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).
Roie (Rowena) Darcy
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell