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The Hamilton-Palmer feud has finally been resolved

Sons and Daughters/Love and laughter/Tears of sadness and happiness.

For five years the theme song has rolled across the nation as the introduction to Sons and Daughters, an everyday story of family life in two cities.

But just recently, the tears have been of sadness, not happiness, for the cast and crew of one of Australian TV's most successful soapies.

Production work on Sons and Daughters has finished.

The feud between the Hamiltons of Sydney and the Palmers of Melbourne has finally been laid to rest.

The show will continue around Australia for most of this year, but most of the cast are now "resting" - the acting profession's euphemism for being out of work, a state of affairs which most actors have to live with from time to time.

But according to Don Battye, vice president in charge of drama at Grundy Television, the mourning was more painful over S and D because of the "family atmosphere" that built up between cast and crew.

Says Battye, a former executive producer for S and D who has also worked on a string of other shows including The Sullivans, Chopper Squad, and The Restless Years: "Sons and Daughters became a way of life for many of the people involved.

"I can't think of another show where there has been the same togetherness between cast and crew.

"Right from the start the idea was that there were no stars in Sons. Everyone was equal and the idea worked."

When S and D, the first Australian TV drama to be produced in both Sydney and Melbourne, began Battye, who wrote many of the scripts, expected it to last six months. After six months, he thought it might last another six.

Of that first year, Battye says: "The characters almost wrote themselves. They just kept careering on. And after that we brought in some new characters to stir the plot."

Battye agrees that many of the characters and situations were larger-than-life, but says Sons and Daughters did not set out to explore social issues and be a subject for academic comment in the way that A Country Practice has.

"Sons and Daughters can be taken on many levels, " he says. "In five years I have always been entertained by it. While some people take it very seriously a lot sit there and have a good giggle.

"That's fine. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't demean what we have been trying to do and what he have tried to do is offer entertainment. That is the whole aim of the exercise."

Battye remains philosophical at the demise of the show. He has mourned other shows too in which he has had a stake - like Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police and The Box - and can even foreshadow the end of Coronation Street, the longest running soap opera of them all.

To Battye, Coronation Street no longer sparkles the way it used to.

Sons and Daughters, he says, is not going out with a whimper. It is going out with its essential strengths intact. But Rowena Wallace, who was responsible for much of the show's early success, is not so sure.

Last year, having once relinquished the role of Pat-the-Rat to her friend Belinda Giblin (the scriptwriters sent Rowena to South America for plastic surgery to explain facial differences) Rowena returned to the series.

But as what? As an imposter? Don Battye is not about to let any secrets slip, but TV Extra can reveal that the mystery does involve a gaol and a forgotten sister.

Rowena Wallace was less than pleased with the manner in which the scriptwriters conjured her reappearance.

"Frankly the whole thing didn't really work," she says.

By: Peter Laud
Source: TV Week
Date: 10 May 1987


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