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Winners – The Other Facts of Life (1985)


Twelve-year-old Ben Guthrie (Ken Talbot) has a good life. His family are well off and his father Ron Guthrie (Dennis Miller), is a successful and ambitious butcher with big plans for expanding his business. There are some things however, that Ben doesn’t understand. His father attempts to explain the facts of life but Ben hits his dad with much tougher questions than that old birds-and-bees stuff. Like, why are some people starving? His father doesn’t have the answers. Neither does his mother (Anne Grigg).

Ben mounts an inspired crusade to make the world right. He becomes a neighbourhood nuisance and an embarrassment to his family, constantly and publicly challenging their values. His parents seek the help of friends and experts to no avail. When Ben meets Esme (Shelia Florence), an elderly animal liberationist and they end up in the hands of the police, his parents resort to faking family illnesses to distract Ben from the larger troubles of the world. But it is not until his work-obsessed father suffers a genuine heart attack that Ben is able to focus his energies on a problem he can do something about, helping his family.

Curator’s notes

Written by Morris Gleitzman, The Other Facts of Life is a very funny story but it is also deadly serious. The first film completed in the Winners series, it is a story about families and values that tackles some big questions and issues along the way. Ben’s heartfelt, over the top campaign to right the wrongs of the world is funny to watch but at the same time the viewer is confronted with some serious global and local issues as Ben tackles world famine, battery hens, wearing fur, eating meat, nuclear warfare, and political prisoners.

The Other Facts of Life was the start of big things for Morris Gleitzman. An experienced television scriptwriter at the time, he had never written a book until he was asked to turn this script into a novel. The success of The Other Facts of Life was the start of a completely new career for him and he is now an extremely popular and successful children’s writer.

Director Esben Storm interpreted Gleizman’s comic script with flair. Storm went on to direct and co-write many other successful ACTF series including Round The Twist.

First broadcast in 1985 on the Network Ten.