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The Seven Network's top-rating drama series Sons and Daughters has reached its 500th episode despite scepticism when it was launched in 1981 that it wouldn't last.

The TV WEEK Logie Award-winning Grundy Organisation-produced programme has caused shock waves and introduced some of television's most memorable characters, including Australia's biggest bitch, Pat the Rat (played by Rowena Wallace).

The 500th episode goes to air in Melbourne on October 1 and later in other states, with some unbelievable goings on.

Two unrelated and unexpected events are a wedding and a pregnancy. Two characters who viewers would never have thought would marry will tie the knot. But things don't go smoothly and there's drama at the altar.

The pregnancy, too, is fraught with complications and has dramatic and far-reaching effects.

Then, a couple of weeks later, there's a major catastrophe in the show - a fire.

The extraordinary show's most awesome challenge was being wrenched from its successful weekday timeslot in Sydney and put into the toughest timeslot - 7:30 Sundays against 60 Minutes and Mondays against Knight Rider and ABC TV comedies.

That the show didn't falter is a sign of its strength. It went into its new timeslot with very high ratings - just a couple of points below what it's getting now - 20s and 21s against 60 Minutes - and is winning its timeslot on Monday nights.

Being the beast that it is, Sons and Daughters has been inundated with highlights every couple of minutes since it began.

High spots have been the implication, right at the start, that incest could possibly happen; a host of weddings; a few births and miscarriages; and the funeral of Patricia's sister Margaret (Ilona Rogers).

Shock-horror cliffhanger episodes, which sent the show's ratings soaring, have centred on Patricia laying it on David that he was not the father of the twins and the shootout when viewers heard David screaming. The gunshot episode went to air in November 1983 and Channel Seven was flooded with calls from viewers wanting to know what had happened.

The episode that scored the highest ratings this year was Margaret's funeral, when Patricia behaved irrationally and attacked the gravesite.

The whole show has concentrated on human emotions.

Producer of the Grundy series, John Holmes, said: "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."


By: Unknown
Source: TV Week
Date: 29 September 1984


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