Media gossip today suggesting that the classic 80s and 90s soap A Country Practice could be coming back.
Reports indicate that production company Fremantle has bought the rights to the series that ran for over a decade on the Seven Network and also had a brief reprisal on Ten.
Fremantle has of course had success in adapting the classic series Prisoner for a new generation as the Foxtel drama Wentworth.
A Country Practice was a huge hit when it launched over the summer of 1981/82. Produced in Sydney and on location at nearby Pitt Town it ran for 12 years on the Seven Network before Ten took over the series and shifted production to Melbourne for one year. The original cast included Shane Porteous, Grant Dodwell, Penny Cook, Lorrae Desmond, Anne Tenney, Brian Wenzel, Shane Withington and Helen Scott — while Fatso the wombat and Doris the pig became favourites.
Other cast members to feature over the show’s 1000+ episode run included Joyce Jacobs, Joan Sydney, Gordon Piper, Syd Heylen, Georgie Parker, Maureen Edwards, Mary Regan, John Tarrant, Wendy Strehlow, Josephine Mitchell, Kate Raison, Nick Bufalo, Andrew Blackman, Judith McGrath, Kym Wilson, Diane Smith, Matt Day, Michelle Pettigrove, Paul Gleeson, Vince Colosimo, Jane Hall and Claudia Black.
While A Country Practice dealt with all manner of medical stories, it also covered topical social issues such as nuclear war, domestic and sexual abuse, drug addiction and suicide, and the fictional Wandin Valley also copped its share of natural disasters such as bushfires — with the series’ final two-hour episode on Seven depicting the Wandin Valley Hospital, the focal point for many of its storylines, being destroyed by fire.
But the show’s most definitive storyline was the death of fan favourite Molly Jones (played by Anne Tenney) in 1985.
When Network Ten picked up the show at the end of 1993, it shifted production to Melbourne and the fictional Wandin Valley, previously deemed to be somewhere in New South Wales, was now suddenly in Melbourne’s Dandenongs and with a revamped cast line-up. The Network Ten run of the series struggled and it played out most of its episodes on Saturday afternoons.
A Country Practice sold well overseas, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany, Zimbabwe and on the PBS network in the United States. It became one of Australia’s most awarded dramas, with 29 TV Week Logie Awards to its credit and series creator James Davern was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 1991.
The Seven Network episodes enjoyed a repeat run and the series was released on DVD from 2006.
With so many US dramas and comedies on the comeback trail and the success of Wentworth, it was only a matter of time before another Aussie series was given a reboot although it is to be seen if this one eventuates. Earlier proposals to bring back Return To Eden and The Young Doctors failed to come to fruition.