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Serial mums: television and Mother’s Day

Sunday 13 May is Mother’s Day and in celebration we look at some of the memorable mums Australian TV has given us over the years.

One of the most iconic mother-daughter TV relationships is shared by the 'foxy ladies of Fountain Lakes’, Kath and Kim (their movie, Kath and Kimderella, opens in cinemas on 6 September).

An antecedent of Kath is the ditzy housewife Thelma in ’80s sitcom Kingswood Country. She has little in common with the 21st century working mother epitomised by Claudia Karvan (pictured above left) in Love My Way (2004), who juggles motherhood, career and romantic relationships.

Australian TV has had its share of 'good’ and 'bad’ mothers. It’s no accident that the loving matriarch played by Lorraine Bayly in The Sullivans (1976) is called Grace. Her opposite is the scheming mother (and stepmother) of countless glossy soap operas. The haughty Claire Houghton, mum to Abigail’s character in Number 96 (1972), is an early example.

A more complex creation was Maggie Beare (Ruth Cracknell) in Mother and Son (which began in 1984). In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, she could be believably cruel and manipulative one minute, forgetful and vulnerable the next.

Click on the photos or links below to watch video of these memorable mums in action. And have a happy Mother’s Day.

See other titles tagged mothers on ASO.

For more on the origins of Mother’s Day, and how it is commemorated in Australia, visit Time and

Love My Way – What’s in a Name television program – 2004

Kath and Kim – Money television program – 2002

Mother and Son – The Clock television program – 1991

Number 96 – Episode 35 television program – 1972

The Sullivans – On the Brink of War television program – 1976

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