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Certain Women (1973 - 1976)

Drama series
166 episodes x 60 minutes

Series synopsis:

A prime-time serial drama aimed at adults, Certain Women started life as a six-part mini-series with each episode telling the story of a different female member of the Stone/Lucas family. Created by writer Tony Morphett in an attempt to address the paucity of good roles for women on Australian television, the mini-series proved so successful that the format was converted to an ongoing serial which ran from 1973 to 1976. The serial is played out against the backdrop of an era that strongly influenced these women’s stories: the immediate post-Vietnam War years, the tumultuous rise and fall of the Whitlam Labor Government and the feminist movement of the early 1970s.

Curator’s Notes:

The link that holds the women of this family together is not simply one of blood relations but also of strongly held political and philosophical views: a sense of social justice, feminism and pacifism. Surprising then, although certainly a strong source of drama throughout the 166 episodes of the serial, is the fact that all the women are attracted to men with right-wing views: men with a military background, in the case of the two central characters, teacher Jane Stone (Joan Bruce) and feminist lawyer Freda Lucas (June Salter). The conflict this created clearly gave the writers an opportunity to reflect the impact of contemporary social events. Over the four years it ran, however, the stories depended more and more on the usual topics for on-going domestic serials: births, deaths and marriages.

Unlike commercial serials at the time, which were produced at the rate of two to two-and-a-half hours per week, this ABC production required an output of only one hour a week. Certain Women was consequently able to achieve a much higher standard than the average 1970s serial, both in the quality of the scripts and use of exteriors to open up the usually claustrophobic environment of videotaped long-form drama. Despite the fact that OB (Outside Broadcast) units were positively enormous in those days, the extra time and the rich choice of scenic locations available to the crew enabled a strong visual depiction of inner-city Sydney life.

When Australian television converted to colour in 1975, the ABC destroyed many of its black-and-white drama programs, which are now lost forever. This included the mini-series of Certain Women and the first 80 episodes of the serial. Anybody interested in revisiting the serial and starting at episode 81, however, should have no problem picking up the ongoing stories. Like most serials and series, as opposed to one-off dramas or feature films, the appeal lies in the consistency of the characters, rather than character development. For example, Freda in episode 166 still holds the same views on marriage as she did at the very beginning. This is despite being in a long and loving relationship throughout the series that is a marriage in everything but name.

Titles in this series

Certain Women – Episode 166 1976

Certain Women follows the lives of the Lucas and Stone families and their various relations by blood and marriage. In this episode, Helen Stone (Jenny Lee) has arrived home from England, heavily pregnant and without her husband, Michael Fraser (Ivor ...