Australia's Southern Star is stepping up television production with five new projects, worth a combined $17m (A$30m), including The Rubicon, a co-production with the UK's Warner Sisters.

The slate, according to Southern Star Entertainment CEO Errol Sullivan, represents 18 months of intensive work finding new financing pathways that avoid the dangers of deficit financing. All five projects have been pre-sold to local broadcasters and involve international co-financing partners.

The Rubicon is a four-hour thriller that will screen on the Seven Network locally and BSkyB in the UK. Southern Star is also producing a 22-hour primetime series The Secret Life Of Us, for Network Ten, local pay-TV outfit Optus and the UK's Channel 4.

On the children's front there are two 26-part series: Outriders and animation Tracey McBean. Southern Star's partners in Outriders are ndF, the production arm of Kirch Media in Germany where the series will be shot, and Australian broadcaster Nine Network. Tracey McBean will screen on the ABC in Australia and cable network Fox Kids UK. It is a partnership with Egmont Denmark and Shanghai Animation of China.

The fifth project is a 13-part adventure science documentary set in the Pacific and produced for National Geographic. Southern Star also expects to greenlight a second children's animation series shortly following a pilot made in conjunction with the Children's Television Workshop in the US. Southern Star will handle sales on all the productions.