Free for educational use
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 3min 55sec
Tags - Australian culture, belonging, identity, soap operas, television, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
The interviews with Megan Spencer, Scott Goodings, Mac Gudgeon and Corinne Grant were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.
Megan Spencer is a film critic, reporter and filmmaker. Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed “TV freak” and walking archive. Corinne Grant is a comic, writer and actor. Mac Gudgeon is a screenwriter and a community television advocate. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web
The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.
From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.
The 1970s was Australia’s great decade of change – changing visions, changing values and a changing 'vibe’. The new socially progressive Labor Government under Gough Whitlam reshaped core beliefs and promoted social justice and equality for all Australians. A distinctly 'Aussie’ culture emerged in art, music, fashion and on the stage and screen. And Sydney finally opened its Opera House.
TV Soap Opera
When television was introduced to Australia much of the programming was imported from overseas, especially from the United States. Popular programs included quiz shows, variety shows and 'soapies’ – long-running series that typically screened on daytime television.
One of the first successful locally produced television soap operas was Bellbird, which launched in 1967, produced by the ABC. The achievement of Bellbird – and indeed all Australian 'soaps’ – was nothing short of miraculous. Punishing production schedules were necessary because of the need to create product week-by-week, on minuscule budgets with limited resources.
Bellbird depicted life in a small Australian country town, a fictional place that lent its name to the show’s title. Most of the series was shot at the ABC’s Melbourne studios in Elsternwick, with only limited location work in towns around Melbourne and Victoria. Bellbird screened for 15 minutes leading in to the 7 o’clock news, from Monday to Thursday. The series was a huge hit in rural and regional Australia because it dealt with the concerns of people living on the land and the dynamics of small country town life. The ABC produced 1693 episodes of Bellbird and the series ran for 10 years, until 1977.
The next breakthrough Australian television series, much more modern and risqué, was the 1972 'soap’ Number 96, which set a new standard and wholly different tone for Australian TV 'soapies’. Other popular and successful local soap operas included The Box (1974), The Young Doctors (1976), The Restless Years (1977), and Prisoner (1979).
- Teacher to survey the class and lead class discussion:
- What television soap operas do you watch and why?
- What soap character do you most closely identify with and why?
- Megan Spencer describes the new phase of Neighbours as breaking with the old tradition of “marketing ourselves back to ourselves”. How important do you think it is for viewers to see their lives and communities reflected in the television shows they watch?
- Scott Goodings is a “self-proclaimed ‘TV Freak’”. How does Scott’s language (spoken and physical) show that he belongs to a community of TV Freaks?
- Corrine Grant talks about soap operas and the power of the “shared memories” that people have of watching them.
- Recall the pre-viewing class discussion about the Soap Operas watched by the class. Did the class form any groups based on their shared viewing habits? Which group/s did you belong to?
- What other experiences can connect people when they share their memories? List some and discuss what these experiences have in common with Soap Operas.
Class activity: An imaginary soap opera community
- Each student must adopt a soap opera character for the duration of the week.
- Use a big sheet of cardboard or butcher’s paper to develop a sociogram of the characters and their relationships with each other.
- Set time aside each lesson to add characters and relationship pathways to the sociogram, and to discuss how the plot will be developed.
- Students write a reflection at the end of the activity, commenting on their place in the imaginary soap opera community, and on which characters would have felt the strongest sense of belonging in the community and why.
Creative composition task (40 minutes):
Choose two of the characters from your class imaginary soap opera (or from an actual soap opera). Compose a series of letters between the characters (at least two letters each) that discuss issues of belonging in their community.