You don't need pay TV: best Aussie lifestyle shows on free-to-air

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With so many great Aussie shows on free-to-air TV, it's hard to see why people are still paying for Foxtel and Austar -- especially when pay TV has just as many ad breaks.

Many of Australia's best local productions offer the same quality as programs commissioned by subscription television networks, and often enjoy greater success due to their broader audience.

At TV.com, we've been looking at the most-loved shows, by genre. We've discussed the best Aussie dramas, reality shows and comedies on free-to-air TV -- now let's put the spotlight on lifestyle programs.

These great Aussie shows will help you live your life a little easier -- they'll tell you what to do on the weekend; how to improve your house, garden and pets; what to buy; where to go; what movie to see ... what would we do without them?

At the Movies (ABC1, 10pm Wednesdays)

Who can resist Margaret and David? Sure, they may be a bit old and stuffy for the younger crowd and yes, they do love weird subtitled independent movies a little too much, but you can't deny that they have interesting insights on all the new-release films.

From the vantage of their cosy armchairs, the innocent-looking duo of Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton coolly and brutally unravel every movie that crosses their paths. Which is every movie that comes out. Ever. But at least you'll find out what not to see.

Bondi Rescue (One HD, 6pm Tuesdays)

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, if there were no surf lifesavers, then almost 500 people would drown every year on Australia's beaches. With that in mind, this reality/lifestyle program takes on a whole new meaning. The men and women guarding our beaches are national heroes (international, actually; have you seen all the silly tourists who think they can handle Bondi Beach?).

Join Whippet, Maxi, Deano, Hoppo and so many more cute beach boys on their quest to save drunken idiots from drowning in rips, bikini-clad teen girls acting stupid and ridiculously sunburned poms trying to surf.

Top Gear Australia (Nine, season 4 due later this year)

Want to know what car to buy (in your dreams)? Top Gear Australia will help you out. While initial attempts to duplicate the easygoing, hilarious banter of UK hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were a little cringe-worthy, TGA has finally found its balance -- significantly improving with the addition of Shane Jacobson (Kenny!) to the cast.

Top Gear Australia is highly entertaining and informative; the hosts test new cars, complete challenges in old cars and provide more Australian-related useful motoring info such as costs in Aussie dollar instead of the British pound and referencing cars that are actually available in Australia. Plus, fans not content with watching from the lounge room can buy tickets to see the show being filmed live.

Can We Help? (ABC1, 6pm Saturdays)

For five years, the team from Can We Help? has been reuniting long-lost families and friends, investigating every curious thing under the sun and resolving disagreements on the meaning and historical basis of old sayings and words.

It's fascinating stuff, and Peter Rowsthorn (Kel from Kath and Kim) is a very loveable host. Plus, you can even submit a question to the Can We Help team.

Better Homes and Gardens (Seven, 7:30pm Fridays)

Fresh off the back of its win at the 2011 Logie Awards, Better Homes and Gardens is officially the Most Popular Lifestyle Program. Does anyone dare to disagree with that bastion of truth -- TV Week?

While Johanna Griggs' acceptance speech was a little questionable, the show is pretty good. It covers a huge variety of lifestyle factors, like cooking, arts and craft, Do-It-Yourself renovation, gardening, looking after pets ... plus, it's been going forever -- so it must be doing something right!

Bondi Vet (TEN, 8pm Tuesdays)

Bondi Vet follows two remarkably attractive Sydney vets -- Dr Chris Brown and Dr Lisa Chimes -- whose task it is to save strays, injured wildlife and beloved family pets in poor health. Set in and around the spectacular surroundings of Australia's famous Bondi beach, this is by far the best animal-centric show on TV right now.

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