Rediscover the Last of the Australians

British television had the loud mouthed Alf Garnett in the sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, and over in Australia they had the equally opinionated Ted Cook in The Last of the Australians. Now sitcom lovers have the chance to experience this classic gem from Down Under because the complete series has just been made available over here on DVD.

Rediscover the Last of the Australians

Every episode of The Last of the Australians is now on DVD starring Richard Hibbard (left), Alwyn Kurts and Rosie Sturgess.

The show, filmed entirely before a live studio audience, was based on Alan Seymour’s stage play The One Day of the Year and was adapted for television by Terry Stapleton who had played the central role in the original theatrical production.

We meet the bigoted and proudly patriotic Ted Cook (played by Alwyn Kurts of Homicide fame), an old digger who served in the Middle East during the Second World War and a man who is never without an opinion! Ted has lived through the Depression and is now reduced to working as a lift-driver because an old war injury prevents him from doing any other work. Ted despairs at the moral and economic decline of Australia under the rat-bag Labour Government, and he certainly has no time for women’s libbers, commos, long-haired prawns or the filth gracing cinema screens. Despite his outward bluster he is a kindly man who cares deeply for his family, and he is never happier than when he’s putting the world to rights over a few beers with his old mates.

Ted’s long-suffering wife Dot (Rosie Sturgess) has learnt to live with his opinionated views, she knows that his bark is much worse than his bite, and she’s a lady who has a bite of her own! Things well and truly hit the fan when Dot goes behind her husband’s back and takes a job in a supermarket meaning that he has to sort out his own meals!

Rediscover the Last of the Australians

Ted Cook (Alwyn Kurts) blows his top at the depravity of the modern world.

The happy couple are faced with countless problems created by their son Gary who goes through a string of unsuitable girlfriends including a vodka guzzling middle aged divorcee who swears like a trooper and who has been around the block more than a few times. Gary then takes up with various floozies who hold unsuitable free-thinking ideas, an Italian catholic whose father backs the wrong footie team, and the last straw comes when he announces that he wants to move into a hippie commune with his latest squeeze. Ted fears that the boys womanising ways are having a negative impact on his university studies and bans him from seeing sheilas, unfortunately this plan backfires badly when Gary brings home two very camp gentlemen and it appears that he could be on the turn!

Richard Hibbard had originally played the role of Gary but left the series to join a Hare Krishna sect and was later replaced by Stephen Thomas.

There is more drama when Ted goes whingeing to the media about the head-banging noise coming from a new discotheque which has opened up nearby; unfortunately, it transpires that the nightspot is owned by his boss! To top it off Gary sets the cat amongst the pigeons when he meets Bob Hawke at a university lecture and brings the fellow home to meet his parents. At the time Bob Hawke, who plays himself, was the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party and was also the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Given that Ted was squarely on the other side of the political fence he relished the opportunity to tell good old Bob his views on the state of the nation! In the years that followed Bob Hawke would go on to serve as Prime Minister of Australia.

Rediscover the Last of the Australians

Left: Dot (Rosie Sturgess) and Gary (Richard Hibbard) raise a smile at Ted’s latest outburst. Middle: Ted (Alwyn Kurts) gives real-life politician Bob Hawke a piece of his mind. Right: Dot (Rosie Sturgess) and Gary (now played by Stephen Thomas) endure another onslaught of verbal diarrhoea from Ted.

Guest artists in this series include Maurie Fields from The Flying Doctors; Terry Norris and Gil Tucker from Cop Shop; Lesley Baker and Olivia Hamnett from Prisoner: Cell Block H; Terence Donovan from Division 4; Vanessa Leigh from The Box; Noni Hazlehurst from The Sullivans; and John Ewart from The Young Doctors.

Other familiar faces caught up in the hilarity include Noeline Brown, Ben Gabriel, Jacki Weaver, Keith Eden, Harry Lawrence, Diana Davidson, Jon Finlayson, Robert Bruning, Barbara Llewellyn, Gary Gray, Lyndell Rowe, and singer Johnny Farnham appears as a vacuum cleaner salesman. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that several episodes were directed by John Dommett who would go on to play Dr Jim Howard in The Young Doctors.

UK customers can order The Last of the Australians, along with a wealth of other Australian television classics exclusively from Eaton Films. http://shop.eatonfilms.co.uk/ourshop/ Those of you who are located in Australasia can place your orders with Crawford DVD. https://crawfordsdvd.com.au/ Fans who are situated anywhere else in the world will need to email Eaton Films for shipping details. eaton.films@talk21.com

All photographs copyright Crawford Productions/Eaton Films/WIN Corporation.
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