Richmond Hill (TV series)

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Richmond Hill
GenreDrama
Soap opera
Created byReg Watson
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes91
Production company(s)Reg Grundy Organisation
Release
Original networkNetwork Ten
Original release27 January 1988 –
22 June 1989

Richmond Hill is an Australian television soap opera made in 1988 by the Reg Grundy Organisation for the Ten Network. It was devised by Reg Watson who also created Neighbours. It debuted on 27 January 1988 as a two-hour premiere telemovie episode on Network 10 at 7.30pm. The series was only moderately successful and was cancelled on 22 June 1989. A total of 91 episodes were produced.

Synopsis[edit]

Whereas Neighbours was set in Melbourne, this series was set in a small fictional Australian country town near Sydney and most of the scenes revolved around the local police station, a real estate agency, and the pub. The serial drew comparisons to the hugely popular Seven Network soap opera A Country Practice. The programme was produced in Sydney; some location shooting took place in Mona Vale, New South Wales. Connie Ryan's house in the series was in Berryman Street, North Ryde NSW.

The cast was made up of experienced soap actors such as Prisoner's Maggie Kirkpatrick, Amanda Muggleton and Paula Duncan; popular veteran actress Gwen Plumb well known for her role as Ada in The Young Doctors; several actors from Sons and Daughters including Tom Richards, Rona Coleman, Angela Kennedy and Michael Long as well as young beginners like Ashley Paske, Emily Symons (pre Home and Away fame) and Marc Gray. Former comedy star Ross Higgins of Kingswood Country played the central role of the local police officer and family man Dan Costello.

Broadcast History[edit]

Richmond Hill was broadcast on Ten in an evening timeslot 7.30 as two one-hour episodes each week on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The series, although quite popular, was considered a lukewarm success in the Australian ratings, and was cancelled after only one year. The decision came as a shock to producers, not least due to the fact that key actors contracts had just been extended for another year. As a result, the actors continued to be paid even though the series was no longer in production. There was not a definitive conclusion to the series and it ended abruptly because production was expected to continue.

A further blow was the series had been sold to the ITV network in the UK. ITV networked Richmond Hill across all 14 regional companies - the first time an Australian soap opera on ITV could be seen at the same time and on the same day across the UK, much like its sister-soap Neighbours on the BBC.

International screenings[edit]

The UK's ITV network decided to show Richmond Hill in a daytime Wednesday and Thursday 14.00 slot and its much publicised launch was 5 October 1988. In the wake of the success of Neighbours on BBC One, ITV decided to network an Australian soap opera for the first time (thereby each episode was shown on the same day and at the same time across the UK) and its launch also caused a small amount of controversy. British television schedules were becoming littered with Australian soaps and dramas, old and new, and the industry began to protest. In October 1988 alone, there were as many as 8 serials from Australia on Britain's two main terrestrial channels; Neighbours (BBC - from 1986), The Flying Doctors (BBC - from 1988), The Sullivans (ITV - from 1977), Prisoner: Cell Block H (ITV - from 1984), The Young Doctors (ITV - from 1982), A Country Practice (ITV - from 1982), Carson's Law (some ITV regions from 1984) and Sons and Daughters (ITV - from 1983). There was even a TV programme dedicated to the subject particularly after ITV launched another Australian series, Home and Away (in February 1989), which ironically had debuted the very same week as Richmond Hill in Australia on Seven Network. The programme featured Phil Redmond, creator of British soap opera Brookside, who argued that the timeslots occupied by 'cheap' Australian soaps could be filled with innovative British soaps and dramas.

It is not known whether Richmond Hill was intended to be a networked primetime series on ITV, but Ten's cancellation of Richmond Hill resulted in ITV losing interest in the series and its eventual afternoon timeslot meant that it didn't achieve anywhere near the audience figures that Neighbours achieved in its tea-time slot on BBC 1. Not long after its debut, key companies in the ITV group, Granada Television and Central Television, chose to break away from the network screenings. Central fell behind the rest of the network and re-launched A Country Practice, the series it had screened briefly in 1983 but shelved for five years, while Granada also chose to screen A Country Practice in the Thursday slot instead and didn't finish the series until 1991. Yorkshire Television broke away from the network for the final episode in August 1989. The majority of regions resumed A Country Practice as its replacement, with regional UK viewers now considerably behind Australia and at varying parts of the storyline.

Richmond Hill was last screened in the UK in the mid-1990s on cable & satellite channel Wire TV (hosted by Femi Oke and co hosted Chris Stacey with guest presenters Darren Edwards, and Darren Gray), it was screened back to back with USA soap The Bold and the Beautiful, before Wire TV was finally axed in 1994.

Grundy also sold the soap to German television channel Pro 7, and Richmond Hill was dubbed into German. It was aired twice a week from 1991 to 1992.

Major cast[edit]

External links[edit]