ABC rings in the new for 2013

Spicks and Specks will return to the ABC next year with a new host and team captains and Chris Lilley has a new comedy project, although there are no details yet. Last week the ABC announced these and other highlights of its programming slate for 2013, including a telemovie based on Peter Temple's novel The Broken Shore, the comedy It's a Date, created by Peter Helliar and starring Kate Ritchie, Sybilla Budd and Nadine Garner, a consumer affairs show from the Chasers' Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel, and a new series from Joe Hildebrand. Other projects include a telemovie based on the life of Carlotta starring Jessica Marais, the next Paper Giants instalment, Magazine Wars, the Cliff Young biopic Cliffy and the 13-part relationship drama The Time of Our Lives.

Nine cooks up future goodies

Channel Nine has also announced some of its big shows for next year, including a prequel of sorts to Howzat! Kerry Packer's War. The new two-part series, Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, is set from 1960-75 and examines the relationship between a young Rupert Murdoch and the Packer family. It will be produced by Southern Star's John Edwards. Nine also has a telemovie about Schappelle Corby

to be produced by FremantleMedia. On the reality front, Nine has two new cooking competition shows - The Taste, which sounds like MasterChef with blind tastings, and The Great Australian Bake-Off, hosted by Shane Jacobsen and Anna Gare.

Formal face-off

Matchbox Pictures continues its foray into the observational reality genre with Formal Wars, which it is making for Channel Seven. The series sees parents organise school formals for their children in what is described as ''a radical experiment of generational trust''. It will air next year. Matchbox is also developing a drama sequel to the movie Devil's Playground that follows its main character as an adult. The series is being made for Foxtel and will air on either SoHo or Showcase late next year.

River flows for Foxtel

Foxtel has commissioned a local version of Britain's River Cottage series, in which Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall champions local produce and sustainable farming. River Cottage Australia will search for an ''Aussie Hugh'', who will be mentored by Fearnley-Whittingstall and set up a sustainable farm. It will be produced by Granada Media Australia and Keo Films and air on the LifeStyle Channel next year.

ITV returns to the Abbey

Britain's ITV network has commissioned a fourth series of Downton Abbey, which surprised no one, given the success of the period drama in Britain and overseas. The season will comprise eight episodes as well as a Christmas special and will begin production in February. Channel Seven will air season three, including its Christmas special, early next year. Meanwhile, Downton Abbey's creator, Julian Fellowes, will create a period drama for the American network NBC. Called The Gilded Age, it will tell the story of wealthy New Yorkers in the late 19th century.

An app-y expansion

Foxtel has added a new suite of live channels to its Foxtel Go iPad app, including Fox8, SoHo, FX, Lifestyle You, Lifestyle Food, Lifestyle Home and the sports channels Fuel TV, Speed and Discovery Turbo Max. This brings the number of channels available on the Foxtel Go app to about 30.

What you watched

Pay TV(excl sport)

1 Grand Designs Australia (LifeStyle) 176,000

 2 The Simpsons (Fox8) 99,000

 3 The Walking Dead (FX) 83,000

 4 Family Guy (Fox8) 82,000

 5 Modern Family (Fox8) 79,000

 6 New Tricks (UKTV) 79,000

 7 Selling Houses Australia (LifeStyle) 73,000

 8 Futurama (Fox8) 71,000

 9 Pawn Stars (A&E) 70,000

 10 Megatruckers (A&E) 68,00 

Free to air

 1 The X Factor: grand final winner announced (7) 2,163,000

 2 The X Factor: grand final 1,870,000

 3 The X Factor: grand final performance 1,667,000

 4 The Force: Behind the Line (7) 1,246,000

 5 Hamish and Andy's Caravan of Courage (9) 1,241,000

 6 Sunday Night (7) 1,236,000

 7 Seven News: Sun 1,213,000

 8 Nine News: Sat 1,175,000

 9 Highway Patrol (7) 1,152,000

 10 60 Minutes (9) 1,111,000


This story ABC rings in the new for 2013 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.