Australian Story

Libbi Gorr: To Elle and Back

Monday 6 November 8:00 PM

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

What ever happened to Elle McFeast?

The trailblazing comic character burst into football locker rooms and onto our TV screens in 1991 on the ABC’s Live and Sweaty program, shocking audiences with her mix of saucy humour and rollicking social satire.

The anarchic alter ego of entertainer Libbi Gorr, McFeast was born from a desire to push back on the Elle McPherson supermodel stereotype of what a woman should be.

As McFeast’s reputation grew, she became one of the first female tonight show hosts in the country.

But in 1998, Libbi Gorr’s career took a tumble when her live interview with self-confessed killer Mark ‘Chopper’ Read triggered a wave of outrage.

In a candid interview, Gorr talks about that notorious interview, the identity crisis that followed and why, at the age of 58, she’s embarking on a new adventure as morning host of a new digital radio station.

Airs Monday November 6, 8.00pm (AEDT), on ABC TV and ABC iview.

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Brett Yang and Eddy Chen - Take a Bow

Monday, 13 November, 8pm AEDT

Meet the violin virtuosos from Brisbane shaking up the classical music world with their unique brand of online comedy. ​Brett Yang and Eddy Chen met as teenagers in maths tutoring and bonded over their shared love of playing the violin.

Dedicated and talented, they dreamed of becoming soloists but eventually, they went against family expectations and the straitjacket of the classical music world. ​

Blending their performance talents with goofy humour, the pair named themselves TwoSet Violin and began to make videos for YouTube, inspired by their own experiences as musicians. ​

“We’re not deliberately setting out to break the rules like a rebellious teenager. Our mission is kind of to be that gateway that brings people into the world of classical music in a more fun, relaxed and entertaining way,” Eddy says. ​

They’ve struck a chord, amassing millions of social media followers on YouTube and other platforms and gaining billions of views. ​

“Most top-of-the-game classical musicians would be green with envy as to their reach. I think TwoSet really have played a huge part in bringing a huge new audience to classical music,” says Vanessa Hughes from ABC Classic FM.
They’ve even persuaded one of the world’s greatest violinists, American Hilary Hahn, to collaborate. ​

“They are very good violinists. You can’t use humour about a very specific craft unless you know everything about it, it just wouldn’t work,” Hilary tells Australian Story .

“I just really loved seeing everything that they were making.” ​

Brett and Eddy are currently in the midst of their second world tour, selling out prestigious venues in London, New York, Berlin, to name a few. ​

“I tell my past self, thanks for taking the risk and just going for it,” says Brett. “Whatever happens, you’re going to have the ride of a lifetime.”

Stepping Up | Elly-May Barnes

Monday 20 November 8:00 PM

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

When Elly-May Barnes was born into rock music’s most famous family, she was 14 weeks premature and given only a 50/50 chance of survival.

At 3, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She’s endured a lifetime of medical procedures which she thought would limit her musical career to being a backup singer for her father.

Now at 34, Elly-May Barnes is stepping out as a solo cabaret artist – and an advocate for people with disabilities.

Airs Monday November 20, 8.00pm (AEDT), on ABC TV and ABC iview.

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Season final Australian Story is Monday 4 December

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Big Talk | Annie Louey

Monday 27 November 8:00 PM

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

After her father’s death, comedian Annie Louey finds his old briefcase and uncovers a decades old secret.

Inside are hundreds of black and white photographs, passports, letters and library cards belonging to two girls who looked a lot like her. It didn’t take long to realise her father had a secret family.

Angry he kept this part of their family hidden, Annie is driven to find her half-sisters and make peace.

She may be her fathers’ daughter, but unlike him Annie has chosen to live life like an open book. The stand-up comedian uses the stage to laugh off family secrets and uncomfortable truths.

Airs Monday November 27, 8.00pm (AEDT), on ABC TV and ABC iview.

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A Changing Mind | Richard Scolyer

Monday 4 December 8:00 PM

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

It is risky and untested treatment. It could shorten his life or make it a whole lot worse. But it’s a risk Professor Richard Scolyer is willing to take, desperate to try and save his own life.

As the world’s top melanoma pathologist, Richard is an expert in diagnosing skin cancers, and helped revolutionise immunotherapy treatment for advanced melanoma patients, removing the death sentence so many once faced.

But now the acclaimed doctor is facing his own mortality.

Richard had a choice, prepare for the worst or put his hand up to be patient zero as his colleagues design a high stakes experiment to fight his brain tumour, using the very treatment they have pioneered for melanoma.

Airs Monday December 4, 8.00pm (AEDT), on ABC TV and ABC iview.

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So appreciative of outpouring of support after #AustralianStory. I'm incredibly proud of & thankful for the amazing work of @MelanomaAus & the intellect & passion of my colleagues. And to my wonderful family, my heartfelt thanks & love @ABCTV @ProfGLongMIA https://t.co/WaMPsSpWD8

— Professor Richard Scolyer AO (@ProfRScolyerMIA) December 4, 2023

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Monday Night News Returns

Monday 19 February from 8.00pm

At 8.00pm, Leigh Sales returns to host another season of Australian Story – compelling stories about real people that illuminate, entertain and inspire.

At 8:30pm, the multi-award winning Four Corners returns for another year of powerhouse investigative journalism - fearless and forensic, holding power to account throughout six decades – and counting.

Australia’s longest running current affairs program has been exposing scandals, triggering inquiries, firing debate and confronting taboos for and behalf of the Australian public since 1961 and looks set to remain as defiant as ever in 2024.

Rounding out the evening at 9.30pm, Q+A returns to Monday nights with Patricia Karvelas leading the conversation as citizens put their questions to local and international politicians and thought leaders.
Production credit: ABC NEWS productions.

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The Making of Mini | Katrina Gorry (2024 season premiere)

Monday 19 February 8.00pm

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

The performance of the Matildas in last year’s women’s football World Cup turned many of the players into household names, among them Katrina Gorry. But the road to glory hasn’t been an easy one for the 31-year-old midfielder.

Despite her size – the preteen nickname ‘Mini’ stuck – Gorry ran rings around other players and rose steadily through the ranks of women’s football. She debuted for the national team in 2012 and just two years later was both Asian Football and Australian Football’s woman player of the year.

But eventually the pressures of international sporting life began to get to her, culminating in an eating disorder that left her exhausted and out of love for the game.

“I started kind of resenting the game a little bit and I found myself trying to control my food intake and wouldn’t like to look at myself in the mirror,” Katrina tells Australian Story. “It was like three years of, you know, didn’t really want to get up out of bed, didn’t want to go to training.”

Katrina got help from a team psychologist but what really turned things around for her was the decision to undergo IVF, which she did while based in Norway.

“I didn’t really want to tell my family because I didn’t want anyone to talk me out of it. And I didn’t tell the teammates that I was living in the house with because, again, I didn’t want them to talk me out of it.”

The birth of Harper in 2021 changed everything, re-invigorating Katrina’s love of the game and giving her new respect for her body. Within a year Katrina was in a relationship with a Swedish teammate, Clara Markstedt. The pair are engaged, with Clara due to give birth to a sibling for Harper in June.

As the Matildas prepare for the Olympics in Paris, Katrina Gorry is at the top of her game.

Katrina Gorry is joined by her partner Clara, mother Linda, sister Amanda, coach Mel Andreatta and fellow Matilda Charli Grant in an intimate and revealing Australian Story.

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Mama’s on a Mission – Mechelle Turvey

Monday, 26 February, 8pm

Presented by Leigh Sales

Mama’s on a Mission - Mechelle Turvey is airing on Monday 19 February, 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

When Mechelle Turvey’s 15-year-old son Cassius died following an attack on the way home from school, people rallied around the country in outrage and despair. Mechelle, who had lost her husband Sam just over a month before, could have succumbed to anger. Instead, she called for calm.

“I didn’t want any more violence,” she tells Australian Story. “I didn’t want hatred and I didn’t want Aboriginal people again to be stereotyped as uncontrollable and violent. I wanted to bring unity among everyone.”

What anger Mechelle felt was initially directed at the WA Police, who she felt had responded inadequately in the aftermath of Cassius’s death. When Homicide Detective Steve Cleal first came to her door, she gave him a piece of her mind.

“There was a definite phase where I had to earn her trust,” Detective Cleal tells Australian Story. “She needed a punching bag to hit and to get that off her chest. And it needed to be dealt with.”

Over the following months, as Detective Cleal accompanied her to court hearings and kept her abreast of developments in the case, the pair developed an unlikely friendship.

“I just like the bloke,” Mechelle says. “He’s a friend. I don’t believe I said that, but he has become a friend.”

Mechelle’s dignity and compassion in the face of unimaginable loss and her insistence on finding a better way forward earned her respect around the country and caught the eye of WA police Commissioner Col Blanch. He asked her to design a training program for police recruits and gave her a job in the police community liaison division. She was also named Western Australian of the year for her community work.

Driven – Minjee and Min Woo Lee

Monday 4 March 8pm

For one family member to excel at golf’s highest levels is impressive but for two family members to do so is simply astonishing.

Perth siblings Minjee and Min Woo Lee are golf stars on the rise, driven by a friendly rivalry to become the world’s No 1 female and male golfer, respectively. But they couldn’t be more different in personality and how they approach the game.

“He’s very talented, very skillful,” says Minjee, the older and more successful of the two. “For me it’s more learnt.”

“We always say that Minjee and Min Woo are like yin and yang,” says their coach, Ritchie Smith. “On one hand, we have the scientist; like she’s so disciplined, so demanding. And on the other hand, you have the artist who doesn’t give a rat’s about the science; he wants to play with flair and be expressive and just have fun.”

Minjee is an introvert by nature, happy to shun the limelight, while the extroverted Min Woo is considered a breath of fresh air in the staid world of golf, with his swashbuckling style and huge social media presence.

“Min Woo is a marketer’s dream,” says Australia’s most successful female golfer, Karrie Webb. “He just looks like he’s loving what he’s doing. And that’s fun for people to watch.”

Australian Story followed Minjee and Min Woo as they competed in the Women’s and Men’s Australian Open late last year, giving a rare glimpse into the lives of the sibling superstars and the extraordinary pressure that golfers endure at the highest levels of the game.

“It’s a tough sport; it’s not easy,” Min Woo tells Australian Story . “There’s a lot of losing in golf.”

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Call of Duty – Anjali Sharma

Monday 11 March 8:00pm

Presented by Leigh Sales

Presented on Monday, 11 March, 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

She’s Australia’s answer to Greta Thunberg. At 14, Anjali Sharma was a school strike organiser. At 16, she sued the government. Now at 19, she’s leading a political campaign from her university dorm.

Together with independent Senator David Pocock, Anjali is seeking laws that compel politicians to consider their duty of care to future generations as the paramount criteria when assessing fossil fuel projects.

While the bill is under review from a Senate committee, Anjali and her team of likeminded young people are lobbying parliamentarians across the political divide.

“None of us have ever participated in parliamentary legislation drafting before, and none of us have ever had to run a grassroots campaign out of our UNI dorms. And it’s a massive learning curve,” Anjali says.

Anjali’s motivation lies with her family roots in India, as she’s watched her uncles, aunts and cousins endure deadly heatwaves and ravaging floods.

Stepping into the fray of climate politics is bruising for even the most seasoned of lobbyists, but despite being trolled and racially vilified, Anjali remains determined to fight for radical change.

Producers: Jennifer Feller and Winsome Denyer

Peter Garrett with Leigh Sales

Monday, 18 March, 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview

The In the first of an occasional series of Australian Story specials, Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett sits down for an intimate and wide-ranging conversation with Leigh Sales.

The activist, singer and former politician, who turned 70 last year, looks back over the highs and lows and of a life well lived.

“I’ve served in high office, I’ve been in an amazing band,” he says. “I got kissed on the arse by that rainbow, no question. Occasionally I’ve been booted as well.”

He talks about losing both his parents when he was young and how that instilled in him a desire to always keep moving forward and creating.

“Once stuff’s happened, you can’t change that,” he says. “There’s nothing that I think about the past that’s going to change what happened in the past. So, I really do tend to concentrate on the mo.”

Garrett looks back with pride on his decades with Midnight Oil, explaining the unique chemistry that made them one of the biggest bands in the world, embraced by the mainstream while sticking uncompromisingly to their political beliefs.

“We were just ferociously determined to prove to ourselves that what we were doing had some worth and some value, and that it was OK to sing about politics, which is part of life. And if the record company didn’t like it, well, too bad.”

He also talks about the importance of family and especially his relationship with his wife of nearly 40 years, Doris. “She’s more important than anyone could know;” he says of the woman who has fiercely guarded her privacy while her husband became a household name, first as a musician and then as a federal politician.

With a second solo album, The True North, released last week, Garrett shows no sign of slowing down.

“I don’t really analyse myself much. I’m not very introverted and I don’t spend a lot of time gazing at my navel. I just go off and do.”

On the Brink | Bon Scott

Monday 25 March 8:00pm

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bon Scott joining AC/DC, Australian Story repeats its hugely popular profile of the band’s late, great frontman. Featuring a wealth of archival material, On the Brink covers the highs and lows of a remarkable life.

Bon honed his skills in bands such as The Valentines and Fraternity before being introduced in 1974 to AC/DC, who were unhappy with their singer at the time. He joined them on stage for a few songs and the rest was history.

By the late 70s the band was on the brink of world domination and Bon was fulfilling his wildest dreams. But years of excess were catching up with him and in 1980 he died in London from acute alcohol poisoning. He was just 33.

Family, friends and fellow musicians provide insights into Bon’s passions and demons and his state of mind at the time of his death. The episode includes the first and only interview with Bon’s brother Derek and a rare interview with Bon’s replacement in AC/DC, Brian Johnson.

Airs Monday 8:00pm on ABCTV, ABC iview and YouTube.

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Patient Zero | Richard Scolyer

Monday 1 April 8:00pm

Australian Story goes behind the scenes with the 2024 Australians of the Year as they reach a remarkable milestone, even they never thought possible.

Professors Richard Scolyer and Georgina Long made headlines last year after trialling a groundbreaking protocol they’d devised for melanoma patients on Richard’s incurable brain cancer.

They allowed Australian Story cameras to document their bold approach, as Richard expressed his greatest fears, and Georgina toiled day and night to find a cure.

Now, 10 months on since Richard was first diagnosed, our cameras travel alongside him once more as scientists scan his brain for any signs the aggressive cancer has returned.

“To be able to get this far through now without any recurrence of my tumour I’m blown away. This is not what I expected,” says Richard.

Professor Long says the goal now is to test the treatment on a large scale.

“As a scientist and as a clinician, there is an absolute need to make sure that you do things properly and share that information in a peer-reviewed, proper way,” she says.

They anticipate clinical trials will begin soon.

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This is the follow-up episode to Richard Scolyer feature which aired as the 2023 season finale.

Out of the Wild | Gina Chick with Leigh Sales

Monday 8 April 8:00pm

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

When Gina Chick won the first season of the television survival show Alone Australia, having lasted 67 days in the Tasmanian wilderness, her life changed forever.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Leigh Sales, filmed before a live audience, Gina talks about how overwhelmed she has been by the outpouring of love and support she has experienced since Alone Australia and her 2023 episode of Australian Story aired.

“There has been zero trolling; like none,” she tells Leigh Sales. “Who gets that? When I walk down the street, people come up and they want to connect.”

She explains how that affirmation has helped her make peace with her big personality, something that made life difficult for her socially when she was a child.

“I found the whole journey is actually letting me express all of these different parts of myself. It’s like, OK, red carpet, do the whole thing but do it barefoot. I’ve managed to get away with not wearing shoes for anything so far. And now it’s a brand.”

Gina discusses her 35-year friendship with actor Hugh Jackman, her extraordinarily close relationship with her ex-husband Lee and, most movingly, how sharing the loss of her three-year-old daughter to cancer with a national audience has helped her.

“I lost my daughter 10 years ago and all of a sudden she’s alive again in all of these people who are coming up to tell their stories of loss or grief.”

Producers: Lisa McGregor and Olivia Rousset.

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Man Underground | Arnold Dix

Monday 15 April 8:00 pm

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

Arnold Dix became a hero to millions of people across India when he helped rescue 41 men from a tunnel collapse high in the Himalayas.

Man Underground explores the bizarre and circuitous career path that culminated in this moment of international recognition. For Arnold Dix wears many hats – barrister, scientist, flower farmer, truck driver, engineer and tunnelling expert.

Dix explains the difficult situation that faced him at the site of the collapse and the pressure he felt as the whole of India became transfixed by the unfolding drama.

“We showed the world that good people working together can do the impossible,” he says.

Airs Monday April 15, 8:00pm (AEST), on ABCTV, ABC iview and YouTube.

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Out of the Chaos | Anna Coutts Trotter

Monday 22 April 8:00 pm

Introduced by Australian Story presenter Leigh Sales

When Federal Labor Minister Tanya Plibersek learned her daughter Anna had been abused during a high school relationship, it was the beginning of the family’s brutal fight for justice. Now Anna Coutts-Trotter is on a mission to support other survivors grappling with the aftermath of abuse. (Australian Story: Tom Hancock)

Anna Coutts–Trotter is on a mission.

The 23-year-old was in a teenage relationship when she experienced serious physical and emotional abuse.

But it was only after she told her father and mother, Federal Labor Minister Tanya Plibersek, what had happened that the family’s fight for justice began.

After surviving an often-brutal court process, Anna has co-founded Survivor Hub, a peer-led support group where survivors can connect safely and overcome the isolation that so many experience.

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