an NFSA website

Mother and Son (1984 - 1993)

42 episodes x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

A family sitcom in which the elderly Maggie Beare (Ruth Cracknell) may be showing signs of vagueness but is still sharp enough when it comes to getting what she wants, usually at the expense of her devoted younger son Arthur (Garry McDonald). Her other son Robert (Henri Szeps) is usually scheming to deceive his wife Liz (Judy Morris) with another woman. Maggie adores Robert although Robert will stop at nothing to avoid assisting the long-suffering Arthur to look after Maggie.

Curator’s Notes:

The problems of ageing would seem like an unlikely subject for television comedy but Mother and Son became an instant success when it was first shown in 1984, continuing through six series for nine years to become one of Australia’s best-loved television shows. The program won many awards and was sold around the world.

Geoffrey Atherden has had a distinguished career writing comedy for television since he gave up his first career of architecture. The hugely successful Mother and Son was followed by the much more ambitious Grass Roots, also successful on ABC television. He was also one of the original writing team for the wonderfully anarchic comedy series Aunty Jack.

Until her death in 2002, Ruth Cracknell who plays the devious and manipulating Maggie Beare in Mother and Son was one of Australia’s best-loved performers, with a huge acting career that spanned more than 50 years and included radio, the theatre, films and television.

Garry McDonald, who plays Arthur, took many years to throw off the association with his Norman Gunston character – 'the little Aussie bleeder’ – from the ABC cult comedy show of the mid-1970s, Norman Gunston. Playing the long-suffering Arthur Beare in Mother and Son allowed him to finally leave Gunston behind.

Titles in this series

Mother and Son – The Clock 1991

Maggie (Ruth Cracknell) has stolen a clock from a neighbour’s house where she’s been snooping. The house is for sale and is open for inspection. The real estate agent (Paula Duncan) saw her take the clock and comes across the ...

Mother and Son – The Funeral 1984

Maggie (Ruth Cracknell) and Arthur (Garry McDonald) set out with Uncle Tom (Peter Gwynne) to the funeral of another of Maggie’s brothers, Andrew. Maggie holds up the whole procession of cars while she buys a bag of oranges from a ...

Mother and Son – The Money 1984

Maggie Beare (Ruth Cracknell) has been hiding her pension cheques so that the government won’t know how much money she has. Her harassed son Arthur (Garry McDonald), would love to have some of that money to buy a new car ...

Mother and Son – The Ride 1993

Maggie’s favourite son Robert (Henri Szeps) arrives with a proposal to take her for a drive. This is so out of character that Arthur (Garry McDonald) is astonished and suspicious. Against his better judgement he allows his mother to leave. ...