This satirical television situation comedy has become an Australian classic. Shot in a mock documentary style, and produced by the team that became known as Working Dog Productions—comprising Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy and Rob Sitch—three series of Frontline, each consisting of 13 half-hour episodes, were screened on ABC Television in 1994, 1995 and 1997, and have been repeated frequently ever since. The Working Dog team had enjoyed earlier successes in television sketch comedy with The D-Generation (1986–87) and The Late Show (1992–93), and after Frontline the team produced two highly popular feature films, The Castle (1997) and The Dish (2000).
Set in the production studios of a fictional commercial current affairs program, Frontline was seemingly modelled on the long running A Current Affair, and satirised the murky production culture of tabloid television journalism. Often the situations depicted were thinly fictionalised versions of well-known events or ethical controversies, which were used to criticise the sensationalist and exploitative tactics of ratings-driven current affairs shows. The character of the narcissistic host, Mike Moore (played by Sitch), was a clever amalgam of attributes drawn from some of the household names in television journalism. The cast also included comic versions of some familiar stereotypes: the shallow, appearance-obsessed female reporter Brooke Vandenberg (played by Kennedy), the headline-chasing ‘whatever it takes’ cowboy reporter Martin di Stasio (Tiriel Mora) and the producer/researcher Emma Ward (Alison Whyte), who ‘gets the job done’, despite some misgivings.
REF: S. Cilauro, T. Gleisner, J. Kennedy and R. Sitch, Frontline (1995).