1 9 9 7 (Australia)
2 x 90 minute episodes
“They’re not hippies, they’re Australians. The hippies are much cleaner”.
This two-part miniseries from the Aussie Seven Network told the lighthearted story of four young Australians who move to London during the Swinging Sixties.
It is 1966, and carrot-topped primary school teacher Catherine Macaleese (Jacqueline Romper Stomper McKenzie) is counting down the days until she leaves her backward town in country Victoria and sails to meet her estranged father – little more than a distant childhood memory – to start a new life with him in England.
Heather Randall (Rebecca Gibney, who also co-produced) is Catherine’s cousin and closest friend who puts her plans to wed her truck driver boyfriend on hold to travel with her to London on the Oriana (with an ambition to bed both Peter and Gordon).
Meanwhile, aspiring young Melbourne journalist Richard Turner (John Polson) decides to try his luck in Fleet Street and promises his fiancée, Sandy (Susanne Chapman), that he will return from London in a few months.
Heading along a path of self-destruction, rebellious young rich wastrel Jack Gill (Jeremy Sims) also embarks on the journey at the last minute. Onboard the Oriana, he disappears with the group’s money in Cairo and the trio arrives in Britain penniless.
The only contact they have is a friend of Jack’s – the mysterious Terence Foster-Burrows (Peter and Colin’s kid brother, Jonathan Firth) – who shows little surprise for their predicament and offers them rooms in the “Palace”, his cold, damp squat-cum-boarding house in Earls Court.
Within weeks, their lives are set to change forever. Catherine meets her father, a man she has immortalised in all her childhood fantasies, and things go horribly wrong. But at a party, she meets the Earl of Seymour (Jerome Ehlers), a handsome fashion photographer, and her induction into the London high life begins.
The soundtrack is anachronistic (neither Cream‘s White Room nor the Small Faces‘ Lazy Sunday saw the light of day until 1968, and Free didn’t record until 1970) but these are small flaws that don’t really detract from a superb story.