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Homegrown heroes shine on small screen

AAP logoAAP 30/12/2016 Danielle McGrane

Sometimes TV is defined by moments.

Most people remember that shift in tone after Game of Thrones' Red Wedding where, from then on, anything seemed possible.

Fans of Offspring will also remember the immense shock and ensuing grief when beloved character Patrick was killed off suddenly.

But over the past year, it doesn't seem correct to define TV by its moments, but instead by a movement towards increasing homegrown content.

Every network and even local streaming services seem to be increasing their quota of original Australian shows.

Actors have been less likely to jump ship and head straight for the bright lights of Hollywood but instead are taking up the increasing opportunities closer to home.

Australian comedy, for example, is being encouraged from the ground up.

Fresh from the stand-up circuit, local comedians are getting the chance to develop their work for TV by ABC's Fresh Blood initiative.

Young comedy writers are given an opportunity to see their idea made into a series, which has resulted in two of the most unique sketch shows on TV, Wham Bam Thank You Ma'Am and Fancy Boy.

Network TV isn't the only place to view original local comedy.

No Activity, an original Aussie series from streaming service Stan, aired its second season this year proving that, much like Seinfeld, doing nothing can be its own reward especially in comedy.

"I think we're in a really exciting time for Australian comedy," Sarah Bishop from Wham Bam Thank You Ma'Am said.

"You've got all these amazing, upcoming comedians like Bondi Hipsters, Aunty Donna (a Melbourne comedy group) and they're all people who are in our show as well.

"A few years ago it felt like if you wanted to work with the best and create really good work you had to go overseas, but now I think there's so much good stuff happening here there's a really good case for us to stay and collaborate with people here."

After a break of nearly two years, Offspring's Proudman family came back for a sixth time in the Network Ten family drama, starring Asher Keddie.

No sooner had Offspring season six ended, Ten aired its new drama The Wrong Girl, based on Zoe Foster Blake's book of the same name and starring Love Child star Jessica Marais.

Not to be outdone, the Seven Network created a whole series around double-threat, singing/acting Jessica Mauboy.

The slightly soapie The Secret Daughter allowed Mauboy to explore her acting ability while keeping up her musical side as she played part-time country pub singer Billie Carter.

"This is something that, in the back of my mind, I've always wanted to do as a personal goal, visually, culturally and musically. I still wake up and go `I've done it. I really did it'," Mauboy said about making the show.

But a sneaky surprise came from Foxtel's showcase channel. The Kettering Incident starring Elizabeth Debicki was a gripping gothic mystery filmed in Tasmania that wasn't afraid to explore the supernatural.

SBS show First Contact proved that TV is still the best medium for stimulating nationwide debate over an issue.

In this case it was indigenous rights as well-known figures, singer-songwriter Natalie Imbruglia, ex-One Nation politician David Oldfield, TV personality Ian 'Dicko' Dickson, comedian Tom Ballard, actress Nicki Wendt and former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris, traversed the country to get a sense of all sides of the story, with Oldfield positioned as the prime protagonist.

But the runaway success was the return of Australian Survivor to TV, albeit on a new network (Ten) showing that reality TV still has a stronghold, particularly when it's set on a tropical island and results in an against-all-odds win from 24-year-old Kristie Bennett.

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