SBS to air 17-hour episode of ‘slow TV’ hit The Ghan

For the most indolent of couch-dwellers, SBS has laid down a challenge come Sunday: 17 straight hours of its ‘slow TV’ hit The Ghan.

Beginning at 2.40am and culminating at 8.30pm the following day, the broadcaster’s multi-channel SBS Viceland will air the extended version of the three-hour episode which pulled in record audiences and unprecedented social media reaction for the network last weekend.

The Ghan averaged 536,000 total viewers for the broadcaster on Sunday, its highest-rating program in 12 months, SBS said in a press statement.

SBS is airing an extended 17-hour episode of its hit The Ghan. Photo: SBS

Viewers online were split on the experiment, with some labelling the endless vistas of outback-and-rails “boring” and others suggesting the train should be nominated for its own Gold Logie.

The show has been billed by SBS as Australia’s first foray into the ‘slow TV movement’, popularised by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation which telecast a seven-hour train journey in 2009 and a monumental 134-hour live ship voyage in 2011.

The movement has also spread to the UK, with BBC Four airing an entire series of slow TV specials in 2015, including a two-hour real-time bus ride through North Yorkshire.

Despite its length, SBS’s epic episode might still disappoint trainspotting completists.

The 17-hour episode, which follows the Ghan’s entire 2979km train trip from Adelaide to Darwin, is itself a condensed cut of the full 54-hour trip, deleting the “black screen night time segments” of travel.

And, perhaps understandably for the broadcaster, the episode is not commercial-free.

The 17-hour episode of The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey airs on SBS Viceland and SBS On Demand on Sunday, from 2.40am to 8.30pm.

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