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Who's Australia's hottest new talent?

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Who's Australia's hottest new talent?

Sunday Herald Sun

October 26 2008

The resurgence of Australian drama, led by shows such as Packed To The Rafters and Underbelly, has brought a big bonus - an explosion of hot, new talent.

It's difficult to think of a time when there has been so much fresh blood in our industry ... and we are running a poll to establish "TV's next big thing".

Naturally, we want you to have your say and details on how to vote are in the panel at right.

To help, we'll run through a few of the names who we feel have shone over the past year.

While TV veteran Rebecca Gibney was the big name in the cast for Packed To The Rafters, the young actors playing her kids – Jessica Marais (Rachel), Angus McLaren (Nathan) and Hugh Sheridan (Ben) – have all been turning heads. As have support cast members George Houvardas, Zoe Ventoura and Jessica McNamee.

Melbourne viewers had to wait a long time for Underbelly, but that didn't diminish the brilliance of breakthrough performances by Callan Mulvey (who played Mark Moran and is now starring in Network Ten's Rush ), Les Hill (Jason Moran), Kat Stewart (Roberta Williams) and Gyton Grantley (Carl Williams).

Mulvey's Rush co-stars Nicole da Silva and Ashley Zuckerman made a big first impression, as did Vanessa Gray in The Strip.

Established dramas also threw up a raft of new talent, including Sea Patrol (David Lyons, Jay Ryan and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor ) and All Saints (Alix Bidstrup and Jack Campbell ).

Interestingly, a glance at the Logie results earlier this year shows how much the climate has improved.

With no disrespect intended, the fact that wildlife poppet Bindi Irwin took out the Most Popular New Female Talent and former cricketer turned pay-TV wine expert Stuart MacGill was nominated as Most Popular New Male Talent suggests there was not a lot of strong local content on air at the time. It's fair to say, if the awards were held today, they would be unlikely to figure strongly in calculations – although they obviously have their supporters.

That said, the long-running soaps have always been a breeding ground for stars of the future and Home And Away Logie winner Lincoln Lewis and nominees Charlotte Best ( Home And Away ), Sam Clark ( Neighbours ) and Adelaide Kane ( Neighbours ) should definitely be on our list.

Other emerging Summer Bay stars include Esther Anderson, Tessa James, Todd Lasance, Jordan Rodrigues and Rebecca Breeds.

Other Neighbours new faces include Margot Robbie and former Idol star Dean Geyer.

Models turned Ramsay Street visitors Imogen Bailey and Erin McNaught may also gain votes, though not necessarily for their acting abilities.

Other stars shone even if their shows didn't set the world on fire. Former Wedge funny gal Rebel Wilson suffered when Nine's Monster House tanked, but she deserves points for SBS's Bogan Pride. Another SBS talent, Tammy Clarkson, was impressive in the drama The Circuit.

James Kerley obviously has star potential, even though the panel show Taken Out was not the best vehicle for him and former Postcards host Kelly Landry deserved a better fate than the short-lived Wheel Of Fortune.

The ABC unearthed an unlikely star in The Gruen Transfer panelist Todd Sampson and young Lachy Hulme held his own in the fine cast of The Hollowmen.

Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Holly in Bed Of Roses) and Kathryn Beck (Lizzy in East Of Everything ) also caught critics' eyes.

Another good area for young talent to test their wings is pay-TV. Former model Kristy Hinze was a standout as host of Project Runway and another well-known model Scott McGregor did a good job as host of Blood Sweat And Gears. Sarah Murdoch also looks set with bigger things as the new host of Australia's Next Top Model.

Of course, you may believe the contestants of Australian Idol, Big Brother or Biggest Loser qualify as new talent, but we would rule them out – except perhaps Idol turned Neighbours star Dean Geyer or Idol contestant turned host Ricki-Lee Coulter.

A few stars who have completely reinvented themselves also deserve to be mentioned in this category, including Hi-5er turned Battle Of The Choirs judge Charli Delaney, comedian turned actor Merrick Watts ( Hollowmen ) and former Neighbours star turned So You Think You Can Dance host Natalie Bassingthwaighte.

You might also wish to include athletes who have made a recent transition to TV, including swimmers Grant Hackett, Ian Thorpe and Giaan Rooney.

You can vote here.

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