Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Abi Tucker

The long run ... Abi Tucker in McLeod's Daughters, which has made it to 200 episodes.

Up on the farm

More than two decades have passed since Posie Graeme-Evans went to the management of Channel Nine with an idea for a new series and she still remembers their response.

The television producer and author wanted to make a sweeping tale of life and love on the land, a rural adventure telling real stories of real women living in the Australian outback.

The executive she pitched the idea to had another idea. He wanted "Baywatch with horses".

"Yes, well, that's what some unnamed people might have thought, but that was a really long time ago and thankfully we managed to get past that, Graeme-Evans said.

"And then the real fun started. The TV movie premiered on Mother's Day in 1996 and at that time it was the highest-rating Australian TV movie of all time ... but the series only went into production five years later.

"Each year it would be in the [advertising] sales reel for Nine and each year we'd do budgets.

"It was like a sign of the seasons, the swallows would come back in spring, we'd do budgets."

Graeme-Evans fought on and in 2001 the series finally saw the light of day. And this week, after firmly establishing itself as one of our most popular dramas and an international success (the series is screened in 241 overseas territories), McLeod's Daughters notches up its 200th episode.

"By the time we finish the next season we'll be nudging 240 and I remain astonished that we've come this far," Graeme-Evans said.

"And I think, especially right now in the wonderful world of TV, it's a great achievement to make something that lasts.

"If nothing else it shows we were right in the first place!"

Like any Australian bush story, McLeod's has overcome its share of lean years and fought back criticism - particularly of late - that the story-lines have drifted from the original course toward more esoteric plots.

Recently, for example, ghosts, past-life experiences, urban legends and more have drifted onto Drovers Run.

It's not always easy to get things exactly right, Graeme-Evans admitted, but with the mistakes of the past acknowledged, she's very much looking forward to the future.

"When you do 32 episodes [in a season] I've always thought to myself in my heart of hearts that you get about 25 absolute crackers that make you very proud, you'll get three or four more that you think, well that was a good go, that bit worked, that bit didn't ... and then you'll end up with three or so you just want to put under the bed," she said.

"But I think the scripts that are coming through now for series eight are fantastic.

"We've gotten back into the groove, we've taken it back to the farm, we've revisited fundamentals that were always were underpinning the series and I'm feeling extremely good about it."

Jack Thompson

The women of Drovers Run might well be McLeod's daughters, but it would take a fan with a long memory to remember just who McLeod was. Seen only briefly in the 1996 TV movie which spawned the series, Jack McLeod was a typical bush bloke played by Australian icon Jack Thompson. So far, Jack and his brother Hugh have fathered five women claiming some right to the farm.

Going for authenticity

One of the smartest moves Nine Network made when ity set out to bring life on a typical Aussie farm to the television screen was go out and buy a typical Aussie farm. More than a decade on, that property, Kingsford near Gawler in South Australia is still the setting for the series. All exterior shots are filmed on the former working farm and all interiors within the 150-year-old sandstone homestead at its centre.

By Scott Ellis
October 1, 2007
The Sun-Herald