Lilley, Spicks and Specks return in new-look ABC line-up

Chris Lilley will be back with a new comedy, Spicks And Specks will return with new stars and a host of fresh local and international programming fill out a packed 2013 schedule announced by the ABC.

In a booklet the size of a small paperback novel - as opposed to the single sheet handout at Nine's 2013 launch on Tuesday  - the national broadcaster detailed dozens of new productions, plus the return of almost all the favourites.

"As another year draws to a close it's clear that the love affair Australians have with television is continuing," ABC director of television Kim Dalton said.

"Viewing levels of broadcast TV remain stable with 90 per cent of the people living in metro markets watching TV each week for at least three hours a day.

"It is also clear that Australians still want to watch their television programs on the traditional TV set, with 95 per cent of viewing done that way."

And to fill that need, ABC1 has confirmed 24 new local productions including the two big surprises - the as-yet-unnamed Chris Lilley project and the return of Spicks and Specks - and four new international series.

ABC2 will feature a further eight new shows (plus five new international series), the kid-centric ABC will have nine new local shows (and three new international), ABC4 has 10 new or returning shows with News 24 returning 19 programs and promising a fresh news website, improved iView service and more.

"There is clearly an ongoing thirst and desire to connect with strong original Australian content," Dalton said.

"And at ABC TV our commitment is to work with the best of Australia’s program makers, actors presenters, comedians and other creative talent to continue to provide, exciting, insightful, challenging and entertaining Australian programs."

Standouts from the announcements include the 13-part drama The Time Of Our Lives starring Claudia Karvan, Justine Clarke, Shane Jacobson, William McInnes, a look at three generations of an Australian family; Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, the second chapter in the real-life publishing drama that started with Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, starring Rachel Griffiths and Rob Carlton; the telemovie Carlotta chronicling the rise of legendary Kings Cross entertainer Carlotta (starring Packed To The Rafters' Jessica Marais) and of course the Lilley project.

"Chris Lilley is back," teased a "sealed section" within the ABC book, "but if we told you any more we would have to kill you."

Details were also scarce on the return of Spicks and Specks, with a photograph of the empty set and the tagline: "The seats are empty for now, but watch this space."

"What sets ABC TV apart from the rest is this commitment to making great, unique content that viewers can trust and enjoy," Dalton said.

The story Lilley, Spicks and Specks return in new-look ABC line-up first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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