Mcleod's Daughters: articles

McLeod's Daughters

Shot entirely on location one hour outside Adelaide, McLeod's Daughters, began life as a successful and high-rating 1996 telemovie. An ambitious concept, the series had been on Nine's development slate before finally being green-lighted in November last year. Over 22 weeks, it tells the story of the two McLeod sisters—Claire McLeod (Lisa Chappell) and her half sister Tess Silverman McLeod (Bridie Carter) -who are reunited when they inherit a vast outback cattle property. Thrown together after 20 years apart, they assemble an all-female workforce and commit to life at Drovers Run, 180km from the nearest town and 400km from the city.

Joining them is a strong supporting cast of experienced actors and newcomers, including Sonia Todd as Meg Fountain, Jessica Napier as Becky Howard and Rachael Carpani as teenager Jodi Fountain. Although the lives of the five women and the challenges created by their extraordinary environment form the backbone of each story, there is no shortage of rugged, good looking country blokes to provide the requisite frisson—and friction. Brothers Alex (Aaron Jeffery) and Nick Ryan (Myles Pollard) live on the neighbouring property, Killarney. The sons of Harry (Marshall Napier) and Liz Ryan (Catherine Wilkin), they are the headstrong heirs to a successful property, which boasts helicopters and motorbikes, station managers and vets on call. This is in total contrast to Drovers Run, which the women run with horses and dogs, their natural instincts and each other.

Also making regular appearances throughout the series will be John Jarratt as stockman Terry Dodge, Chris Haywood as Bob the Postie and Fletcher Humprheys as young stockman Brett Buchanon. McLeod's Daughters is being filmed on a 135 acre (955ha) property on the outskirts of Gawler, north-east of Adelaide which the Nine Network purchased in 1999. It is the same property where the successful 1996 telemovie, on which this series is based, was filmed. Featuring a historic house built from Edinburgh sandstone, the property has been run like a working farm for the purposes of filming for the series, complete with 100 cattle, 250 sheep, 15 horses, working dogs and a team of stockmen headed by master animal wrangler Bill Willoughby. Adding to the authenticity of the production, the interior scenes are all filmed inside the house while additional buildings on the property are used for Meg's cottage and Becky's quarters. The property also includes a machinery shed, shearing shed, stock yards and several paddocks.

The cinematography in McLeod's Daughters is wonderfully vast and the composition undeniably beautiful. Director of Photography, Roger Dowling has masterfully created the illusion that the series is shot on a 200,000-hectare property in the Australian bush, instead of on a heritage estate, the size of a hobby farm, just one hour north of Adelaide. McLeod's Daughters is shot on Super 16mm film and is the first Australian drama series to be delivered in the rather expensive (and largely useless) HDTV format—which brings a widescreen format to the home television as well as a sharper picture. Kerry Packer, owner of Channel Nine and Australian Prime Minister, John Howard have long championed HDTV—and with good reason. Because it prevents digital interoperability, its so-called introduction has been the major means by which commercial free to air broadcasters such as Nine have continued to stymie the introduction of cheap, world standard set top boxes and interactive television in Australia. That McLeod's Daughters has been chosen to showcase HDTV would appear to be mere tokenism on the part of Nine, as HDTV is not exactly setting the world on fire. That said, those few hapless fools who forked out the mega dollar to receive HDTV may feel gratified—if only for a moment. The rest of us will probably not even notice the difference.

McLeod's Daughters premieres Wednesday August 8 at 7.30pm on NINE.

August 07, 2001
Telstra Entertainment