ABC and SBS this Easter: family-friendly streaming shows and films

From nature documentaries to comedy, animation and Aussie classics, here are our family Easter picks.

‘Family-friendly’ is a rubbery category and depends on the ages of your kids and the prudishness of the other adults in your family. My 21-year-old, for instance, loves sitting down with us to watch the very rude and silly comedy Peep Show (ABC iview), the cringingly inappropriate US version of The Office (Stan) and any David Attenborough series featuring oceans and sea creatures. So the list below is a broad one, not necessarily G-rated, but all free to stream this Easter on ABC iview and SBS on Demand. Happy holidays!

Nature

Whale With Steve Backshall – ABC iview

British naturalist and conservationist Steve Backshall dives with whales and dolphins, taking us closer than ever before to the most mysterious and awe-inspiring animals in the natural world. The footage in the first episode I watched is extraordinary and at times very moving. Also, Backshall seems to be mellowing nicely into a less gung-ho version of his younger Deadly 60 self.

Muster Dogs, Season 2 – ABC iview

More cuteness as five Australian Border Collie puppies set out into the world to meet their new owners, establishing a lifelong bond as they take their first steps to becoming a Champion Muster Dog.

Animation

Bluey: Ghostbasket and The Sign – ABC Kids and iview

Not quite in time for Easter, but the brand-new seven-minute episode of Bluey, Ghostbasket, premieres 7 April at 8am, and the much-anticipated 28-minute special The Sign (featuring the voices of Joel Edgerton, Myf Warhurst and Deborah Mailman) premieres 14 April. Families of all ages around the world love this Australian kids’ series about a blue heeler pup and her family.

Where is Anne Frank? – SBS on Demand

Ari Folman’s feature-length animation deals with the Holocaust, so be warned it’s potentially not for the very young. Here, Kitty, the imaginary girl to whom Anne Frank wrote her famous diary, comes to life in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

Reawakened by reading the diary, and believing that if she’s alive, Anne must be alive as well, Kitty sets out on a quest to find Anne. We follow her as she travels across Europe and back to Anne Frank’s time, armed with the precious book, in search of her beloved friend. Folman works again with Waltz with Bashir animation director Yoni Goodman, placing distinctive 2D characters against exquisite stop-motion backgrounds. 

Belle – SBS on Demand

In this 2021 anime film directed by Mamoru Hosada, Suzu is a shy high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters ‘U’, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a globally-beloved singer. Belle is beautiful to listen to as well as to watch.

Comedy

Fisk, Seasons 1 & 2 – ABC iview

The third season of Fisk is due later this year so it’s a good time to catch up on Kitty Flanagan’s award-winning international hit, a fast-paced comedy about high-end contracts lawyer Helen Tudor-Fisk, who is forced to take a job at a shabby, suburban law firm following a humiliating marriage breakdown and a professional fall from grace.

Writing about the second season, our reviewer Anthony Morris, called it ‘the funniest sitcom Australia’s seen in years, which would be even higher praise if there was any serious competition for the title’ – and gave it four and a half stars.

Read: Review: Fisk Season 2

The Orville, Seasons 1,2 & 3 – SBS on Demand

This good natured sci-fi comedy is inspired by, and parodies, Star Trek and its Next Generation successor. The show was created by Seth MacFarlane, who stars as the captain of The Orville, a mid-level exploratory ship in the 25th Century.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival – ABC iview

The ABC partners again with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to deliver the two biggest nights on the Australian comedy calendar: The Gala, proudly supporting Oxfam and the Opening Night Comedy Allstars Supershow. Not G-rated.

Docu-reality

Better Date Than Never – ABC iview

Sweet and thought-provoking, this series follows a group of diverse singles as they take their first step into the dating world. As their stories develop connections will be made, hearts will break, love will blossom. Our reviewer, Anthony Morris, gave it four stars and called it ‘a wholesome antidote to most reality shows about the ups and downs of finding love.’

Read: Better Date than Never is charming, likeable, human

Alone Australia – Season 2 – SBS on Demand

Ten Australian survivalists are dropped into the extreme and wild terrain of New Zealand’s South Island in the second, ten-episode instalment of the hit reality series. Meet the contenders here.

Movies

Strictly Ballroom – ABC iview

When 21-year-old ballroom champion Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) commits the cardinal sin of dancing his own steps and not those of the all-powerful Dance Federation, the retribution is swift. Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 kitsch comedy put him on the world stage. It’s an Aussie classic and great family fun.

Whale Rider – SBS on Demand

A Maori girl defies her grandfather and 1000 years of tradition to prove she can lead their tribe in Niki Caro’s 2002 New Zealand film. The young Keisha Castle-Hughes was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in this inspiring and affecting story.

The Secret of Roan Innish – SBS on Demand

A gentle and optimistic fairytale, The Secret of Roan Innish (1994) is set in a village on the west coast of Ireland and combines folklore and realism to reveal how the magic of nature can forever change the lives of a fisherman and his family. Fiona (Jeni Courtney) is a young Irish girl with an unusual family history, including a long-missing baby brother.

When she goes to live with her grandparents, she hears stories about her ancestors, involving mythical creatures called selkies who can shift from seal to human form and she believes she may have found her little brother living by the sea.

Rochelle Siemienowicz is the ArtsHub Group's Education and Career Editor. She is a journalist for Screenhub and is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. Her second book, Double Happiness, a novel, will be published by Midnight Sun in 2024. Instagram: @Rochelle_Rochelle Twitter: @Milan2Pinsk