Mother and Son
|Mother and Son|
|Created by||Geoffrey Atherden|
|Directed by||Geoff Portmann|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||42 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes per episode|
|Original channel||ABC TV|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV)|
|Original run||16 January 1984 –
21 March 1994
Mother and Son was a multiple Logie Award-winning Australian television sitcom produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 16 January 1984 until 21 March 1994. The show stars Ruth Cracknell, Garry McDonald, Henri Szeps and Judy Morris. It was created and written by Geoffrey Atherden AM. Its classic theme song features the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, playing to I Want a Girl, a jazz standard which was recorded by Al Jolson in the 1920s.
The plot of the show addresses the problems of ageing and caring for somebody with Alzheimer's disease with an often sharp-edged humour which carried with it a tinge of sadness. Despite its unlikely subject matter for a comedy, the show was a favourite with audiences. Maggie's and Arthur's relationship was presented with a fascinating complexity - Maggie's cruel attacks on and emotional manipulation of Arthur disguised her deep dependence on and need of him, and Arthur's dutiful love of Maggie was constantly in conflict with his guilty frustration at the huge limitations for his own life which looking after his mother entailed. The performance of Cracknell, a famous stage actress, as Maggie was particularly lauded as one of the finest characterisations on Australian television.
Margeret May "Maggie" Beare [née Lapsy]
Widow of World War II veteran Leo, mother of Robert and Arthur, sister to Lorna and grandmother to Damien and Teonie. Maggie (Cracknell) is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and her younger son Arthur lives with and takes care of her. However, despite being increasingly forgetful, Maggie is lucid enough to manipulate Arthur when she wants to, usually for something devilish that will seriously inconvenience him. Maggie was a nurse and met Leo while treating him for war wounds.
Younger son of Maggie and Leo, brother of Robert, uncle to Damien and Teonie and recent ex-husband of Deidre. Arthur (McDonald) is an editor and journalist for a newspaper. When he is not working, he is usually at home attending to the demands of his impish and increasingly confused mother. He drives a 1955 Morris Minor Series II Tourer convertible that is constantly breaking down, has trouble bringing dates back to the house because of his mother's deliberate interference, and is almost always thwarted by Maggie whenever he attempts to socialize with his work friends. Maggie frequently excoriates Arthur, labelling all his would-be girlfriends as "floozies".
Elder son of Maggie and Leo, brother of Arthur, husband to Liz and father of Damien and Teonie. Robert is a successful dentist who likes to take lots of holidays and have extramarital affairs. He does so by disguising his overseas holiday trysts as dental research conferences. His mother tells him off for his womanising and says that it is the reason he failed medical school, much to the disappointment of his late father. He is a 'man of leisure' who is adept at providing excuses as to why it is Arthur and not he that must take the primary care of their elderly mother. Robert loves to play tennis and golf and throughout the show, owns 3 cars; a Jaguar, Volvo and a BMW. When Arthur asked him for a loan to buy a new car, all Robert would offer him was a seriously impaired Volvo at a discount.
Wife of Robert, mother to Damien and Teonie. The long-suffering Liz (Morris) is well aware of her husband's affairs but finds it difficult to prove any of them, because of Robert's well honed skill at covering them up. So in the meantime, Liz compensates by spending Robert's money and socialising with her equally rich, bored and unhappy friends. She occasionally seeks consolation from Arthur, using behaviour that could suggest that she is attracted to him. She is frequently, however, just as insensitive and selfish as Robert is and just as eager to put Maggie in a home. Liz has a verbal drawl, and is frequently heard to say "Oh Gawd" or "You're weird Arthur".
Other family members
Deidre Beare: Ex-wife of Arthur. Appears in 5 episodes. Deidre seems to want the best for her ex-husband Arthur and dislikes him looking after his mother. They end up getting back together in the final episode.
Aunty Lorna: Sister of Maggie. Appears in only 3 episodes. She is married to Stan and has 3 children - Colin, Dawn and Murray. Lorna is the "younger and prettier" sister, much to Maggie's chagrin. Stan, Colin, Dawn and Murray do not appear in the show. In the second episode in which she appears it is revealed that Stan has died.
Damien Beare: Grandson of Maggie, son of Robert and Liz, nephew to Arthur and brother of Teonie. Appears only in one episode but mentioned constantly in the series. Damien is somewhat selfish and always asking for chips. He also plays rugby league and the piano.
Teonie Beare: Granddaughter of Maggie, daughter of Robert and Liz, niece to Arthur and sister of Damien. Appears only in one episode but is mentioned constantly. Teonie tries to act nice while comparing herself to her brother. She also plays the piano.
Wilma Garnett: Hired friend of Maggie, appears only in one episode. Maggie first believes that she is Arthur's "fiancé" much to Wilma's amusement. Her catchphrase is "beaut". Has a fight with Maggie but she reconciles without knowing that they fought. Arthur and Robert were surprised that they reconciled after expecting Maggie to attack her.
- Ruth Cracknell as Maggie Beare (42 episodes)
- Garry McDonald as Arthur Beare (42 episodes)
- Henri Szeps as Robert Beare (38 episodes)
- Judy Morris as Liz Beare (18 episodes)
- Suzanne Roylance as Deidre Beare (5 episodes)
- Melissa Jaffer as Aunty Lorna (3 episodes)
- Martin Vaughan as Dr. Holloway (3 episodes)
- Roslyn Gentle as Wendy (2 episodes)
- Warwick Moss as Fireman (2 episodes)
- Ron Haddrick as Claude Price (2 episodes)
- Constance Lansberg as Helen (2 episodes)
- Suzette Williams as Constable (2 episodes)
All 6 series have been released in Australia.
- Vol. 1 (2 Disc Set) - 10 June 2004
- Vol. 2 (2 Disc Set) - 3 February 2005
- Vol. 3 (2 Disc Set) - 7 July 2005
- Vol. 4 (2 Disc Set) - 6 October 2005
- Vol. 5–7 November 2007
- The Complete Series 1-6 (6 Disc Box Set) - 7 November 2007
- Series 1–1 April 2010
- Series 2–1 April 2010
- Series 3–1 April 2010
- Series 4–1 April 2010
- Series 5–1 April 2010
- Series 6–1 April 2010
Awards and nominations
- 1994: Most Popular Comedy Personality, Ruth Cracknell.
- 1993, 1994: Most Outstanding Actress, Ruth Cracknell.
- 1994: Most Outstanding Actor, Garry McDonald.
- 1987: Winner of the Television Drama Award presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
- "1987 Television Drama Award". Human Rights Medal and Awards. Australian Human Rights Commission. 1987. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- Tynan, Jacinta (2008-09-13). "Weird how my rello won his fame". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2010-11-05.