The Reg Grundy's television series, 'Sons and Daughters', was Australia's answer to 'Dallas' and 'Days of our Lives'. Originally ran between 1982 and 1987, 'Sons and Daughters' told "an everyday story of family life in two cities", the wealthy Hamiltons of Sydney and the conservative middle-class Palmers of Melbourne. Though distance apart, the two families were inextricably linked. Reg Watson told 'TV Week', "I suppose subconsciously we’re trying to prove that deep down we’re all the same no matter where we live." 

'Sons and Daughters' "look at human issues counter-balanced against some of the more melodramatic areas the show goes into," Bevan Lee explained. "We put the characters through the hoops, but always try to keep the balance, not go into once-upon-a-time land." A complex series of events would draw the Hamiltons and the Palmers all together, lifting the lid off the Pandora's Box of family secrets to reveal a tangled web of intrigue. 

Alexandra Fowler played Angela Hamilton. She spoke to Anne Hayward in 1983, "'Sons and Daughters' was a whole new experience for me. I knew nothing before it started production … I had to take it from scratch. When I eventually finish 'Sons and Daughters', I’d like to do some theater work. I’ve never had any professional training, so this will give me another horizon to work for." 

Peter Phelps played John Palmer. He spoke to Julie Kusko in 1983, "I have the confidence to change the character, which is not someone else but a few more dimensions to the character. There’s some really heavy stuff coming up, particularly in scenes with Patricia. John stands up for himself instead of being subservient to her. He changes and he’s going to become a bit nasty – after all, Patricia is his mother. He's still got his nice side but he's Patricia's son, so he should have a bit of nastiness and a bit of selfishness – and a bit of backbone. For interest’s sake I think he should be a bit more colorful. Early in my career I regretted not having gone to the National Institute of Dramatic Art. Now I don’t. I just got trained in a different school." 

Rowena Wallace as 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." Patricia came from an ordinary lower middle-class family, had a brief love affair with interstate truck driver David Palmer resulting in the birth of twins Angela and John. Angela lived with the Hamiltons and John lived with the Palmers. Patricia had vowed one day she’d be wealthy and set her sights on Gordon Hamilton, a man of the land at heart. David eventually married country girl, Beryl, a waitress. Fiona Thompson was the one woman who knew where the skeletons were hidden. 

Rowena recalled, "With Patricia you never know what the writers are going to come up with. She is limitless. In fact, I can’t imagine what she’s going to be doing next, but I think I might have to leave the country! I get sick in the stomach sometimes when I think about the things I have to do as Patricia. I couldn’t cope with being a woman like her – it would be exhausting and very sad. Her mind must be in terrible turmoil at times … God, we talk about her as if she really exists." 

Ian Rawlings played Wayne Hamilton. He spoke to Prue MacSween in 1985, "When I started with the series, I knew some of the basics, but it was very hard to imagine what you had to do until you put them into practice and it was the grace of God and patience of people with whom I work that I am finally where I am now. Sure you have times when the series goes off on a tangent and then someone says they’re going to change its direction and bring it back. Nobody has really been afraid to change things around. Occasionally I haven’t agreed with things that are happening, but as long as you remember you're not bigger than the show you're OK. That's the thing. You just keep working for the show. Put it at number one and try really hard to make it good."

Producer Don Battye believed, "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." 

Jana Wendt was Australia's answer to America’s Barbara Walters. As one of the first few female newsreaders on television, Jana said at the time, "I think television audiences in Australia are extremely conservative and they’ve been used to one man fronting the news, with a half-hour news servcice for a long time. I’m sure I shocked a lot of people when I first started on channel Ten (at 24 years of age in May 1979). It took a while for my colleagues to accept me, because I’m young and female. 

"Audiences also had to accept me and David Johnston as the double-headed news team (weeknights from February 1980). I haven’t sensed any antagonism towards me from male newsreaders. I think it’s a question of proving that you’re capable of doing the job professionally. The job is obviously taxing and I tend to get phone calls at any time of the day or night. That’s why I’ve moved out of my parents’ home and found a place of my own. Sometimes, I can’t help letting a story get to me but I try to be an impartial reader."

Before reporting and reading the news on channel Ten, Jana hosted 'Music Around Us' on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "I was at university before that doing an honors degree in French, linguistics and philosophy. But I never wanted to become a professional teacher, although I used to teach friends Czechoslovakian at home." Between 1982 and 1992, Jana Wendt was at the forefront of Australian journalism. In 1982, Jana joined '60 Minutes' as the show's 4th reporter and its first female correspondent. In the year of the Australian Bicentennial (1988), Jana hosted the 6.30pm flagship program, 'A Current Affair'.

In 1997, Jana delivered the Andrew Olle Media Lecture. In her opening speech, she told attendees, "I come to this gathering more as Mary Magdalene than as the Virgin Mary." Jana then asked, "So what is the state of journalism today? … To put it bluntly, people will no longer believe the 6 o'clock news … One of the reasons, (social researcher Hugh Mackay) suggested: the blurring or the distinction between information and entertainment ... Put simply, journalists are the people on whom we rely to tell us about the world. To tell us about how we are being governed - to give us the base materials - that is facts - without which we cannot make intelligent judgments about our own lives.

"If democracy is worth our endorsement then its value must lie substantially, in its respect for individual voices. To that extent the commercial media juggernaut is at odds with basic democratic principles. It only listens if you are part of the pack … As we approach the year 2000, if television news is not to return to where newsreels at the beginning of the century began - that is, as an extension of vaudeville, and if our priorities are not to degenerate to theirs - restaging battles from the Boer War because the real ones weren't entertaining enough, then Australia's media proprietors will need to make a major investment - in reality. It is an investment that would bring a hefty return - a nation of people capable of genuinely independent thought. After all, how much is a republic worth if its citizens are comatose? 

"The esteemed American broadcaster, Edward R Murrow left his considerable mark on the history of broadcast journalism first with eyewitness radio reports of the German occupation of Austria, the 1938 Munich conference and the Battle of Britain. He then embraced and conquered the new medium of television by pioneering current affairs reporting. He brought the brutality of apartheid to life on American TV screens and produced a landmark exposé of Senator Joe McCarthy.

"But when Murrow retired from broadcasting in 1960, he was disappointed with what it had become, even then. I'd like to close with an observation made by Murrow because I think it is as potent today (1997), as it was 37 years ago. He said: 'Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about, 50 or a hundred years from now and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all 3 networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or perhaps in color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Would the stockholders rise up and object? I think not.'"

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