1 9 7 6 (Australia)
26 x 60 minute episodes
This Crawford Productions comedy series for Channel 10 in Australia took the idea of a hallowed public institution – in this case, a prison – and turned it into a taxpayers nightmare of comic bungling, mismanagement and bucking against authority.
Set in Cragmont Jail, a country prison in the fictitious township of Gladstone, the inmates had such a jolly time that they tried to make their stay as long as possible.
CB (former game show host Gary Meadows) was the leader of the prisoners. He controlled the money-making rackets and devised schemes to make life behind bars more comfortable than at home.
Chuck Faulkner shed his Division 4 image to portray Chief Warder Sharpley, a strict disciplinarian – nicknamed “Gestapo” by the inmates – whose life was devoted to catching prisoners at their various pranks, his trusty Doberman at his side.
Brian Blain (from Ben Hall) played Claude, a prisoner who was a master of disguises which came in handy when the inmates planned one of their many deceptions. Vic Gordon from Matlock Police appeared as Governor Beams who believed that “the boys are basically good inside” and in his eyes, the inmates could do no wrong.
Denise “Ding Dong” Drysdale played Nurse Peachum – “Peachy” to the inmates – a sweet, innocent thing in the prison infirmary, who invariably (unwittingly) helped the prisoners in their scatterbrained schemes.
Other well-known actors who appeared in the series were Eric Oldfield, Carla Hoogeveen (from Class of ’74), Reg Gorman (Number 96), George Spartels, Abigail, Frank Wilson and Bert Newton in his first dramatic role.
It had all the makings of a good show along the lines of Hogan’s Heroes or McHale’s Navy. But somewhere The Bluestone Boys missed out. The large cast was straining for laughs, the dialogue was corny, and the jokes just weren’t there.
The Doberman got the most laughs by just sitting and looking deadpan – which sums up the show rather neatly.
Chief Warder Sharpley
Nurse “Peachy” Peachum