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Australians 'had to get savvy' about pirating, says BSG's Jamie Bamber

Fan-favourite show "Battlestar Galactica" is about to be shown on Foxtel's SyFy channel -- and it'll be the first time it has ever been shown in order on Australian TV.


It's been ten years since Battlestar Galactica first aired, but for many fans Jamie Bamber and Tahmoh Penikett are still better known as Lee "Apollo" Adama and Karl "Helo" Agathon.

CNET caught up with the pair in between stops on the Australian Supanova convention circuit -- Bamber and Penikett are doing the rounds because Battlestar Galactica is about to be shown in full on the SyFy channel, available on Foxtel and Fetch TV. This will, somewhat surprisingly, be the first time that the show has been aired in its entirety -- and the correct order -- in Australia.

"We just found out from [BSG Producer] Michael Rhymer just last night that the show was never successfully aired here -- it started but then it just stopped," said Penikett.

Channel 10 aired the series originally, and the dissatisfaction fans felt at the station's treatment of the program can still be found on forums around the internet. Changes to start times (which were already usually post 11 p.m.), episodes aired out of order and even the network occasionally just not showing the scheduled program were a few of the complaints levelled at Channel 10's treatment of the show.

The fourth and final season of BSG, which was split into two halves, eventually ended up on two different networks. Channel Ten showed the first half in 2008 and SciFi (a Foxtel channel that rebranded as SF in 2012 and became SyFy this year) showed the second half in 2009. At the time the show was described as "fast tracked" with the first episode "Sometimes a Great Notion" airing 15 days after it showed in the US -- a somewhat speedy coup by the standards of the day.

Bamber in character as Apollo. SyFy

Bamber expressed surprise that the Australian fan base was so strong given all these issues around the airing times.

"Michael said that it's never been aired here in order, A-Z as it were," he said. "To have that fan base for a show that never got aired properly, well it says a lot about the show."

When the subject of whether that fandom might have owed a little to piracy, Bamber said "Yeah, you had to get really savvy about that over here, didn't you?"

Back in 2005, tech commentator Mark Pesce wrote an article series titled "Piracy is Good? How Battlestar Galactica killed broadcast TV". Pesce notes that the first episode of BSG aired three months earlier in the UK than the US. During that time the relatively new technology of BitTorrent meant that many people outside of the UK still managed to watch the episode.

And that certainly didn't hurt the viewership for the US-based Sci-Fi channel: with 3.1 million viewers, it was the channel's highest rating January program, highest rating first-quarter series telecast and the second highest rating series telecast ever, just behind the Stargate Atlantis premiere.

It's nine years later and the same conversations about piracy still abound in Australia -- these days they tend to revolve around Game of Thrones -- and there is still a lot of dissatisfaction over here regarding air times and availability, especially with so called genre shows.

So, while it may have been some time coming, at least BSG fans will get to see their show get the treatment it deserves.

"That's why I think it was very exciting to see the SyFy Battlestar Galactica logo at Supanova for the first time in a long time," muses Bamber. "I mean, we're done with that show, but not over here -- and that's great."