My Brother Jack: episode guide

Part One

William McInnes, Alex Ramsey and Damien Arena

Australia (Ten): Sunday, June 03, 2001
Canada (CBC): December 04, 2002
Screenplay by John Alsop

David Meredith is seven years old when his father, Jack, returns home from the battlefields of France. His mother, Min, has struggled to keep the family together. After returning from France where she served as a nurse, Min works as a nurse at the local military hospital. At the family home, “Avalon”, she has been taking in a series of maimed and convalescing soldiers, the latest of whom is Bert.

Life will never be the same for Mr Meredith. Gassed during the war, witnessing sights no person should ever see, he is a changed man. His health is ravaged by the mustard gas, his peace is shattered by nightmares and his temperament is unforgiving of his family’s frailties. Mr Meredith is bitter now and violence seems an outlet for his problems.

David is a bright boy but his father sees no future in an education so, at 14 years old he is apprenticed to a commercial art firm in the city.

Young David Meredith’s hero is his brother—also called Jack. David sees in Jack everything he doesn’t see in himself—bravery, nobility and the courage to stand up to their father.

When Jack leaves home to find work in the Wimmera, David is left to deal with their father alone, coping with his monthly beatings and violent outbursts. The beatings finally end when a doctor has to be called because of the severity of David’s injuries.

David’s sister Jean marries the one-legged boarder, Bert—freeing them both from the nightmare that has become the Meredith family home.

David discovers that while he cannot draw, he has a talent for writing. Dreaming on the edge of the Bay one morning, he sees a clipper in full sail, and he is inspired. He submits a story to The Morning Post, and the paper publishes it—the small beginning of what will become a great writing career.

Jack stays in touch, writing of his new girlfriend, Sheila. The depression hits, Jack loses his job and Sheila falls ill, so Jack returns to the only person he knows will help—Mum. Jack soon leaves again to raise money to get a home for him and Sheila, leaving her with the family. True to his words, Jack comes back and moves into a rented room with Sheila.

To improve his drawing skills David is sent to art school where he meets the flamboyant Sam Burlington, and his beautiful girlfriend, Jessica. When life at home becomes unbearable, David turns to Sam for support. At a party at Sam’s place he meets an aspiring designer, Helen Midgeley.

A call from the editor of The Morning Post, Bernard Brewster, is a turning point in David Meredith’s life—he is offered the chance to write a column a week until he can be freed from his apprenticeship and join the paper’s full time writing staff.

With Jack’s encouragement David returns home—much to Min’s delight. He calls at Sam’s flat to pick up his things, and finds Sam and Jessica in the midst of a furious row. She storms out and Sam asks David to see her home.

Jessica is brutally murdered and the police call on David at work to interview him. Panicking, he fails to support Sam, who has been charged with the murder. Eventually however, Sam is cleared of the charge and decides to leave Australia.

Jack is on the road again and he writes to David that he never believed that Sam was guilty. When he can’t get work in Australia he heads for Chile to work on a pipeline. Sheila disappears. Penniless and ill, Jack is shipped back to Australia, a “distressed British subject”. Again he heads home to the mother who loves him—on foot. The walk from Sydney to Melbourne nearly kills him. Sheila comes home when David places an ad in the missing persons’ column of the newspaper. She brings Jack’s daughter Sharon into their lives.

David takes up a job with the Morning Post. After years of searching, David has finally found where he belongs.

Part Two

Simon Lyndon and Matt Day

Australia (Ten): Monday, June 04, 2001
Canada (CBC): December 11, 2002
Screenplay by Sun Smith

It is 1937 and David is covering Anzac Day for The Morning Post. His father marches with his old unit, Bert struggles along on his crutches and Min is there, marching proudly with the nurses. Jack and his daughter, Sharon are waving from the road side. David’s story on Anzac Day is much admired by the editor of the Post, Bernard Brewster, who holds it up as an example to David’s less talented colleagues.

Walking past the local lending library one night, David sees again the beautiful Helen—the girl he met at Sam’s party years before. She is politically aware and well read. Helen begins David’s education into the world of love and politics.

When sent to cover the arrival of refugees from Europe David realises the extent of human suffering at the hands of the Nazis and the reluctance to help by his own country. It is a major turning point in David’s career and his life. As a result of this story, Mr Brewster elevates him to the status of Special Writer. He is to share the Special Writers’ Room with Gavin Turley—a talented journalist who will become a true and honest friend.

At Min’s 60 th birthday party David introduces Helen to the family. The meeting is a disaster with Jack making his feelings clear—Helen is not the right one for his brother, and maybe David has changed and thinks he is too good for his own family. In August 1938 David Meredith marries Helen and the family all attend.

David’s life is on the up and up. He is the star writer with The Morning Post, he and Helen have a new home in the suburbs and he is driving an MG. Helen is the perfect hostess and she has become the perfect wife for the rising star—her own life and beliefs on hold. But is that what David Meredith really wants out of life?

A quiet dinner with Gavin Turley and his wife Peggy leaves David feeling unfulfilled. It changes his view of Helen and his marriage and his career as a writer. The next day David’s feelings come to the surface leaving Helen lost and confused. David Meredith fears he has mortgaged his soul for a car, a house, and a wife he doesn’t love.

War is declared. David and Gavin will be writing about the conflict for the paper. It is a chance for David to hide from his problems at home. Life goes from bad to worse for David and Helen Meredith.

For Jack the war is a chance to contribute. He wants to join up—with David, but Brewster believes David will do more for the war effort by staying with the paper.

Jack joins up and he couldn’t be happier. But his euphoria is short lived. A training accident leaves him with a broken leg and out of the war. While his mates fight at Tobruk he is working in the Army store.

Everyone is joining up—even Gavin Turley, but Brewster will not have David Meredith enlisting. The reality of war comes home to David when Gavin is listed as missing in action. His wife is killed in a car accident before Gavin escapes from Crete.

The war rages on and David Meredith becomes the Post’s first official war correspondent. Jack’s shame at not being involved is heightened by David’s new role. When Jack is posted to Darwin his relief is palpable but short-lived. Another accident in Darwin puts Jack out of the action—for good.

Before he leaves for New Guinea David Meredith meets AWAS gunner Cressida Morely—it is a meeting that will change his life.

David is a successful war correspondent, filing from New Guinea, New York, London, Burma, Ceylon and Rome.

Back home David can’t face Helen and their suburban life. At Mario’s restaurant, he finds Cressida Morely and her boss, Gavin Turley. Gavin lost an arm and now has a desk job. He is obviously keen on the beautiful Cressida, but when he sees David with her he knows he has no chance.

David makes the break with Helen. He wants a clean slate before he sees Cressida again.

Their whole life is before them—a life that will take them to the other side of the world.