Australian Story

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#121

Independent’s Day

Monday 3 December at 8pm

When Kerryn Phelps first spoke to Australian Story in 1998 she was a celebrity TV doctor with no public political aspirations.

Twenty years later she defied the odds to pull off the upset political victory of the year, winning former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s blue-ribbon Sydney seat of Wentworth as an independent following his departure from politics.

But making history is nothing new for Kerryn Phelps and wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps. Dr Phelps was the first female leader of the Australian Medical Association and is a long-term community health educator and same-sex marriage advocate.

We join Kerryn Phelps and her family and friends behind the scenes to learn about the extraordinary personal events leading to her new career in Canberra and ask: can she win Wentworth a second time when next year’s federal election comes around?

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#122

The Burning Question

Monday 10 December at 8pm

Introduced by Jack Rush, senior counsel to the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires

As the 10th anniversary of the Black Saturday fires approaches and the nation braces for another devastating bushfire season, we examine the fatal Churchill blaze and the investigation that led police to the enigmatic arsonist, Brendan Sokaluk.

The story retraces Sokaluk’s footsteps on the day and delves into his past to look for clues to why he lit a fire on a day of extreme fire conditions. His actions led to the death of 11 people and the widespread destruction of property, wildlife and bushland.

Featuring never-before-seen police interview footage of Sokaluk, The Burning Question asks what we can learn from the events of that day and how we can use this case to identify potential arsonists in the future.

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#123

Inside Story

Monday 17 December at 8pm

In a television exclusive, the untold story of James Ricketson, the Australian filmmaker locked up in Cambodia for 15 months on espionage charges.

Ricketson endured squalid conditions and failing health as he found himself a pawn in much larger game of Cambodian politics.

Meanwhile in working for his release his family faced a dilemma — to go along with the Australian Government’s “softly, softly” diplomatic approach or ceding to James’s demands to shout injustice from the rooftops and risk even harsher punishment.

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#124

Returns Monday 18 February at 8.00pm

Jack Thompson has been a legend of the Australian screen for 40 years. For many years, he’s used his profile to help Indigenous people and champion their issues.

Now, unexpectedly, as Jack faces a serious kidney condition, the Northern Territory’s Indigenous community is helping him, by lending him their mobile kidney dialysis unit, The Purple Truck, enabling him to carry on his acting work.

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#125

Almost could not recognise Jack Thompson today.

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#126

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#127

Call the Doctor

Monday 25 February at 8pm

Tim Duncan was a disillusioned junior doctor, on the brink of leaving medicine for a filmmaking career, when he found himself in desperate need of medical care.

Lying by the side of an outback road, with critical injuries, he knew his only hope for survival was immediate medical attention.

In that moment, as his life was ebbing away, Tim made a pact: if he survived, he would devote himself to emergency medicine.

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#128

A Bitter Pill

Monday 4 March at 8pm

It’s widely accepted nowadays that pregnant women shouldn’t take any medication unless it’s absolutely necessary.

But in the early 1960s that wasn’t the case.

Reassured by their doctors, thousands of women around the world took the drug thalidomide as a treatment for morning sickness, only to be faced with babies born with catastrophic disabilities.

Born in March 1963, Lisa McManus is one of Australia’s youngest survivors. She’s leading a group who have taken their fight to Canberra’s Parliament House, in a last ditch battle for recognition, compensation and an apology.

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#130

Next Monday (March 4) ABC will replay the 2017 episode featuring Mike Willesse, following his death this morning.

We remember legendary broadcaster Mike Willesee who died on Friday after a long battle with throat cancer.

Willesee’s career in television spanned five decades. He shaped Australian current affairs and was considered the best interviewer in the business.

In 2017 he let Australian Story into his life to chronicle his difficult journey through throat cancer.

His long-time friend, Ray Martin, introduces our story on Mike Willesee’s extraordinary life.

A Bitter Pill has been postponed.

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#131

Remembering Mike Willesee

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#132

Mike Willesee

Monday 4 March at 8pm

We remember legendary broadcaster Mike Willesee who died on Friday after a long battle with throat cancer.

Willesee’s career in television spanned five decades. He shaped Australian current affairs and was considered the best interviewer in the business.

In 2017 he let Australian Story into his life to chronicle his difficult journey through throat cancer.

His long-time friend, Ray Martin, introduces our story on Mike Willesee’s extraordinary life.

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#133
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#134

Interesting read!

Overall I absolutely loved the clips that all the networks shared. It was high quality not just ripped from YouTube. I recorded each of the main bulletins that day and will share it on here soon. RIP a big loss to us all.

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#135

A Bitter Pill

Monday 11 March at 8pm

It’s widely accepted nowadays that pregnant women shouldn’t take any medication unless it’s absolutely necessary.

But in the early 1960s that wasn’t the case.

Reassured by their doctors, thousands of women around the world took the drug thalidomide as a treatment for morning sickness, only to be faced with babies born with catastrophic disabilities.

Born in March 1963, Lisa McManus is one of Australia’s youngest survivors. She’s leading a group who have taken their fight to Canberra’s Parliament House, in a last ditch battle for recognition, compensation and an apology.

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#136

The Seekers

Monday 8 April at 8pm

We go digging deep into the vaults with The Seekers as they share never before seen footage and new stories in this special Australian Story.

London in 1964 was exploding with talent. Carnaby Street was the fashion capital of the world and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were dominating the charts.

That’s when four fresh-faced Australians arrived on the scene and to the surprise of many, including themselves, turned the music world upside down.

With just acoustic guitars and their distinctive harmonies the Seekers rocketed to the top of the music charts with their first three singles, a feat that has never been repeated.

Australia’s first supergroup, they rewrote the record books with enormous sales from songs like ‘Georgy Girl’ and ‘The Carnival is Over’ and paved the way for the Australian bands that followed.

Now in the first documentary to be made about the group, The Seekers come together to talk candidly about the ups and downs of their remarkable career .

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#137

It Takes a Village

Monday 18 March at 8pm

This week’s Australian Story takes viewers behind the scenes of the Australian effort to separate Bhutanese conjoined twins Nima and Dawa.

It took a village of medicos, health workers and volunteers to bring them to Australia, perform the ground-breaking operation and assist in their five month recovery.

The story features exclusive interviews and vision, including the first moments the toddlers reunite with their father in Bhutan as newly independent individuals.

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#138

Telling Tales

Monday 25 March at 8pm

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Writer and comedian Rosie Waterland has made a successful career out of seeing the funny side of her traumatic childhood.

Whether it’s growing up with alcoholic parents, hiding from welfare workers as a ‘houso’ kid or watching her mother attempt suicide, the darker things get in Rosie’s life, the funnier she becomes.

I’ve always used laughter, jokes and comedy as a way to deal with that stuff.” Rosie Waterland.

As a child, television was her best friend. It blotted out the chaos on the other side of the bedroom door and became a quasi-parent when her mother went on drinking benders.

No surprise that it was a television show that launched her career. Rosie began writing hilarious recaps of the reality show The Bachelor for the Mamamia website that garnered millions of hits.

A best-selling memoir of her childhood followed. Suddenly, she was everywhere. Touring in her one-woman comedy show, podcasting and performing on television.

But the effects of the trauma of her childhood would eventually catch up with her, dimming her star just when it was shining bright.

Her three sisters, torn apart as children when the family disintegrated, would become the ones helping her back to wholeness.

My sisters are the best at helping me through this stuff. They are the ones who are always there, whenever I’ve had any significant problems with my mental health, it’s been them ”. Rosie Waterland.

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#139

No wonder Osher Gunsberg introduced tonight’s episode.

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#140

The Invisible Man

Monday 1 April at 8pm

The extraordinary story of Behrouz Boochani, the man who won Australia’s richest literary award but remains unable to set foot in this country.

The stateless refugee, who’s in detention on Manus Island, smuggled out his entire book text by text on a smuggled mobile phone.

In January, No Friend But the Mountains won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature,

Born during the Iran-Iraq war and suffering persecution as a Kurd in his homeland, Boochani fled Iran, seeking refuge in Australia.

Arriving on Christmas Island four days after the government toughened its stance on refugees arriving by boat, he was taken to Manus Island where he has remained for five years.

This is the story of determination to celebrate life, even when virtually all hope of escaping a hellish situation has been dashed.

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#141

The Seekers - A World of Their Own

Monday 8 April 2019

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In the 1960s Australian band The Seekers took the world by storm when their first three releases went to the top of the UK charts and knocked the Beatles off the number one spot along the way.

Best known for their unique harmonising and the voice of Judith Durham, the band went on to produce a string of hits composed by singer Dusty Springfield’s brother Tom.

They were the first Australian band to make it internationally and paved the way for bands like the Easybeats that followed them overseas.

“They were unlike anyone else,” recalls Bert Newton who presented a television variety show at the time. “The Seekers (were) a totally different band.”

“People went wow, what’s that sound?” says Abbey Road sound engineer Richard Lush.

Fresh from singing their way across the Atlantic on the ‘Fair Sky’, The Seekers quickly established themselves in London. “It was the swinging capital of the whole universe. There were The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, solo artists like Dusty Springfield,” says the band’s guitarist Keith Potger.

After whirlwind success in England, The Seekers broke into the difficult US market as the first Australian group to get a number one hit with the iconic single ‘Georgy Girl.’

But for Judith Durham, who had always harboured aspirations to go solo, the price of fame and fortune was high. “I found that artistically I wasn’t quite on the same page as the boys,” she recalls. “So I wrote to (manager) Eddie Jarrett and said I wanted to leave.”

Now, fresh off the back of a record deal featuring the release of material including their final tour, The Seekers are taking part in the first television documentary since their split fifty years ago. All four band members Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, Judith Durham and Keith Potger discuss their music, the impact of sudden fame and the painful fallout from their famous parting.

The program also includes interviews with those who witnessed their incredible rise to the top and previously unreleased material from The Seekers’ personal archive, including audio recordings of their first reunion session and super 8 footage shot behind the scenes during their heyday.

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