'Dramality series' stirs up Slyvania Waters

By Kathy Marks

The Shire is based the TV show Jersey Shore. Photo / Supplied
The Shire is based the TV show Jersey Shore. Photo / Supplied

Twenty years after Sylvania Waters portrayed it as populated by nouveau riche bogans, the wounds are still raw in Sydney's Sutherland Shire.

So locals were furious to learn this week that Channel Ten is poised to start filming a new TV reality programme, The Shire, based on the United States hit show Jersey Shore.

After seeing a leaked clip of promotional footage - which showed young people talking about getting drunk, becoming porn stars and pushing people downstairs - Sutherland's mayor, Carol Provan, threatened to "put a boom gate across Tom Ugly Bridge", the southern shire's boundary, to keep film crews out.

She also claimed she had been misled by the production company Shine Australia, which had promised the show would boost tourism, "putting out to the world and to all of Australia what a wonderful place we are - our beaches, our bush, national parks, our restaurants, our coffee shops".

Instead, fumed Provan, it was clear that The Shire was to be a "drunk and disorderly promotion".

The trashy but popular reality series Jersey Shore chronicles the lives of eight young people sharing a house. The Shire will also be modelled on Britain's top-rating The Only Way is Essex. It will be "a bold, highly addictive dramality series that follows the often outrageous lives and loves of a group of people ... destined to become the most talked about in Australia", according to Channel Ten.

None of that pleases Provan, or the area's state and federal MPs, Mark Speakman and Scott Morrison, who met Ten executives this week to implore them to drop the show.

The network, though, is determined to press on, and filming will begin next week.

"The council has no legal or moral right to censor The Shire," Ten's chief executive, James Warburton, said after the meeting.

Memories of Noeline Baker and Laurie Donaher still make Sutherland residents shudder.

"It's taken us a long time to heal from ... Sylvania Waters," said Provan.

Councillor Craig McCallum said the people of Sylvania Waters were "still suffering the stigma".

The Cronulla riots of 2006 also harmed the shire's reputation.

Two other shows featuring Sutherland as a backdrop are set to give it maximum exposure. A fly-on-the-wall programme about the model Lara Bingle, who grew up there, and a TV version of the Australian classic Puberty Blues, set around Cronulla Beach, are due to air later this year.

- NZ Herald

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