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Video clip synopsis – TV soap operas have the ability to reflect Australian society and culture and connect people through the shared memory of watching a television show.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 3min 55sec
Tags - Australian culture, communities, health, media and society, popular culture, representations, soap operas, see all tags


TV Soap Opera

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About the Video Clip


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.

Curriculum Focus


Please consult the National Statement of Learning for Health & Physical Education.

Background Information


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).

Classroom Activities

  1. Ask students to work in small groups to discuss the following questions:
    1. Do you believe that television shows such as Neighbours depict typical Australian suburban life?
    2. Do you think ‘real life’ is reflected in Australian television shows?
    3. What you think is typical behaviour as depicted in television shows? What do you think is not typical behaviour as depicted in television shows?
      Ask each group to nominate a scribe and to write down the group’s discussion. Come back as a class and discuss each group’s responses to the questions. Were they similar or were there differences?
  2. Ask each student to think about one specific television show that focuses on family life, and to answer the following questions.
    1. What positive relationships, life experiences and interactions between family members are depicted in the show?
    2. How are these positive relationships depicted?
  3. Ask each student to select one character on their show and answer the following:
    1. How happy and healthy is your character?
    2. What factors influence the social and emotional health of your selected character?
  4. Corrine Grant discussed how televisions shows can create ‘shared memories’?
    1. In what ways, do memories of television shows create shared memories?
    2. How does a television show create community?
    3. Do you really think a community can be created?
    4. Why would having shared memories of a television show enhance the development of young people?
    5. Have you ever not been part of a television community?
    6. How did you feel? How did it affect your development?

Further Resources


Please note: If students have not watched Neighbours, they can watch a past episode online at Channel Ten Neighbours website