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Chequerboard Revisited (2000 - 2001)

Reality series
6 episodes x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

A 'where are they now’ series combining footage originally shot for the groundbreaking ABC documentary series Chequerboard (1968-1975) with contemporary stories about some of those same characters today.

Curator’s Notes:

Series producer Aviva Ziegler was one of the original team who researched, directed and interviewed for the long-running series Chequerboard, first broadcast on ABC television in 1969 and continuing for 6 years until 1975. Many of the filmmakers from the original series have gone on to be the backbone of Australia’s documentary industry including Robin Hughes, Geoff Burton, Gillian Coote, Steven Ramsay, David Roberts, Tristram Miall, Bill Stellar, Jan Sharpe and Tony Wilson, to name just a few.

When the original series of Chequerboard began, Australia was at the cusp of an era of radical social change. The pill was becoming readily available to Australian women, the sexual revolution was gaining momentum and feminism would change lives forever. All of this was documented in the series through the lives of ordinary Australians telling their own stories in their own words. The title Chequerboard comes from 'The Rubiat’ of Omar Khiam: 'tis all a chequerboard of nights and days’.

Robin Hughes, one of the originators of Chequerboard back in 1968, says that the concept came out of a group of broadcasters at the pub discussing their favourite BBC program, Man Alive. They wanted to make documentaries in the same style 'without on-camera experts, simply people in situations that shaped their lives’ as Hughes recalls. The basis of each Chequerboard program was an interview interspersed with 'colour’ footage of that person going about their life. Only later did they realise that this 'fly on the wall’ filming was the very beginning of observational documentary filmmaking in Australia in the tradition of the great American filmmaker Fred Wiseman, later to be so brilliantly used by the Australian filmmaking duo Robin Anderson and Bob Connolly.

When Aviva Ziegler began to research for Chequerboard Revisited she was interested to find people from the early series almost three decades before. Much to her frustration, many of those earlier interviewees couldn’t be found and still others didn’t want to be filmed. Nevertheless she found enough to offer a fascinating picture of people’s lives across the decades.

Titles in this series

Chequerboard Revisited – Episode 3: I Reckon I’m an Average Australian 2000

Kevin and Margaret have four young children. They are a working couple, a rare phenomenon in the late 1960s when they first appeared on Chequerboard (1969-75). They were filmed again in 1972, when Kevin blamed feminism for his wife’s new ...

Chequerboard Revisited – Episode 5: You Can’t Have A Child That’s Ugly 2000

In 1969, the ABC documentary program Chequerboard, made a program about child performers. Thirty-one years later, two of them agreed to be filmed for Chequerboard Revisited.

Chequerboard Revisited – Episode 6: That One Piece of Paper 2000

The original Chequerboard program was made in black-and-white in 1972. Two boys were chosen from Liverpool Boys’ High School. Pat wants to leave school immediately at age 16 to try for work as a technician while Ken, who loves school, ...