The cast of the Australian television show, Prisoner.Insider knowledge

Reg Watson has given his tick of approval to Wentworth, the contemporary reinterpretation of the iconic Australian show he created, Prisoner, which ran on Ten from 1979 to 1986. On the eve of the debut of the second season of the critically lauded prison-set drama, Watson penned a letter to executive producer Jo Porter. ”If I’d been casting [Wentworth] I’m sure each one would be perfect for my characters,” he wrote. ”I was lucky when I devised Prisoner to meet up with women who had spent years in prison and were happy to give me details of real life on the inside. I had to tone some of their stories down for TV as it was then, but the network still thought the first episode was too raw for Australian viewers and wanted to cancel it.” Wentworth returns to SoHo (Foxtel) on May 20.

Strike one for Neighbours

The crew working on iconic soap Neighbours will hold a symbolic 15-minute stop-work meeting on Friday as part of a campaign for a collective agreement. Fremantle Media has threatened workers who take industrial action with a lock-out from the Nunawading studio. The crew’s union, the MEAA, has dubbed Fremantle’s threat ”a gross over-reaction to what most people would consider a request for basic workplace rights.”

Jonah package a winner

Chris Lilley’s new series Jonah From Tonga enjoyed more than half a million views online when all six episodes were ”binge-released” on the ABC’s iView player on the weekend of May 2-4, several days ahead of the first episode’s premiere on ABC1. In context, that’s 50 per cent more iView traffic than the April average. Lilley said he was overwhelmed by the response, proof that people liked watching ”a whole series in one hit”.

An eye for the trend

ITV Studios Australia, the producers of such shows as Paddock To Plate and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, continues to beef up its executive ranks with the promotion of producer Micah Hewson to the role of head of development. ”He has a natural talent for developing new programming concepts that are spot on trend, and that viewers gravitate to,” managing director Anita Jacoby said.

It’s show time

It’s ”upfront season”, when the US networks unveil their next year’s offering to hungry advertisers. NBC has four new series. There’s the comedy Marry Me, from Happy Endings creator David Caspe, as well as three political dramas: State of Affairs starring Katherine Heigl; Allegiance with Hope Davis, and Odyssey, a Traffic-like narrative about a female soldier, a corporate lawyer and a political activist. Fox has picked up Empire, a family drama set in the world of hip-hop, and Red Band Society, about a group of teenagers in hospital.

Poaching – and roasting

The stoush between Seven and Ten following Ten’s attempt to poach Seven’s veteran programmer, John Stephens, is turning into the kind of blood sport reserved for Hollywood divorces. In the latest development, Ten is demanding access to phone and text-message records of Seven executives Kerry Stokes, David Leckie and Bruce McWilliam. Ten is seeking to have its contract for Stephens’ service enforced, arguing Seven’s senior brass pressured Stephens, who subsequently signed a new contract with the network. ”I really would hope that parties at this level of sophistication could work out these kinds of differences, but perhaps they can’t,” said Justice Stevenson of the NSW Supreme Court.

TV tweets

I’m so patronising to Siri.Ryan Shelton (comic, appleteaser) @Ryan_Shelton

Do you know why so many guests play Prince? Because he’s awesome, that’s why. #watchingrageRage (TV program, Prince fan) @rageABC

On holiday with my mum and dad. Only they haven’t been together for 30 years now. Gotta love the modern family!Carrie Bickmore (TV host, vacationer) @BickmoreCarrie

So a bearded lady/crossdresser won #eurovison2014. Music is no longer about talent or music. It’s theatre of the absurd & bizarre #teamnileFred Nile (politician, music fan) @frednile

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