Seven splashes out on 2013 lineup to stay the course

Red Widow ... stars Australia's Radha Mitchell, centre.
Red Widow ... stars Australia's Radha Mitchell, centre.

The Seven Network has thrown down the gauntlet to its commercial rivals, unveiling a 2013 program lineup it claims is unmatched for "year-round consistency and depth".

But with Nine perched on the brink of collapse and locked in negotiations with its lenders, and Ten delivering its worst performance in memory, neither is in a strong position to challenge Seven on that point.

Seven's 2013 schedule includes the reality series Celebrity Splash – already nicknamed Diving with the Stars – a new renovation series, House Rules, and a new Australian drama, A Place to Call Home.

House Rules is based on Seven's established My Kitchen Rules format and involves surrendering your home to other contestants so they can renovate it.

A Place to Call Home comes from Bevan Lee, the creator of Packed to the Rafters, and is set in rural Australia in the 1950s. It stars Marta Dusseldorp, Brett Climo, Noni Hazlehurst and Frankie J. Holden.

Seven has also acquired three key US series, all of which star Australian actors in leading roles.

Red Widow stars Radha Mitchell as a housewife whose husband was killed because of his mafia connections, and who must continue to work with the mob to protect her family.

It also stars former All Saints star Wil Traval.

The second series, Last Resort, is set on board a US submarine which defies an instruction to launch its nuclear missiles and goes on the run.

It stars three Australian actors, Daisy Betts (Sea Patrol), Dichen Lachman (Neighbours) and Daniel Lissing (Crownies).

The third, Zero Hour, is a mystery series that stars Anthony Edwards (ER) as an amateur investigator. Brisbane-born actress Jacinda Barrett plays his wife.

Seven's chief executive, Tim Worner, said 2013 would be the seventh consecutive year that Seven was Australia's "favourite" network.

"We don't front-load, we don't back-fill, we don't program in bursts, we don't rely on one or two shows to give us eight or 10 weeks of outperformance," he said.

"We aim to be consistent throughout the year."

Mr Worner also emphasised that Seven would go into 2013 as "the leader" in breakfast television, morning television, nightly news and public affairs.

He said Seven was also leading in primetime and across the 6am-midnight broadcast day.

Those claims would most likely be disputed by Nine, which has already claimed "the year" in news and current affairs based on weekly wins, not cumulative nightly ratings.

Neither, in fact, had much to crow about this week.

The ABC's Monday night news bulletin overtook both Seven and Nine with 1.1 million viewers nationally. Seven and Nine's news services drew 1.08 million and 1.04 million respectively.

Seven also announced a new series of the reality show The Mole, titled The Mole: Culture Clash, and a miniseries, Mrs Biggs, to be co-produced by Seven, ITV Studios and December Films.

Seven has also acquired the British drama Mr Selfridge, which stars Jeremy Piven (Entourage) as the American retailer who founded the Selfridge's store. It co-stars Australian actor Frances O'Connor as Harry Selfridge's wife, Rose.

This story Seven splashes out on 2013 lineup to stay the course first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.