Disney Announces Aussie Originals Coming to Disney+

disney plus australian originals

Disney has announced its first wave of Australian original content, including scripted dramas, documentaries and lifestyle programming.

The nine Aussie originals are slated to launch on Disney+ in 2022 and 2023, and include big names like Deborah Mailman, Rove McManus and Donna Hay.

“The Walt Disney Company is thrilled to be bringing home-grown, premium Australian originals with familiar faces and places — not only to Aussie screens, and those across the ditch — but also to the world stage that is Disney+,” said Kylie Watson-Wheeler, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand in a statement.

Noting that this is just the “first wave” of locally produced content, Watson-Wheeler added that the second wave is “taking great shape, with many more shows in various stages of development, including fabulous original concepts coming out of New Zealand”.

“The Walt Disney Company is making a significant investment in Australian and New Zealand local commissions,” she said.

“Disney is undoubtedly the world’s most creative storytelling engine, and in this wave of local productions, we’ve fuelled up our creative processes in partnership with Australian production companies,” Watson-Wheeler continued. “Our storytelling and commissioning approach is unique and overlays local culture, mindset and humour — adding to the deep emotional connection that The Walt Disney Company is renowned for and that our audiences expect.”

Here are the first Australian original titles to be released by Disney+:

Scripted Dramas

The Clearing

Synopsis: The Clearing is a limited series adapted for screen based on J.P. Pomare’s novel In the Clearing and inspired by the real-life Australian cult The Family and its founder Anne Hamilton-Byrne, one of the rare female cult leaders in history. In this eight-part psychological thriller, a woman is forced to confront the nightmares of her past to stop a secret cult intent on gathering children to fulfil its master plan.

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Miranda Otto and Guy Pearce, alongside Hazem Shammas, Mark Coles-Smith, Tom Budge, Erroll Shand, Lily La Torre, and Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi.

Created and written by: Matt Cameron (Jack Irish, Secret City) and Elise McCredie (Stateless, Ride Like a Girl) alongside co-writer Osamah Sami (Ali’s Wedding)

Directed by: Jeffrey Walker and Gracie Otto

Release date: TBA, but filming will take place in Victoria in the coming months.

The Artful Dodger

Synopsis: The Artful Dodger is a character drama set in 1850s Australia. Across eight episodes, the series explores the adult double life of Charles Dickens’ famous prince of thieves — Dodger — now a surgeon, but who can’t shake his predilection for crime. The inspiration for two of his most famous characters, Fagin and Jack Dawkins aka The Artful Dodger, were transported to Australia for their crimes. The series takes place 15 years on from the events of Oliver Twist and is set in the frontier colonies of 1850s Australia. From high-octane heists to life-and-death surgeries, glittering parties to colourful streets, this series is a rock’n’roll tale about the double life of Dickens’ most famous prince of thieves with an Aussie connection.

Starring: TBA

Directed by: Jeffrey Walker (Young Rock, Lambs of God, Modern Family)

Written by: Andrew Knight, James McNamara, Jeffrey Walker, Vivienne Walshe and Miranda Tapsell.

Release date: TBA

Last Days of the Space Age

Synopsis: Last Days of the Space Age is an eight-part dramedy series set in 1979 Western Australia, when Perth was at the centre of the world’s headlines. A power strike threatens to plunge the region into darkness, while the city hosts the iconic Miss Universe pageant and the US space station, Skylab, crashes just beyond the city’s suburbs. Against this backdrop of international cultural and political shifts, three families in a tight-knit coastal community find their marriages, friendships, and futures put to the test.

Starring: Radha Mitchell, Jesse Spencer, Deborah Mailman, and Linh-Dan Pham

Directed by: Bharat Nalluri (Shantaram, Little America, Spooks, The 100)

Created and written by: David Chidlow. Also writing are Alice Addison, Dot West, and Jeremy Nguyen & Alan Nguyen.

Release date: TBA, but filming is taking place is Perth and Sydney


Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW

Synopsis: Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW is a world-first look at the AFL Women’s Competition (AFLW) and the powerhouse movement it has become for women in sport. The six-part series spotlights four clubs: Adelaide Crows, Collingwood, GWS GIANTS, and Western Bulldogs. With the AFLW at the forefront of celebrating diversity and inclusion and redefining gender norms, the series will explore the journey, sacrifice and history in the making, as the trailblazing women of the AFLW pave the way in professional sport and help change the sporting and cultural psyche of Australia.

Directed by: Michael Venables

Release date: TBA

Matildas: The World at Our Feet

Synopsis: Matildas: The World at Our Feet is a docu-series going behind the scenes of the popular Australian national sporting team, the Matildas, and tracks the rise of women’s sport through incredible and immersive storytelling. Cameras have been following the Matildas as they prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ on home soil alongside co-host New Zealand, with the story starting in the lead up to the first match of the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. The six-part docu-series chronicles the highs and lows as well as the extraordinary teamwork, trust and spirit required as the squad looks to create history and leave an unrivalled legacy for the sport in Australia and abroad.

Directed by: Katie Bender Wynn

Release date: TBA

Shipwreck Hunters Australia

Synopsis: Shipwreck Hunters Australia is a six-episode docu-series centred around a group of highly-skilled divers and underwater filmmakers — Captain Ash Sutton, Andre Rerekura, Nush Freedman, Johnny Debnam and Ryan Chatfield — along with expert maritime archaeologists from the Western Australian Museum, Dr Ross Anderson and Dr Deb Shefi. In each episode the team embark on an expedition to a remote location off the vast coast of Western Australia to uncover long-lost shipwreck secrets and make some world-first discoveries! Combining new evidence, archival research and all-out adventure Shipwreck Hunters Australia is a vibrant journey into the mysterious past led by modern day ocean explorers.

Directed by: Brendan Hutchens

Release date: TBA

Chasing Waves

Synopsis: Chasing Waves is an eight-episode docu-series exploring the unique and wonderful surf culture in Japan, highlighting the dramatic push and pull between convention and innovation. By chronicling the lives of both the trendsetters and the traditionalists, the series paints a captivating holistic picture of the global surf industry – from Australian-Japanese surfer, Connor O’Leary to freestyle surfers, Olympic hopefuls and businesspeople trying to make their mark.

Directed by: Jason Baffa

Release date: TBA

Lifestyle and Factual

Donna Hay Christmas

Synopsis: Donna Hay Christmas is a four-episode series produced and hosted by Australia’s food and lifestyle icon, Donna Hay. Bringing to life stunning but simple recipes for the perfect entertaining and feasting, plus special styling moments for a truly magical Australian Christmas. The best-selling author, homewares entrepreneur and food stylist serves up a mouth-watering, quintessential Australian Christmas menu. The series will showcase Donna’s Christmas with the breathtaking Australian backdrop of beautiful Avalon Beach and its picturesque surrounds on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Directed by: Benjamin Jones

Release date: TBA

What’s Your Toy Story?

Synopsis: What’s Your Toy Story? is an eight-episode factual series being developed with Australia’s own Rove McManus. The new original competition format series will see teams of kids and grownups show off their skills at creativity, innovation and storytelling as they bring their own toy stories to life. It will boast an epic, Pixar-inspired set and embrace everything the world loves about this iconic franchise.

Directed by: TBA

Release date: TBA

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