1 9 8 3 (Australia)
4 x 120 minute episodes
Thanks to skilful direction, some elegant performances and refreshing and eye-catching locations, this Channel 7 miniseries from Crawford Productions was an Aussie viewing favourite.
There were few stagnant pools in the pleasing $3 million adaptation of a slushy romantic novel by Nancy Cato.
The eight-hour series told the story of a young English woman who is shipwrecked on her way to Australia, orphaned, and cared for by her aunt and uncle on the banks of the Murray, near Echuca.
The story begins in 1892 and, after the rather self-conscious Shogun-style shipwreck scenes, viewers were thrown delightfully into an old Australia brimming with detail – especially the Echuca street scenes and the bustling wharf.
Our heroine Philadelphia “Deli” Gordon starts to mature in her new country, discovering a love for the river and for art, puzzling over her affection for her cousin Adam, and struggling with her feelings for Brenton Edwards, the wild First Mate of a paddle steamer.
Other characters included Deli’s Uncle Charlie, a kindly, good-humoured philanderer who winked at society’s expectations, and Aunt Hester, whose one and only love was her son Adam. Hester was a terrible nag, and Charlie was always expecting a supper of “tongue pie”.
All The Rivers Run contained all the ingredients on which Crawford’s had thrived for years. There was adventure, romance, celebration, a riches-to-rags disaster, a tragic accident or three, a battle with the elements, a dash of feminism and, eventually, love conquering all. All topped off by the magnificence of the Murray.
Three stars shone on the river. Sigrid Thornton stood above all as Deli – strikingly attractive, stylish, strong (but willing to be vulnerable) and projecting unexpected warmth and sensitivity.
John Waters (who looks as though he’s throughly enjoying himself as Brenton Edwards) played his gung-ho role as a cross between Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn, while the irrepressible Charles “Bud” Tingwell played a jaunty Uncle Charlie.
Dinah Shearing (Aunt Hester), Gus Mercurio (Tom Critchley) and Judith Massey (Creeping Annie) also worked well.
The unobtrusive but effective score by Bruce Rowlands was another plus in this winning piece of television.
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell
Celia De Burgh