Australian content and Homicide: Mac Gudgeon
Writer Mac Gudgeon talks about the importance of Australian content on our screens – it reflects our culture and society. If we are unable to tell our stories, diversity will disappear.
'Action! Suspence! Drama! Join the typical team of investigators from the Victoria Police force as they probe major crimes throughout the State'.
In 1964 Melbourne's HSV7 commissioned a weekly police drama called Homicide from the production house of Hector and Dorothy Crawford. Based on their earlier radio drama D24, the first episode, 'The Stunt', screened at 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 October 1964.
For the first time in a television drama, Australian audiences were confronted with culturally familiar settings and characters without American or English accents.
Cops in Ford Falcons chased criminals around Melbourne backstreets, rather than American police in Chevrolets steaming down Sunset Strip. According to Australian Classic TV, this makes Homicide 'the most important and most popular drama series ever produced in Australia'.
Homicide was a great success and ran on the Seven Network for close to 500 one-hour episodes for over 13 years. The series achieved limited international sales, the first ever to do so, and stimulated the production of other local television drama in the 1960s and 70s, particularly in the police crime genre: Cop Shop (Seven), Division 4 (Nine) and Matlock Police (Ten).
Homicide demonstrated two significant factors to the Australia broadcast industry, relating to production at the time. First, it showed that the local industry was capable of producing quality dramas, using the talents of a large pool of local actors, directors, writers and production crews. It further demonstrated that Australian audiences would watch, and actually preferred to watch, programs made by Australians for Australians.
Mac Gudgeon is a freelance writer of film, television and theatre.