Classic Australian drama for all

Fans of classic Australian television and radio drama will be delighted to learn that a raft of new releases are coming your way.

Via Vision Entertainment are releasing the complete first season of Sons & Daughters on the 18th November, this bumper box set will also include the original feature length pilot episode.

Traditionally viewers in Sydney and Melbourne would support ‘soaps’ which were produced in their own city but Reg Watson broke new ground with Sons & Daughters by featuring the wealthy Hamilton’s of Sydney and the working-class Palmer’s of Melbourne, thus appealing to audiences in both of these major viewing markets.

The action opens in 1962 when David Palmer and his heavily pregnant girlfriend Patricia turn up at the boarding house run by former prostitute Fiona Thompson (Pat McDonald). Patricia promptly gives birth to twins which are eventually named John and Angela. Patricia shoots through with the girl, abandoning David and the boy.

Fast forward to 1982 and Aussie battler David (Tom Richards) is now living in Melbourne where he’s working as a truckie and is married to Beryl (Leila Hayes) with whom he has two children – Susan (Ann Henderson-Stires) and Kevin (Stephen Comey), John (Peter Phelps) is now living with them after spending his early years being raised by Fiona. After being wrongly accused of murdering his former employer with a crowbar, John shoots through and takes refuge with Fiona in Sydney.

Go back to the very start with season 1 of Sons & Daughters.

Meanwhile, Patricia (Rowena Wallace) and Angela (Ally Fowler) are living in Sydney where Patricia has married the wealthy businessman Gordon Hamilton (Brian Blain) who has a scheming son called Wayne (Ian Rawlings) from his first marriage. When John Palmer meets the spoilt Angela Hamilton he instantly realises that she’s the girl of his dreams, its love at first sight, but this is a forbidden love – will the pair find out that they are actually brother and sister before committing incest. This chance reunion will tear apart two families who have been living a lie for twenty years.

Susan struggles to accept that her husband Bill Todd (Andrew McKaige) is actually a violent murderer. A schoolyard romance leads to an unplanned pregnancy and wedding bells for young lovers Kevin and Lynn (Antonia Murphy). A serious car accident could leave Wayne confined to a wheelchair, Beryl is devastated when she suffers a miscarriage, and there are several shocked faces when Jill Taylor (Kim Lewis) is exposed as an ex-prostitute.

Familiar faces appearing in these episodes include Anne Haddy and Jackie Woodburne from Neighbours; and Cornelia Frances from Home & Away. You can pre-order the Sons & Daughters box set here.

Season 12 of A Country Practice can be yours to own.

In more good news, Via Vision has released the complete twelfth season of A Country Practice on DVD. In these episodes an arsonist decides to torch the Wandin Valley RSL Club, unfortunately, Esme Watson (Joyce Jacobs), Cookie (Syd Heylen) and Harry Morrison (Andrew Blackman) find themselves trapped in the cellar. The townsfolk are up in arms when scheming Alf Muldoon (Brian Moll) reveals plans to open a quarry in an area occupied by koalas, and tragedy strikes when a young girl is trampled by a herd of cattle.

Frank Gilroy (Brian Wenzel) is left heartbroken when his wife Shirley (Lorrae Desmond) perishes in a plane crash, a girl with downs syndrome dreams of entering the Special Olympics, a woman goes berserk with a cricket bat after discovering that her husband plans to have a vasectomy, and a mentally disturbed woman with multiple personalities causes havoc.

A new nurse at the Bush Nursing Hospital turns out to be a recovering drug addict, and Harry’s mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. A blow-in steals drugs from the surgery, a sickening bird smuggling operation is exposed, a farmer turns out to be a violent wife basher, and a homosexual journalist with AIDS returns to the Valley to end his days.

Guest artists appearing in these episodes include Gwen Plumb from The Young Doctors; Tom Richards and Rowena Wallace from Sons & Daughters; Lisa Armytage from Neighbours; Judith McGrath from Prisoner: Cell Block H; Brooke, and Ryan Kwanten from Home & Away. Other familiar faces who turn up in Wandin Valley include Mitch Matthews, Liddy Clark, and Lisa Hensley. You can order A Country Practice season 12 now.

Tragedy is on the cards for Frank (Brian Wenzel) and Shirley (Lorrae Desmond) in A Country Practice.

Lovers of classic Australian radio drama haven’t been forgotten because Grace Gibson Productions have unleashed another batch of shows from their vast archive.

In volume 6 of Grace Gibson Classics – Crime & Mystery you’ll hear six specially selected episodes of assorted serials. Theatre of Thrills from the 1950s incorporates mystery, suspense and fantasy. Meanwhile, Inner Sanctum is a mystery thriller with a difference, its compere is a character called Raymond who is certainly no ordinary announcer.

As audiences will discover, Raymond breaks into the story to completely debunk the situation with dry whimsical humour, he has no manners at all and has an approach which is totally different to any used in a radio serial previously. We are treated to an episode of The Adventures of Charlie Chan starring William Reese in the title role, and in Drama of the Courts, the legal eagles deal with a man with a missing finger. We delve into the world of espionage and double-crossing criminals in The Mistakes They Made, and we have an episode of Stand by for Crime in which American actor Glen Langan stars as radio station news broadcaster Chuck Morgan.

Left: Vintage radio drama is back with volume 6 of Grace Gibson Classics – Crime & Mystery. Middle: Hear strange tales in This Colourful World. Right: Laugh like a drain with How Green Was My Cactus.

This Colourful World features true stories of the strange and unusual. We hear of a ghostly woman who patrols a dangerous railway crossing which has claimed hundreds of lives, we then visit a house in Johannesburg which is believed to be haunted by a poltergeist, and are transported to Batavia in Java where Krakatoa erupts to the horror of local residents.

On a lighter note there is plenty of political satire with the latest release of How Green Was My Cactus. In these episodes we encounter bogan banks, kicking galoots, swine flu, a topless Kate and Porkbun and Scomo. All of these radio serials and a wealth of others can be purchased by listeners worldwide on CD/USB or as digital downloads from the Grace Gibson website.

Pictured top: Sons & Daughters finally comes to DVD.
Images copyright Grundy Organization/Fremantle Australia/Via Vision. JNP Productions/Via Vision. Grace Gibson Productions.
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