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lan Holmes, with the successful Pris- oner on his TV screen.

IF THE number of locally

produced drama series and telemovies scheduled for 1980 are anything to go by, then TV audiences appear to have given Australian comedy series the

thumbs down.

Ian Holmes, president of the Grundy Organization, commented: "There have been a number of at- tempts at Australian comedy series, but most have been unsuc- cessful.

"It's a very difficult area of TV production, and the buyers from television stations are careful of failures."

Mr Holmes, who was described when he resigned as Sydney's Channel 10 general manager in 1977 as "the most influential man in television", has presided over only one comedy show since joining Grundy. The programme

was a telemovie called All At Sea,

with a big cast headed by Noel Fer : "er. Although the show rated reas-

onably well, no TV station wanted to follow through and pick it up as

a TV series.

According to Mr Holmes, the , Grundy Organization is giving the

buyers from television stations ยป exactly what they want - drama.

Because of the channel's insatiable

appetite for drama, Grundy has currently five new projects in vari- ous stages of development.

The Grundy series going into production this year are Punish- ment and Bellamy, both sold to the 0-10 Network, and a telefeature called A Special Place, bought by

the Seven Network.

Two other drama projects are in the offing but as yet have not been bought by any of the channels.

Another new project is a Mel- bourne-based quiz show, scheduled to be screened later this year.

Punishment, Mr Holmes quickly pointed out, is not a male version of the top-rating Grundy series Pris- oner. He said Punishment revolved around crime and the subsequent imprisonment of the offenders.

Bellamy is a police action show, produced mainly on location. Mr Holmes said that with the world- wide drought of good police series, Bellamy had excellent overseas sales prospects.

A Special Place involves four runaway teenagers who settle in an area just outside Sydney.

Mr Holmes said that none of the Grundy shows was especially tail- ored for the overseas market. He said producers had to be careful not to "emasculate" programmes,

and end up with a weak series which neither the home nor inter- national markets wanted.

However, Mr Holmes said that Australian producers, who had the US market in mind, had to realize that American TV channels were less willing to accept "real lan- guage and real situations" than lo- cal networks. Fortunately, he added, the Americans had not touched the successful Prisoner series which was now being shown across the US.

Mr Holmes said Reg Grundy had sold Prisoner to a Los Angeles station and since then the pro- gramme has been bought for screening in New York. The Grundy Organization has similar plans for Punishment which was produced after a massive amount of research.

The Grundy president said his company's willingness to do this sort of research, coupled with its preparedness to spend large amounts of money on developing a series, were two of the reasons for the success of shows like Prisoner and The Young Doctors.

GREG FLYNN

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