In the 1980’s television in Australia was all about the big budget mini series, inspired by major successes like A Town Like Alice and Sara Dane, the period drama was king and Bert Facey’s best selling memoir A Fortunate Life (which although based on his early years from the beginnings of the 20th century onwards was only published in 1981 after his grand children contacted a publisher) was prime candidate for an adaptation.
Narrated by the legendary Bill Kerr the 4 part serial begins in 1897 when Albert Facey is 8 years old and dealing with the death of his father before being quite literally farmed out to a farming couple who actually show him some real love. As the years progress Fancy becomes a boxer and eventually finds himself in the army about to be shipped off to Gallipoli.
Lavishly filmed, with a $6.3 million budget (huge for 1985!) A Fortunate Life is a marvellous recreation of one man’s life.
Australia / Channel 9 Nine Network-PBL Prod / 4×120 minute episodes / Broadcast 1986 First Episode: 9 March
Writer: Ken Kelso / Biography: Albert Facey / Camera: Peter Levy / Design: David Copping / Costume: Bruce Finlayson / Music: Mario Millo / Producer: Bill Hughes / Executive Producer: Ian Bradley / Directors: Henri Safran, Marcus Cole
ANTHONY RICHARDS as Young Bert Facey
BENEDICT SWEENEY as Teenage Bert
ANTHONY RICHARDS as 9 year old Bert
SCOTT BARTLE as Bert aged 6
PETER CUMMINS as Bill Simpson
RAELENE HUGHES as Alice Jr McCall
CAROLE SKINNER as Shalagh Phillips
MARTIN VAUGHAN as Frank Phillips
DOROTHY ALLISON as Grandma
BILL HUNTER as Charlie Bibby
KRISTY CHILD as Mrs Bibby
PAT BISHOP as Alice McCall
DALE RANDALL as Roy Facey
JOHN LEY as Eric Facey
LESLIE WRIGHT as Jack Lander
JOY HRUBY as Ma at Cave Rock
RAY MEAGHER as Bab Bob
JOHN STONE as Harry
BILL KERR as The Narrator