1 9 8 2 (Australia)
This $5 million, six-hour series was a television adaptation of Marcus Clarke’s grim novel about the horrors of Australia’s convict beginnings. First published between 1870 and 1872 as 27 instalments in The Australian Journal, For The Term Of His Natural Life is regarded as the greatest novel to emerge from colonial Australia.
A damning indictment of the cruelties of the transportation system, it is also a stirring adventure story which was made into a silent film in 1927.
29-year-old Sydney actor Colin Friels played his first television role as Rufus Dawes, the hero who is wrongly sentenced to transportation to the penal colony and who endures the most terrible privations.
Ten-year-old Rebe Taylor was Sylvia Vickers, the one person who recognises the goodness in Dawes. Rod Mullinar was Captain Maurice Frere, the cruel and arrogant soldier who wages a vendetta against Dawes.
English movie star Samantha Eggar was Julia Vickers, mother of the aforementioned child and wife of the commandant of the Hobart Town penal colony.
Anthony Perkins played luckless clergyman, Reverend North, Diane Cilento was Lady Ellinor, mother of the hero, and former Avengers star Patrick Macnee played Major Vickers.
Captain Maurice Frere