A Chronological History of Australian Soap

AndyB2008

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A cursory glance over the historical TV listings sites doesn't bring anything up. Granted they're not exhaustive, it's probably safe to say All The Way didn't make it "all the way" to the UK.
I never saw it on any TV channel at all, not even ITV or BBC, and they aired the Grundy\Crawford shows.

As I wrote before, the failed Nine soaps (even the Grundy and Crawford ones) weren't picked up for UK transmission -only Chances, Paradise Beach and Pacific Drive were the ones to get a UK airing.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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Here's a few Dannii Minogue scenes of her character trying to make off with her cousin's husband. The editing is choppy but there's not much else out there.

And a bonus picture of Rowena wearing one of her hated hats.

 

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The Power, The Passion - 1989


After failing to strike daytime soap gold in every decade since the birth of Australian TV, Seven tried one last time in the 80's with a show originally titled Love, Passion and Desire, which head of drama Alan Bateman said would be "larger than life" and would be "massive because a locally produced soap will always outperform an international version". Nine's The Ray Martin Show dominated the midday ratings and Seven hoped that pairing the new soap with TV legend Bert Newton's new show, would lure viewers away from the rival network.

The show got off to an inauspicious start when it finally made it to air in 1989. Now titled The Power, The Passion, soap stalwart Bevan Lee had written the first five episodes before leaving the show (having been headhunted by Nine alongside Alan Bateman). He felt that while he wrote it as outrageous but with a knowing wink to the audience, the new writers made fun of the audience rather than bringing them in on the joke. The drama began as wealthy businessman Gordon Byrne (Kevin Miles) returned to Australia after five years abroad, throwing the cat among the pigeons with his three daughters, all of whom had sone sort of grudge against Daddy Dearest. Anna (Suzy Cato) was dealing with an unhappy marriage to Justin Wright (George Mallaby) as well as being blackmailed by stepson Samuel (Danny Roberts) over her affair with toyboy Nick (Nick Carrafa). Ellen (Olivia Hamnett) was happily married and counted Julian McMahon (in his first regular TV role) among her offspring. Kathryn (Tracy Tainsh) was a psychologist with a split personality, who hated her father for separating her from the love of her life Ryan (Ian Rawlings) five years prior.

The heady mix of alternative personas, drug addiction, affairs and murder, didn't outperform the international soaps as Alan Bateman had predicted. Despite the presence of well known TV actors and a reported wardrobe budget of $1.5 million, viewers were still choosing Days of Our Lives and The Young & the Restless over The Power, The Passion. Even the spoof soap A Town Like Dallas, that ran as a segment on The Ray Martin Show each Friday, was outrating it. Producer Oscar Whitbred admitted "My main headache was that it was caricature and the American soaps were so sincere. There were also too many kids in it and the audience wanted more mature stories".

Realising they weren't going to topple the mighty Ray Martin, Seven axed The Bert Newton Show and shoved The Power, The Passion off to 11.30pm weeknights, where it burned off the remainder of the 168 episodes that had been made. It's mostly forgotten these days although it did make it overseas, airing in countries including France and Zimbabwe. Danny Roberts remembers it as one of his more unusual job offers "I swore I was never going to do television again but Skase (Seven's owner) met me, sold it to me and put me on a retainer and contract right there and then - which is unheard of today. It never surprised me that it didn't work because the 80's were ending".
 

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The Power, The Passion - 1989


After failing to strike daytime soap gold in every decade since the birth of Australian TV, Seven tried one last time in the 80's with a show originally titled Love, Passion and Desire, which head of drama Alan Bateman said would be "larger than life" and would be "massive because a locally produced soap will always outperform an international version". Nine's The Ray Martin Show dominated the midday ratings and Seven hoped that pairing the new soap with TV legend Bert Newton's new show, would lure viewers away from the rival network.

The show got off to an inauspicious start when it finally made it to air in 1989. Now titled The Power, The Passion, soap stalwart Bevan Lee had written the first five episodes before leaving the show (having been headhunted by Nine alongside Alan Bateman). He felt that while he wrote it as outrageous but with a knowing wink to the audience, the new writers made fun of the audience rather than bringing them in on the joke. The drama began as wealthy businessman Gordon Byrne (Kevin Miles) returned to Australia after five years abroad, throwing the cat among the pigeons with his three daughters, all of whom had sone sort of grudge against Daddy Dearest. Anna (Suzy Cato) was dealing with an unhappy marriage to Justin Wright (George Mallaby) as well as being blackmailed by stepson Samuel (Danny Roberts) over her affair with toyboy Nick (Nick Carrafa). Ellen (Olivia Hamnett) was happily married and counted Julian McMahon (in his first regular TV role) among her offspring. Kathryn (Tracy Tainsh) was a psychologist with a split personality, who hated her father for separating her from the love of her life Ryan (Ian Rawlings) five years prior.

The heady mix of alternative personas, drug addiction, affairs and murder, didn't outperform the international soaps as Alan Bateman had predicted. Despite the presence of well known TV actors and a reported wardrobe budget of $1.5 million, viewers were still choosing Days of Our Lives and The Young & the Restless over The Power, The Passion. Even the spoof soap A Town Like Dallas, that ran as a segment on The Ray Martin Show each Friday, was outrating it. Producer Oscar Whitbred admitted "My main headache was that it was caricature and the American soaps were so sincere. There were also too many kids in it and the audience wanted more mature stories".

Realising they weren't going to topple the mighty Ray Martin, Seven axed The Bert Newton Show and shoved The Power, The Passion off to 11.30pm weeknights, where it burned off the remainder of the 168 episodes that had been made. It's mostly forgotten these days although it did make it overseas, airing in countries including France and Zimbabwe. Danny Roberts remembers it as one of his more unusual job offers "I swore I was never going to do television again but Skase (Seven's owner) met me, sold it to me and put me on a retainer and contract right there and then - which is unheard of today. It never surprised me that it didn't work because the 80's were ending".
The Power The Passion and The Bert Newton Show also had to compete with the established Santa Barbara and The Bold and The Beautiful on Ten (in Sydney and Melbourne).

Santa Barbara was aired at noon against BN, and B&B's original slot was 1pm, against The Power, The Passion.
 

Carrie Fairchild

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The Power The Passion and The Bert Newton Show also had to compete with the established Santa Barbara and The Bold and The Beautiful on Ten (in Sydney and Melbourne).

Santa Barbara was aired at noon against BN, and B&B's original slot was 1pm, against The Power, The Passion.
I see also that Bert Newton wasn't immediately axed following The Power, The Passion's move to 11.30pm. Bert was extended to 90 minutes, running from 12pm - 1.30pm (alongside rival Ray Martin) but it was to no avail.
 

AndyB2008

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I see also that Bert Newton wasn't immediately axed following The Power, The Passion's move to 11.30pm. Bert was extended to 90 minutes, running from 12pm - 1.30pm (alongside rival Ray Martin) but it was to no avail.
Bert after the expansion though still had to face B&B.

If he couldn't compete with one California based soap, he could hardly defeat B&B, given The Power The Passion had lost out.
 

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E Street - 1989 to 1993


In 1988, two soap pilots went into production in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. Somerset Street was a gentle drama following family life on the titular terrace and starred soap stalwarts including Judy McBurney (The Young Doctors), Sarah Lambert (A Country Practice) and Sheila Kennelly (Number 96). Meanwhile, Westside was described as an edgier, urban version of A Country Practice, which Westside creator Forrest Redlich had worked on. Somerset Street never got past the pilot stage, while Westside became E Street (after it's setting, Eden Street). Redlich began shopping it around the networks with the stipulations that it would never air against his beloved former home ACP and it would air in a later timeslot, to allow for a more full on take on hard hitting storylines. ABC were initially interested but Ten made a better offer and pre-production began.

The show gathered initial buzz as it was announced that ACP favourite Penny Cook would star as Dr Elly Fielding, a role specifically written for her. In addition to raising her daughter with ex husband David (Noel Hodda), she was the chief medical officer of the Westside Medical Centre. Filling out the community were legal aid officer Sarah McIllop (Katrina Sedgwick), district nurse Martha O'Dare (Cecily Polson), pub owner Ernie Pratchett (Vic Rooney), policemen George Sullivan (Les Dayman) and Paul Berry (Warren Jones), girl "from the wrong side of the tracks" Lisa Bennett (Alyssa-Jane Cook) and unorthodox minister Reverend Bob Brown (Tony Martin).

Ten's decision to launch the show at 7.30pm on Wednesday and Thursday nights caused major repercussions. Richmond Hill got the chop to make way for it, while on set at E Street, scripts that were written 15 weeks in advance had to be hastily reworked to fit the earlier timeslot. After a lavish media launch (reportedly costing over $100k), E Street premiered in May 1989. The show opened with an ageing rector handing over his parish to his younger protege, Reverend Bob, who soon got involved with the case of a local girl with an intellectual disability who was pregnant to a local thug. Bob butted heads with Elly over what was right for the expectant mother, but in traditional soap fashion, this conflict would be the beginnings of a romance. Ratings weren't great but management at the beleaguered Ten saw it's potential and halted production for three weeks while reducing already produced episodes to once a week in order to let the team catch up with rewrites. As the show emerged from this initial tumult, Ten's research found that it was attracting a lucrative audience of under 40's, particularly a large male audience of 14 - 35 year olds. "We had no children watching because it was too hard hitting and no grannies watching because it was too hip" said Forrest Redlich. To tap into this, the team began writing for a male skewing audience, in the first of many changes in tone that the show would have during it's relatively brief soapy run. New characters like misfit Wheels (Marcus Graham), pilot Daniel (Chris Orchard), his daughter Toni (Toni Pearen) and talk show host Micki (Peta Toppano) were introduced as the show became the hit show among the Gen X audience.

As ratings steadied, while still seen as a grittier version of Neighbours and H&A, the show evolved into a warmer, friendlier, less issue led programme. The show's look became more colourful, new music began being featuring heavily on the soundtrack while comedy was encouraged among the writers. Forrest Redlich was still keen to hang on to the male audience, so Lisa's bad boy brother Sonny Bennett (Richard Huggett) was released from prison to wreak havoc in Westside. The sex factor was also upped and the mix of crime and passion proved to be a ratings winner as it culminated in the headline grabbing "Christening Massacre" that saw new parents Chris (Paul Kelman), Megan (Lisbeth Kennelly) and friend Abby (Chelsea Brown) killed off in a car bomb planted by Sonny. By the end of 1990, E Street had reached a ratings highpoint, outperforming A Country Practice for the first time and becoming the most watched drama in Sydney.

As the series returned in 1991, a slew of new characters arrived to fill the gap left by the six who'd departed by the end of the previous year. Most notable among them were rich bitch Sheridan Sturgess (ACP's Kate Raison in a role written for her) and Nikki Spencer (Melissa Tkautz). Forrest Redlich announced that the show would be "more upmarket & more slick and hip than ever before". As one ex-ACP star arrived, another departed as original cast member Penny Cook jumped ship. Determined to see Elly and Bob (who was in prison for a crime he didn't commit) tie the knot, Elly was recast with Diane Craig. Producers decided to take the music factor to the next level and filmed a music video featuring new arrival Melissa Tkautz, to be used in the show. "Read My Lips" took off like a missile after Tkautz was signed by Polygram, topping the charts in Australia and becoming the biggest selling single of the year. Meanwhile, Redlich spun off a record label from his TV production company. Westside Records would sign bands and put out their albums while featuring their music on the show.


With the show reaching highs in both the TV ratings and the music charts, the storyline it's probably best remembered for was introduced. Serial killer Mr Bad (Vince Martin) arrived under the guise of Stephen Richardson, an old friend of Bob's. By day, he was romancing Virginia (Julieanne Newbould) but by night he was painting his face black and silver and terrorizing the neighbourhood. After a terror campaign that saw Virginia and Michael dead and ratings hitting record highs, Mr Bad was locked up in a psychiatric hospital, only to escape in the year end cliffhanger. As his reign continued into 1992, some of the cast grew tired. Kate Raison and Marcus Graham decided to leave, with Raison saying "the Mr Bad stuff was just too weird. It was impossible to play because nothing was based in truth". Vince Martin also thought there was a lot of "unmotivated killing" but Forrest Redlich disagreed, making comparisons to Shakespeare and Freud. Martin jumped ship too, with Mr Bad now being played by Olav Evanson (from behind a leather mask) who was being controlled via injections by crazed nurse Amy (Rebecca Rigg).

Post Mr Bad, storylines seemed to take on a grimmer tone. Newlyweds Toni and CJ (Adrian Lee) were thrust into trauma straight after their honeymoon as he got hooked on drugs and she began an affair with Constable Sam (Simon Baker). When Reverend Bob was killed off in a car crash, the press began to turn on the show. A scene where Max (Bruce Samazan) turned into a werewolf led to more ridicule, although producers defended it as it was only a dream sequence. The stars weren't buying the explanation, with Samazan unhappy at having to perform it while co-star Scott McRae (Jamie Newman) was allegedly fired for criticising it. But there was a bigger shock around the corner, when on the eve of the 1993 Logies (where the show was nominated for nine awards), E Street was axed. By this time, Westside Productions had been subsidising the show to the tune of $20k - $30k per week. When the troubled Ten Network was bought by a new owner, Redlich went to them to renegotiate. Ten proposed to axe Neighbours, give E Street it's vacated five nights a week slot and move production from Sydney to the Neighbours studio in Melbourne. However, they offered no extra money for them to produce an additonal 30 minutes of drama per week and no relocation costs. Disillusioned by the whole process, Forrest Redlich called time on the show himself and E Street ended with a hospital bedside reunion for the remaining cast (following a fire in Ernie's pub) followed by a best of clips montage. By the time it ended, E Street had been sold to 15 countries worldwide and has been remade twice for German and Belgian TV. It's record label offshoot folded not long after the show went off the air.
 

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The christening bombing which killed Chris, Megan and Abby was cut and was preceded by a warning when it aired in the UK.

Around the time the christening bombing storyline episodes aired on Sky One, a real life bombing occured in Warrington, Cheshire.

The lunchtime repeat of the same episode did not air on Sky One the following day as planned, with the slot handed over to a Simpsons repeat.
 

AndyB2008

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Melissa Tkautz had to leave briefly because of her music career and E Street's gruelling schedule. They sent her character over to New Zealand.

She came back later because her music career stalled.
 

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Being in E Street meant Marcus Graham and Diane Craig weren't available to reprise their roles for Chances, both having appeared in the unscreened pilot. Jeremy Sims and Brenda Addie got their parts.
 
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