Australia / Channel 9 – Roger Mirams – Paramount Pictures Co-Prod. / 42×60 minute episodes / 1971-72
Creators: Roger Mirams, Ron McLean, Brian Wright / Producer: Roger Mirams / Music: Brian Rangott, Geoff Harvey
Wartime drama series. Exploits of a group of soldiers, specialists in espionage, as they work deep undercover behind enemy lines performing acts of sabotage.
The genesis of the series lay in the fact that creator Mirams had been involved in similar acts during world war II and was convinced his background would make a good series. The original working title of the series was Sparrowforce. Paramount became interested in the project and agreed to co-finance it, Mirams decided to film the series in colour (even though the home market was still broadcasting in black and white) in the hope of overseas sales.
In the TV Week of 7 August 1971 Mirams was quoted as saying “It will show that the war was not entirely won by America”.
Lead characters in the show were the typical Australian Erskine, the German (and one time internee) Gunther Haber and head of their unit Colonel Cato. Also heavily involved was Cato’s secretary Lt French. Matt Parson was another member of the team who appeared only occasionally.
Erskine and Haber have a bit of a love hate relationship having at one time both been in love with the same girl. Although the series was set in many an exotic Earstern locale (and in fact there was location shooting in Singapore, New Guinea and Hong Kong) much of the production was filmed in Narrabeen in Sydney, with the crew making much use of Narrabeen Lake too. The production also made use of stock footage of actual wartime events in another bid for realism although these always tended to look slightly different from the rest of the footage.
The show was expensive costing some $23,000 per episode to film and only making $18,000 back causing Mirams to sell his interest in the show outright to Paramount.
Guest stars included John Meillon, Ewan Solon, Helen Morse, Kirrily Nolan, Rowena Wallace, Judy Lynne and Chips Rafferty amongst others.
Season two featured different opening credits and theme music but the show was much the same as the previous season, altogether a hit with the critics and viewers there were a few concerns raised at the time about the violence aspect and several “nude” scenes featuring the actresses Anna-Maria Winchester and Janet Kingsbury.
The final episode of Spyforce (The Rolls That Went to War) was in fact an attempt to make a pilot for a new series, this never emerged.
One interesting fact is that Russell Crowe made his debut on the show at the age of six (his parents were caterers on the set).
JACK THOMPSON as Erskine
KATY WILD as Lt French
REDMOND PHILIPS as Colonel Cato
PETER SUMNER as Gunther Haber
NICK TATE as Matt Parson
Murcheson Creek (Channel 9 1976, Mark Edwards, Rowena Wallace)
In one off thriller Murcheson Creek Andrew Murcheson returns to his home town to take over his father’s medical practice (the town being named Murcheson Creek in honour of his family.) He begins an affair with an old flame Karen Fields and also finds himself stirring up secrets that should have stayed buried after trying to settle his father’s accounts.
Mark Edwards as Dr Andrew Murcheson
Rowena Wallace as Karen Fields
Abigail as Donna Lewis
Sandra Lee Paterson as Dr Myfanwy Mckenna
Director: Terry Bourke
Writer: Robert Caswell
Producer: Ross Hawthorn
Executive Producer: Bill Harmon
Network and Production Companies: Channel 9 – Cash Harmon
Duration: 1×90 minute episode
Aired From: 1976
Australian Gangster (Channel 7 2018)
Australian Gangster is a crime drama that will have a distinctly modern vibe. No real plot details have been released as yet but it’s being talked of a grand tale of crime in Western Sydney where glitz and glamour vie with drugs and laundered money. The behind the scenes crew have impressive pedigrees – it’s been written by Gregor Jordan (of Two Hands fame) and Romper Stomper author Malcolm Knox.
Producer John Edwards said “Just as Two Hands was an oblique take on a familiar form a generation ago, Australian Gangster will be a genre-bending crime drama series – confronting, affronting, touching and often laugh-out-loud crazy.”
Filming will begin early next year in and around Sydney.
Writer: Gregor Jordan, Malcolm Knox
Producers: Dan Edwards, John Edwards
Director: Daina Reed
Network and Production Companies: Channel 7 – Roadshow Rough Diamond – Screen Australia – Create NSW – Red Arrow International
Duration: Not sure as yet
Aired From: In production
And The Big Men Fly (ABC 1973, John Hargreaves, Frank Wilson)
Comedy drama And The Big Men Fly saw a young farm lad becoming a big star of Aussie rules football, his special skills involve him playing barefoot. In 1981 there was a sequel called And Here Comes Bucknuckle.
Made in black and white
Writer: Alan Hopgood
Producer: Oscar Whitbread
Director: Keith Wilkes
Network and Production Companies: ABC
Duration: 6×30 minute episodes
Aired From: 1973
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