Saturday, 2 February 2013


Australians do top-notch dramas. Ask US network Fox, who wants to remake Rake. The first series of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries attracted a lot of attention and was bought by French pubcaster France 3 for its "Sunday Sleuth Slot".

Both shows are aired in Australia on ABC1 and the channel's latest effort, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, premiered this week.

This new 10 X 60-minute detective drama stars Craig McLachlan (best known here for his role in Bugs) as Dr Lucien Blake, who returns home to Ballarat in 1959 after a long absence to take over his deceased father's general medical practice. As the local police surgeon Lucien sometimes investigates mysterious deaths, but he is a man of mystery and secrets himself. Actually Blake hides his own pains behind a dose of anticonformism - but not only.

« You really don't need to hide all of these, you know.
- There aren't many consolations in life, Jean. Good whisky happens to be one of the few.
- There's rather a lot of consolation here. »

Other regulars of The Doctor Blake Mysteries are Nadine Garner (City Homicide) as Jean Beazley, Lucien's housekeeper and receptionist. Rick Donald (Underbelly) as young copper Constable Daniel Parks, Jean's nephew. Joel Tobeck (This Is Not My Life) as Chief Superintendent Matthew Lawson. And Cate Wolfe as Mattie O'Brien, the district nurse and a lodger at Dr Blake's house. In the opener, a girl from the local reform school is hit by a car and found later in the lake. Lucien Blake wants to know what really happened, and even swallows illicit pills to determine if they're amphetamines in order to prove his intuitions. What some eminent members of the Ballarat community find as hard to swallow is Lucien's tastes in art.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries is a creation of George Adams and Tony Wright (Mrs Biggs). It is produced by December Media and The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment (also worldwide distributor) and Film Victoria Australia. George Adams produces, Tony Wright exec produces with Carole Sklan and Christopher Gist. The magnificent music is by Dale Cornelius and the superb title sequence is by The Kingdom of Ludd.

Written by Stuart Page (Neighbours) and directed by Andrew Prowse (Rush), Still Waters is a quite enjoyable premiere. Craig McLachlan is great and the cast is excellent. The Doctor Blake Mysteries is filmed on location in Ballarat. Splendid work from everyone involved. (Interview with Dale Cornelius)

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