Pictured above: Esme Watson (Joyce Jacobs) suffers a stroke in A Country Practice
Another selection of classic Australian television and radio productions have been liberated from the archives for your viewing and listening pleasure.
Via Vision Entertainment has released the fourteenth and final season of A Country Practice on DVD. The first thirteen seasons had been produced for the Seven Network in New South Wales but following its axing the series was revived by the Ten Network with production moving to the state of Victoria.
In these concluding episodes the townsfolk begin rebuilding Wandin Valley after it was razed to the ground by a deadly bushfire. Dr Harry Morrison (Andrew Blackman) is shocked to discover that his wife Kate (Michelle Pettigrove) intends to divorce him.
Matron Maggie Sloane (Joan Sydney) is flat out overseeing the construction of the new Community Health Centre, and Esme Watson (Joyce Jacobs) suffers a stroke.
Ranger Ian McIntyre (Paul Gleeson) uncovers a dogfighting racket in the national park, and Constable Danny Sabatini (Vince Colosimo) is accused of bashing a drunken lout. Toxic waste is being dumped in the national park, there is a suspected outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and a married man suffers a heart attack after checking into a motel with his homosexual lover.
Familiar faces appearing in these episodes include Alyce Platt from Sons & Daughters and Jane Hall from All Together Now. Guest artists include Terry Gill from The Flying Doctors; Andrew Bibby, Geoff Paine and Darius Perkins from Neighbours; and Kris McQuade from Wentworth. Monica Maughan, Alethea McGrath and Sean Scully also crop up in the action.
You can order A Country Practice season 14 from the Via Vision website.
The final season of A Country Practice is now on DVD
Return to Eden began life as a glossy three-part mini-series in 1983 and established such a cult following that it spawned a 22-episode drama series. The complete saga will be released as one bumper DVD collection on the 20th January. In the mini-series we meet the wealthy but plain and insecure heiress Stephanie Harper (Rebecca Gilling) who marries a young tennis pro called Greg Marsden (James Reyne). Greg is a playboy and a gold digger who begins a sordid affair with Stephanie’s scheming best friend Jilly Stewart (Wendy Hughes), the pair decide to dispose of Stephanie by throwing her into a crocodile-infested river.
Miraculously Stephanie, who is presumed dead, survives the croc attack and after undergoing extensive plastic surgery at the hands of Dr Dan Marshall (James Smilie) returns as fashion model Tara Welles to exact her revenge on those who did the dirty on her and to regain control of her family firm Harper Mining.
In the follow-on series Stephanie has married her plastic surgeon and is back at the helm of Harper Mining. Jilly (now played by Peta Toppano) is released from prison after serving her sentence for the attempted murder of Stephanie and the murder of Greg. Jilly is a bitter woman intent on revenge, she teams up with cunning businessman Jake Sanders (Daniel Abineri) and the pair set in motion a scheme to take control of Harper Mining and to destroy Stephanie’s life.
Unbeknown to everyone, Jake is the unhinged brother of the late Greg Marsden! Elsewhere young Sarah Harper (Nicki Paull) falls pregnant by a man she later believes to be her brother, and we wonder if Stephanie will spend the rest of her days behind bars for the murder of Jake after being framed by Jilly.
The cast includes Megan Williams (from The Sullivans), Olivia Hamnett, Bill Kerr, Peter Gwynne, John Lee, Peter Cousens, Wendy Playfair, Oriana Panozzo, Judy Lynne, Nick Holland, Martin Vaughan, Olga Dickie, Saskia Post and Graham Harvey.
You can pre-order Return to Eden now from Via Vision Entertainment.
Return To Eden comes to DVD
Grace Gibson Productions have released another batch of vintage radio serials from their rich archives. The Knave of Hearts is a satirical drama which follows the exploits of Timothy Pimm (Guy Doleman) who cashes in on wealthy families by brokering marriages between their daughters and destitute aristocrats.
The cast includes Dinah Shearing, Fifi Banvard, Kevin Brennan, and Owen Weingott.
Meanwhile we head back to London where private investigator Dick Mallory (Frank Waters) takes on another selection of dangerous assignments spanning every corner of the globe in volume 8 of the action-packed Hunt The Man Down.
The Long Way Home is a gripping serial which was adapted from Phyllis Brett Young’s best-selling novel Psyche. A three-year-old girl is snatched from her bed by a rough looking intruder but the scoundrel abandons her after she’s knocked down by a truck. Two kindly derelicts rescue the girl who has no memory of her past life and leave her on the doorstep of a childless couple, despite being very poor they decide to raise her as their own.
Seventeen years later the girl, who has now been named Maggie Moran, undergoes brain surgery and an ambitious doctor is determined to help her remember her past life. Maggie begins searching for her identity in a world of shadows, and we wonder if she’ll ever make her way back to the life of privilege into which she was born.
The Letter from Spain, adapted from the novel by Frances Parkinson Keyes, follows the adventures of Allan Lambert who receives a mysterious letter from a prisoner in Spain.
The inmate offers Allan a share of a huge fortune if he agrees to pay a fine to recover a suitcase which contains the documents needed to access the loot.
Allan heads to Spain in the hope of finding wealth and adventure but the journey will see him become embroiled in a dangerous fraud racket.
This serial was directed by Walter Pym and stars Margo Lee and James Condon.
Relive the glory days of radio drama with volume 3 of Grace Gibson Radio Classics – Drama & Serials
In volume three of Grace Gibson Radio Classics – Drama and Serials we have an episode of City Hospital which follows the staff and patients of a large metropolitan hospital, and we are treated to an episode of The Clock in which we meet a woman who is dissatisfied with her lot in life. This release also boasts eight quarter hour episodes of Digest of Drama from 1954 which covered a broad range of genres played out by a top-class ensemble cast.
On a lighter note the latest releases of the political satire How Green Was My Cactus deal with susware cleaning, hospital waste, fixing Bill’s image, Chinese farmers, action hero Santa, and Donald the bomber. Meanwhile Classic Cactus: The Best of 2020 relives memorable moments including the plumbers Oscars, backstabbing mayhem, a sick economy and a dope smoking frenzy.
You can order all of these radio serials and a wealth of others on CD, USB or as digital downloads from the Grace Gibson website.
Images copyright Via Vision/JNP. Via Vision/McElroy & McElroy. IRS Grace Gibson Productions.