1 9 9 4 – 1 9 9 7 (Australia)
39 x 30 minute episodes
Set in the studio of a fictitious Australian current affairs TV show, Frontline (known as Breaking News in the USA) blended invented events with real-life news events.
Rob Sitch played former ABC reporter Mike Moore, who was now the vain, hapless, and hopeless nightly host of Frontline, broadcast on a fictitious commercial network. Moore (who was apparently based on one part Ray Martin, one part Mike Munro, and several parts Stan Grant) constantly endured the jibes of his star reporters Brooke Vandenberg (Jane Kennedy) and Martin di Stasio (Tiriel Mora).
All the worst abuses of press freedom were here – illegal use of hidden cameras, deceiving people in order to gain access to places to which reporters have no right of entry, and paying outrageous sums of money for prurient kiss-and-tell exposés.
There was a strict hierarchy in the workplace, in which almost all the journalists kowtowed to executives and people from whom they hoped to derive advantage, and bullied everyone in a subordinate role.
Meanwhile, they were always on the lookout for ways to undermine their superiors in the hope of taking their jobs once they’d been fired.
Many of the plots were based on recent or well-known stories, which lent the show a strong topicality, as pioneered in British sitcom Drop The Dead Donkey.
If Frontline has a moral, it was the paradox that it’s not only in war that truth is the first casualty: it is also quickly sacrificed in a newsroom as hacks struggle to fill air time.
Martin di Stasio