TV stations abuzz over their new faces

Starring on the small screen ... Rachel Griffiths and Mandy McElhinney.
Starring on the small screen ... Rachel Griffiths and Mandy McElhinney.

THEY are the faces expected to dominate local television screens throughout the next 12 months: some unknowns, some well-knowns and a handful of respected Australian actors returning for a second tilt at glory on the small screen.

But top of the list of hot stars on television over the coming year are a Puerto Rican and an Englishman: Ricky Martin, the new coach on Nine's The Voice, and Marco Pierre White, the star of MasterChef: The Professionals.

The pursuit of a top-selling artist to fill Keith Urban's chair on The Voice appears to have paid early dividends for Nine, even before Martin appears on Australian television screens.

There has been a continuous stream of positive Twitter traffic about the choice (television executives these days love Twitter traffic almost as much as ratings) with even Martin's fans across Latin America name-dropping the Australian show on social media.

It is that kind of early buzz which can often make or break a season of the show, something Ten's producers were well aware of when they approached the British chef Marco Pierre White with a proposal to front their new MasterChef spin-off.

''He wasn't an easy get,'' said Margie Bashfield executive producer of MasterChef: The Professionals. ''There was a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails.''

Over at the ABC, television executives will be clearly chuffed about ''the Rhonda effect'' before actor Mandy McElhinney's appearance on Paper Giants: Magazine Wars.

While McElhinney is taking on the fiery and dramatic role of magazine doyen Nene King opposite Rachel Griffiths as Dulcie Boling, the actor is already widely loved by audiences for her character Rhonda in advertisements for a brand of car insurance.

The other big buzz at the ABC is the return of comedian Chris Lilley in an as-yet-unnamed project.

Shane Jacobson seems to have found a new lease on life on television screens this year. He will not only co-host The Great Australian Bake-Off on Channel Nine, he has been named as a cast member for the ABC drama series The Time of Our Lives.

Seven is also upping the ante in locally made drama, with actor Marta Dusseldorp expected to become a household name in her leading role in A Place to Call Home. On Nine, the Underbelly franchise will introduce a new, unknown male star in Jared Daperis, who will play the lead role of Squizzy in the next series.

Actors Ashleigh Cummings and Brenna Harding will return to Ten for a second series of Puberty Blues this year.

This story TV stations abuzz over their new faces first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.