Home Television Drama Harp in the South, The

Harp in the South, The

1 9 8 7 (Australia)
3 x 120 minute episodes

This Australian miniseries was set in 1948 in Surry Hills – a poor inner-city suburb of Sydney filled with crowded tenement houses, razor gangs, brothels and illegal drinking spots. It centred on the struggles of the Irish Catholic Darcy family of 12½ Plymouth Street: good honest people with many problems, little money, but a lot of hope.

Father Hughie (Martyn Sanderson) was a kind, nondescript man who drank too much; Mumma (Anne Phelan) was strong, very religious, uneducated but romantic enough to give her children strange and exotic names; Thady – short for Thadeus – who disappeared from the street when he was six and was never heard of again; Roie (Anna Hruby) – short for Rowena – 19, gentle and vulnerable; and Dolour (Kaarin Fairfax), 13, lively and ambitious, and the only one who had any hope of escaping the poverty of “the Hills”.

The Darcy’s also had boarders – Miss Sheily (Melissa Jaffer), an embittered woman living with the shame of an illegitimate, mentally handicapped son, Johnny (Ken Radley) and Pat Diamond (Syd Conabere), Irish but an Orangeman who drank with Hugh but deplored his Pope-ish beliefs.

There was also Grandma (Gwen Plumb), a feisty troll of a woman who puffed a pipe and loved a drop of brandy.

The series cost $4 million to make and was sold to several overseas countries. A sequel, Poor Man’s Orange, was set three years later and featured nearly all the same cast (the two series’ were filmed simultaneously).

Mumma Darcy
Anne Phelan
Hughie Darcy
Martyn Sanderson
Roie (Rowena) Darcy
Anna Hruby
Dolour Darcy
Kaarin Fairfax
Grandma Kilker
Gwen Plumb
Pat Diamond
Syd Conabere
Miss Sheily
Melissa Jaffer
Johnny Sheily
Ken Radley
Charlie Rothe
Shane Connor
Tommy Mendel
Brandon Burke
Mrs Campion
Lois Ramsey
Lick Jimmy
Cecil Parkee
Delie Stock
Carole Skinner
Father Cooley
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell
Sister Theophilus
Kirrily Nolan
Sister Beatrix
Dinah Shearing
Mr Gunnarson
Arthur Sherman
Susan Leith
Valerie Bader
Emily Crook
Mrs Siciliano
Franca Rubiu
Mr Siciliano
George Rubiu
Mrs Drummy
Pat Thomson
Mr Drummy
Robert Baxter
Grace Drummy
Fiona Stewart
Harry Drummy
Connor Fitzpatrick
Tonetta Siciliano
Angela Gauci
Rosina Siciliano
Carmela Care
Chocolate Molly
Raina McKeon
Birdie Wren
Simon Gratton
Louise Cullen
Madeleine Blackwell
Clive Marshall
Alan Nurthen
Grant Wilson
John Clayton
Lynne Porteous
Terry Lawrence
Max Rowley
Suzette Williams
Father Hyde
Brian McNevin
Sister Rose
May Pusey