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Blue Hills (radio serial)

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Title: Blue Hills (radio serial)  
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Subject: Australian radio dramas, Blue Hills, List of soap operas, 1976 disestablishments, Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio programmes
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Blue Hills (radio serial)

Blue Hills, written by Gwen Meredith, was an Australian radio serial about the lives of families in a typical Australian country town called Tanimbla. The title "Blue Hills" itself derives from the residence of the town's doctor.

Blue Hills was broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for 27 years, from 28 February 1949 to 30 September 1976. It ran for a total of 5,795 episodes, and was at one time the world's longest-running radio serial. Each episode lasted 15 minutes. It succeeded another Gwen Meredith serial The Lawsons with many of the same themes and characters, and which ran for 1,299 episodes.[1]


  • History 1
  • Actors 2
  • Signature tune 3
  • Books 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The Lawsons was the brainchild of play editor Leslie Rees and Frank Clewlow of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (then Commission), which had been approached by Government in 1943 to publicise the need for farmers to grow more soya beans as part of the war effort. They reasoned that a popular radio programme would be more effective than ordinary propaganda, and approached Gwen Meredith to write a radio drama. She was an unlikely choice as she lived in Melbourne and production was to be in Sydney, and she was a city girl with little knowledge of primary production. But she accepted the contract from the ABC's Rural Department and spent some weeks on a sheep station in Gunnedah to gather background. The show went to air on 21 February 1944[2] and slowly achieved a loyal country audience. The story revolved around the farmer John Lawson (Vivian Edwards), his wife Ellen (Ailsa Grahame), and their nineteen-year-old daughter Sue, played by Jane Holland. The original remit was extended to enable modern farming methods and seasonal information to be passed on to farmers, as well as the usual fare of soap operas. As the war ended, Grahame and Holland left for England, and were replaced by Ethel Lang and Joan Lord. Under producer Charles Wheeler, who insisted of actors that they use a natural conversation style rather than stage voices,[3] the show lasted five years before it was terminated, at Meredith's request, to make way for a similar program of greater scope.[4] The last episode of The Lawsons was aired on 25 February 1949, a Friday, and Blue Hills commenced the following Monday, 28 February 1949.[3]

Blue Hills was broadcast from the ABC's Interstate and Country networks at 1pm AET and repeated, for city listeners, at 6:45pm, Monday to Friday, though the Friday episode was dropped in 1954. It was broadcast in all states of Australia. The duration of each episode was 15 minutes. The first words spoken in the first episode were by Queenie Ashton as Mrs Gordon, and as Granny Bishop the last words ("good bye") in the final episode some twenty seven years later.[3]


Actors who played in Blue Hills include:

Producers included:

  • Frank Harvey[3]
  • Robert Montgomery[18]
  • Eric John, to whom Gwen Meredith credited much of the show's success.[6]

Signature tune

The famous opening signature tune was taken from a short orchestral piece called Pastorale by the British composer Ronald Hanmer.[19] Until Hanmer moved to Australia in 1975, he had no idea that his work had been used by the ABC and had become so famous in Australia (although few Australians could have identified its composer). He later re-worked this short piece into a longer orchestral work titled Blue Hills Rhapsody, which he recorded with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.


Several books based on the show were written by Gwen Meredith:

  • The Lawsons (1948)
  • Beyond Blue Hills (1953)
  • Into the Sun (1961)[7]

See also

  • The Archers — the present 'world's longest running radio soap opera' (it has broadcast over 17,500 episodes up to May 2014).


  1. ^ """There's Gold In Those... "BLUE HILLS.  
  2. ^ """End In Sight For "Lawsons.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f Lane, Richard The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama 1994 Melbourne University Press ISBN 0 522 84556 8
  4. ^ a b c """Gwen Meredith Says Goodbye to "Blue Hills.  
  5. ^ "Queenie Ashton".  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m """Twenty years with the good folk of "Blue Hills.  
  7. ^ a b c Wilde, William H., Hooton, Joy and Andrews, Barry The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature 2nd edition, Oxford University Press ISBN 0 19 553381 X
  8. ^ "Radio Star's Energetic Existence".  
  9. ^ "Stars of the Air".  
  10. ^ "Marie Clarice".  
  11. ^ "Actor Marshal Crosby Dies, Aged 71.".  
  12. ^ "500 Pay Tribute to Shark Victim".  
  13. ^ "John Nugent Hayward".  
  14. ^ "New Personality in "Blue Hills".".  
  15. ^ "Sydney Actress Gwen Plumb".  
  16. ^ "June Salter".  
  17. ^ "Ngaire Thompson".  
  18. ^ "Young Tasmanian Producer of "Blue Hills".".  
  19. ^ [1] National Film and Sound Archive

External links

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