Definitions

Heelers

Blue Heelers

Blue Heelers was a long-running Australian police drama series which depicted the lives of the police officers stationed at the fictional Mt. Thomas police station, situated in a typical Victorian small town.

Overview

Blue Heelers, produced by Southern Star Entertainment for the Seven Network, remains to this day one of Australia's best-loved dramas and, over its original 13-season run, has won a total of 32 awards and been nominated for a further 50. This includes 25 Logie Awards, 5 of which are the Gold Logie, the most coveted television award in Australia. It first aired with the episode "A Woman's Place" on 18 January 1994 and last aired on 4 June 2006, airing its 510th episode and the eleventh episode of its thirteenth season, "One Day More".

It is, to this date, Australia's most popular drama, at its peak drawing more than 2.5 million viewers. It also holds the record for most episodes produced of a weekly primetime drama. When it aired its 510th episode in 2006, it equalled Homicide's record, set in 1977. It also almost won the record for longest-running weekly primetime drama; however, Homicide lasted one calendar month longer than Blue Heelers.

Blue Heelers has also gained recognition worldwide, but particularly in Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada where it has a strong following in syndication. Worldwide, Blue Heelers has been sold to 108 territories.

Blue Heelers has launched the careers of many Australian actors such as Lisa McCune, Grant Bowler, Ditch Davey, Rachel Gordon, Tasma Walton, Charlie Clausen and Jane Allsop. Many of these actors are still best-known for their character on Blue Heelers and many have gone on to bigger roles. Many major actors have also been able to call Mt. Thomas home; these include Hugh Jackman, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Peter O'Brien and John Howard. Then there are the Blue Heelers veterans: John Wood and Julie Nihill, who have been with Blue Heelers during its entire 12 year run and portrayed Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon and publican, Chris Riley.

Plot

For more information on each season, see Blue Heelers seasons

The series focuses primarily on the police officers of the Mt. Thomas Victoria Police station and the inhabitants of the small town with the high crime rate, Mt. Thomas. It is told from the persective of the officers, opposed to the criminals they deal with. This, a technique creator Hal McElroy was keen to use. The twist is, most of the officers transferred to Mt. Thomas are young officers from the city who know nothing of what to expect in the country, which is hugely different to the city. However, it does not take them long to learn that, in the country, actions speak louder than words.

There is always something happening in Mt. Thomas and the coppers have their work cut out for them sorting out the town's many problems. These problems range from trivial complaints such as land and fencing disputes through to the more serious, such as homicides and assaults. The small town has also experienced many things, including bank robberies, escaped criminals, police shootings, murders, kidnappings and many, many deluded criminals; the fictional police station even being bombed in the show's eleventh season. With all these events happening, the cops, or "The Heelers" as they are known, are forever kept busy. However, they can always call on the assistance of the police in the nearby, larger town of St. Davids, home of the resident police inspector, Russell Falcon-Price. Falcon-Price, when not trying to find a reason to give the Mt. Thomas sergeant "the push", is constantly looking for a reason to close the entire station.

Along with their police work, the Heeler's personal lives regularly make their way into the series and, the most well-known of these, is the relationship between colleagues Maggie and PJ which ended in Maggie's death; one of the most watched moments on Australian television to this day.

Deep down, the whole station is just like a family where everybody usually gets on but, like families, there are always disagreements. These are usually settled over a beer at the bar at the Imperial Hotel, the copper's pub, where Chris Riley is always ready to listen to anything.

Blue Heelers was voted 37th greatest show on Australian televison and ranked within the top ten dramas, according to the 50 Years 50 Shows poll.

Casting

Main cast

Actor/Actress Character Tenure Position
John Wood Tom Croydon 1994-2006
Ep. 1 - 510
Sergeant, Senior Sergeant
Julie Nihill Christine 'Chris' Riley 1994-2006
Ep. 1 - 510
Civilian (Publican)
Martin Sacks Patrick Joseph 'P.J.' Hasham
1994-2005
Ep. 1 - 484
Detective Senior Constable, Senior Detective
Lisa McCune Maggie Doyle 1994-2000
Ep. 1 - 255
Constable, Senior Constable, Acting Sergeant
William McInnes Nick Schultz 1994-1998,
Ep. 1 - 207
2004 (guest), 2005 (guest)
Senior Constable, Sergeant, Detective Sergeant
Grant Bowler Wayne Patterson 1994-1996
Ep. 1 - 96
Constable
Ann Burbrook Roz Patterson 1994,
Ep. 1 - 30
1996 (guest)
Civilian (Mt. Thomas police station admin. officer)
Damian Walshe-Howling Adam Cooper 1994-1998,
Ep. 34 - 211
2006 (guest)
Probationary Constable, Constable
Tasma Walton Deirdre 'Dash' McKinley
1996-1999
Ep. 107 - 236
Probationary Constable, Constable
Paul Bishop'
Benjamin 'Ben' Stewart
1998-2004
Ep. 198 - 451
Detective Acting Sergeant, Senior Constable, Acting Sergeant, Sergeant
Jane Allsop Jo Parrish 1999-2004
Ep. 239 - 440
Constable, Senior Constable
Rupert Reid Jack Lawson 1999-2001
Ep. 212 - 313
Probationary Constable, Constable
Caroline Craig Teresa 'Tess' Gallagher 2000-2003
Ep. 270 - 407
Sergeant
Ditch Davey Evan 'Jonesy' Jones
2001-2006
Ep. 316 - 510
Constable, Senior Constable, Detective Senior Constable
Simone McAullay Susie Raynor 2003-2006
Ep. 409 - 510
Constable, Senior Constable
Geoff Morrell Mark Jacobs 2004-2005
Ep. 441 - 489
Sergeant
Rachel Gordon Amy Fox
2004-2006
Ep. 441 - 510
Detective Senior Constable
Samantha Tolj Kelly O'Rourke 2004-2006
Ep. 442 - 510
Probationary Constable, Constable
Danny Raco Joss Peroni 2004-2006
Ep. 442 - 510
Probationary Constable, Constable
Charlie Clausen Alex Kirby 2005-2006
Ep. 461 - 510
Leading Senior Constable, Acting Sergeant
Matthew Holmes Matt Graham 2005-2006
Ep. 490 - 510
Constable

Recurring/semi-regular cast

As well as the main cast members, up to 100 guest cast members can star in a single episode. Many well-known Australian and international actors have had recurring and semi-regular parts on Blue Heelers over its 13-season run. These include Terry Gill, Neil Pigot, Frankie J. Holden, Catherine Wilkin, Debra Lawrance, Emily Browning and Josh Lawson. Many other notable actors have also had guest parts in Blue Heelers including Shane Bourne, Hugh Jackman, Gerard Kennedy, David Wenham, Marcus Graham, Peter O'Brien, Gary Sweet and Vince Colosimo.

Production

A complete and finished episode of Blue Heelers requires an immense amount of preparation, tweaking and organisation. There are an average of 42 episodes of Blue Heelers broadcast per year, and each one episode is comprised of fifty scenes. One of these episodes is made every week. The scripts are written to a formula, which allows one day for rehearsal, two days on location and two days in the studio. Apart from the regular cast members, the show employs 4 300 guest actors per year, plus 30 extras every week. A total of 150 people are employed to fulfill some part on the show each week, including cast, crew, wardrobe, publicists and writers. Episodes are shot seven weeks in advance and, at any one time, there are 16 episodes in various stages of production: from the composition of storylines to post-production. As well as this, there is always seven complete and finished episodes waiting to screen.

Conception and Development

Blue Heelers creator/producer, Hal McElroy, conceived the idea of Blue Heelers when he heard that a young friend of his was planning to become a police officer at the young age of eighteen. This intrigued McElroy who continued inquiring into why this young boy, fresh from school, would want to become a police officer, as opposed to the many thousands of other opportunities he had open to him. McElroy soon discovered that, at the time, a staggering 60% of police officer were under the age of 26. This, coupled with McElroy's desire to create a country cop show, formed the basis of the programme. When this same young officer quit the force only a year later, due to the shooting death of his colleague, McElroy was furthermore intrigued to learn about the very ficle, yet rewarding, job of policing the communitiy.

McElroy continued his enquiries by asking ex-police officer Michael Winter to write down what it was like to be a city cop transferred to a country town. These are the ideas that Blue Heelers is based around.

The name of the programme was also conceived by the same ex-police officer, Michael Winter, who recounted the common names for country police officer: tyre-biters, owed to the fact that country cops are often involved in car chases, and blue heelers, owing to their blue uniforms and overall similar appearance and persona to a Blue Heeler dog, a protective and intuitive breed of dog.

From the time that McElroy's idea was initially conceived to the time the programme was ready to air, three years passed.

In its development, two completely different pilots were shot: one depicting the story from the perspective of a police officer and the other from the perspective of a criminal. When these were presented to the Seven Network, they committed 13 episodes to the first pilot, which went on to become the official first episode of Blue Heelers, telling the story of new cop in town, Maggie Doyle's beginnings in Mt. Thomas. McElroy chose to discard the second pilot realising it was a fatal mistake to be "with the criminals as they plotted the crime". He also developed his rule that the producers "couldn't have a camera in a room unless there was a copper there as well". Hence, the basis of the show being from a police officer's perspective eventuated.

McElroy tells his police advisor's opinion:

He had been posted to Yass (in New South Wales) and he really loved it up there because the routine was so simple and straightforward-most often you knew the victim and sometimes you knew the culprit, and someone in charge would give them a clip behind the ear and say 'wash the police car' or 'sweep the yard' and 'don't ever do it again', rather then sending a juvenile to jail.

I loved it, and I said 'Hey this is great'. But all the writers said, 'No it's boring, we want that gritty, inner-city police stuff'. (We had Boys in Blue set up in Leichhardt is Sydney.) And I still remember the moment I was driving home up River Road and I thought , 'Then we can have two shows'. I said to this copper 'What are you called in the country? What is your nickname?' And he said they call highway patrol 'tyre biters' and coppers 'blue heelers'. And I thought 'That's the title!' So I rang [scriptwriter] Tony Morphett and said 'Let's do a show about young cops in the country. It's called Blue Heelers.' 30px|Hal McElroy

By creating the programme, McElroy and Morphett hoped to close the gap between to police and the public. They hoped to show the human side of the police and show that they do have feelings, regrets, aspirations and fears. They also hoped that the show would act as a tribute to the officers who risk their lives everyday, never knowing if they'd return home at the end of the day; a tribute to their courage.

Filming Locations

Episodes are shot eight to ten weeks ahead of their scheduled broadcast date. Most of the filming, including the scenes in the police station and pub, were filmed inside Seven Studios, in Melbourne; only about half of the footage is shot on location. Much of the filming on location was carried out in towns such as Williamstown and the more established parts of Werribee. The scenes of the outside of the fictional Mt. Thomas police station were actually filmed at the old, disused Williamstown police station, which was then a private residence. Scenes at Mt. Thomas High School were filmed at Williamstown High School. The town of Castlemaine was most often used as the backdrop for Mt. Thomas, seen in almost every episode. Although Blue Heelers' pilot was shot in Castlemaine, the cast and crew very rarely returned there to shoot more episodes; the scenes in Castlemaine were usually just generic scenes, where no "action" actually takes place. Chris Riley's fictional Imperial Hotel, for example, was actually the real Imperial Hotel in Castlemaine. Mount Thomas' fictional Commercial Hotel was filmed at the Willy Tavern in Williamstown. The second Mt. Thomas police station, adopted during the programme's reform of 2004, as well as the site of Maggie Doyle's iconic death in the railyards, is located at Newport Railway workshops

Reception

Described by critics before its launch as A Country Practice meets Cop Shop, and as the contemporary cousin of British cop show, Heartbeat, Blue Heelers was not anticipated by critics to become a hugely popular programme; it was definitely not expected to become the hit TV show it evolved into soon after it began airing.

The series covered much new and shaky ground when it began being broadcast and dealt with many controversial and "touchy" subjects. The series was also the first to examine the stressful world of young police officer who are invariably "thrown into the deep end where they are left to sink or swim". It depicts the real-lives of the inhabitants of a typical country town and shows the lives of everyday country coppers, farmers and families, as well as all that they have to endure, their battles and their problems.

During most of its broadcast, Blue Heelers was very popular in Australia and regularly drew up to 2.5 million viewers; at its peak, Blue Heelers drew 3.5 million viewers. Throughout its broadcast, until its axing in 2006, it was drawing a strong audience and was regularly appearing as a top-rating regular programme in Australia. In fact, viewership of Blue Heelers never dropped below 1 million viewers.

Blue Heelers' executive producer offers his opinion as to why Blue Heelers was so popular:

The episodes "Gold" and "Fool's Gold" (episodes 140 and 141) during the programme's fourth were two of the most popular Blue Heelers episodes and drew a massive 2.5 million viewers; this was considered a huge achievement in 1997 and is still a massive achievement today.

Much of the show's sixth season, as well as the first 10 episodes of its seventh season (From "Loose Ends" to "Out of the Shadows") are the most watched in the programme's history. These episodes, some of the most watched in Australia's history, focus of the death of Maggie Doyle (played by Lisa McCune). These episodes, particularly episode 255: "One More Day", are considered some of the biggest moments in Australian television history when Maggie is shot and left for dead. As published by TV Week, Maggie's death is the third most memorable moment of a drama series on Australian television.

2004 Revamp: The Station Bombing

After low ratings in 2003 and 2004, the producers and executives of Blue Heelers realised there was a huge problem that could result in Blue Heelers' downfall: in 2004, Blue Heelers lost the ratings top-spot to McLeod's Daughters. Therefore, they decided a revamp was in order. After all, in its ten years on air, Blue Heelers had remained relatively untouched. During 2003 and 2004, Australian television drama was also at its "lowest point in a decade" and shows were being lost left, right and centre: MDA, Grass Roots and Fireflies on the ABC; Marshall Law and Always Greener on Seven; Water Rats and Young Lions on Nine; and White Collar Blue, CrashBurn and The Secret Life of Us on Ten.

Blue Heelers revamp started with the broadcast of a live episode (11.12: "Reasonable Doubt") which the producers hoped would offer a short-term ratings rise and perhaps encourage more longer-term viewers. Although it was a huge success on the night, the live episode did not cause a continued increase in ratings.

Producers also hoped that a shift in direction, a change of mood and setting, and the addition of four cast would cement Blue Heelers' long-term future. They also wanted the show to remain relevant and to more accurately reflect today's modern world:

The main plot, setting and character changes started in July 2004, with the airing of the episode "End of Innocence". In this episode, the main storyline was the bombing of the fictional Mt. Thomas police station, which was used on the show from 1994 - 2004, and was where more than half of the scenes took place. This blast killed popular main character, Snr. Const. Jo Parrish (Jane Allsop), and recurring cast member, mentally handicapped man, Clancy Freeman. After the blast, which severely injured the show's main protagonist, Senior Sergeant Croydon, the pillar of the show, it was revealed that Croydon's wife, the Reverend Curtis, was missing; later, it was revealed she had been brutally raped and murdered. These events brought about sweeping changes to the mood of not only protagonist, Croydon, but also the mood of the entire show. The Daily Telegraph television writer, Marcus Casey, comments on the new mood: "Mt Thomas has become a darker, grittier place, the people and cops in it transformed by an invasion of evil". In the proceeding five episodes, more gripping storylines focusing on the bombing of the station, and 4 main characters, were introduced: Rachel Gordon as Amy Fox, Geoff Morrell as Mark Jacobs, Samantha Tolj as Kelly O'Rourke and Danny Raco as Joss Peroni. Popular former cast member, William McInnes, also returned to the show, temporarily reprising his role as Nick Schultz. Producers no doubt hoping this this role reprisal would lure back viewers who had stopped watching the programme. This new style of programme that Blue Heelers was embracing was a sign of the show trying to keep up with other larger television shows, particularly the CSI franchise.

With this, the story changed its focus from the old Mt. Thomas police station to the new one that was used until the show's cancellation in 2006. The Seven Network feared that in the modern post-9/11 world, a show about country police was no longer what the audience wanted. The producers of the show hoped that this revamp would appeal to a wider audience, particularly the younger generation; hence, the introduction of rookie cops O'Rourke and Peroni.

Seven's last-ditch attempt at "Jumping the shark" proved a gamble that would pay off and resulted in a 25% ratings increase for the series, bringing its weekly viewership to 1.6 million people. Critical response after the event was reassuring and, following the revamp, it appeared that critics were approving of the drastic moves by Seven and Southern Star:

Cancellation

However, the ratings spike in 2004 was simply not sufficient enough for the Seven Network to warrant the show's future on Australian screens. In January 2006, Seven officially announced that they had cancelled Blue Heelers, but would air a final shortened season of only 11 episodes in mid-2006. Therefore, Blue Heelers would be cancelled after 12 years, 510 episodes and 24 Logie Awards. At this time, the show was still drawing 1.2 million viewers per week on average, down from the 3.5 million it was drawing at its peak. This announcement was front-page news on nearly all of Australia's major newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney's Daily Telegraph, The Melbourne Herald Sun, The Melbourne Age and Brisbane's Courier Mail.

All during 2005, speculation was rife that Blue Heelers may be cancelled but, in the hope that viewing would increase, an 11-episode season in 2006 was commissioned by the Seven Network. It soon became apparent that ratings were not increasing and the show was cancelled. Two different endings were shot for the final episode which finished filming on 20 December 2005, one wrapping up all the show's storylines and another which would leave the show open for another season; the first was used.

Blue Heelers is believed to be a casualty of Seven's AFL broadcast which saw Seven invest $780m for the 5 year broadcasting rights of the game.

Even though the show had been axed, people still remained dedicated, shown by the Bring Back Blue Heelers Petition Site, launched by then 17-year-old Ashley "A.J." Bentley which was signed by some 27,500 people. Bentley launched his campaign petition for Blue Heelers to be returned to the air and for Paramount to release the remaining season of Blue Heelers on DVD. Blue Heelers was not returned to air, however, the seventh season of Blue Heelers is scheduled for release on 31 July 2008

For Blue Heelers' final season, it was moved from its primetime Wednesday-night timeslot to the lower rating Saturday-night timeslot, which saw it come up against The Bill, a British police drama which has become quite popular in Australia. This move was slammed by leading cast member, John Wood.

Episodes

Blue Heelers aired a total of 510 episodes in 12 full seasons and 1 shortened final season. This includes 509 hour-long standard episodes and one live episode. This live episode, titled "Reasonable Doubts", was filmed to celebrate Blue Heelers 10th year on the air; this, something not attempted by a drama in Australian television history for forty years. This was a particularly brave feat considering the actors would be required to act for an entire hour straight; to prepare for this, the cast were given six days to memorise their lines.

Seasons generally ran in Australia from early February to late November and each season generally consisted of 41/42 episodes. The eleventh season however, only consisted of 39 episodes; this can be partially attributed to the fact that the Seven Network had gained the rights to televise the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

The final episode of the thirteenth season aired as a 2-hour, movie-length tribute starting with an introduction from John Wood, and concluding with a compilation of Blue Heelers moments from over its 13-season run.

Australian television quiz-show, The Weakest Link, hosted by Cornelia Frances, also aired a Blue Heelers special episode on 9 August 2001. Cast members John Wood, Neil Pigot, Ditch Davey, Jeremy Kewley, Jane Allsop, Suzi Dougherty, Paul Bishop, Caroline Craig and Peta Doodson took part in this special event. Ironically, Wood, Blue Heelers good-cop, won the show while Doodson, a "bad-cop", was first voted off.

Season Ep. # Season Premiere Season Finale
Season 1 45 18 January 1994 22 November 1994
Season 2 41 21 February 1995 21 November 1995
Season 3 41 12 February 1996 26 November 1996
Season 4 42 10 February 1997 25 November 1997
Season 5 41 24 February 1998 25 November 1998
Season 6 42 10 February 1999 24 November 1999
Season 7 41 9 February 2000 22 November 2000
Season 8 41 21 February 2001 28 November 2001
Season 9 41 13 February 2002 20 November 2002
Season 10 42 12 February 2003 26 November 2003
Season 11 39 4 February 2004 5 November 2004
Season 12 42 2 February 2005 26 November 2005
Season 13 11 1 April 2006 4 June 2006

Merchandise

The first full Blue Heelers novel was released in 1997. Titled "Maggie's Story" (ISBN: BookSources/9780733604287), the novel was written by Roger Dunn and released by Coronet Books. In August 1998, a second novel was released. Titled "Tom's Story" (ISBN: BookSources/9781863407984) and written by Cassandra Carter, it was released by Bolinda Publishing.

Several episodes of Blue Heelers, including "In The Gun" and "Fair Crack of the Whip" were released in the later 1990s. These were released in VHS video cassette format.

DVD releases

Further information: see Blue Heelers seasons

Currently, only seasons 1-7 of Blue Heelers have been released, although season 8 will be released in early October 2008. Blue Heelers DVDs are distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

In November 2005, Paramount Home Entertainment released their first Blue Heelers box set in Australia in Region 4 DVD format. They called this 'Blue Heelers – The Complete First Season'. This was shortly followed by 'Blue Heelers – The Complete Second Season: Part 1' and 'Blue Heelers – The Complete Second Season: Part 2' which were released together in December 2005. These were released in 5 or 6 disc box sets where each season was divided into two parts, with the exception of the first season which was released as one part; this was, presumably, to keep size and cost per unit to a minimum.

However, the "seasons", as defined by the DVD releases, are markedly different to the original seasons as they aired on television. It appears that the episodes are being released according to what year the episodes were "produced" in, as opposed to the year they aired. For example: "The Complete First Season" DVDs contain some episodes from season 1 (1994). "The Complete Second Season" contains the remainder of season 1 (1994) episodes and some from season 2 (1995).

In January 2007, Paramount Home Entertainment announced that they would be releasing each already released season of Blue Heelers as one complete set, rather than in two parts as they had done prior to this announcement. These new sets, rather than being box sets with special slipcase packaging, were now just both parts, packed in a standard DVD case, packaged together in plastic. Each of these DVD sets now consisted of 10 or 11 discs, rather than 5 or 6 each. They released these on 15 February 2007.

In October 2007, Paramount Home Entertainment stated that they were planning to release Season 7 of Blue Heelers in the second half of 2008. They stated that the reason for the delay in its release was due to "contractual negotiations" with the actors of the series and the Seven Network. They claimed that all negotiations had been resolved for the release of Seasons 7-13. Paramount released season 7 in July 2008 with season 8 following in October 2008.

Blue Heelers Initial Season Release Dates for Australia (DVD)
DVD Name Release Date Episodes
Complete First Season 2 November 2005 Season 1 episodes 1 -> 17.
Complete Second Season 1 December 2005 Season 1 episodes 18 -> 45, Season 2 episodes 46 -> 54.
Complete Third Season 16 February 2006 Season 2 episodes 55 -> 86, Season 3 episodes 87 -> 96.
Complete Fourth Season 6 April 2006 Season 3 episodes 97 -> 128, Season 4 episodes 129 -> 139.
Complete Fifth Season 6 June 2006 Season 4 episodes 140 -> 170, Season 5 episodes 171 -> 181.
Complete Sixth Season 10 August 2006 Season 5 episodes 182 -> 211, Season 6 episodes 212 -> 223.
Complete Seventh Season 31 July 2008 Season 6 episodes 224 -> 253, Season 7 episodes 254 -> 265.
Complete Eighth Season 1 October 2008 Season 7 episodes 266 -> 287, Season 8 episodes 288 -> 306.

At this stage, the DVD release is only available in Australia and New Zealand. It is not known if the series will be released on DVD internationally.

Awards

Blue Heelers has been the recipient of many awards over its years of broadcast including 25 Logie Awards, five of which are the prestigious Gold Logie, 3 AFI Awards, 3 People's Choice Awards, and 1 AWGIE Awards.

In terms of awards, Blue Heelers is regarded as one of the most successful programmes on Australian television and is currently in third place in the Logie wins tally, with a total of 25 Logie wins. Blue Heelers has won a total of five Gold Logies, the most coveted and prestigious award in Australian television. This includes the four Gold Logies Lisa McCune won for her portrayal of Maggie Doyle - the role which rocketed her into view of the public and made her one of Australia's most successful actresses - and the Gold Logie won by John Wood in Blue Heelers final season. Blue Heelers was nominated for a further twelve Gold Logies. Blue Heelers has also won a swag of Silver Logies including numerous Most Popular Actor, Most Popular Actress and Most Popular Programme awards; as well a many Outstanding Awards. Many Blue Heelers cast members have also hosted the Logie Award ceremony.

Blue Heelers award summary
Award Wins Nominations
Gold Logie Awards
Silver Logie Awards
AFI Awards
AWGIE Awards
People's Choice Awards
Australian Screen Editors' Awards
TOTAL

Broadcasting

Blue Heelers has a strong following not only in Australia, but also worldwide; it has been sold to 108 territories and is shown in over 70 countries.

From 1994, Blue Heelers originally aired on Tuesday nights at 7:30pm on the Seven Network and thus was limited to a PG content level restriction. When the series was hailed as a success, it began the transition from this timeslot to the 8:30pm timeslot on the same day, thus allowing the writers to explore a more diverse amount of storylines and restricted the show to an M rating. In its third season, it was temporarily moved to the Monday night 8:30pm timeslot, but was moved back to its original slot before season's end. In its fifth season, Blue Heelers moved to the Wednesday night 8:30pm timeslot which it occupied for most of its run, from then until the end of its twelfth season. This move was made to make way for hospital drama All Saints, which still occupies this slot to this day.

Starting in 2004, the Seven Network aired Blue Heelers in their weekday "early days drama" slot at 2pm in the afternoon. They aired all episodes of Blue Heelers, starting from its first season. In this slot, Blue Heelers was a replacement for the broadcast of the early episodes of Home and Away. Blue Heelers concluded airing in this slot in 2007, with the broadcast of its final episode, and made way for the broadcast of early episodes of All Saints.

Blue Heelers also screens on Foxtel The Hallmark Channel in Australia at 12.00am.

In New Zealand, Blue Heelers screened on TV One in a popular timeslot. However, as of January 2008, it was moved to an off-peak late-night timeslot. It aired its final episode on TV One on 20 March 2008.

Irish broadcaster RTÉ originally aired Blue Heelers on Friday afternoons from 1994 - 2000. These episodes were one season (42 episodes approx.) behind the Australian broadcast. The series then took a break before re-commencing in a five-day-week timeslot at 10.30am in early 2002. As a result of the 5 episode a week output, the show was quickly catching up with the Australian broadcast once again. The show was then dropped back to the original one episode a week in 2004 and moved to a late night Thursday/early Friday morning timeslot, typically about 1:00am. RTE commenced broadcasting the final season on 5th October 2008. It currently screens on Sunday mornings at approx 4am.

RTÉ has aired the series since 1994, in the original unedited version directly from Australia. It proves very popular in Ireland and rates very well.

Blue Heelers aired briefly in the U.S. in the early 2000s on the short-lived cable channel, Trio (carried primarily by DirecTV). No episode after 76 was ever shown in the United States and when Trio changed their programming in 2004, Blue Heelers was dropped from the schedule.

Blue Heelers was broadcast on Showcase in Canada and last aired 15 May 1998.

In Italy was broadcasted on Italian TV Syndication Italia 7 Gold (now called 7 Gold), from the 1st to th 6th season. All episodes were dubbed in Italian.

The series has also had international success including various regions of the United Kingdom where the series was broadcast on most stations on the ITV Network. Many companies tended to screen the show as hour-long episodes in the afternoon (occasionally with necessary edits to suit the time slot) whereas Central Television started with a late night 11.40pm slot before following other regions with a typically 2.20pm slot.

In Britain, several periods, including the last batch of episodes that they ran, Carlton Television showed the episodes in two halves as was common with other Australian soap operas in London such as A Country Practice. Several regions including Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television chose not to import the show. When the ITV contractors reformated as one company in 2002, regionally-run programmes such as Blue Heelers (which were at different points of the series in each region) disappeared from screens. No ITV region screened the series in full.

The show also aired on UK cable channel Carlton Select in the late '90s, stripping the early episodes daily, and then in a weekly slot Fridays at 8pm as episodes became more recent. They showed episodes through the later part of the 1997 season, before dropping the series. It is entirely possible the channel intended to bring the series back after a break, however it ceased broadcasting in 2000.

Independent Television (ITV)

Blue Heelers aired on many ITV stations throughout the United Kingdom. It was aired on Central Television, starting February 1995, on Tuesdays at 23.40-00.35, effectively replacing the repeat run of Prisoner which was cancelled after episode 95 in January. Blue Heelers was not particularly successful in this timeslot and it moved to Monday afternoons from July 1995 at 1350-1450. Then half-hour episodes on Thursdays and Fridays at 1450-1520 from 1998. Last episodes screened on Central were from Season 6 (1999), still in the edited half-hour format, which concluded in 2002 (around episode 220). Blue Heelers was also aired on Meridian Television and Channel Television, typically Mondays at 14.20 but some episodes also aired in a morning slot during school holidays. On Westcountry Television Blue Heelers was broadcast from Tuesday 3 January 1995 at 14.50 in half episode format. Carlton Television similarly aired Blue Heelers in half-hour episodes on Mondays to Wednesdays at 14.50, starting also from 3 January 1995. However, they then switched to airing hour-long episodes on Mondays at 14.20; when Blue Heelers began to lose ratings, they reverted back to two-part half hour episodes and finally cancelled the programme in 2002 (mid-Season 7). Scottish Television (STV) aired hour-long episodes, airing on Fridays after Home and Away, and then replacing A Country Practice on Tuesdays. STV dropped Blue Heelers after episode 106 for more repeats of Murder, She Wrote. Ulster Television (UTV) began airing Blue Heelers in early 1995, initially 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday & Friday afternoons at 1.50pm; after Home and Away. They then moved it to the 2.20pm slot later in the series. A few episodes also ran at 11.40pm on Thursday nights as they were considered unsuitable for daytime viewing. They cancelled ''Blue Heelers in 1998.

See also

References

External links

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