McLeod's Daughters is an Australian television drama program created by Posie Graeme-Evans and Caroline Stanton. It was produced by Millennium Television and later Southern Star for the Nine Network, premiered on the Nine Network on 8 August 2001, becoming one of the most successful series on Australian television as it was met with critical acclaim. Initially, the series starred Lisa Chappell and Bridie Carter as two main protagonists, with Sonia Todd, Jessica Napier, Rachael Carpani, Aaron Jeffery and Myles Pollard in leading roles. John Jarrett had a recurring role as Killarney station hand and Meg Fountain's love interest, Terry Dodge. Following the third season, the series took a different direction as main cast members began to depart, with a high cast turn-over occurring throughout the remaining years. After eight seasons and 224 episodes, the series was cancelled and the final episode was broadcast on 31 January 2009.
The origins of the series go back to the early 1990s, when Graeme-Evans had the ideas of creating a television series set in rural Australia with women in the leading roles. A television film was produced and aired on 11 May 1996 and was extremely successful and remains the most successful telemovie in Australian history. The series was intended to follow the film soon after but failed to do so when the Nine Network refused to pick it up. It eventually went into production in 2000. The film starred Jack Thompson as Jack McLeod, Kym Wilson as Tess Silverman McLeod and Tammy MacIntosh as Claire McLeod.
The series was an instant success in Australia, averaging at 1.51 million viewers for its first season and continued to achieve high ratings until it peaked during its fourth season, averaging at 1.52 million viewers. Although the series was slowly declining in the popularity, it remained somewhat successful in the ratings. It declined dramatically during its seventh season and eventually it was announced that the series would be cancelled following its eighth season, which only averaged at 0.63 in the ratings. The series was sold internationally via Southern Star to many countries around the world where it has endured enormous success and developed a devoted fan base in the United States, Canada, Ireland and several European countries. It has a moderate success in the United Kingdom. The series has been nominated for forty-one Logie Awards, winning eight in total including Most Popular Actress, Most Popular actor and Most Popular Australian Drama Series. In addition to Logie Award nominations, it has received an APRA Award for its music.
For the entirety of the show's run, the music has been composed by Chris Harriot and Alastair Ford. The soundtrack was written by Graeme-Evans and Harriot, with lead vocals being provided by Australian singer-songwriter, Rebecca Lavelle.
On 6 July 2017, the Nine Network confirmed that they are in talks with Posie Graeme-Evans about a potential reboot of the series.
On 6 September 2017, Posie Graeme-Evans announced, "We have a story now, and I think it's a cracker. Just finishing the work we need to do before I talk about the next steps with the Network.
On 23 October 2017, Posie Graeme-Evans announced she had ended negotiations with Nine as there were creative differences for a new series, but hasn’t ruled out potentially crowd-funding her project.
McLeod's Daughters season 5-7 title card
|Also known as||Drovers Run, McLeod's|
|Created by||Posie Graeme-Evans|
|Developed by||Posie Graeme-Evans|
|Theme music composer||Chris Harriott|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||224 and Telemovie (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Kris Noble|
|Production location(s)||Kingsford between the townships of Gawler and Freeling, one hour north of Adelaide|
|Camera setup||Single-camera setup; Film (Super 16)|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Original network||Nine Network|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||8 August 2001 – 31 January 2009|
Posie Graeme-Evans developed the idea for McLeod's Daughters in the early 1990s for her company Millenium Pictures in conjunction with the South Australian Film Corporation. She also developed the idea for children's television programs such as The Miraculous Mellops and Hi-5. The idea was for a television drama set on an Australian rural property with two half-sisters running the property inherited from their father with an all-female workforce. She developed the idea from stories from friends who grew up in the country and from the love of South Australian landscapes as shown in the paintings of Hans Heysen.
Graeme-Evans pitched the idea to the board of the Nine Network who agreed to film a telemovie in March 1996 with Jack Thompson starring as the father Jack McLeod, whose death leads to the two half-sisters (portrayed by Kym Wilson as Tess and Tammy MacIntosh as Claire) inheriting the property.
Following the success of the telemovie shown on Mother's Day 1996 the Nine Network board agreed to commission a 22 episode series, but the project was left on the shelf for four years. It was not until late 2000 after the Opening Ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Olympics featured a The Man from Snowy River theme, which highlighted the cultural significance of the bush to Australians.
The first episode of McLeod's Daughters eventually debuted in August 2001 and proved to be a hit, attracting 1.89 million viewers. The first season was a success, attracting an average of 1.5 million viewers per episode in Australia. The show aired in New Zealand on TV2, one of TVNZ's free-to-air channels. The final season on TV2 began airing a month after Australia and eventually became 10 episodes in front of Australia until the finale. Re-runs from Season 1 are currently on Vibe in New Zealand, a channel aimed at woman's programming.
The second season of McLeod's Daughters was equally successful, being the third most popular drama on Australian television. By 2003, the show was the most popular drama series on Australian television.
The popularity of the program in Australia was highlighted when the show won four Logie Awards, including Lisa Chappell winning most popular female actor and Aaron Jeffery winning most popular actor, with the show itself winning most popular Australian drama series in 2004 and 2005.
The show then began to decline in popularity and perceived quality. Cast turn-over was high, and increasingly far-fetched explanations were employed to explain the sudden departure of formerly important characters such as Rachael Carpani who departed in 2007 and Aaron Jeffery who left in 2008. 2007 marked the point at which many viewers considered the show to have "jumped the shark" as the show had drifted into a new direction, that of a soap opera; at that point, the show began to experience low ratings. Aaron Jeffery commented to The Daily Telegraph that his desire to depart from the show was due to the new direction the show was taking, which he did not like.
The 200th episode of McLeod's Daughters aired on 3 October 2007, with Hugh McLeod (Grace, Jasmine and Regan's father) returning for this special event. An entirely different script was originally written when one of the original cast (speculated to be Bridie Carter) agreed to come back; however, it was pulled at the last minute. Ratings for this episode were very poor by Australian standards, with only 1,008,000 viewers tuning in; the highest that season was 1,415,000 for episode 16.
The eighth and final season began on 23 July 2008 with the episode 203, "Aftermath", but after two further episodes, Channel 9 pulled the show from its schedule due to extremely low ratings. The remaining episodes were eventually aired from December to January in a double-episode format, with the final two episodes ("Into the Valley of the Shadow" and "The Long Paddock") airing on 31 January 2009 with original cast members returning for the special event.
|Lisa Chappell||Claire McLeod||73||Main|
|Bridie Carter||Tess Silverman McLeod||135||Main|
|Jessica Napier||Becky Howard||70||Main|
|Rachael Carpani||Jodi Fountain||180||Main||Guest|
|Aaron Jeffery||Alex Ryan||202||Main||Guest|
|Myles Pollard||Nick Ryan||124||Main||Recurring|
|Sonia Todd||Meg Fountain||107||Main||Recurring||Guest|
|Simmone Jade Mackinnon||Stevie Hall||153||Main|
|Brett Tucker||Dave Brewer||100||Recurring||Main|
|Michala Banas||Kate Manfredi||117||Main|
|Jonny Pasvolsky||Matt Bosnich||36||Main||Recurring|
|Luke Jacobz||Patrick Brewer||78||Guest||Main|
|Zoe Naylor||Regan McLeod||53||Recurring||Main||Recurring|
|Dustin Clare||Riley Ward||49||Main|
|Doris Younane||Moira Doyle||94||Guest||Recurring||Main|
|Gillian Alexy||Tayler Geddes||54||Guest||Main|
|Matt Passmore||Marcus Turner||53||Main|
|Abi Tucker||Grace Kingston||45||Main|
|Edwina Ritchard||Jaz McLeod||17||Guest||Main|
|John Schwarz||Ben Hall||15||Main|
The first three seasons follow the lives of half-sisters Claire McLeod and Tess Silverman McLeod, farmhands Jodi Fountain and Becky Howard, Jodi's mother and Drover's housekeeper Meg Fountain, and their affluent neighbors, the Ryan family.
The cast remained the same until the third season, when it was announced that Jessica Napier would be leaving. Her character, Becky Howard, initially decided to take a job at another farm with her boyfriend Jake, but then changed her mind and went back to school on the Agricultural Scholarship she had won during the young farmers competition. News of a second major cast change hit when it was announced that Lisa Chappell, who played Claire McLeod, would be leaving the series. Claire, Tess, and baby Charlotte were involved in car accident, with Tess and Charlotte making it to safety before their vehicle slid over a cliff, killing Claire.
Season four began with the promotion of Brett Tucker to series regular. A new farm-hand, Kate Manfredi, was introduced in the fourteenth episode of season four. The introduction of Kate was to accommodate the departure of Meg, who left to pursue a writing job in Melbourne. She remained credited as a main character until the end of season 5.
When the show began to decrease in ratings in the fifth season, producers decided to introduce several new characters to try and liven up the show. They brought in the no-nonsense, secretive Rob Shelton who was employed as the overseer at Killarney; the geologist cousin of Tess and Jodi, Regan McLeod; and the troubled brother of Dave, Patrick Brewer. Even with these cast changes, the show suffered another major blow when Myles Pollard announced that he was leaving the show to pursue other opportunities in the USA. His character, Nick Ryan was supposedly killed in a plane crash.
Ratings started to rise in the sixth season, when it took on a more soap opera-type style, while staying true to the original premise of the show. This was the last season before show began its downhill slope. After four seasons, recurring character Moria Doyle (played by Doris Younane) was promoted to series regular to replace Meg Fountain. Myles Pollard returned briefly when it was revealed that Nick had not died in a plane crash, but had actually been unconscious in a hospital in Argentina. Bridie Carter also decided to leave the show, departing with Pollard when their characters returned to Argentina. This saw the return and promotion to the main cast of Regan McLeod. Another blow was dealt when Jonny Pasvolsky decided to quit. His character, Rob Shelton/Matt Bosnich, had to leave Gungellan when he was found by the hitmen who had been pursuing him. The return of Zoe Naylor's character, Regan McLeod was to accommodate the departure of Tess, however this had no impact. The ratings started to slip and two more characters were introduced: the replacement overseer for Killarney, Riley Ward, and the immature Tayler Geddes, whose father died in an explosion at a mine where Regan worked. The final episode saw Brett Tucker's character Dave Brewer depart the series to work as a vet in Africa and the temporary departure of Michala Banas's character, Kate Manfredi.
The seventh season saw the introduction of Marcus Turner, who was employed as an account manager by Bryce Redstaff, Alex's biological father. It was later revealed that Marcus was Alex's half-brother. The seventh season also saw the return of Matt Bosnich, who was free to continue his life outside of witness protection. The news, however, that Rachael Carpani was departing the show and her character Jodi McLeod, along with Matt, would be written out was soon announced and Matt and Jodi were "killed" in a car explosion. It later turned out that they were alive, but used a car explosion to cover up this fact so they could go into witness protection. To compensate for Carpani's departure, Abi Tucker's character Grace Kingston McLeod was introduced as the feisty sister of Regan and cousin of Jodi. Michala Banas's character Kate was written back in as was Sonia Todd's character Meg Fountain, however the latter departed soon after. It was announced that not only would Zoe Naylor would be leaving, but so would the last remaining original cast member, Aaron Jeffery, though they would both return. Regan left to run a mine, while Alex left to help Nick and Tess in Argentina. A new vet, Ingrid Marr, was introduced to stir up trouble between Grace and Marcus. Dustin Clare's character Riley Ward was killed in a car accident at the end of season seven.
The departure of Michala Banas rocked the crew of McLeod's Daughters and her character was written out to work on a farm for at-risk youth. Aaron Jeffery returned for one episode in season eight, where his character Alex Ryan was killed when a large tree branch fell on him. Regan returned for the christening of baby Xander, who was born the day after Alex died. Stevie's fun-loving cousin Ben Hall was introduced as the new overseer of Killarney, replacing Riley, while the vivacious sister of Regan and Grace, Jaz McLeod returned to Drover's Run after making a guest appearance in season four.
The first season premiered on 8 August 2001. The season finale aired 20 March 2002. Season one's storylines included:
The second season premiered on 27 March 2002. The season finale aired 16 October 2002. Season two's storylines included:
The third season premiered on 12 February 2003. The season finale aired 29 October 2003. Season three's storylines included:
The fourth season premiered on 11 February 2004. The season finale aired 24 November 2004. Season four's storylines included:
The fifth season premiered on 9 February 2005. The season finale aired 23 November 2005. Season five's storylines included:
The sixth season premiered on 15 February 2006. The season finale aired 29 November 2006. Season six's storylines included:
The seventh season premiered on 7 February 2007. The season finale aired 17 October 2007. Season seven's storylines included:
The eighth and final season premiered on 23 July 2008. The season finale aired 31 January 2009. Season eight's storylines included:
McLeod's Daughters is filmed on location at Kingsford, a 35-acre (55 ha) property which is listed on the South Australian Heritage Register and which is located in the locality of Kingsford north of Gawler. Gawler is north of Adelaide, which Posie Graeme-Evans refers to as "our very own backlot". Kingsford was originally part of a 30,000-acre (12,245ha) property. Kingsford had been used in the years prior to filming by the South Australian Government as a wheat research station then by a Montessori school as a primary school campus. The property was purchased by The Nine Network in 1999. The historical house was built from Edinburgh sandstone, transported to Australia as a ship ballast. The house took over 30 years to build and was finished by 1856. Although Kingsford was a grand property at the time, it is now quite run down - a look that was important for the production design of the series, as the McLeod family has no money for maintenance.
The interior scenes set at Drover's Run are all, in fact, filmed inside the house. It added authenticity to the production, and it was convenient in that the large rooms and high ceilings were ideal for filming. Kingsford was a working farm in its day.
The show was shot on Super 16 mm film, and is the first Australian drama series to be delivered in HDTV format. Three cameras were used, two on main unit and the third on second unit. The cinematography is vast. Director of photography, Roger Dowling had created the illusion that the series is shot on 50,000 hectare property in the Australian bush, instead of on a heritage estate, the size of a hobby farm, one hour north of Adelaide.
|Season||Timeslot||Episode count||Season premiere||Season finale||Television season||Rank||Viewers|
|1||Wednesday 7:30 pm||22||8 August 2001||20 March 2002||2001–2002||#7||1.51|
|2||Wednesday 7:30 pm||22||27 March 2002||16 October 2002||2002||#10||1.41|
|3||Wednesday 7:30 pm||30||12 February 2003||29 October 2003||2003||#6||1.50|
|4||Wednesday 7:30 pm||32||11 February 2004||24 November 2004||2004||#3[a]||1.52|
|5||Wednesday 7:30 pm||32||9 February 2005||23 November 2005||2005||#6b||1.35|
|6||Wednesday 7:30 pm||32||15 February 2006||29 November 2006||2006||#5c||1.31|
|7||Wednesday 7:30 pm||32||7 February 2007||17 October 2007||2007||#11d||1.18|
|8||Wednesday 8:30 pm (1–3)
Saturday 8:30 pm (4–6), 10:00 pm (7–8), 9:30 pm (9–22)
|22||23 July 2008||31 January 2009||2008–2009||#29e||0.63|
The final season began airing in the UK on the Hallmark Channel (now Universal Channel) on 12 October 2008 with double episodes every Sunday morning from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. The final two episode aired in the UK on Sunday 21 December 2008, a month before the episodes aired in Australia. The show continues to air repeat episode on the Universal Channel weekday mornings at 6.00am, usually only seasons 6-8 in rotation.
In Germany the final two episodes aired on 4 November 2008 in a German-dubbed-version, what is actually more than one month before airing in the UK in the original language.
In Ireland, RTÉ Two began airing the final season in mid-2010 in a late-night time slot, with the final episode airing early 2011. This was the first time season 8 had been shown on the channel, as RTÉ had long period gaps between each season. In early 2011, the channel began airing the series from the beginning, but was stopped less than halfway through the first season, possibly due to the expiration of RTÉ's contract with the series.
In the US, the series debuted on the WE tv (Women's Entertainment) cable channel, and ran for several seasons. Netflix made all 8 seasons available to US subscribers for instant viewing in 2009, and remains available as of 2013.
|1||5 VHS tapes||1–22|
|2||5 VHS tapes||23–44|
|3||6 VHS tapes||45–74|
|4||7 VHS tapes||75–106|
|Region 1||Region 4|