ANZACS TV Series Overview (1985)


Anzacs (named for members of the all volunteer ANZAC army formations) is a 1985 Australian five-part television miniseries set in World War I.

It follows in the wake of Australian New Wave war films such as Breaker Morant (1980), Gallipoli (1981), and precedes The Lighthorsemen (1987). Recurring themes of these films include the Australian identity, such as mateship and larrikinism, the loss of innocence in war, and also the continued coming of age of the Australian nation and its soldiers (the ANZAC spirit).


The series follows the lives of a group of young Australian men who enlist in the 8th Battalion (Australia) of the First Australian Imperial Force in 1914, fighting first at Gallipoli in 1915, and then on the Western Front for the remainder of the war.


  • Main:
    • Andrew Clarke as Martin Barrington.
    • Jon Blake as Robert Flanagan.
    • Paul Hogan as Pat Cleary.
    • Christopher Cummins as Roly Collins.
    • Jonathan Sweet as Bill Harris.
    • Megan Williams as Kate Baker.
    • Shane Briant as “Kaiser” Schmidt.
    • Alec Wilson as “Pudden” Parsons.
    • Peter Finlay as “Bluey”.
    • Bill Kerr as General Monash.
  • Supporting:
    • Tony Bonner as Harold Armstrong.
    • David Lynch as Max Earnshaw.
    • Ilona Rodgers as Lady Thea Barrington.
    • Elaine Lee as Madame.
    • Robert Coleby as Reverend Lonsdale.
    • Peter Browne as Carter.
  • Additional:
    • David Bradshaw as Keith Murdoch.
    • Mark Hembrow as Dick Baker.
    • Jim Holt as Dinny “Dingo” Gordon.
    • Patrick Ward as Tom McArthur.
    • Edmund Pegge as Captain Young.
    • Wayne Jarratt as Private Upton.
    • Karl Hansen as Erik Johansen.
    • Tony Cornwill as Karl Johansen.
    • Terry Brittingham as Private Morrissey.
    • James Wright as ‘Edward Kelly’.
    • Vincent Ball as Rupert Barrington.
    • Sheila Kennelly as Mrs Baker.
    • Howard Bell as Cyril Earnshaw.
    • Diana Greentree as Mrs Collins.
    • Leah Steventon as Marie.
    • Vivean Gray as Matron.
    • Mark Mitchell as a dying German soldier.
    • Bruce Kerr as Lancashire Colonel.
    • Gareth Wilding-Forbes as Buffs Officer.
    • Chris Gregory as German Sergeant.
    • Noel Trevarthen as Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig.
    • Michael Adams as General Kiggell.
    • Rhys McConnochie as Lloyd George.
    • Malcolm Robertson as General Bridges.
    • Sean Myers as Lt General Walker.
    • Reg Evans as General Birdwood.
    • Chris Waters as General White.
    • Francis Bell as Major-General Elliott.
    • Geoff Parry as General Blamey.


The series was produced by Geoff Burrowes for Nine Network, Australia. The episodes were directed by Pino Amenta, John Dixon, or George Miller (of The Man from Snowy River fame). The story consultant was Patsy Adam-Smith and the filming took place over 20 weeks.

The actors playing British officers and politicians were almost all New Zealanders. Many of the extras playing the roles of Allied, American, and German soldiers were serving members of the Australian Army. This was done to keep costs down so that actors did not have to learn how to act as soldiers or to have to teach them how to use the weapons. Many of the actors would also appear on the US TV series Mission Impossible which was filmed mostly in Australia.

In one episode, an Australian soldier remarks how much the French countryside reminds him of Daylesford back home in Victoria, Australia. This was an in-joke as some scenes were filmed near Daylesford, including the German counter-attack scene in episode 4.


Australian composer Bruce Rowland composed the original music for the series which also popularised many old marching songs of the period. The classic Australian song ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is heard at several points as is ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’. Several songs from the satirical musical ‘Oh, What a Lovely War!’ were also used, including the title song, ‘I wore a tunic’, ‘The bells of Hell’ and other period numbers, like ‘If you were the only girl’ and ‘keep the home fires burning’ – which were performed by various actors.

A 45-minute cassette tape of the soundtrack, entitled ANZACS : original soundtrack from the television mini series, was released in 1985.


Well noted for its humour and historical accuracy, the series was “a huge rating success for the Nine Network when it aired”.

The series was first aired in the UK on 12 to 16 January 1987 during weekday afternoons.

It was also repeated on Sunday evenings during June and July 1987 on BBC1 in primetime.

Home Media

The complete series was released on VHS in the late 1990s in Australia. A 3-disc set of DVDs is available. The DVD breaks down the content of the episodes as follows:

  • The Great Adventure – Australia in 1914; Outbreak of war; Recruitment; Training; Gallipoli: Landing/stalemate/withdrawal. [96:43].
  • The Big Push – Arrival in France (1916); Nursery Sector; The Battle of the Somme; Pozières. [96:36].
  • The Devils Arithmetic – The Somme Winter (1916–17); The Hindenburg Line; Bullecourt; Blighty Leave; Third Battle of Ypres begins (July 1917); Menin Road; Broodseinde Ridge. [97:08].
  • Fields of Fire – Third Battle of Ypres bogs down (November 1917); The German Offensive (March 1918); The Battle of Amiens; Hazebrouk; Battle of Nieppe Forest. [94:52].
  • Now There was a Day – The Yanks are coming; “peaceful penetration”; Monash appointed Commander of the 5 Australian Divisions; Battle of Hamel; The “Jack ups” Monash’s Big Push (8 August 1918)… Armistice (11 November 1918); Back Home. [95:08].

The total running time is 513 minutes (episodes plus bonus material), or 520 mins (episodes plus bonus material) for Region 2, and rated “M”. The DVD also includes a featurette – Making Of: History in the Making – The Making of Anzacs. This was narrated by well known Australian actor Charles “Bud” Tingwell who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II and included interviews (from the time of filming) with Geoff Burrowes and John Dixon as well as the actors who appeared in the series.

A condensed movie-length version, cut down to two hours from the original eight, was released on VHS in the United States. The series has yet to be released on DVD in other regions. A Region 2 3-disc DVD set is now available from Source1 Media in the Netherlands. While the box set has Dutch text on the back on the cover and optional Dutch subtitles on the discs it does provide a viable option for British or other English speaking viewers in Europe.


Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Pino Amenta … (5 episodes, 1985).
    • John Dixon … (5 episodes, 1985).
    • George Miller … (5 episodes, 1985).
    • Ray Daley … (1 episode, 1985).
  • Producer(s):
    • Geoff Burrowes … producer (5 episodes, 1985).
    • Dennis Wright … associate producer (5 episodes, 1985).
  • Writer(s):
    • John Clarke … (3 episodes, 1985).
    • John Dixon … (5 episodes, 1985).
    • James Mitchell … (3 episodes, 1985).
  • Music:
    • Bruce Rowland … (5 episodes, 1985).
  • Cinematography:
    • Keith Wagstaff … (5 episodes, 1985).
    • Ray Daley … (1 episode, 1985).
    • Mark Hayward … (1 episode, 1985).
  • Editor(s):
    • Philip Reid … (5 episodes, 1985).
    • Ray Daley … (1 episode, 1985).
  • Production:
    • Burrowes-Dixon Company.
    • Nine Network Australia.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Belle & Blade Studios (video).
    • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (1986) (UK) (TV).
    • Nine Network Australia (1985) (Australia) (TV).
    • Toshiba Eizo Soft (1988) (Japan) (VHS).
  • Release Date: 27 October 1985 to 31 October 1985.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Rating: 15.
  • Country: Australia.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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