Nominated … Lachy Hulme as Kerry Packer in the television series. Actor Anthony Hayes as Bernie Banton in Devil’s Dust.

Full list of nominations

The ABC is poised to confirm its mantle as Australia’s leading producer of television drama, with a dominating start to the TV Week Logie Award nominations.

A handful of blue-chip ABC drama’s, including Devil’s Dust, Jack Irish, Mabo, Dangerous Remedy and Redfern Now are leading the charge in the peer-voted outstanding categories of the awards.

Were it not for a strong showing by Channel Nine’s Underbelly and Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War and Foxtel’s critically acclaimed drama Tangle, the ABC might have have taken a clean sweep.

But the full spread of nominations in the 55th annual TV Week Logie Awards provides a fascinating snapshot of Australian TV: the resurgence of Nine, the power of Ten’s strong drama portfolio and the emergence of Foxtel as a legitimate alternative to the “big five”.

The 55th annual TV Week Logie Awards will acknowledge and reward programs in 24 categories, including the Gold Logie and the TV Week Logie Hall of Fame.

Eleven of the awards are “most outstanding” peer-voted awards; that is, they are voted by juries of television industry peers such as actors, writers and producers. The remainder, including the night’s top gong, the Gold Logie for “most popular personality on Australian TV” are popularity awards voted by the audience.

The Nine Network goes into TV’s night of nights leading the form with a total of 37 nominations, reflecting its return to programming form in Logie-friendly genres such as drama and light entertainment.

The ABC is not far behind with an extraordinary 32 nominations, including two for the digital channel ABC2 and three for its children’s channel ABC3.

The Ten Network, despite a shocking ratings year in 2012 during which it sank dangerously close to fourth place among the five big networks, drew 28 nominations. One of Ten’s surviving strengths is drama, and the Logies place particular emphasis on that genre.

The Seven Network scored only 17 nominations, a significant fall from previous years, reflecting the diminishing wattage of its Logie pool-scooping drama Packed to the Rafters and the emergence of real competition in the best new talent categories, which have been historically been dominated by Seven’s Home and Away.

Foxtel has a total of eight nominations, seven of which are spread across the Lifestyle Channel, the drama channel Showcase, Sky News, the kids channel Nick Junior and the factual/documentary channel Crime & Investigation.

The last of Foxtel’s nominations is for the platform’s multi-channel coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.

The major award of the night is the Gold Logie, a popular-voted award. The nominees are Adam Hills (ABC1), Andy Lee (Nine Network), Asher Keddie (Network Ten), Carrie Bickmore (Network Ten), Hamish Blake (Nine Network) and Steve Peacocke (Channel Seven).

It is Hills’s sixth consecutive nomination in the category, Keddie’s third, and Bickmore and Blake’s second. Andy Lee and Steve Peacocke, who plays Darryl Braxton in Home and Away, are nominated this year for the first time.

In purely historical terms, Blake and Lee would lead the form going in; the Nine Network has won roughly half of all the Gold Logies handed out in the award’s 55 year history.

But Blake’s win last year was aided by a major marketing push by Nine and this year TV Week has dismantled it’s “race for gold” season to put the six Gold Logie nominees on an equal footing.

The campaign season, run for the last few years, effectively reset the Gold Logie nominees to zero one month before the big night, regardless of who was in the lead.

But the side effect was that the ABC, with less marketing power than its rivals, was disadvantaged versus its commercial rivals and a commercial network with more than one nominee had to divide its resources, leaving it at a disadvantage compared to a commercial network backing a single nominee.

The decision to abandon the race late last year was seen as a victory for fair play.

As the TV networks and industry analysts conduct their post-mortem today, one of the major issues will no doubt be Seven’s diminished power in the “most popular new talent” categories, which have historically favoured that network’s stable of teen actors.

One of the peculiarities of the category is that its is intended for people “new” to television but not necessarily new to the entertainment industry.

This year the nominations include platinum album-selling artist-turned-TV host David Campbell, triple platinum album-selling artist-turned-TV judge Joel Madden and senior journalist-turned-amateur chef Annabel Crabb.

Madden’s inclusion, in particular, will raise eyebrows given he is a high-profile international recording artist with a well-established showbusiness career in North America.

A second Gold Logie, bestowed on the TV Week Logie Hall of Fame entrant, is also handed out on the night. The recipient for 2013 has not yet been announced.

Past recipients have included Reg Grundy, Graham Kennedy, the journalist Laurie Oakes and the programs Play School and Four Corners.

Some in the media are already suggesting journalist Peter Harvey, who died last week, should be inducted this year.

Despite the national pastime of knocking the Logies, they own a prominent place in Australia’s cultural history. The Logies is where Andrew Denton sat on James Packer’s lap and where Karl Stefanovic turned up for work the next morning – on live TV – a little worse for wear.

They own a history book packed with quirky anachronisms, such as the old “state-based” Logies (of which Adelaide-based Anne Wills holds the record, with 19 on her mantle) and the now-defunct best TV commercial category, whose victorious luminaries include Fanta (1972), Winfield cigarettes (1973) and Uncle Sam deodorant (1975 and 1976).

And they were the setting for some strange and bizarre moments. For two years they were held on cruise liners, the Galileo Galilei in 1963 and the Guglielmo Marconi in 1964. And they have featured a eclectic assortment of international guests such as Burt Lancaster, Glenn Ford, Gina Lollobrigida, Britt Ekland and Phyllis Diller.

It was also the setting for what history may record as the funniest monologue ever, from comedian Joan Rivers: “They don’t know who the shit I am. I don’t know why the f— I’m here. I know you’re all famous [gesturing to audience] and I hope you all win. I know I’m sitting with important people [but] I don’t know who you are.”

This year’s telecast is the 55th, and the early signs are there it will be a doozy. Seven’s showing, overall, isn’t as strong as it has been in the past. And both Nine and the ABC are resurgent, chewing into Seven and Foxtel’s historic control of the drama categories.

Add to that the ages-old blood feud between rivals Nine and Seven and the presence of Freeview, the free-to-air TV lobby group, as a sponsor on a night which is supposed to bring together the entire industry, pay TV included, and you have all the ingredients for a bumpy ride down the red carpet.

Television’s night of nights, indeed.

The 55th annual TV Week Logie Awards will be held in Melbourne on April 7.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.