The Restless Years

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The Restless Years
Genre Soap opera
Created by Reg Watson
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 780
Original channel Ten Network
Original run 6 December 1977 – 12 November 1981

The Restless Years is an Australian soap opera which followed the lives of several Sydney school-leavers and young adults. It was produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation for Network Ten. It debuted December 1977 and ran until late 1981. It was not renewed by the network due to declining ratings. The series had a predominantly young audience.


There was a high turnover of attractive youngsters in the cast. The most enduring characters were Dr Bruce Russell (Malcolm Thompson), his eventual wife Olivia Baxter (Zoe Bertram), rebellious youth Peter Beckett (Nick Hedstrom), and his former school teacher Miss Elizabeth McKenzie (June Salter). Thompson was the only cast member to appear through the show's entire run. Salter and Hedstrom left the series in late 1980 but returned for the final episode.

Others in the cast included Sonny Blake, John Hamblin, Victoria Nicholls, Lynette Curran, Jill Forster, Joy Chambers, Peter Mochrie, Kim Lewis, Penny Cook, Shane Porteous, Sheridan Jobbins, Rosalind Speirs, Queenie Ashton, Vince Martin, Ivar Kants, Lenore Smith, Noel Trevarthen, Michael C Smith, Tom Burlinson, Jan Kingsbury, Joanne Stanley, Todd Boyce, Simon Burke, Jacqui Gordon, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Bunney Brooke, Lisa Crittenden, Marty Morton, John Ewart, Benita Collings, Rebecca Rigg, David Franklin, Peter Cousens, Robyn Gibbes, Deborah Kennedy, David Argue, Alita Fahey, Martin Sacks, Peggy Thompson (Australian actor).


The series made use of dramatic storylines involving murders, kidnapping, amnesia, blackmail, serial killers and prostitution among the more standard elements as teenage problems, unemployment, romance, jealousy, money-making schemes, and parental problems.

The show's younger characters were seen living in various share households. Their storylines frequently involved romances, attempts to find a job, career problems. There were some family groups where the parents endured marital infidelity, divorce, problems with their children.

Dr Bruce Russell's first wife, Alison (Julieanne Newbould), suffered a miscarriage and was soon afterwards killed by terrorists while on holiday in Asia. Bruce later married Olivia Baxter. She fell pregnant but there were complications. Bruce arranged for her to have an abortion as the pregnancy could harm her health. After this she became mentally deranged and divorced him.[1] Olivia subsequently snatched a baby and went on the run.


In most areas the series screened at 7.30 pm in one hour installments, twice a week.

For all but the last three weeks of its 1981 season, the series screened in Melbourne as five thirty-minute episodes stripped across each weeknight at 7.00 pm. It was moved to 5.30 pm for the last three weeks, with final episode reached on Thursday, 12 November 1981.

In Sydney in mid 1981 the series switched to running as a single one hour episode on Wednesday nights at 7.30 pm.


The show was remade in the Netherlands as Goede tijden, slechte tijden (first broadcast 1990) which in turn was remade in Germany as Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (since 1992): both these titles mean "Good times, bad times" but a more accurate translation would be The best of times and the worst of times. As of 2014, the Dutch and German shows are still running – although they have long since diverged from the original Australian storylines – and are the highest rated soap operas in their respective countries. Apart from the similair title, both shows are currently very different from each other with unique characters and plotlines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kingsley, Hilary. Soapbox: The Australian Guide to Television Soap Operas, Sun Books, 1989. ISBN 0-7251-0573-9 p 288

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