The Comedy Company, Mother and Son, The Money or The Gun, D Generation, Fast Forward, Norman Gunston, Thank God You're Here and much more. With a few notable exceptions Australian made comedy has largely disappeared from our screens. Why did broadcast television's love affair with Aussie comedy hit the rocks and where are the makers of comedy finding an audience today? To help us understand that dilemma MC Tim Clucas will be joined by: Comedy legend Ted Robinson, whose CV includes The Big Gig, The Gillies Report, This Sporting Life and Good News Week. Producer/Director, Nathan Earl, with credits including The Chaser's War on Everything, Balls of Steel, The Checkout and Plonk and ABC Head of Content and Creative Development, Adrian Swift, whose remit covers all comedy on the National Broadcaster.


    • Adrian Swift: Head of Content and Creative Development, ABC TV
    • Ted Robinson: Producer/Director
    • Nathan Earl: TV Producer/Director


    • Tim Clucas

    Guest Bios:
    Adrian Swift has been hanging round The Media for far too long (his words, not ours). Adrian has tried his hand at everything from newspapers to television, terrestrial to multichannel, digital, social and even sitting on boards. In 2014 he decided to tinker at the ABC and took up the role of Head of Content and Creative Development at the ABC where he leads the team of Content Heads in developing and commissioning content across all genres.
    In his previous role as Director of Development and Digital at Nine, Adrian led the network’s integrated digital content strategy and had the good fortune to oversee highly successful series such as The Voice, Big Brother and Celebrity Apprentice. He returned to Nine after a 12 year stint in the UK where he worked for Endemol, Mirror Newspapers and founded etv, the UK's top branded media, production and strategy company. Prior to working in the UK, Adrian spent many years in both commercial and public television in Australia including two stints at SBS, and many years as both a presenter and producer before joining Getaway as its founding producer.

    Ted Robinson is a Producer/Director, Writer and Script Editor.  Ted initially trained as a dancer in Melbourne and went on to graduate through Circus, Film, Radio, Theatre, Revue, Arena Productions and Television.
    He is probably best known for his production and/or direction of satirical TV series which span more than three decades and includes such pop culture icons as The Gillies Report, The Big, Gig DAAS  Kapital, The Dingo Principle, The Glass House, The Sideshow and Good News Week.

    Ted spent four years at the ABC as the Commissioning Editor for Comedy during which time he Executive Produced a raft of production including The Big Gig, Money or the Gun, Live and Sweaty, This Sporting Life, Debates, The Late Show et al.
    He also worked as a writer for many international acts including Peter Allen, Danny La Rue and Bette Midler.

    Ted has a long involvement with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and produces, for television, their Galas, Debates and other special events. He is currently involved in the production of Good News Week and a new TV drama – comedy series Die On Your Feet, starring Adam Hills, Alan Brough, Corinne Grant, Greg Fleet and Stephen Gates - which he also directed.
    He has a number of comedy/drama projects in development through GNWTV.

    Nathan Earl, after graduating from AFTRS in 2005, AFI, Directors Guild and Emmy nominated Producer/Director Nathan has worked extensively in the Australian television industry, across a range of genres.
    He has both produced, directed and written for many successful television programs including The Chaser’s War on Everything, Review With Myles Barlow, The 7:30 Report, Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure, Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight, The New Inventors, Balls of Steel, Wanted, The Checkout and was Senior Director on the Andrew Denton produced Hungry Beast.

    Nathan has also worked for a number of established advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett and Clemenger BBDO producing TVC’s for the likes of Malibu, Connex, The Commonwealth Bank, 7Eleven, the ARU, Citibank and Dulux.

    In 2011 he served as Showrunner, Writer & Director on the award winning 21 part web series The Great Crusade, which took out Gold and Bronze Lion honours at this years Cannes Lions awards.

    Nathan also served as Creator, Showrunner, Writer and Director on the comedy series Plonk. Which screened on Channel 10, Channel Eleven, Australia Network, Qantas, and online. He has just completed work on Plonk series 2 which will air across the Nine Network, including streaming service STAN. 

    Tim Clucas’ (MC) 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 (FMA), Beyond Productions, and the Nine Network.
    His most recent full-time role was with 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 now a freelance TV Consultant.

  6. Jun 02
    The Watercooler Effect

    Network Seven ended 2014 as the number one network for the 8th year in a row (in Total People and Weeks Won) and is still consistently kicking goals in 2015 with its crowd pleasing Reality shows MKR and House Rules, programming stalwarts Home and Away, Sunrise and Better Homes and Gardens, not to mention their AFL broadcasts and popular dramas like Catching Milat, How To Get Away with Murder and Winners and Losers. Behind the scenes of this massive success story are two people: Director of Production, Brad Lyons and Director of Programming, Angus Ross. This month at TV Talks we’ll get the chance to meet Angus and look into the “Dark Art” of programming a commercial TV network in Australia today. We’ll also explore his personal back story, his thoughts about the power of the “Watercooler Effect” and take look into the crystal ball called “The Future of TV” with him.


    • Angus Ross: Director of Network Programming, Seven Network


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bio:

    Angus Ross, Director of Programming of the Seven Network, is responsible for the programming of its three channels - Seven, 7TWO and 7mate – all of which have dominated the TV ratings over the last eight years. In his role, Angus works closely with Director of Production, Brad Lyons, as part of the new program development group.  Angus’ various roles at the Seven Network have included: Head of Scheduling and Acquisitions; Sydney Program Manager; Daytime Programmer and Head of Research.

    Prior to joining Seven, Angus worked for two years as a consultant for television research group Audience Development Australia. Adelaide-raised, Angus graduated from the University of South Australia in 1993 with a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Marketing.

  7. May 08
    To Market, To Market

    Every year hundreds of hopeful Australian Producers, Broadcasters and Distributors flock to the two huge TV Markets in Cannes to sell their brilliant ideas, or buy the rights to the “next big thing” before the opposition does. 

    All the members of our panel this month have just been to the April MIP TV market, and will be reporting back in on what they saw, what they bought and sold (or didn’t) and general trends. Fiona Gilroy, Grahame Grassby and Micah Hewson are old hands at the markets, but for Bondi Hipster Nick Boshier –it was the first time. So of course we’ll also be asking about the deals they made, the characters they met and the parties they attended!


    • Nick Boshier: Actor, Producer, Director & Writer, Ludo Studios
    • Fiona Gilroy: Content Sales & Acquisitions Director, Flame Distribution
    • Grahame Grassby: Executive Producer, Stella Projects
    • Micah Hewson: Head of Development ITV Studios, Australia


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bios:

    Nick Boshier
    co-created the online juggernauts Beached Az, Bondi Hipsters and Trent from Punchy.  With his co-producers Christiaan and Connor Van Vuuren, Nick went from shooting videos in a friend’s apartment to writing, directing and starring in their television debut Soul Mates, which aired on ABC last year, and co-producing and writing #7Dayslater which won an International Digital Emmy. In March, Screen Australia gave them funding to write a Bondi Hipsters feature film, and supported them along with a number of other successful online content creators to attend MIP TV for the first time.

    Fiona Gilroy: With over 25 years experience in television content sales and marketing, Fiona has licensed content to broadcast and other platforms in nearly every territory in the world.  Beginning at Film Australia in 1989, she built the content sales catalogue across all genres for distribution into markets worldwide and in doing so built strong relationships with the independent production sector and content buyers. 

    As Content Sales Manager at SBS from 1996, Fiona assessed the commercial potential of projects at every stage of development and produced marketing plans and sales projections.  She worked with producers to obtain production funding from the market securing presales and other market interest.  During her time at SBS the sales catalogue, which had previously only represented local SBS productions, grew to represent content from Australian television producers who had been commissioned from channels outside the SBS fold.

    Fiona established her own consultancy business Fi’sAbility in 2009 and worked with producers to maximise commercial opportunities for their content, helping them with business plans and working in the market on their behalf.

    Since 2011 she has headed up Flame Distribution, a specialist factual distributor with sales offices in Sydney, London and Eastern Europe.  Flame represents over 1,000 hours of factual and documentary content from over 90 different producers from around the world.  Its sales staff this year are attending nearly 30 trade fairs and conferences around the world each year as well as making territory trips to meet with buyers face to face in order to stay abreast of their content needs.

    Grahame Grassby: In 2006 Grahame established Stella Projects, an Australian based production and licensing agency with an emphasis on children’s TV properties. Stella Projects is currently representing TV properties Annoying Orange, Bubble Bath Bay, Domo, Guess How Much I Love You?, Lah-Lah’s Big Live Band, LazyTown, Miffy and Shaun the Sheep.

    He worked with ABC Enterprises in Australia for 20 years and was responsible for financing and managing television properties including Bananas in Pyjamas (series 3), The Wiggles – Lights Camera Action Wiggle and Five Minutes More.

    In 2013/4 Stella Projects was the majority co-producer with Bardel Entertainment in Canada of the TV series Lah-Lah’s Adventures that was produced for CBeebies Australia, Seven Network Australia, BBC Worldwide, Knowledge Network Canada and BBC Kids Canada.

    Micah Hewson was promoted to Head of Development in 2014 after four years with ITV Studios Australia producing, creating and adapting television formats as Executive Producer of Development. With 15 years in television, Micah worked as a producer for Network Ten and an executive producer at Southern Star Entertainment (Endemol), working with the Seven, Nine and Ten networks as well as UK broadcasters ITV and SKY.

    His ITV Studios Australia credits include being co-creator of both Please Marry My Boy and The Trophy Room, plus working on Paddock to Plate, River Cottage Australia and Come Date With Me. Micah was a producer for the first six seasons of Big Brother Australia and also has credits on Friday Night Download, Friday Night Games, the annual ARIA Awards, Wipeout’s Greatest Hits, Real Prison Breaks, The Secret Life of Tanzania, Fear Factor, Next Wave, Ralph TV, Ready Steady Cook, Sinatra Under Siege and The Kylie Interview.

  8. Apr 07
    On Location

    Shooting overseas always has its share of challenges – locking down locations, using local crews and talent and negotiating with authorities/customs/the military is just the start of it – it’s risk assessment hell! Our panel this month at TV Talks have all dealt with these issues – and a whole lot more. Rick McPhee has “gone back” to Malaysia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, UAE, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Christmas Island Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma and Cambodia. Ben Ulm has been holding celebrities captive in South Africa and Jenny O’Shea has sent crews into deepest, darkest, South America and then had to get them rescued.

    They all have some great stories to tell so don’t miss it!


    • Rick McPhee – Series Producer, Go Back to Where You Came From (series 1-3) CJZ
    • Ben Ulm – Executive Producer, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, ITV Studios Australia
    • Jenny O’Shea - Head of Production Operations and Business, Beyond Productions


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bios:

    Rick McPhee
    started his career as a researcher on Good Morning Australia before moving to London where he helped set up The Big Breakfast which revolutionized breakfast television in the UK. Rick produced the infamous episode in which Paula Yates met Michael Hutchence.

    His career made a full circle in 2010 when he moved to Kabul to help two 21 year olds produce Good Morning Afghanistan. Rick also mentored the producers of  Super Star - the show that caused a female singer to evacuate the country because her head scarf fell on to her shoulders during a performance and she did not immediately replace it.

    Beside getting up at ludicrous hours to make breakfast television, he has made a comedy program (Stupid, Stupid Man), several entertainment shows, many factual programs (including Bondi Rescue) and one of the shortest lived programs in the history of Australian television (The Chat Room).

    Go Back To Where You Came From is the most ambitious programs Rick has produced and almost elevates him to the ranks of semi-serious documentary maker. The first series won the best in show Rose d’Or. The second series won an International Emmy. The third series is scheduled for broadcast in the winter of 2015.

    Ben Ulm - During his 30 year television career, Ben has developed and produced content for all Australian free-to-air networks as well as subscription television. He has also created programming for international networks: for Channel 4 in the UK and Discovery and National Geographic in the US. Ben has been responsible for award-winning factual, history and lifestyle productions as well as entertainment, reality and comedy content.

    Prior to joining ITV Studios Australia in 2014 as Head of Content, he was Head of Factual Entertainment at WTFN and has also worked at Beyond International, where he was executive producer for Australian network development. In 2011 he accepted the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Documentary for Trishna & Krishna: The Quest For Separate Lives, on which he was executive producer. He has worked on programs including The Living Room, Bondi Vet, Tony Robinson’s Time Walks and Bollywood Star.

    Jenny O’Shea is a graduate of Griffith University and AFTRS, the first thirteen years of Jenny’s career involved producing, writing and post producing TVC’s, international and domestic co-pro documentaries and high-end corporate videos in Queensland.

    From there Jenny moved into Production Management at Beyond Productions and then into a Production and Business Executive role. She has worked across a multiplicity of genres – documentary, factual entertainment, reality, studio, outside broadcast and drama. Jenny is responsible for setting up international production offices, structuring finance plans, negotiating broadcaster and talent agreements, and overseeing production operations. She has worked on successful programs including MythBusters, Selling Houses, Deadly Women, Hot Property, Taboo, Wild Life With Olivia Newton John, Beyond 2000, and most recently the feature film Manny Lewis.

    A large part of her work at Beyond has been working for US broadcasters and filming in international locations, many remote. Logistics, crisis management and health and safety are a major focus and she has managed all manner of risks from explosives, helicopter crashes (in remote Northern Tanzania), and sharks, to sending a crew into a swingers party.

    In her current role as the Head of Production Operations and Business at Beyond Jenny oversees domestic production across Beyond’s production divisions, as well as production offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  9. Mar 03
    (Re)writing History
    Australians are loving seeing their history on screen. We’ve seen an explosion in “true stories” lately, with famous and infamous events and characters bought to life via big budget dramatised documentaries, and even bigger budget “based on actual events”  TV.  At this months TV Talks we’ll be talking to several producers responsible for some of the highest profile “event TV” this year – from The Story of Us (Essential Media), to The House of Hancock (CJZ) and Gallipoli (Endemol). We’ll explore the challenges for producers creating entertaining, engaging TV while still staying (mostly or closely) true to the facts. Or while bearing the facts in mind.


    • Claudia Karvan – Producer, House of Hancock
    • Paul Bennett – Head of Drama CJZ
    • John Edwards -  Producer, Gallipoli
    • Chris Hilton – CEO, Essential Media


    • Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bios:

    Chris Hilton
    is one of Australia's most prolific and award winning producer/ directors who has made films across a broad spectrum of subjects for the world’s major broadcasters. Chris is CEO and founding partner of Essential Media and Entertainment, a multi award winning Sydney-based production company with a track record in high end factual, television drama, feature films and children’s animation. He is also a founding partner of the North American factual entertainment producer Essential 11 Television with offices in Los Angeles and Toronto.

    Chris has produced over 300 hours of programming for international broadcasters such as PBS, BBC, Channel Four, Discovery, National Geographic, Sundance and Arte as well as all Australian television networks. His recent Executive Producer credits include: Australia: The Story of Us, The Real Mary Poppins, Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide, My Brother the Serial Killer, Voyage to the Planets, Miracles, The Floating Brothel, Seduction in the City and The Grammar of Happiness.

    Chris serves as a Documentary Councillor for Screen Producers Australia and won the 2014 Stanley Hawes Award for his outstanding contribution to the documentary industry in Australia.

    Paul Bennett began his career in film as a staff writer on the SBS strip drama Going Home. For two years Paul developed new television dramas for BBHTV including the 13 part children’s series Ocean Star which he wrote for and script edited in 2002.

    After working as a script editor on McLeod’s Daughters, he was offered a position at Network Ten as deputy to Sue Masters, Head of Drama. In his capacity as Network Drama Executive Paul worked on The Secret Life Of Us, Neighbours, Blackjack, Small Claims, The Cooks, The Incredible Journey Of Mary Bryant, The Surgeon, The Society Murders, Tripping Over, Bombali and Murder In The Outback – The Joanne Lees Story.

    He has been Head of Drama at CJZ since Nov 2008 and delivered the anticipated tele-movie The Great Mint Swindle for Channel Nine’s 2012 schedule. Most recently Paul produced the telemovie House of Hancock which has just aired on the Nine Network.

    Claudia Karvan has been working in the Australian Film and Television industry since 1980 as an acclaimed actor, producer, director and creator of multi award winning television series.

    Claudia was creator, producer and star of Love My Way which won numerous awards nationally and internationally including the Australian Film Institute (AFI) for Best Television Drama Series three years in a row.  For her role as Frankie in Love My Way, Claudia was two time winner of both the Silver Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actress and the AFI for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She was also creator, producer and star of Spirited, which attracted AFI nominations for Best Drama Series and won the Sydney Morning Herald Guide’s Couch Potato award for Best Drama Series and secured a passionate audience following.

    The House of Hancock is Claudia’s first mini-series as producer.

    John Edwards has produced more than 600 hours of television drama that have won 29 Logie Awards, 39 AFI and AACTA Awards, 8 ASTRA Awards, numerous awards within Australia and a number of international awards, as well being the only Australian television producer nominated for the Golden Globe Awards.

    John's television credits include Gallipoli (which he produced with Imogen Banks and Robert Connolly), Puberty Blues, Offspring, Tangle, Dangerous (with Imogen Banks); Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War and Rush (with Mimi Butler); Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Spirited (with Claudia Karvan and Jacquelin Perske); Beaconsfield, Love My Way (with Claudia Karvan); Marking Time, The Surgeon (with Judi McCrossin); The Secret Life of Us (with Amanda Higgs); On The Beach and Police Rescue (with Sandra Levy). He is currently working on The Beautiful Lie for ABC.

    In 2011, he was conferred an Honorary Masters degree by the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

  10. Feb 10
    The Boy from Tassie

    Paul Franklin has a reputation for reinvigorating and reinventing shows (think Masterchef and Biggest Loser) and as being one of Australia’s best TV producers.  He was born and bred in Tassie and has just returned to Sydney from a two and a half year stint in LA as Executive VP, Programming for Shine America. Now he’s Director of Content for Shine Australia.  He’s got so much to say about the TV business, we’re doing a one-on-one “in conversation” to hear how he works, what he’s learned, how he sees the future – and, of course, why he got into television in the first place.

    Guest: Paul Franklin – Head of Content, Shine Australia

    Denise Eriksen

    Guest Bio:

    Paul Franklin:  For the past two and a half years, Paul Franklin has served as Executive Vice President, Programming at Shine America, where he has helped launch the studio’s unscripted programming department. While in Los Angeles, Paul was responsible for and served as an executive producer on such U.S. series as MasterChef and MasterChef Junior (FOX), The Biggest Loser (NBC), The Face (Oxygen), Tabatha Takes Over (Bravo), Minute To Win It (GSN) as well as recently launched programs Restaurant Startup (CNBC) and Fake-Off (TruTv). Paul also helped launch Canada’s top rating MasterChef (CTV).

    Prior to joining Shine America, Paul was Shine Australia's Head of Programming from 2010-2012, where he oversaw MasterChef and Junior MasterChef, The Biggest Loser and Relocation Relocation. Before his first stint with Shine Australia, Paul travelled the globe launching Shine Group's successful MasterChef format in numerous territories including India, France and the U.S.

    From 2005-2009, Paul was Head of Factual Programming for FremantleMedia Australia, where he oversaw the original launches of MasterChef, The Biggest Loser, Farmer Wants A Wife and The Apprentice. Paul also previously worked in the UK on a variety of shows for Endemol, Shine and Fremantle, including show-runner for the BBC1 hit series Changing Rooms.


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.