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2021 slate: This year’s line-up

In its 2021 slate of original, entertaining and insightful content, SBS is featuring the network’s biggest ever local commissioned content offering, with distinctive stories.

This year’s programs’ include

• Five new commissioned drama series across SBS and SBS On Demand in 2021: Copping it Black, The Unusual Suspects (pictured), New Gold Mountain, Iggy & Ace and The Tailings

• New 200-episode series, The Cook Up with Adam Liaw, weeknights on SBS Food

• New and returning commissioned documentaries exploring diverse Australian stories and highlighting literacy, domestic abuse, anxiety and personal identity

• New Gold Mountain cast revealed and new faces to the network including Celia Pacquola, Jay Laga’aia, Rob Collins and Jess Hill

• 160 hours of new drama to premiere on SBS On Demand each month including: Shadowplay, Romulus, The Handmaid’s Tale, War of the Worlds and Shrill

• SBS On Demand will be in more languages with the introduction of Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese, joining Arabic and Simplified Chinese, plus more in-language and subtitled content for communities

• More opportunities supporting underrepresented creatives behind the camera as SBS expands its initiatives to boost diverse storytelling

• SBS Media to offer unparalleled insights with new thought leadership studies

SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald said: “2021 is set to be a bumper year across the network, with a record number of local dramas, documentaries and acquired programs that will surprise, challenge and inspire audiences. We scour the globe, and the country, for unique stories in languages, genres and formats that will connect Australians with the world around them and with each other. Now, more than ever, we want to continue championing the issues and communities not often seen or heard.”

SBS will bring five new commissioned drama series to Australian audiences in 2021 – the most significant drama offering the network has ever delivered.

With the support of Screen Australia Indigenous Department and French company APC Studios, SBS and National Indigenous Television (NITV) are excited to announce Copping it Black, a new local drama with universal appeal, from CAAMA and Bunya Productions, with the producing team behind Mystery Road. The beauty of Indigenous art and the sometimes-devious practices in the global art market take Detective Toni Alma on an epic hunt for a killer. Spanning her small Northern Territory community and art galleries across the globe, this is a murder mystery like no other, exploring culture, community and the very human pursuit of identity and belonging. 

SBS announced a talented local and international cast that will headline the network’s most ambitious drama series yet, New Gold Mountain. The murder mystery explores the story of the Australian gold rush from the perspective of Chinese miners who risked everything for a chance at unlikely wealth in a strange new land. The impressive cast is led by Mulan and Dead Lucky’s Yoson An, Vikings star Alyssa Sutherland, and Christopher James Baker from True Detective, with familiar face Dan Spielman and exciting new talent Mabel Li.

Led by powerhouse female trio, Aina Dumlao (Sanzaru, Ballers, MacGyver), AACTA award-winner Miranda Otto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Homeland, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Michelle Vergara Moore (Condor, The Time of Our Lives), the highly anticipated four-part heist caper The Unusual Suspects is also coming to SBS in 2021.

SBS’s Digital Originals program, in partnership with Screen Australia and NITV, will be extended for another three years. The program provides opportunities for creatives traditionally underrepresented in the screen sector to develop scripted short-form projects for SBS On Demand.

SBS will premiere two new Digital Originals – Iggy & Ace, a comedy exploring friendship, addiction and recovery through a queer lens, and The Tailings, a dramatic coming of age story. The latter is a murder mystery set against one of the most fragile, beautiful landscapes in Australia, the west coast of Tasmania, and celebrates the tenacity and pride of regional communities rarely seen on screen.

Lost for Words presented by actor and singer Jay Laga’aia is a heart-warming three-part series exploring Australia’s staggeringly low adult literacy rates. Jay and an expert literacy teacher will follow the journey of 10 adults who are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change what has always been holding them back – reading, writing and spelling. 

Everyone’s favourite doctor will return with Australia’s Health Revolution with Michael Mosley. Dr Mosley and Australian diabetes educator and exercise physiologist, Ray Kelly, explore the big picture of type 2 diabetes in Australia. Building on the success of Is Australia Racist?, What Does Australia Think About? will uncover how Australia really views disability, ageism and obesity.

See What You Made Me Do will explore one of the most complex and urgent issues of our time – domestic abuse. Presented by investigative journalist Jess Hill, this series will examine the fine lines between love, abuse and power. From NITV, Incarceration Nation will put the justice system on trial and question the cost this system is having on the culture, values and wellbeing of Indigenous people in Australia.

The home of First Nations storytelling, NITV will present more powerful documentaries. The Fight Together follows NRL star Dean Widders’ journey to invent a new pre-game ceremony in response to the Maori Haka, to celebrate Aboriginal cultures and counter racism in rugby league. The First Inventors, a co-commission currently in development with Network 10, will see presenter Rob Collins meet and collaborate with First Nations authorities whose frontline fieldwork is giving exciting new insights into ancient Indigenous innovations and discoveries. NITV will also have returning seasons of favourites including the Logie award-winning Little J & Big Cuz and Going Places with Ernie Dingo.  

SBS Managing Director, James Taylor said that last year “demonstrated the distinctive and vital role of SBS as a contemporary, multilingual Australian broadcaster – part of the very fabric of our multicultural Australia – in an extraordinary way connecting with audiences in a way that others can’t.” 


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