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Australia: Beyond the Fatal Shore Robert Hughes
About the Series Interactive Timeline About Robert Hughes Resources Glossary of Aussie Slang Credits

About the Series

In September, just when the eyes of the world are turning to Australia for the excitement of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, public television will offer another view of the nation "down under" through the eyes of a uniquely qualified native son.

AUSTRALIA: BEYOND THE FATAL SHORE, written and hosted by author and art critic Robert Hughes, is a six-part exploration of the land, people, history, and national character of a country filled with unique complexity and contradiction. In this series, Hughes chronicles a world of Aboriginal peoples, who have inhabited the land for 50,000 years and those who have descended from an 18th-century penal colony for British prisoners and renegades. In the process, he shows an Australia that has grown into a vibrant -- yet often stereotyped and misunderstood -- modern nation.

AUSTRALIA: BEYOND THE FATAL SHORE premieres Tuesday, September 5 through Thursday, September 7 at 9 pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The series is produced by Oxford Film and Television for the BBC in association with Thirteen/WNET New York, Australian Broadcasting, and NVC Arts.

For the past 30 years, Robert Hughes has lived and traveled extensively in the U.S. and developed a loyal following as TIME magazine's art critic. His first foray into American public television came in 1981 with the highly acclaimed art history series THE SHOCK OF THE NEW. He earned kudos again in 1997 with the art series AMERICAN VISIONS, presented by Thirteen/WNET New York on PBS.

It was after the success of his best-selling book on the colonial history of Australia, THE FATAL SHORE, that Hughes sought to explore beyond Australia's brutal beginnings. "For a long time, I've cherished the idea of returning to Australia to make a series of films about how my country has changed -- and not changed -- in the 35 years since I'd left," Hughes said. But just as he embarked on his project, a debilitating car crash in Australia left him yearning to turn his historical treatise into a personal odyssey in the country where he was born -- and nearly died. "You don't get the full gamut of your feelings about a place until you realize you're about to die in it," he reflects. "I feel a need to reacquaint myself with Australia properly. There's an urgency about these films now that wouldn't be there without the crash."

As a result, AUSTRALIA: BEYOND THE FATAL SHORE reveals the fascinating story of the continent's dramatic evolution, told with Hughes' signature passion, intuition, eloquence, and personal reflection. From a trip to his boyhood school to journeys to the cities and barren outback that comprise Australia's parallel landscape, Hughes presents a colorful panorama of Australian politics, mores, and personalities, helping viewers understand how his country has become a unique intersection of art, culture, and history.

The series is executive produced by Jac Venza and Margaret Smilow for Thirteen/WNET New York; and Nicolas Kent and Vanessa Phillips for Oxford Film and Television. Christopher Spencer is the series producer and Nicolas Kent is the executive in charge. Episode directors are Richard Curson Smith ("Body and Soul"; "After Trousers"), Philip Smith ("The Wave of the Future"; "Money, Class and Power"), and Christopher Spencer ("The Dead Heart"; "The Long Goodbye").

Episodes 1 & 2 | Episodes 3 & 4 | Episodes 5 & 6 | Back to top



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