It was Sir Thomas More who coined the term ‘Utopia’ in his book published in 1516 of the same name.  The book related to life on a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean with a perfect social and political system.

Today, the word is generally defined as a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities.  But on ABCTV it is nothing of the sort.

Utopia is the new 8 part series from the creators of ‘Frontline’ and ‘The Hollowmen’.  For anyone involved in planning and development it is a cracker of a show and is must watch TV.

The ABC describe the show as “a satire about the difficult process of taking grand, uncosted, inadequately planned, fundamentally flawed schemes – and passing then off as Nation Building”.

The show centres around the ‘workings’ of the Nation Building Authority as it tries desperately to implement bold visions and iconic schemes conceived from political thought bubbles.  Tony (Rob Sitch), the hapless boss of the NBA, struggles against ministerial minders, communications directors, high staff turnover, endless meetings, IT breakdowns and a range of other issues typical of large bureaucracies.  The result is hilarious television.

Rather concerning though, is that many of the plot lines appear eerily real.  The writers have their finger on the pulse with some very accurate depictions of development scenarios and processes.  Recent episodes focusing on the need to create ‘hubs’ and ‘precincts’ should make any planner wince.  Precinct Structure Plan anyone?

Is this a case of art imitating life or life imitating art?

Oh, by the way, if elected in November, the State ALP will create Infrastructure Victoria (to evaluate the major infrastructure projects) and Projects Victoria (to implement the projects recommended by Infrastructure Victoria).  One can only hope that this is not the scene of the second series of Utopia.

We give Utopia 5 stars.

Enquiries to John Roney on 03 8698 9300 or jdr@colliepl.com.au