Surf’s up for ’90s TV

Natalie McCurry, Chances

Neighbours and Home And Away continue as local and overseas success stories, but there is a struggle to keep viewers interested in soap drama. Preferences are moving towards weekly one-hour dramas but networks are not about to give up on the great Aussie soap:

Family And Friends (Nine, 1990):

Attempting to put a 1990s twist on the Romeo and Juliet scenario, Nine’s ill-fated early evening soap failed to do for Nine what Neighbours and Home and Away had done for Seven and Ten.

Chances (Nine, 1991-1992):

Twenty years after Number 96, Nine tried to shock the nation with this one. But as time went on, the storylines got more bizarre and only succeeded in getting a cult late-night following.

Paradise Beach (Nine, 1993-1994):

Filmed on the Gold Coast, and including a star studded cast.  But it was only marginally more popular than Ten’s monumental flop Arcade over a decade earlier.  International sales kept it going just a bit longer.

Alex Dimitriades, Heartbreak High

Heartbreak High (Ten, 1994-1996 and ABC 1997-1999):

The spin-off to the popular film The Heartbreak Kid.  After a rough treatment by Ten, ending up in a late-night timeslot, it moved over to ABC’s prime time schedule.

Echo Point (Ten, 1995):

Another sun-and-surf soap initially programmed against Home And Away but poor ratings led to two further timeslot changes.  Axed after six months.

Pacific Drive (Nine, 1995-1997):

Australia’s answer to Melrose Place turned out to be little more than Chances on valium. Nine took the unusual step of launching this soap in a late-night timeslot, which is where it mostly stayed except for a brief run in the afternoons.

Breakers (Ten, 1998-1999):

The story of life around Sydney’s Bondi Beach. In the same way that Nine launched Pacific Drive, Ten scheduled Breakers into a late night timeslot, but with the addition of re-runs the following weekday afternoon.


After the Nineties, Neighbours and Home And Away manage to stay popular both locally and overseas, though the line dividing soap operas and one-hour episode dramas is becoming blurred with weekly series such as All Saints, The Secret Life Of Us, Blue Heelers and McLeod’s Daughters all containing elements of soap-like drama.