1 9 7 8 (Australia)
12 x 50 minute episodes
This twelve-part series from the ABC was supposed to portray the lifestyle of a tough breed of men, the transport drivers who hurtle their huge semi-trailers across Australia’s vast distances between capital cities and major country towns.
The loneliness of a long-distance driver and the marital stress imposed by his broken home life was reflected in the gradual growing apart of the two central characters, Chris – who has just purchased his first truck (a big Volvo called ‘Maggie D’) and has a new home he can barely afford – and his wife Carol (played by pop singer Colleen Hewett in her first dramatic role), who is not enamoured of his slobbish ways.
John Wood co-starred as Stokey, a bachelor who fancies a barmaid and a bet on the horses – but is successful with neither.
Shot on location in and around Melbourne, The Truckies drew considerable criticism from Australian trucking organisations for the unrealistic image portrayed in the show.
Presenting a glamorous picture of life on the road was probably done to gain higher ratings, but ultimately damaged the public’s perception of the average truckie.
The Truckies was plagued by artificial storylines – the research was clearly conducted in an armchair and not in the cabin of an 18-wheeler – and the show did not rate well despite being action-packed with wonderful stunt work and a hard-working, high-profile cast.
It featured excellent camera work, some of it filmed on the highway at the BP Pine Hill roadhouse service station near Lilydale. The crew were assisted through filming by the Victorian State Police who escorted the trucks and even closed roads upon request.
The theme song, Maggie, (by Ken Brumby) provided an entertaining backdrop to the production.