The success of Australian-produced mini-series in the late 1970s saw the genre continue into the 1980s — with period dramas like The Last Outlaw, Outbreak Of Love, Water Under The Bridge, A Town Like Alice, 1915, Women Of The Sun and Sara Dane clocking up big budgets and, in many cases, overseas sales.
ABC‘s contribution to the genre in 1980 was the eight-part series The Timeless Land, based on the trilogy of novels by Eleanor Dark. The series promised “a realistic and earthy look at the early convict days of our country, when flogging, prostitution, starvation and murder were facts of life”, during the years 1788 to 1810.
The Timeless Land, which debuted nationally on Thursday 4 September 1980, starred English actors Michael Craig (later to star in the long-running ABC series GP) and Nicola Pagett, with local actors including Angela Punch McGregor (pictured right), Patrick Dickson, Peter Cousens, Chris Haywood, Ray Barrett, Robin Stewart, Vince Gil and Peter Collingwood.
The Timeless Land is said to have cost ABC around $1.5 million — a substantial sum for a production in 1980 — but the cost was off-set by an international rights deal with Paramount Pictures worth $1 million.
The premiere of The Timeless Land is among the latest additions to Classic TV Guides:
- Wednesday 3 May 1967 — VICTORIA The Seekers Down Under
- Tuesday 14 September 1971 — MELBOURNE Nostalgia Unlimited
- Tuesday 14 September 1971 — SYDNEY Nostalgia Unlimited
- Monday 22 November 1971 — SYDNEY A Current Affair debuts
- Tuesday 2 November 1976 — SOUTH AUSTRALIA Melbourne Cup
- Monday 29 August 1977 — MELBOURNE Brownlow Medal Count, Keep Pace With Harriet
- Thursday 4 September 1980 — SYDNEY The Timeless Land
- Friday 21 August 1981 — MELBOURNE Sammy Awards
- Wednesday 7 July 1982 — TASMANIA The Mike Walsh Show celebrates 2000 episodes
- Friday 8 August 2008 — MELBOURNE Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
- Monday 1 June 2009 — MELBOURNE SBS Two begins
- Sunday 9 August 2009 — MELBOURNE Nine Network launches channel GO!
Source: TV Week, 30 August 1980