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What’s on TV: Friday, February 22

Coast New Zealand

SBS, 7.30pm

A journey of discovery in a thick Scottish burr hosted by that guy who looks like Baldrick from Blackadder. But, lo, it is actually archaeologist and historian Neil Oliver, the History Channel’s most beloved son who has journeyed to the land of the long white cloud to reprise his Coast series on the flipside of the world. It’s actually the first of three Coast outings in New Zealand, filmed in 2016, and the number of times the word “desolate” is uttered in the first episode on the South Island’s Fiordland gives cause to wonder why the Kiwis allowed him back to film two more series. It may be the emptiest and loneliest part of the country, but it has its own charms. Perhaps they realised no one, but no one, says “Roaring Forties” as deliciously as this man.

Archaeologist and historian Neil Oliver hosts <i>Coast New Zealand</i>.

Archaeologist and historian Neil Oliver hosts Coast New Zealand.

The Heights (premiere)

ABC, 8.30pm

It would be a new year’s wish come true to see Aunty hosting her very own answer to Neighbours and Home and Away, only in a way that shows Australia for what it actually is rather than a wooden Anglo-Celtic fiction. Judging by the first two episodes, The Heights may just be the unicorn we’ve been waiting for. Set in a public housing tower in the fictitious inner-city neighbourhood of Arcadia Heights it’s a soapy, sudsy relationship drama with all the usual suburban settings thrown in – a high school, a pub, a shop – but with Vietnamese characters and Indigenous characters and disabled characters and single mums and gay kids and it’s all completely unremarkable as they get on with the real drama of figuring out what’s going to happen to the pub now that its curmudgeonly old owner has died. Binge it if you want: after the premiere, 16 half-hour episodes will be available to stream on iView.

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