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Possession

1 9 8 5 (Australia)

Possession was the Aussie soap that “dared to be different” according to its publicity in 1985. But in this case, to be different wasn’t to win.

Channel 9 (Australia) dispossessed itself quickly and Reg Watson and Reg Grundy went back to the drawing board . . .

The show was a two hour per week mystery melodrama about well-off glamorous people who were messing up their lives and not getting much fun from their possessions. It may have been partly inspired by the mid-80s success of Dynasty and the other US glossies depicting rich characters who changed clothes and partners frequently.

The story began as David Macarthur, a wealthy tycoon, faced the possibility of death by an attack by masked men. He wanted to put his house in order and to straighten his affairs with the women in his life – his former mistress Louise, with whom he’d had a child neither of them acknowledged, and his embittered wife Elizabeth and the child, Jane Andrews, who had no idea that David, this rich and powerful man, the future father-in-law of her best friend Kathleen, was really her dad.

He found Louise, a vain and ambitious career woman, recovering from cosmetic surgery. She told him she had no intention of admitting to being the mother of a woman in her twenties – especially after she’d been lifted and tightened.

There was cold fury from Elizabeth (later to become Neighbours warm and loveable Madge) but there was more fun still at the showdown with Jane.

Macarthur died by an assassin’s bullet in her arms though the bullet was meant for Macarthur’s chauffeur who’d been blackmailing a politician. The chauffeur was later found dead in a police cell (are you following this?).

The angry widow hounded Jane from town, spreading the rumour that she had been having an affair with Macarthur. Even Jane’s adoptive father (played by Norman Yemm who was Norm Baker in The Sullivans) believed this.

But at the funeral, Jane defiantly announced that Macarthur was her father and fled the scene passing her real mother, the creepy Louise, who had watched her at a distance from her limousine.

Meanwhile, there was a parallel kafuffle for Jane’s pretty best friend, Kathleen Dawson, who’d set out to marry spoilt, vindictive Greg Macarthur. Detective Vince Bailey came swaggering into town to solve the crimes and it was love at first sight.

But viewers could tell that macho Vince was not good news – and not just because he was played by David Reyne.

There were some fine performances from the women, notably the duo of Darien Takle and Maggie Millar, a favourite with viewers from Bellbird and a 1975 double award-winner for a role in Homicide, here playing Louise’s sardonic assistant Claudia.

But Australian audiences disliked it almost as much as they’d disliked Taurus Rising. Perhaps there was too much scarcely believable action and too many characters no one could believe in.

David Macarthur 
Bruce Barry
Jane Andrews 

Tamasin Ramsay
Elizabeth Macarthur 

Anne Charleston
Kathleen Dawson 

Tracey Callander
Greg Macarthur 

Lloyd Morris
Detective Vince Bailey 

David Reyne
Louise 

Darien Takle
Claudia 

Maggie Millar