Australian series The Newsreader, broadcast in the UK on the BBC during 2022 and still available here on iplayer, is an entertaining and pitch-perfect pastiche of ’80s newscasting, created and co-written by Australian filmmaker Michael Lucas.
It is definitely the best TV I’ve seen so far from Australia (admittedly not loads!). It stars Sam Reid as Dale Jennings, an ingenue news reporter, and Anna Torv plays emotionally complex newscaster Helen Norville, a more senior colleague.
Both are chasing career success in an alpha-male dominated environment characterised by misogyny, homophobia and angry tirades from boss Lindsay Cunningham (played by William McInnes). And amid the contemporaneous news reports (Chernobyl, the Challenger disaster), is a character-driven romance between Dale and Helen. But this is not a straightforward love story.
Helen has mental health challenges, but Dale is dealing with psychological conflict too, as he wrestles with his sexuality, with the viewer – and Dale – uncertain whether his feelings towards men mean that he’s bisexual, or that he’s gay and fighting a deep sense of denial. There are no easy answers to the characters’ dilemmas, but the script rings true, and the main performances are backed by a convincing cast of supporting characters.
The Newsreader won big at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, bagging prizes for best drama series and best lead actress. A second season is on its way.