After lighting up the screen with 1.6 million viewers for its first episode, Channel 7 confirmed today that they will not be renewing their 1800’s bushranger drama Wild Boys. The show will see out it’s 2011 season.

After launch the show settled around 900,000 viewers per episode, however it did constantly face stiff opposition in the 7:30pm Sunday timeslot winning it irregularly. For any other network the ratings for Wild Boys would have been sufficient to call for at least another season, however given the dogged push by Channel 7 to remain number one after so long languishing in second place it would seem unless the show was a consistent timeslot winner it isn’t worth the expenditure.

The cancellation leaves fans in the lurch, as all 13 episodes of the series are through the production cycle and ready to go to air (only two remain). Whatever cliffhanger resolution was planned for the start of season two will be left to the ages.

It was a bold move to commission the series that cynics say was a knee-jerk reaction to Channel 9’s Underbelly franchise plans to deliver a period drama story for it’s 2011 franchise entry . Wild Boys was a rare PG-rated drama series that the whole family could watch: minimal sexual innuendo; larrakin humour; stories drawn from Australia’s rich bush history. This writer hopes it doesn’t send the wrong message to an Australian drama industry already constricted by cost and copycat ideas – that you must have sex/nudity/overt violence (or vapid, self absorbed baby-boomers/Gen Y’s) to be deemed “successful”. The story is still key and Wild Boys proved it could deliver a well-constructed, threaded storyline.

The demise of Wild Boys is best summed up by Dan MacPherson, who played the lead role of Bushranger Jack Keenan. He offered this to his twitter followers this afternoon: