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Australian television drama

Video clip synopsis – Australian content on television reflects our culture and our society. Mac Gudgeon celebrates the importance of Homicide in the history of Australian television production. Stuart Cunningham and Scott Goodings remember some of the popular dramas which showed Australians that they could love Australian programming.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 52sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, creativity, culture, identity, media industry, popular culture, script writing, television documentaries, television drama, see all tags


Australian television drama

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About the Video Clip


The interviews with Mac Gudgeon, Scott Goodings and Stuart Cunningham were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Mac Gudgeon is a screenwriter and a community television advocate. Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed 'TV freak’ and walking archive. Stuart Cunningham is a Professor and Director of the Creative Industries Research & Applications Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. 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


Students will:

  • learn about the importance and relevance of Australian TV drama to Australian audiences, and to relate this to their own TV viewing
  • construct and present an historical time-line in poster or website form
  • word-process a review of an Australian TV drama episode
  • write imagined diary entries and present readings orally

Reading Standard: students read, view, analyse and discuss a wide range of informative and persuasive texts and identify the multiple purposes for which they are created. They explain how texts are shaped by the time, place and cultural setting in which they are created. They compare and contrast the typical features of particular texts and synthesise information from different texts to draw conclusions.

Writing Standard: students write sustained and cohesive narratives that experiment with different techniques. They compose a range of other texts, such as feature articles, webpages and workplace texts. They proofread and edit their own writing for accuracy, consistency and clarity.

Speaking and Listening Standard: students compare ideas, build on others’ ideas, provide and justify other points of view, and reach conclusions that take account of aspects of an issue. They draw on a range of strategies to listen to and present spoken texts, complex issues or information imaginatively to interest an audience.

The activities in this digital resource are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strands of Level 6 Communications (Listening, Viewing and Responding standard; Presenting standard), and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, Processing and Inquiry standard; Creativity standard).

The activities are also relevant to the Physical, Personal and Social Learning strand of Level 6 Interpersonal Development (Building Social Relationships standard; Working in Teams standard), and Personal Learning(The Individual Learner standard; Managing Personal Learning standard).

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


'Action! Suspense! Drama! Join the typical team of investigators from Victoria Police force as they probe major cimes throughout the State.’ (HSV7 publicity material)

In 1964 Melbourne’s HSV7 commissioned a weekly police drama called Homicide from the production house of Hector and Dorothy Crawford. Based on their earlier radio drama D24, the first episode titled ‘The Stunt’ screened at 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 October 1964. For the first time in a television drama, Australian audiences were confronted with culturally familiar settings and characters without American or English accents. Cops in Ford Falcons chased criminals around Melbourne backstreets, rather than American police in Chevrolets steaming down Sunset Strip. According to Australian Classic TV, Homicide is 'the most important and most popular drama series ever produced in Australia’.

Homicide was a great success and ran on the Seven Network for close to 500 one-hour episodes over 13 years. (Day 143) The series achieved limited international sales – the first Australian television series ever to do so – and stimulated the production of other local television dramas in the 60s and 70s, particularly in the police crime genre: Cop Shop (Seven), Division 4 (Nine) and Matlock Police (Ten).

Homicide demonstrated two significant factors to the Australian broadcast industry, relating to production at that time. Firstly, it showed that the local industry was capable of producing quality dramas, using the talents of a large pool of local actors, directors, writers and production crews. It further demonstrated that Australian audiences would watch, and actually preferred to watch, programs made by Australians for Australians.

Classroom Activities

  1. Getting started
    As a class, view the interviews and the archival video clip, then discuss and write notes on the following:
    1. Explain what Mac Gudgeon believes is his role as a writer of Australian TV dramas and documentaries. Do you agree with his opinions?
    2. Comment on the importance of Crawford Productions to the Australian TV industry.
    3. What is important about screening ‘local surroundings’ and ‘people talking in Australian accents’ on TV?
    4. Compare Australian-produced TV drama series to those from elsewhere, in terms of stories, settings, acting and general production and entertainment value. Comment on whether any of these Australian dramas would be popular if screened overseas.
  2. Constructing a Crawfords time-line
    In pairs research then construct an illustrated time-line poster display, with additional written commentary, of the history of Crawford Productions from 1945 onwards. Include a general summary of the importance of Crawfords to the Australian TV industry. (An alternative to this may be to build your display as a website page.)
  3. Reviewing an Australian TV program
    View an episode of any current Australian TV drama series, then draft, edit, proofread, and word-process a magazine review in 250–300 words, discussing the entertainment value and qualities of the production, dialogue, story and acting. Your review may also include comparisons to other Australian and international programs, and whether the episode adequately reflects Australian ways of life, characters, values and settings.
  4. Writing a diary
    Totaling 600 words, compose a set of imagined diary entries from the viewpoint of a character featured regularly in any well-known Australian TV drama series. Rehearse then read to the class.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Crawfords Australia

Homicide episode guide

Tom O’Regan. Film & its nearest neighbour: the Australian film & television interface, OzFilm, Murdoch University

John Waters on being an actor in Australia, radio broadcast, ABC South West WA, 30 June 2004, presented by Sharon Kennedy.

Biggles takes to the skies again!, radio broadcast, ABC Western Plains NSW, 15 April 2003, presented by Chris Coleman

Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Home baked – film and TV drama production in Australia, Artbeat – Summer 2003