‘The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey’ was a ratings hit on SBS on Sunday night.
The unique three-hour immersive telecast lured 628,000 metro and regional viewers on average for the first hour, according to OzTAM’s preliminary figures – the highest-rating show on SBS in the last 12 months.
Despite no narration, no music, no characters and no dialogue, viewers stayed watching, with the commercial-free show averaging 583,000.
The TV event – led by majestic cinematography of Australia’s most iconic train meandering through the Red Centre and backed by a beautiful sound scape – also trended at number one on Twitter, with the majority hailing the new genre, although there were some critics too.
Produced by Mint Pictures, ‘The Ghan’ was shot from 15 camera angles across the three-day trek from Adelaide to Darwin.
While the documentary is largely immersive, it uses contemporary graphics and archival images to explore the contribution of the transcontinental line to the foundation of modern Australia.
The stories reveal that a combination of Indigenous surveyors, European ‘navvies’, Chinese ‘coolies’ and the cameleers ‘The Ghan’ is named after all contributed to building the track that bisects Australia.
“SBS are thrilled with the success of ‘The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey’,” the network said in a statement. “We’re pleased that so many viewers embraced the addictive and hypnotic qualities of slow TV, and we will continue to explore ideas around this innovative style of storytelling.”
Mint Pictures also produced a longer version for Viceland and SBS On-Demand, running at 16 hours, 26 minutes and 52 seconds.
‘The Ghan’ was directed by Adam Kay, and produced by Dan Goldberg and Dan Whelan. Toby Ralph was DOP and audio is by Richard Boxhall.
To watch ‘The Ghan’, click here.