In Review

The Newsreader review: a ‘charmingly mellow’ newsroom drama

This Australian show set in the 1980s is ‘a treat’ – it’s beautifully acted and written

This six-part Australian drama set in a live TV newsroom in the 1980s has won several awards on its home turf, said Dan Einav in the FT, and you can see why. The series doesn’t have the kind of “grand themes” you might expect – it has little to say about politics or social issues. Instead, it relies on compelling characters and fine performances to create a “charmingly mellow” drama. 

The series follows Helen (Anna Torv), a newsreader who brings “cool poise” to her evening broadcasts but who is decidedly less together off air. When a piece of breaking news completely “blindsides” her, and leads her to take an accidental overdose, she is saved by a fledgling reporter (Sam Reid), and the two bond. Although it’s set against a backdrop of major news events, it amounts to “unhurried, stress-free viewing”, aided by a “soothing beige” colour scheme. 

“What a treat” this show is, said Rachel Cooke in The New Statesman. It’s “a comedy, a love story, a pastiche, an homage”, and it’s beautifully acted and written. Every time I watch it, I feel “wrapped in a million-thread-count sheet”; you’d have to be “almost unimaginably flinty-hearted and lacking in taste” not to enjoy it “just a little bit”. 

I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy it much, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. Yes, it provides a welcome opportunity to wallow in 1980s nostalgia – there are VHS tapes on the shelves and Mr. Mister on the radio – but this is really just a “straightforward soap opera” peddling the usual soapy storylines. And there are better Australian soaps out there.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer 

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