Underbelly Series to Continue Says Channel Nine Exec

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
Feb/22/2009
Underbelly

In its second season, Australia's Underbelly franchise has witnessed massive viewership.  More than 2 million people tune in nightly.

Channel Nine Direct Sales Manager, Ian Sheppard, told Gambling911.com's Senior International Correspondent, Jenny Woo.

"Underbelly is based on real events," Sheppard said, and these events have had viewers on the edge of their seats each Monday night.  "The name Underbelly is really just a franchise to dramatize real organized crime in Australia so it really is a question of what else they can go to work on.  Another great story out of the 1970's and 80's are of the biking gangs in Australia or New Zealand, the Hell's Angels and the Commancheros; they basically ran the drug trade.  So there's probably a good episode story there, which could be branded Underbelly.  It's really just a question of how many interesting and real stories they can dig up from the past in terms of organized crime in Australia."

Media Man, Greg Tingle, agrees. 

"There is enough material for the next few years," he said.

Tingle also told Gambling911.com that another network was in the midst of airing a similar series to that of Underbelly.

That said, a number of networks back in the United States tried and failed to copy HBO's ground breaking series, The Sopranos.  Like the Sopranos, Underbelly is based on real events taking place in a sort of underworld society.

When asked if the series is exaggerated, much like the Sopranos could be at times, Sheppard said he wasn't fully certain.

"I think that's a hard one to answer.  The only thing I can say to that is that the first two episodes in the current series dealt with the murder of a guy called Donald Mackay, who was an anti drug campaigner in a part of Australia where a lot of Italian families were growing cannabis.  He disappeared and they found his truck with empty bullet casings in a puddle of blood but they never found out who actual killed him.  They reckon beyond any doubt who it was and Underbelly ran with this particular story where they actually showed the guy shooting him.  But I suppose historically the records show that no one was ever charged with his murder."

Last week, the series touched on the Underbelly casino elements. 

"There will be more casino themes upcoming," Tingle informed us, though Sheppard would not elaborate on the subject.  "It's an area that has quite a bit of history in Australia."

What's really gripped Australians, perhaps more than anything else, is the amount of violence depicted.

" I think that people are both shocked and fascinated to know that all this was happening here in our city, Sydney and Melbourne," Sheppard said.  "We've always been shocked when we hear about violence coming out of Los Angeles, Miami or New York.  We've always viewed ourselves as being away from all of that.  I think it sort of shocked a lot of people here.  We weren't naïve to think that nothing happened but I think a lot of people were shocked thinking the worst of the worst."

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Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com        

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