1 9 7 9 (Australia)
20 x 50 minute episodes
This soap opera/kitchen sink drama series from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC TV) told the story of Ron and Anne Fielding (Harold Hopkins and Anne Pendlebury) – the son of a Melbourne trams inspector and the daughter of a well-off Jewish jeweller – from their marriage in 1956 through to the mid-1970s.
Episodes followed the Melbourne couple and their families, children and friends, year by year (presenting one year per episode), holding up a mirror each week to the changes taking place in Australian society and lifestyles.
Domestic crises came thick and fast for Ron and Anne. In the first episode, they married when Anne became unexpectedly pregnant somewhere between their trips to Luna Park and the MCG. She lost the baby, and from then on – in common with The Restless Years – misery and pain were the main ingredients of life and entertainment
For instance, in 1962, Ron’s sister, Melinda (Anne Charleston) – a sour nurse – found herself in love for the first time. But the object of her passion turned out to be impotent, then homosexual.
The sixties brought the Fieldings into the debate over the Vietnam war. Ron’s brother-in-law Peter Cohen felt that Australia had no place in Vietnam and refused to register for National Service. Anne sympathised with her brother but Ron did not.
By 1964, Ron’s caravan business was expanding and he took on a leased factory and increased his staff.
The family moved to a new house in 1966 and Ron attempted to join a Golf Club to promote his business.
Anne’s Jewish parents were a walking cliche: Momma (Julia Blake) dressed like the Queen Mother and behaved as if she’d read Portnoy’s Complaint several times without getting the joke, and Poppa (Jonathan Hardy) appeared to be understudying one of the minor roles for an amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof. In 1969, Michael became interested in Judaism and wanted to take his bar mitzvah.
1971 brought Ron’s old mate Digger Farrell (Michael Carman) back into the Fieldings’ lives with a bold plan for Ron to become a TV super salesman. By 1974, Anne was studying music at college without Ron’s approval.
The title Twenty Good Years turned out to be a brilliant irony: nothing good actually happened throughout the two decades – it was glumly downhill all the way with each episode trundling viewers into another year and another important event in the lives of Ron and Anne.
The series was filmed at the ABC studios in Ripponlea. The concept was developed by Sandy Ringer, who also wrote the first episode.
Anthony Bramble (1)
Jeremy Kewley (2)
1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975