E Street

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For other uses, see E Street (disambiguation).
E Street
E Street Title.jpg
Genre Soap Opera
Format Drama
Created by Forrest Redlich
Written by Forrest Redlich
Debra Wilcock
Starring Penny Cook
Tony Martin
Marcus Graham
Kate Raison
Alyssa-Jane Cook
Simon Baker
Melissa Tkautz
Toni Pearen
Bruce Samazan
Leslie Dayman
Cecily Polson
Kelley Abbey
Richard Huggett
Vince Martin
Andrew Williams
Malcolm Kennard
Diane Craig
Bunney Brooke
Joan Sydney
Vic Rooney
Josephine Mitchell
Noel Hodda
Melissa Bell
Chris Orchard
Graham Harvey
Julieanne Newbould
Adrian Lee
Briony Behets
Serge Lazareff
Virginia Hey
Rebecca Rigg
Brooke "Mikey" Anderson
Shae Potter
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 1x2 hour pilot
404x60 minute episodes
716x30 minute episodes (UK)
Production
Running time 60 minutes/30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Network Ten
Picture format 4.3 PAL
Audio format Stereo
Original run 24 January 1989 – 13 May 1993

E Street is an Australian television soap opera created by Forrest Redlich and produced by Network Ten from 24 January 1989 to 13 May 1993. [1]

Whereas Neighbours is set in a middle-class suburb, Home and Away in a seaside town, and Richmond Hill a semi-rural ordinary community, E Street was set in a tough inner-city district called Westside and stories revolved around the local community there.

The moderately successful and sedately-paced Grundy serial Richmond Hill was cancelled by Ten to make way for E Street. Richmond Hill had also been successfully sold to ITV in the UK, and was rating in the high-20's in Australia, so it was a huge gamble by Ten to axe it and replace it with the untried E Street. Indeed, it would take 3 years for a UK broadcaster to pick up the soap and E Street initially rated somewhat lower than Richmond Hill in Australia, but audience research indicated that it attracted a significant proportion of the 14-35 audience and a large male viewership - a demographic highly prized by advertisers. Later, with racier storylines, the ratings climbed, eventually eclipsing the figures that Richmond Hill had attracted. E Street ran for 404 one-hour episodes. Like many Australian soap operas before it, E Street was broadcast as two one-hour episodes each week and until the premiere of (unsuccessful) HeadLand in November 2005, it had been the last Australian soap opera to screen its episodes in this format.

About E Street[edit]

E Street was modelled on A Country Practice (Forrest Redlich had worked as a writer on A Country Practice) and could initially be seen as an 'urban' version of that soap, tackling human interest, issue-led stories over two weekly hour-long episodes, with longer-running soapier elements provided by a small ensemble cast. There were further parallels: both soaps featured a police station, a local pub and a doctor's surgery. Whereas A Country Practice featured a veterinary surgery, in E Street, this was replaced with a legal centre. A more obvious comparison with A Country Practice was with the addition of Penny Cook as E Streets' anchor character, Dr Elly Fielding. Penny Cook had previously had a tremendously popular run as vet Vicky Dean in A Country Practice from 1981–85 and she was the first of several well-known actors to cross over to E Street during its 4 year run, including Kate Raison, Joan Sydney, Anne Tenney and Josephine Mitchell. Another popular member of the original cast was Tony Martin as trendy Reverend Bob Brown and his blossoming relationship with Dr Elly spanned much of the entire run of the series. Other regulars from the beginning included publican Ernie Patchett (Vic Rooney) and his teenage son, Chris (Paul Kelman). He was romancing feisty barmaid Lisa Bennett, played by Alyssa-Jane Cook who became one of the soap's most popular stars. Sarah McKillop (Katrina Sedgewick) arrived in Westside to re-open the Legal Centre at the beginning of the series, and newlyweds Paul (Warren Jones) and Rhonda Berry (Melanie Saloman) were also settling into life on Eden Street when it began.

But what started out as a grittier version of its immediate contemporaries, E Street did not perform well in Australia when it launched in January 1989 and this led to many changes in direction. As early as 6 months in, the series underwent a revamp and, at first, the original issue-based social commentary storylines were replaced by more upbeat plots, episode titles were ditched and comedy characters were added, brightening up the whole feel and look of E Street. However, the violent demise of two original cast members - one was shot dead in a siege, the other raped and strangled to death - set the extreme and darkened tone of what was to come. By the end of 1989, the programme had an entire new look, redesigned titles, an upbeat and jazzier theme tune plus an expanded cast of more likable and younger characters. Comedy and colour was now a large part of E Street, and the younger cast featured dashing airline pilot Daniel Windsor (Chris Orchard) and his young family moving to E Street as Daniel romanced Dr Elly. His eldest daughter, Toni (Toni Pearen) became particularly popular, and other new characters, such as "Wheels" (Marcus Graham), 'Harley' Brown (Malcolm Kennard) and Alice Sullivan (Marianne Howard) all helped the soap become more and more popular and continue to develop a huge following.

During the 1990 season, E Streets viewing figures began to rapidly climb and the arrival of deranged, drug-addicted Sonny Bennett (Richard Huggett) sent ratings soaring. This character, Lisa Bennett's brother and hell-bent on revenge, signalled another shake up of the cast and no less than five established characters were disposed of during this period - three members of the Patchett family perished in a highly shocking car-bomb explosion - but it was these scenes that shook up the audience figures and the show was soon nearing the top of the ratings and became the most talked about series on Australian television. A super-bitch with shoulder-pads, Sheridan Sturgess arrived, taking over the local TV station WTV8, and the role was given to Kate Raison, another actress famous for her 4-year run in A Country Practice (as Cathy Hayden). Sheridan became central to E Streets next big storyline; the arrival of the notorious serial killer Stephen Richardson, a.k.a. 'Mr Bad' (Vince Martin). The 1991 season was dominated by this long and convoluted plot which cleverly affected every cast member over an entire year. More high-profile contract-cast were killed off during this grisly but utterly compelling storyline, leaving viewers wondering who was going to be killed-off next. The audience lapped up Sheridan's Technicolor nightmare sequences revealing the murder of a little girl called Becky Campbell by a man with his face painted half black and half silver. That person was of course Stephen Richardson, the charming Karate teacher of Claire Fielding, and as Sheridan grew more fearful of Stephen, Mr Bad's reign of terror began with the shocking murder of Dr Virginia Travis (Julieanne Newbould) followed soon after by Sheridan's brother Michael (Graham Harvey). E Street had undoubtedly moved on from its well-meaning inception; the opening title sequence was eventually dropped, the pace and melodrama breathlessly increased and cast turnover became exceptionally high, however, the soap continued to develop its audience and E Street finally topped the Australian ratings for the first time during 1991. Viewers had seemingly accepted the drug abuse, religious cults and crazy stalkers - plus the problematic re-cast of the leading character Dr Elly Fielding when Penny Cook quit and was replaced by Diane Craig - because, all along, the show did not take itself seriously and this made the relentless and sensational plots somewhat enjoyable as a form of escapism. Indeed, during the rest of 1991 and most of 1992, E Street was the most popular serial in Australia.

As the series established its own identity, several music videos and musical performances were incorporated into episodes to promote music released on the offshoot Westside Records music label, whilst some of the actresses, namely Melissa Tkautz and Toni Pearen, released singles which were massive hits in Australia. Melissa Tkautz had the biggest selling single of 1991 with her #1 dance hit "Read My Lips" and the follow-up, "Sexy (Is The Word)", made #3 the same year, all thanks to their inclusion on E Street. Hugely popular pin-up star Bruce Samazan even released a single, a rap record called "One of a Kind", and artists such as the Maybe Dolls and Euphoria also had big hits thanks to E Street. The show had developed an unprecedented look and sound all of its own, surpassing both Neighbours and Home and Away in the ratings and popularity. At the 1992 Australian Logies, E Street won the coveted "Most Popular Serial" category, sealing the success of the series in its home territory.

Ironically however, E Streets' popularity peaked in 1992 with the conclusion of the 'Mr Bad' storyline. Indeed, it was this long-running plot that kept the show at the top of the Australian ratings and even after the departure of Vince Martin, who originally played the sadistic serial-killer, and Kate Raison as victim Sheriden Sturgess, the 'Mr Bad' plot continued with a new actor playing the part - and new characters for him to torment. However, once Stephen Richardson and his murderous alter-ego were finally dead and buried, the writers struggled to keep the momentum as several high-profile characters departed and new storylines seemed lame compared to what had happened before. A big loss was Marcus Graham who completed 3 separate stints in the show as Stanley "Wheels" Kovac. Early in the series, he used a wheelchair, hence his nickname, although he was fully upright when he left E Street for good in episode 302, taking with him the hugely popular character, Sheridan Sturgess. Original favourite Lisa Bennett (Alyssa-Jane Cook) and long-running Alice Sullivan (Marianne Howard) had also left the series by this point and many others were to leave soon after. The solution was a raft of fresh faces; lovable nerd Jamie Newman (Scott McRae) arrived during the 'Mr Bad' revenge plot along with new Police Constable Sam Farrell (Simon Baker); a new bad-boy appeared - Reverend Bob's long-lost gangster brother, Jack Brown, played by Andrew Williams, poached from Neighbours where he'd spent 8 months playing Lou Carpenter's son, Guy. Melissa Bell, also ex-Neighbours, joined the cast as Bonnie Tate and fresh from her role in Home and Away, Josephine Mitchell arrived as Penny O'Brien. These characters were met with limited success, however, and Jack Brown's uninspired gangster storylines were considered a low point of E Streets final few months, as was a dream sequence involving Max turning into a werewolf, which seemed a desperate attempt by the writers to hold on to a hastily dwindling audience.

UK launch[edit]

In the UK, Sky Television bought the rights to the series in early 1992, some three years after its Australian debut and while the show was still a huge success on its home network. The entertainment channel Sky One had already screened long-running Aussie serials A Country Practice, The Young Doctors and The Sullivans in the 1980s and was screening Nine Network's flop 'adult' drama Chances the week E Street launched on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9pm.

Sky Television aired E Street in a 30-minute format, stripped Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm-7pm, with a repeat the following afternoon at 1pm. This format had also been used in the UK when broadcasting hour-long drama A Country Practice on ITV in the early 1990s. E Street launched on Sunday, 5 April 1992 and following the 2 hour pilot, Sky picked up the story from Episode 47 [1] on Monday, 6 April, completely abandoning the opening 46 episodes that had achieved poor ratings in Australia.

Sky heavily publicised the launch of their new Australian soap, and promoted it with the taglines "Meet Your New Neighbours on E Street" and "Your New Neighbours are moving in", clearly using the popularity of the BBC's Neighbours to lure viewers. This slogan could be seen across the country on double decker buses, billboards and teen magazine advertisements. The actors Tony Martin (Bob), Alyssa-Jane Cook (Lisa), Marcus Graham (Wheels), Leslie Dayman (George), Cecily Polsen (Martha) and Vic Rooney (Ernie) all flew to Britain to appear in advertisements promoting the launch of the soap. The Sun newspaper ran competitions based on the show, with first prize being a holiday to Sydney, Australia; runners-up received satellite dishes so they could watch Sky - E Street had well-and-truly arrived in Britain. Indeed, during the first 12 months it aired in the UK, E Street became one of the highest rated programmes on Sky One averaging around 750,000-1 million viewers an episode. This was at a time when there was an available audience of only around 2.5 million, due to Sky only being available via the Astra satellite and selected cable areas.

During the hard-hitting storyline involving extreme character Sonny Bennett (Richard Huggett), he killed three characters in a shocking car-bomb explosion (episodes 170-171). In the UK, where E Street aired in an earlier timeslot, these episodes were broadcast on 23–24 March 1993 and were preceded by a warning to viewers that the episode contained scenes that some may find upsetting. The 12.30pm repeat the following day was dropped entirely and replaced by The Simpsons. Similarly, heavy cuts were made during the "Mr Bad" storyline, particularly the murders of Virginia Travis and Michael Sturgess which were edited for UK screenings.

The end[edit]

Despite winning "Most Popular Serial" in the 1992 Australian Logies, plus actors Bruce Samazan and Simon Baker (then known as Simon Baker-Denny) both winning their respective categories in 1992 and 1993, it came as a blow to cast and crew that E Street had been cancelled by Network 10 early 1993. It was revealed by creator and Executive Producer Forrest Redlich on the DVD release The Best of Mr Bad Part 2 that the cancellation was more due to creative differences and the direction Network 10 wanted to take the show, than actual falling viewing figures. A series of high-profile cast departures also damaged the show's reputation, with long-running and popular characters Wheels, Sheridan Sturgess, Stephen Richardson, Joey Valentine, Claire Fielding, Toni Windsor and Craig "C.J" Jones all exiting during the show's last 12 months. A final blow was dealt when viewer favourite and a pivotal character from the start Reverend Bob Brown was dramatically killed off when Tony Martin quit the show, and it was announced soon after that E Street had been cancelled. Storylines were hastily wrapped up, and in the final episodes (403 and 404), the remaining cast were placed in life-threatening or cliff-hanger situations: Jo-Jo (Kelley Abbey) battled the attentions of a sleazy loan-shark, several characters were trapped inside the blazing Patchetts Pacific pub and Max and Alice were lost in the outback as Bonnie relapsed and slipped into a coma. When the final episode began, time had moved on seven weeks and gradually it was revealed that all the characters are alive and well having survived the previous episodes' various cliff-hangers. The cast gathered around comatose Bonnie's hospital bedside and each read a line from a poem Max had found in recently deceased Rev Bob's prayer book. As the last line was read out by Max, Bonnie finally opened her eyes and said; "Max!". A final 10-minute montage of E Street's greatest moments was then played out to the closing credits, with Elly tearfully laying a single red rose on Rev Bob's grave as E Street's final scene, thus suitably signifying the end of the four-year series.

The final episode aired in Australia Thursday, 13 May 1993, with the UK run ending nearly two years later on Tuesday, 28 February 1995. A repeat run of the 1989 and 1990 seasons commenced on Ten in 2000, and was cancelled at the end of 2003. In the UK E Street has never been repeated.

Several cast members immediately went onto to star in other Australian soap operas and drama serials:

  • Penny Cook had a long-running recurring role in Neighbours as Prue Brown from 2007 to 2010.
  • Bruce Samazan became a huge star through his role as Max Simmons in E Street. He immediately went onto to star in Neighbours as Mark Gottlieb until 1995, when his character famously jilted Annalise Hartman (played by Kimberley Davies) at the altar to become a priest. In 1996, he joined Home and Away for a six-month stint as Brad Cooper.
  • Josephine Mitchell immediately joined the cast of Neighbours as Katerina Torrelli, who stalked Bruce Samazan's character Mark Gottlieb.
  • Tony Martin was immediately cast in gritty high-school drama Heartbreak High as pushy science teacher Bill Southgate, between 1994-95.
  • Diane Craig followed former co-star Tony Martin to Hartley High School, where she spent two years as Principal June Dyson between 1995-96.
  • Adrian Lee, Kate Raison, Melissa Tkautz, Malcolm Kennard and Virginia Hey all starred in cult mid-90s soap Pacific Drive. This soap also had a long-running serial-killer storyline – the first victim ironically being Kate Raison's character, Georgina Ellis.
  • Melissa Tkautz enjoyed huge popularity during her time on E Street and even left the soap to concentrate on touring and promoting her album which had spawned three hit singles. She was even voted 'Hottest female on Earth' by a teen music magazine. She returned for the last few months of E Street in 1993. After E street Melissa went on to roles in Paradise Beach, Pacific Drive, Echo Point, Medivac and All Saints. In 2005 she released new music and has since appeared in Swift and Shift Couriers on SBS.
  • Toni Pearen released an album featuring two Top 10 hit singles in the early 90s, later worked on film and television in the US and most recently has found success as a TV presenter hosting Australia's Funniest Home Videos for five years from 2003 to 2008. She later appeared in the 8th series of Australia's Dancing With The Stars (Sept 2008).
  • Briony Behets immediately followed her guest stint in E Street as Margaret Bennett with a three-year run in UK-based soap Families, playing Diana Stevens between 1990 and 1993.
  • After E Street, Joan Sydney returned to Wandin Valley as Matron Maggie Sloane in the ill-fated Network 10 version of A Country Practice in 1994. These days, she has been in the recurring role of Valda Sheergold in Neighbours since 2002.
  • Richard Huggett's character Sonny Bennett killed four E Street favourites and then himself. He subsequently played the thoroughly decent character Glen Donnelly in Neighbours, the long-lost son of Jim Robinson. Huggett also appeared in a few episodes of Blue Heelers as a boyfriend of Constable Maggie Doyle (played by Lisa McCune). Huggett is currently starring as DC Jeremy Piper in the BBC series Out Of The Blue.
  • Melissa Bell spoke the final word in E Street, when she opened her eyes after several weeks in a coma, she looked up and said "Max!" as the rest of the cast looked on around her hospital bedside. She then immediately returned to her previous role as Lucy Robinson in Neighbours.
  • Serge Lazareff went on to become a script-writer on E Street, and later, as a writer on Heartbreak High, All Saints and Home and Away. He also worked as script editor at Neighbours.

Cast[edit]

Original Cast

Further Cast 1989-1993

† credited as Brooke 'Mikey' Anderson.
†† Melissa Bell also played a minor character called Janine in 1989, before joining Neighbours.

Broadcast History[edit]

Australia
Network Ten
Tuesday 24 January 1989[citation needed] - Thursday 13 May 1993
Tuesdays and Thursdays 19.30[citation needed]
Repeated the first 184 episodes (1989 and 1990 seasons) during 2000 to 2001 at 05.00.

United Kingdom
Sky One
Pilot episode screened Sunday 5 April 1992 at 14.00 and 20.00.
From Monday 6 April 1992, E Street commenced with episode 47 and screened Monday to Friday at 18.30-19.00 with a repeat the following afternoon at 1pm.
11 September 1993, episode 252, E Street was moved to weekend daytime slots and was shown in hour-long episodes on Saturdays 18.00-19.00 and Sundays 13.00-14.00. This was briefly to accommodate Paradise Beach in the 18.30 weekday slot but ultimately became an extremely unpopular scheduling decision.
On Tuesday, 4 January 1994, E Street returned to the 18.30 timeslot with the afternoon repeat now at 12.30p.m, thus creating an 'Aussie Soap Hour' with Paradise Beach which aired 12.00/18.00.
E Street remained popular in the UK, despite its cancellation in Australia. During September 1994, a year and a half after it last aired Down Under, E Street was moved to the primetime 19.00 slot and the final episode 404 screened on Monday 27th-Tuesday 28 February 1995 as 2 half-hour episodes.
Sky One did not transmit Episodes 1 to 46 of E Street. Subsequent episodes were customised and heavily edited for transmission on Sky One. This included heavy soundtrack changes, major cuts of violent and unsuitable scenes (Episodes 170, 254 and 260 are examples) and a different closing sequence, removing advertising and music credits.
E Street has never been repeated in the UK.

Theme and Titles[edit]

The original episodes of E Street had a lengthy opening title sequence made up of clips from the pilot and first episodes and was accompanied by a slow, jazzy theme tune. However, when the series relaunched 6 months later at Episode 47, the entire sequence, including the E Street logo, was replaced by a specially compiled montage of the contract cast, cleverly linked together with a paint-brush wipe effect. Episode 51 introduced a more upbeat and funky theme tune, replacing the previous soulless version. These changes perfectly encapsulated the new image the programme was trying to convey and attract a wider audience.

This design of opening titles and music lasted until Episode 134, featuring only minor alterations as characters came and went. From Episode 135, however, the opening title sequence was dropped and replaced with a re-cap of the previous episode, an aerial view of Eden Street with the E Street logo forming, followed by establishing shots of the area with writer and producer credits. Sometimes, the previous episode cliffhanger would be played after the short sequence and continue uninterrupted into the episode. This practice was common with Network Ten stable-mate Neighbours, which similarly dropped its opening credits in 1990 in favour of a short re-cap, brief titles accompanied by a music sting. This opening to E Street remained until its final episodes, although Neighbours reinstated an opening sequence in 1992. More recently, Home and Away now frequently open episodes with a re-cap, brief title screen and 5 second music sting, much like E Street in the early 1990s.

The end title sequence remained unchanged, with credits rolling over an aerial shot of Westside during nighttime. The original theme for the closing credits was 2 minutes in duration, and was changed from Episode 51 to the updated version, an extended mix of the music now used for the opening titles.

On the original Australian credits, there were several sponsorship credits that were removed from UK broadcasts. A different music soundtrack was also used on the international version of E Street, but can be heard uncut on the recent DVD release of the series.

Awards[edit]

E Street and the cast have won and been nominated for several Logies during the shows four-year run.

Logies won:

Logies Nominated:

Reunion[edit]

On 20 August 2006, several cast members were reunited on the Australian TV series Where Are They Now, broadcast on Seven Network.[2] The cast members that appeared on the programme were Marcus Graham (Wheels), Alyssa-Jane Cook (Lisa Bennett), Melissa Tkautz (Nikki Spencer), Bruce Samazan (Max Simmons), Melissa Bell (Bonnie Tate) and Brooke Anderson (Claire Fielding). The studio guests were joined via a satellite link-up to Vince Martin who starred as the show's most memorable character, Mr Bad.

DVD release[edit]

In August 2007, E Street was finally released on DVD, through Umbrella Entertainment, who have also released celebratory DVD sets of other Australian soap operas, The Young Doctors and Sons and Daughters. The first boxset called "The Best of Mr Bad Volume 1" is a 5-disc set and, unusually for this kind of release, features 20 consecutive episodes from 253 to 272, that originally aired in 1991 (1993-94 in the UK). The set tells the beginning of the notorious Mr Bad storyline which achieved massive viewing figures when they originally aired. Commentaries on episode 272 are provided by Bruce Samazan (Max) and Melissa Tkautz (Nikki) with Australian soap expert Andrew Mercado.

A second 5-disc DVD set, "The Best of Mr Bad Part 2" was released on 3 December 2007, and once again, contained consecutive episodes from 273 to 292, which continued the long-running Stephen Richardson/Mr Bad storyline. Episode 288 features revealing commentary provided by E Street creator and executive Producer, Forrest Redlich.

Belgium: Wittekerke[edit]

The Belgian channel vtm reshot E Street in a Dutch version called Wittekerke. Wittekerke followed similar storylines during first seasons, although there were some minor differences due to cultural differences.[2] It was the intention to only make 1 season with 32 episodes. However, Wittekerke became a success and 15 seasons (1067 episodes) were made. Wittekerke was aired between 1993 and 2008.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Albert Moran and Chris Keating, The A to Z of Australian Radio and Television Scarecrow Press, 2009. ISBN 0810870223 (pp. 149-50)
  2. ^ SOAPS AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: Community and Family in Wittekerke and E-street

External links[edit]