number96_spiritof96Any regular reader of this site will be very familiar with Number 96, the ground-breaking series that redefined Australian television drama in the 1970s with its radical mix of drama, sex, diversity and comedy. The ongoing stories from within a Sydney apartment block brought a never-before-seen depiction of suburban and adult life into Australian living rooms for six years. The critics despised it, and the censors constantly monitored it, but the viewers loved it.

Number 96 was Australia’s top rating program in 1973 and 1974 and collected four Logie Awards for Best Drama. Pat McDonald, who played gossipy Dorrie Evans, won a Gold Logie in 1974 for Most Popular Female Personality on Australian TV. The series’ success rescued the financially-troubled 0-10 Network and became the envy of networks overseas — with America’s NBC launching its own version almost a decade after Australian TV had ‘lost its virginity’.

While some websites (such as the Number 96 Home Page and Aussie Soap Archive) and books (Andrew Mercado‘s Super Aussie Soaps and Number 96 creator, David Sale‘s Number 96, Mavis Bramston And Me) give an insight into the series, there is still so much to be uncovered about the show that ran for over 1200 episodes, employed hundreds of actors and was watched by millions at a time when Australia was going through rapid social change.


TV historian Nigel Giles has been recording oral histories with a long list of actors, writers and directors, and is compiling his interviews and extensive TV knowledge in publishing a book, Spirit Of 96 — named after the train that used to bring the Number 96 cast from Sydney to Melbourne to attend the TV Week Logie Awards, meeting crowds of fans as they stopped at stations along the way.

number96_buildingThe book promises a thorough insight to the show that changed the face of Australian TV, including setting straight some of the myths and misconceptions that have spread over the years.

More than 60 people who have been involved with the show, including series creator David Sale, have been tracked down and interviewed for this ambitious project. Some of these people are now no longer with us, so this is a rare opportunity to get their memories now in print.

The book is also set to feature various black-and-white and colour photographs — many not published before.

To get Spirit Of 96 off the ground, Giles has launched a crowd-funding campaign with a target of $10,000, to help cover the costs of design, publication and distribution. More information and details on pledging a donation can be found at the Pozible website.


8 thoughts on “Help relive the Spirit Of 96!

  1. Whatever became of Joe Hasham, who played the homosexual lawyer, Don Finlayson? Shortly after the show ended, he went into electronics retail sales with “Electronic Enterprises”, he cut a single for the Festival label in about 1976 or 1977, “Have You Ever Been Mellow”/”New World In The Morning”. The first-mentioned was covered by Olivia Newton-John while the second song was Hasham’s cover of a Roger Whittaker song. He did a TV special(I think) to help promote the single) but, from the mid-1980s onward, nothing’s been heard of, or from him. Like he’s just…. VANISHED!

  2. @Andrew M.
    Ron Shand: Some years after the end of Number 96, Shand appeared in the TV adaption of Ruth Park’s book, “Poor Man’s Orange”, the series(and book) were sequels to “Harp In The South”. Ron Shand had also made appearances in “Skippy” and other shows. Not exactly sure of the date when he passed away, but, he, his on-screen “wife” Pat McDonald(Dorrie) and lodger, Bunny Brooke(Flo Patterson) are no longer with us.

  3. @Andrew M.
    I never got to see that episode. In the time before Bob Hawke’s “brain-fart”(regional TV aggregation), Station NBN-Newcastle was carrying Prisoner. Just prior to the start of the “stupidity” NBN was ditching all programmes it was sourcing from Stations, ATN and TEN and leaving themselves with only TCN content. This occurred just as Maggie Kirkpatrick was entering the series, long before Ron Shand’s episode. So, I started watching the show through NRTV, who were running episodes probably a year-and-a-half ahead of those seen in Sydney(the show was being re-run by that time). About 16 or 17 months into aggregation, NRTV dropped its own regional identity(bad move, indeed), and with it, dropped back to the same episodes being run in Sydney. After watching episodes I’d already seen, I gave up in utter disgust and never watched the show again after that. So I never did get to see Ron Shand’s episode.

  4. Ron Shand, Joe Hasham and many others also had their career starts or made appearances in Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police – all currently available on the web site

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