Some of the families on Aussie TV we love, and some of them we love to hate - but even if you don't want to be their neighbour, you have to admit it's hard to look away! These families all make for great entertainment.
These five families are intriguing for different reasons, from the wholesome Rafters family in Packed to the Rafters to the complicated sisters on McLeod's Daughters and even the criminal Moran family on Underbelly. They are often imperfect and sometimes they're downright bad guys but whether you're rooting for them or hoping they don't get away with it, these families make great winter viewing!
The Kennedys on Neighbours
Neighbours has made history as the longest running drama series on Australian TV, winning plenty of industry awards and launching the careers of famous Aussie actors and pop stars including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Delta Goodrem and Natalie Imbruglia. In the mid-1980s, the soap opera rose to the top of the British ratings, and its success in the United Kingdom was followed by its screening in 57 countries around the worldi.
The Kennedy family is really the backbone of this iconic Aussie soap opera. Neighbours first aired in 1985 and is now in its 30th seasoniii. The Kennedys have been on Ramsay Street since 1994iv. With Dr Karl Kennedy being the resident GP and Susan a teacher at the high school, everyone in Erinsborough soon knew the Kennedys. Their children were originally played by Benjamin McNair, Kym Valentine and Jessie Spencer who were some of the soap's earliest teen idols. In recent seasons, family life hasn't been easy. Karl and Susan divorced and Susan even suffered a bout of amnesiaiii. If you feel like a trip down memory lane - or Ramsay Street - you can watch episodes of this highly successful TV show online at TenPlay or at 6.30pm weeknights on digital television channel 11.
The Morans on Underbelly
The original Underbelly series covered the gangland killings in Melbourne between 1995 and 2004. The story was loosely based on a book written by John Silvester and Andrew Rule - Leadbelly: Inside Australia’s Crimeworldv. It also introduced us to the sinister - and grimy - Moran family and the rest of the Carlton crew. The drug dealing siblings Jason and Mark Moran, along with their parents Judy and Lewis and their devious driver Carl Williams, terrorise Melbourne with corruption and violence. They're the crime family we love to hate. A new season of Underbelly will air later this year and reunite the original cast to tell the story of the life and crimes of gangland figure Tony Mokbelvi.
The program is as well known for its stellar casts of talented Australian actors as it is for its gruesome portrayal of the criminal underworld. In 2009, following its first series, Underbelly won six Australian Film Industry (AFI) Awards and has been recognised with numerous other awards since thenvii. On the International Movie Database (IMDb), Underbelly has achieved a high rating of 8.3/10viii.
If you'd like to catch up on previous Underbelly series they can be purchased on DVD, Blu-ray and from online streaming and download services.
The Rafters on Packed to the Rafters
A big part of the appeal of this feel-good drama is the realistic Aussie family dynamic of the Rafters clan. Dave and Julie Rafter's (Erik Thomson and Rebecca Gibney) retirement plans are disturbed when their grown children Rachel (Jessica Marais), Ben (Hugh Sheridan) and Nathan (Angus McLaren) move back into the family home. There's a lot of love in this family and it's one of the more realistic portrayals of daily suburban existence in Australia, with a good dash of comedy and drama.
Packed to the Rafters first aired in 2008 and has run for six seasonsix. The series has won 13 of 42 Logie Award nominations including Most Popular Drama, Most Popular Actress to Most Outstanding Drama Series . The DVD and Blu-ray sets are available from retailers.
The McLeod sisters on McLeod's Daughters
When two sisters inherit an outback cattle property in South Australia their lives are turned upside down. Along with their all-female workforce, the McLeod sisters battle through tumultuous times on Drover's Run. They may be a complicated and unconventional family, but the sisters always look out for each other and work hard to make the farm a success.
Commencing in 2001 and spanning eight series, the much-loved drama's final episode was aired in January 2009xi. Starring Lisa Chappell, Bridie Carter and Jessica Napier, the series won numerous awards including Logies and an APRA-AGSC Screen Music Award for the Best Music for a Short Film, by composer Alastair Fordxii.
Short clips and trailers are available from Ninemsn Video, DVDs from retailers and full episodes and seasons can be downloaded from iTunes.
The Fletchers on Home and Away
The Fletchers are one of Australian TV's most enduring families, having been on television for over 20 years. Summer Bay residents Pippa and Tom Fletcher were foster parents who welcomed numerous children into their home, including one of the soap-operas biggest stars, Kate Richie, who was brought on as their adopted daughter Sally Keating. Richie spent 20 years on Home and Away, starting out in the pilot episode as a child in 1988 and leaving in 2008. Her character has been through a lot over the years, between dealing with armed robbers and dating Health Ledger (who played Scott Irwin)iii.
Since it began airing in 1988, Home and Away has kept viewers hooked as it follows the ups and downs of family life and relationships in Summer Bay, drawing even more viewers than Neighboursxiii.
Cast members who've risen to fame since featuring on the show include Heath Ledger and Kate Richie as well as Ray Meagher, Steve Peacocke, Melissa George and Ada Nicodemou. To date, Home and Away has won a record 38 Logie Awards and many other national awards, as well as broadcasting a sun-kissed vision of life in an Australian coastal town to countries around the worldxiv.
There have been almost 6,000 episodes of Home and Away, and you can tune in to Summer Bay every weekday at 7pm on Channel 7. The latest episode as well as additional clips and stories of Home and Away can be viewed online.