Brides of Christ

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Brides of Christ
Created byJohn Alsop
Sue Smith
StarringBrenda Fricker
Sandy Gore
Josephine Byrnes
Lisa Hensley
Naomi Watts
Kym Wilson
Country of originAustralia
No. of episodes6
Running time0.55
(per episode)
Original networkABC
Original release4 September (1991-09-04) –
9 October 1991 (1991-10-09)

Brides of Christ is an Australian television miniseries produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1991.[1]

The series takes place behind the walls of a Sydney convent school and deals with the struggles of both the Roman Catholic nuns and the young students to adapt to the many social changes taking place within the church and the outside world during the 1960s.


Diane Markham (Josephine Byrnes) joins a convent, 'Santu Spiritu School for Girls' after dropping her fiancé and becomes 'Sister Catherine', under the guidance of 'Sister Agnes' (Brenda Fricker). Catherine begins a friendship with another convent newcomer 'Sister Paul' (Lisa Hensley) and she begins to teach English and acts as the school newspaper adviser. Rosemary (Kym Wilson) is a naughty, rebellious student who gets herself into trouble, while another student Frances (Naomi Watts) is upset because her divorced mother is planning a wedding. Catherine and Paul help Frances overcome her depression. Another convent novice falls in love with an ultra-liberal priest (Simon Burke) while another priest struggles with the papal doctrine while the real-life of the Vietnam war, rock 'n' roll, free abortions and free love flood the news.[2]


The Nuns
Sister Agnes Brenda Fricker
Mother Ambrose Sandy Gore
Diane/Sister Catherine Josephine Byrnes
Veronica/Sister Paul Lisa Hensley
Sister Attracta Melissa Jaffer
Sister Patrick Penny Stehli
Sister Polycarp Joy Hruby
Sister Philomena Caroline Gillmer
Sister Clare Beth Champion
Sister Francine Michelle Pettigrove
The Girls
Frances Heffernan Naomi Watts
Rosemary Fitzgerald Kym Wilson
Bridget Maloney Melissa Thomas
Bernadette Pippa Grandison
Caroline Kirsty McGregor
Jacinta Vanessa Collier
Other characters
Jack Delahunty Simon Burke
Ian McGregor Philip Quast
Mary Maloney Pat Bishop
Dominic Maloney Russell Crowe
Liz Heffernan Anne Tenney
Martin Tierney Michael Winchester


The series cost A$6.2 million to produce, with half the budget provided by the Film Finance Corporation Australia.[3] Six fifty-minute episodes were made. Each episode focused on a particular story and set of characters. Some characters would appear in multiple episodes with varying levels of prominence from episode to episode. Lead characters in one episode might appear in a support role in another episode. Josephine Byrnes' character was the focus of both the first and last episodes.

In her first major role, Naomi Watts starred as Frances, one of the students. One episode also guest starred the then unknown Russell Crowe as a young man distressed about being called up for the Vietnam War.

The series was filmed on location at St Mary's Concord, Douglas Park, New South Wales, Santa Sabina College, Strathfield, New South Wales, St Scholastica's College, Glebe, New South Wales, Carcoar, New South Wales.


Brides of Christ earned a rating of 30 in its first run, making it the most viewed drama ever produced by ABC. The series continued to garner high ratings in its subsequent re-runs. When broadcast in the United Kingdom by Channel 4, it attracted an estimated audience of 6 million, a considerable success by the channel's standards. When A&E ran the series in North America, in 1993, it drew in an estimated average of 1.76 million viewers.[3] The entire series has since been released on DVD.

Tony Scott of Variety stated a serious attempt, if not riveting one, to explore a special world.[2]

The series won the following awards:

  • Most Popular Telemovie or Mini-Series
  • Most Popular Actress in a Telemovie or Mini-Series to Josephine Byrnes
  • Most Popular New Talent to Kym Wilson (along with her work on A Country Practice)
  • Most Outstanding Actress to Josephine Byrnes
  • Most Outstanding Telemovie or Mini-Series


  1. ^ Albert Moran, Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series, AFTRS 1993 p 94
  2. ^ a b Prouty Variety and Daily Variety Television Reviews, 1993-1994, p. 113, at Google Books
  3. ^ a b Stuart Cunningham, Australian Television and International Mediascapes. Cambridge University Press, 1996. pp. 91-92, 184-187.
  4. ^ "1989 Human Rights Medal and Awards". Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.

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