Mcleod's Daughters: articles

magazine cover

Estrogen in the outback

Canada is tuning in to McLeod’s Daughters, a drama from Down Under

Who says a strong female character has to be a double agent in a push-up bra, or a desperate housewife sneaking off to the neighbours for a private afternoon block party? Certainlty not the creator of Australia’s favourite series, McLeod’s Daughters, a rural drama currently watched in more than 150 territories around the globe and whose popularity shows no sign of slowing.

“It was such a simple idea really,” says creator and producer Posie Graeme-Evans of the series that took her almost a decade to bring to the small screen. “A bunch of contemporary women running a big cattle property out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch that?”

“I can tell you that a lot of people didn’t think it would work. But we had a devoted audience right from the beginning.”

Devotion, it seems, that’s spreading to Canada. Each week, thousands of people are tuning in for their Aussie fix—and it doesn’t involve wrestling a croc. Instead, Canucks are hooked on the unique premise offered by McLeod’s: Claire and Tess, half-sisters who grew up estranged but reunited after 20 or so years apart, after each inherits an equal share of Drover’s Run, the immense ranching property owned and operated by their now-deceased father, Jack McLeod. While tough-as-nails Claire, played by Lisa Chappell, is the eldest and was raised on Drover’s, half-sister Tess (Bridie Carter) is a feisty city girl who arrived on the property hoping to sell her share and strike it rich. But she soon discovers, as does Claire, that Drover’s Run is in bad shape financially, and unless these two McLeod women can work together , their inheritance will fall into corporate hand

Rounding out the cast are a number of ranchhands, also women, as well as two brother who own a neighbouring property (Yes, there’s romance.)

“A bunch of contemporary women running a big cattle property out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch that?” — Posie Grame-Evans

“The women deal with a lot of dilemmas that modern women around the world deal with on a daily basis. And sometimes, they’re about the simple things, like courage, persistence, and the transforming power of love,” says Graeme-Evans, who’s prowd of the strong, female cast.

“Yes, it’s definitely unusual for all the women to be the centre of the drama, as opposed to tagging alongside,” adds actor Bridie Cater, who plays beautiful city-slicker Tess.

There is, however, another character in the series whose presence is equally compelling—that mythical creature known as the Australian landscape. Shot entirely on location in South Australia, the “set” really is an expansive working property. A true feast visually, this particular landscape comes complete with cattle, horses, and sheep, as well as outbuildings, shearers’ quarters, a paddock and a farmhouse.

“The spirit of the place is really significant. The house and the colourful landscape that surrounds it, all has such a distinct feel,” says Graeme-Evans.

Cater agrees, adding, “You’ve taken these characters and set them down in this rural landscape. All you have are the characters and their relationship with each other. YOu don’t have the distractions of city life. It does purify the storyline and the relationships.”

The languide pace of McLeod’s allows the vast Aussie outback to take on a life of its own and, combined with the strong dialogue and realistic emotion from its characters, it’s easy to see why people around the world are cheering for this show.

“McLeod’s offers these lovely themes of hope and faith and promise and all those good things are part of human nature,” says Carter. “That’s why it’s not just a success here is Australia. I speak to people in India and Israel and he Philippines and it always surprises me how many people of such different backgrounds and cultures can still connect with this show.”

Connecting, not with desperate housewives, but with resilient Outback women who aren’t afraid to cry a river, then becomes strong enough to cross it os they have to.

Canada’s dark horse

Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Vision TV and ONE, Suzanne Mandryk, describes McLeod’s Daughters as a dark horse, and unknown programming property that came out of nowhere and built a huge audience quickly.

“The program really fits well with out mandate, which us to offer quality, family programming not available on other networks,” says Mandryk, adding that the show has also succeeded in roping in a younger 18-49 demographic.

“We get huge viewer feedback on this program, and it’s all positive—which is really quite unusual.”

Where and when to watch

Season 4 of McLeod’s Daughter can be found on Vision TV (channel 650) on Fridays at 9 p.m. and 1 p.m. You can also catch season 3 on ONE; Body, Mind, Spirit (channel 606) Monday to Friday at 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and midnight. All times Eastern; Broadcasts subject to change.

By Sharlene Rutherford
April 2005
Vu Magazine (Canada)