The Australian soap opera, 'Sons and Daughters' ran between 1982 and 1987. 'Sons and Daughters' was shown as half-hour episodes 4 nights a week. From 1984 to 1987, 'Sons and Daughters' was mostly shown as hour-long episodes twice a week in Sydney. The ratings dominated programming policies at the 3 Sydney commercial stations. For the networks, the stakes were high. Hence ‘Sons and Daughters’ was moved to make way for the ‘Terry Willesee Tonight’ public affairs program.
Glen Kinging stated at the time, "The channel has done an enormous amount of research on the new time periods for 'Sons and Daughters'. With its extremely solid across-the-board appeal and its particular strength with young people and housewives, I believe the Sunday and Monday night screenings will prove highly successful." In Britain, 'Sons and Daughters' was shown between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoons. 'Sons and Daughters' was also shown in countries such as the Netherlands.
In 1986, the budgeted $8 million McElroy & McElroy production of 'Return To Eden' went head-to-head with 'Son and Daughters' in the 7:30pm Monday time slot. "The whole thrust of the show is very much Australian," producer Tim Sanders maintained. “It will stand on its own as a high quality series in Australia." 'Sons and Daughters' centered on "an everyday story of family life in two cities", the wealthy Hamiltons of Sydney and the working class Palmers of Melbourne.
"It is the story of the members of those families within the basis of the family structure," it was explained. The show attracted huge audiences, especially in 1982 and 1983, consistently winning its time slot and dominating the TV ratings. 'Sons and Daughters' averaged 33 rating points in 1982. Richard Coleman reported, "(Channel) Seven's resurgence to ratings prominence – its victory this year (in 1982) was its first since 1978 – was due largely to the success of its two new soap operas, 'Sons and Daughters' and 'A Country Practice'.
"As the rating strategists at Seven are the first to agree, it was a remarkable – perhaps remarkably lucky – result for the station that its two new soaps should become established and then successful at the same time." However commentator Mike Carlton argued, "Yet neither program has a plot or a storyline. There is no beginning, middle or end, no point of departure or arrival, and they have nothing to say about themselves or anything else."
Story editor Bevan Lee made the point in 1984, "Very few of the press have ever stopped to ask 'How come the show is such a high rater after 2½ years? What's the show got going for it that people flick the switch for 2 hours every week?' Well the answer is the show is a bit escapist. Not too much, just a little." He also mentioned 'Sons and Daughters' "look at human issues counter-balanced against some of the more melodramatic areas the show goes into.
"We put the characters through the hoops, but always try to keep the balance, not go into once-upon-a-time land. Otherwise, we'd lose our audience. Primarily, we are out to entertain in what we see as a recession mentality. 'Sons and Daughters', like Indiana Jones, survives because it is fantasy. It may be less expensive fantasy, but it's still fantasy."
Rowena Wallace played Patricia Hamilton was "Australia's answer to J.R.". Bevan observed, "...The character - it's one of the most popular in the history of Australian television." Rowena recalled, "Before 'Sons and Daughters', I was just a jobbing actress. I did everything: I did 'Homicide' (1964-77) and 'Matlock (Police)' (1971-76) and 'Divi (Division) 4' (1969-75) like everyone else. But I never did a feature film until 'Backstage' (1988), in which I had a small role.
"I know actors are supposed to say that stage work is great, but I find it painfully nerve-racking. Once I'm out there and saying the words I'm all right. But I think about it all day and I can't enjoy the day because I'm thinking about the performance that night." Producer John Holmes believed 'Sons and Daughters' was popular because "it's a real blend of real and unreal aspects. We've never lost sight of glamor because we've always wanted to entertain people.
"The show's ratings have plummeted when storylines became too real. When we switched back to more unbelieveable, over-the-top storylines, the ratings would go up and up." Producer Don Battye disclosed, "The characters almost wrote themselves. They just kept careering on. And after that we brought in some new characters to stir the plot. 'Sons and Daughters' can be taken on many levels. In 5 years (1982-86) I have always been entertained by it.
"While some people take it very seriously, a lot sit there and have a good giggle … None of us ever sets out to alter community opinion; we reflect rather than lead." Kevin Dobson directed 10 of the 22 episodes of 'Return To Eden' shown in 1986, made the comment, "Already you can see a lot of mini-series which are really gigantically long promos for an episodic series. If a mini-series is successful, the network wants more of it and the production companies are only too happy to oblige. Even so, I don't see television as a creative desert. You can use your own imagination to a great extent."
Alexandra Fowler spoke to Garry Shelley in 1982, "'Sons and Daughters' is my very first job, really. I did a part-time acting course back home in Adelaide, but when I came to do this, I found the theory was a lot different to putting it into practice. So acting-wise, I've learned everything from the series. No, Ally and Angela are not alike. Ally is much more fun than Angela, who is rather spoiled. A sense of independence is about the only thing they have in common."
Rowena Wallace reasoned, "She's basically a very caring mother, although at times it doesn't seem like that. But she is a mother with a mission. She came from what she believes to be a fairly humble background and she wants to gain as much as she can for her daughter. All the things she's striven for she doesn't want to see go to waste. She has her daughter's interests at heart but, of course, they're really her own interests. She wants for her daughter what she wants for herself … Patricia Hamilton is not really a giver, not really a generous person. She doesn't give of herself."