an NFSA website

Jack Thompson Down Under (1987 - 1989)

Magazine program
52 episodes X 60 minutes

Series synopsis:

A compilation series about the wonder and beauty of Australia, showcasing some of the remarkable footage from the archive of the ABC’s Rural Department and including other sources from time to time (such as Film Australia). The presenter is Jack Thompson.

Curator’s Notes:

The original idea for these series came from Matthew Flanagan, who had worked as a producer on A Big Country (1992), a long-running documentary series made within the ABC’s Rural Department. He was convinced that such a unique resource shouldn’t be locked up in a vault but re-packaged for wider viewing. His idea was to edit the original programs to create shorter versions with a new narration and linking segments presented by the Australian actor Jack Thompson. Flanagan persuaded the ABC to license the footage to him for a share of the back-end, since he had no money to offer up-front. Meanwhile, he was able to convince the Beyond production company to produce the series, with the Australian commercial television Network Ten to broadcast. The bait was the remarkable talent of Jack Thompson, who assured the series of a prime time spot in the early evening. With Jack Thompson’s drawing power as an iconic Aussie, the series also found a sale to The Discovery Channel in the United States and two series of 26 episodes were made.

The production and distribution company Beyond had begun in the early 1980s with the science and technology magazine series Beyond 2000 (1999) and, later, Beyond Tomorrow (2007). The company went public in the early 1990s and today is a highly successful production house and sales and distribution company. The company has always had its biggest hits with non-fiction production. Its latest is the popular science entertainment show Mythbusters (2008), made entirely in San Francisco using Australian production principals. The series is popular in the US and Australia, and is now selling around the world.

Titles in this series

Jack Thompson Down Under – Episode 25 1987

A magazine-style program representing aspects of Australian life, culled from footage shot over the years primarily by the ABC and Film Australia and presented by Aussie icon Jack Thompson. In this program there’s an item about the Australian wine industry, ...

Jack Thompson Down Under – Episode 3 1987

This magazine-style show presents aspects of Australian life culled from footage shot over the years by the ABC for their groundbreaking television documentary series A Big Country (1992), as well as from the archive of the national production house, Film ...