SEVEN LITTLE AUSTRALIANS DVD set Review 10-episode miniseries first shown on ABC TV in 1973 Available from ABC shops now or online.
BACKGROUND Ethel Turner's best selling novel, 'Seven Little Australians', continuously in print for more than 105 years, was the subject of an ambitious made for TV series back in 1973. Co-produced by Ethel Turner's son Adrian Curlewis, this was always going to be close to the novel and such was the case. The series was much loved in its time, and regularly shown via 16mm prints to appreciative audiences in later years. Often the subject of "when will it become available on DVD?" queries, the ABC issued it this month as a twin disc set with a couple of extras. THE STORY In a nutshell, it's the story of the Woolcot Family of Sydney in 1894. Captain Woolcot having lost his wife had remarried a much younger girl, bringing to the marriage 6 children. Another had come from the new marriage, so that the Captain felt it necessary to run the family with army discipline. However his rules and regulations were no match for the fun loving children, led by the redoubtable Judy. It takes a tragedy to eventually bring the family together. THE DVDs The series has undergone a total restoration by the national archive, most likely providing better viewing than was possible when it was first released. Total running time is close to 5 hours and we watched the two discs over two nights. The second disc includes a segment from 'Weekend Magazine', the newsreel which used to follow the ABC news at 7.20pm on Sunday nights. This extremely interesting item has interviews with Ethel Turner's son, cast members, the scriptwriter and includes a nostalgic shot of the children's shelf in a Sydney bookshop. It also gives behind the scenes shots of the production. Plus a gallery of Ethel Turner family photos, backed by the lady herself reciting one of her favourite poems. OVERALL A 'must have' for any lover of the book which it so closely follows. Top recommendation. This 10-episode mini-series, a masterpiece of its time, still stands up as a shining achievement of dear old Auntie in her prime. It's been given a restoration and probably looks better now than when it was first transmitted 30 years ago. Barbara and I viewed the close to 5 hours over two nights and barely moved from our seats. The 'Weekend Magazine' segment of behind the scenes interviews was a treat in itself. For all ratings out of 10, see my DVD section on http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/home.html THE CAST Elizabeth Alexander plays Esther Woolcot. Elizabeth, born 1952, most recently played Dr. Alison Newell (as Liz Alexander) in 'All Saints'. Mark Clarke plays Pip Woolcot. (IMDb) Born 1959, Mark's first break in television came in 1973 with 'Seven Little Australians'. He followed this the following year with a lead role in the ABC'S 'Where Did all the Magic Go?' in which he played a disillusioned youth from a broken home. He continued to act, mainly in bit parts for television, through the rest of his school years and throughout those of his university days. He became a secondary teacher in 1981 and continues to teach English and Drama to this day. Even though Mark has been a full time teacher he has continued to write music and scripts throughout the years. He has written eight musical comedies, several of which play regularly in amateur theatre companies and in schools across Australia and New Zealand. He has won several awards for songs in a variety of categories including: Children's; Novelty; Pop and Australiana. More recently, Mark has turned his hand to screenplay writing and is currently seeking interest in a sci-fi /horror script he wishes to place in the American market.(IMDb mini-biography by Mark Clark.) His father named him after General Mark Clark who led the Italian Campaign in World War Two. He went to school in Sydney, New South Wales. His primary (elementary) education was at Burnside Public School in Parramatta. Then he attended Cumberland High School in the same area. Later, he attended Macquarie University where he studied English, History and Drama and received a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education. He appeared in some advertisements in 1972. American producer, Charles Russell, saw one of them and found out who he was. This led to him being cast in the role of Pip in the ABC's television series of 'Seven Little Australians' in 1973. He was a decent cricket player in his youth, but his love of music and of songwriting took his attention away from that sport when he was seventeen. He still writes songs and performs in bands to this day. Jennifer Cluff plays Judy (Helen) Wolcott. Born 1956 in Mudgee, New South Wales. Sometimes credited as Jennifer Bennet, her most recent screen credit was as Coco in 'The Nugget' (2002). She also appeared in the TV Series .... Brenda... aka "Simone de Beauvoir's Babies" (1997). Also a producer, casting director and writer. Ruth Cracknell plays Martha. Tania Falla plays Baby Woolcot. This seems to have been her only acting role. Anna Hruby plays Nell Woolcot. Anna appeared in Fireflies (2004) as Rebekah Sharp and in 'Home and Away' as Judith Ackroyd (1999-2000). She also appears in an Aussie advertisement promoting Tea as a healthy drink because it is as a good source of anti-oxidants. This ad has entered popular culture in Australia because of the phrase: "Auntie-Who?". There's a photo at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0398663/ Barbara Llewellyn plays Meg Woolcot. Barbara disappeared from our screens 20 years ago, her memorable roles having included Young Ramsay (1977) as Julie Lambert, Bellbird (1976-1977), Class of '74 (1974) as Nora and The Box, (1974) as Babs McArthur. Christian Robinson played The General. His only two other acting roles were in Angel Street (1992) as Kid and Fatty Finn (1980) as Squizzy. He is now a director whose most recent work included Second Unit Director on Amy (1998) though his most well known crew role is on Halifax f.p. Mark Shields-Brown played 'Bunty' Woolcot. Born in 1961, he disappeared from the screen after 'The Fourth Wish (1974). Leonard Teale played Captain Woolcot. Len passed away in 1994, having appeared in roles too numerous to mention; one of Australia's most popular and prolific actors. He was awarded the Order of Australia in 1992, appeared in over 15,000 episodes of radio serials, having played Superman/Clark Kent in an Australian children's radio serial in the mid 1950s. According to IMDb, the part of the Father was originally offered to John Laws, a Sydney radio personality, but he was unable to alter his radio commitments to suit the producer's schedule. ------------------------------- *Wolcott, Woolcott, Wolcot? The correct spelling from the book and DVD is Woolcot, but the IMDb entry varies :) John J's home, favourite links and R4 DVD ratings. http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/home.html -- ________________________________________ Girlsown mailing list [EMAIL PROTECTED] For self-administration and access to archives see http://home.it.net.au/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/girlsown For FAQs see http://www.club-web.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/girlsown/faq-0.htm