Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Winners (1985 - 1985)

Feature series
8 episodes x 60 minutes

Series synopsis:

Winners is an anthology series of eight telemovies for children aged between eight and fifteen. No one story is typical. Through comedy, science fiction, historical drama, adventure, fantasy and social realism, many issues are raised. Each of the Winners stories is about children, their families and friends. Common themes across the stories are family relationships, friendship, individuality, and the facing of difficult situations with courage, ingenuity and independence.

Curator’s Notes:

Winners was the first and seminal series produced by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. In an ambitious undertaking, Dr Patricia Edgar, founding Director of the then fledgling ACTF, approached 20 of Australia’s top writers including John Duigan, Anne Brooksbank, Tony Morphett, Morris Gleitzman, Bob Ellis and Cliff Green to come up with ideas for a children’s program with a diversity of genres for the eight to fifteen-year-old age group. After a difficult battle, Edgar finally secured funding with the support and investment of entrepreneur Robert Holmes à Court. This production was further assisted by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal’s determination in March 1984 specifying the new Children’s Television Standards – including a drama quota requiring eight hours of first release programming annually. The networks needed Australian drama urgently.

The production of Winners was an extraordinary project with eight separate films written and directed by some of the top talent in the Australian film industry and shot in different parts of Australia. Contemporary social drama, the stories all dealt with the complex situations and relationships with family and peers faced by children in their daily lives. Winners went to air on Australian television in September 1985 to great acclaim. Internationally, Winners won five Awards at the Chicago International Festival of Children’s Films in 1986 and has since sold into 90 countries.

In another first, the ACTF had tie-in novels for each telemovie published by McPhee Gribble – with the books selling very well. The ACTF produced education kits combining the novel and a video of the telemovie with teacher’s notes to encourage the use of Winners in the school curriculum. These have ensured the continued viewing of these telemovies over many years.

Titles in this series

Winners – Just Friends 1985

Thirteen-year-old Susan (Sherie Graham) has just moved to a new part of town. She’s practising her skills at the local roller skating rink when Buzz (Mitch Ambrose), the prince of the rink, spots the talented newcomer and moves in on ...

Winners – On Loan 1985

Lindy Baker (Marillac Johnston) believes she is a Vietnamese orphan, adopted by Marj (Belinda Giblin) and Geoff Baker (John Walton) when she was three years old. Only occasionally wondering about her background, Lindy is living happily with her family until ...

Winners – Quest Beyond Time 1985

One day, while hang gliding, Mike (Daniel Cordeaux) is transported 500 years into the future. There, he is asked to help a primitive pagan community to cure thteir sickness. They need him to fly to get a cure from a ...

Winners – Room to Move 1985

This is the story about the unlikely friendship between two girls – one a sporting champion, the other a dancer and an outsider. Carol (Nicole Kidman) is a top runner with great potential and her father runs her training program ...

Winners – The Other Facts of Life 1985

Twelve-year-old Ben Guthrie (Ken Talbot) has a good life. His family are well off and his father Ron Guthrie (Dennis Miller), is a successful and ambitious butcher with big plans for expanding his business. There are some things however, that ...

Winners – The Paper Boy 1985

It is 1932 and Joe (Christopher Schlusser) is 11 years old. When his father John Riordan (Tony Llewellyn Jones) loses his factory job, Joe gets a job as a paper boy, and his tiny wage is all the family has ...

Winners – Top Kid 1985

It’s 1947 and times are tough for ten-year-old Gary Doyle (Emil Minty), the third child of a large, poor Catholic family. Bright, and with a photographic memory, Gary is constantly picked on and beaten up by the boys at school. ...