The Newsreader: everything you need to know about the smash Australian show on BBC iPlayer

The Newsreader: everything you need to know about the smash Australian show on BBC iPlayer

The Newsreader is a new hit BBC show that you very possibly may have missed. The release a fortnight ago went somewhat under the radar, but if you’ve been looking for a good series to get your teeth into, this might be it. It’s award-winning, was a smash hit down under and follows a newsroom in Australia in the Eighties. Think big hair and puffy sleeves in a really slick drama. What’s not to love?

Here is everything there is to know about the show that might just be one of the best you’ve seen all year.

What is it about?

The six-part series is set in Melbourne in 1986 and comprises two overlapping narratives. It follows a female co-anchor of a major six o’clock news show, Helen Norville, as she navigates all the moving parts of her life: dealing with her boss, her male co-presenter, ambitious reporters, incoming stories, ratings, evidence, interviews and personal revelations. The series also follows the story of male reporter Dale, who also wants to be a newsreader.

Then there are at least half a dozen plot lines woven in, including a bombing, a prison release and a royal wedding.

 (BBC/Werner Film Productions)
(BBC/Werner Film Productions)

Who is in it?

The cast is almost entirely made up of Australian actors, and there are no massive names for a UK audience, but it’s all the better for it. Think Borgen or The Bridge – you get instantly addicted to the storyline and characters, and fall in love with the actors who play them later.

Anna Torv, who previously played an FBI agent in Fox’s Fringe, plays Helen Norville. She’s joined by Robert Taylor (Into the Ashes, Wolf Creek) as Geoff Walters, Norville’s co-anchor. Then there’s William McInnes (The Time of Our Lives) who plays her boss Lindsay Cunningham and Sam Reid (The Railway Man) as ambitious reporter Dale Jennings.

Marg Downey (Full Frontal) plays Geoff’s wife Evelyn, and Stephen Peacocke (Hercules) plays another reporter, Rob Rickards. Then there’s Chai Hansen (Shadowhunters) as cameraman Tim Ahern and Michelle Lim Davidson (Utopia) as Noelene Kim, another member of the newsroom.

 (BBC/Werner Film Productions)
(BBC/Werner Film Productions)

How was it received?

The Newsreader was a smash hit as soon as it was released, becoming Australia’s national broadcaster ABC’s most-watched drama programme of 2021 and pulling in an average of 1.5 million viewers across its different platforms.

At the 2021 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, the series received the most nominations of any show that year and went on to bag five trophies including a win for Best Drama Series.

Over in the UK journalists loved it too: The Guardian said, “It’s a well-told and engrossing drama, offsetting the franticness of a tumultuous industry with a dignified sensibility,” while The Times gave it four stars and said: “The Newsreader was, is, a joy to watch, and this is mainly down to Anna Torv who plays with fabulous nuance Helen, a talented, takes-no-crap TV newsreader in an Australian newsroom in the 1980s, suffering sexism, male hostility and panic attacks.”

In December Variety listed the show on its Best International TV Shows of 2021 list, at number four out of thirteen.

 (BBC/Werner Film Productions)
(BBC/Werner Film Productions)

How can you watch it?

The series was released in Australia last August, but premiered on BBC Two this July. All six episodes are still available on BBC iPlayer.

So what’s next?

Six episodes of The Newsreader is just too few. We’re deep in it with the complicated Helen and then suddenly the series is already over. Luckily for fans, a second series is already in the works. It might take some time until it makes it to the BBC, as the series renewal was only reported in March, but it’s nevertheless reassuring to know that it’s on its way.

The Newsreader is available on BBC iPlayer