A couple of recent posts which you can find here and here paid some homage to the legendary Melbourne film critic Colin Bennett. Both digressed a little to make reference to Colin’s feud with film director Tim Burstall. Burstall was a good hater and could be a thorough bastard. He particularly resented critics. Few dared express even some little disrespect to the more than a few films Tim made to keep his business and career turning over. But dotted throughout Burstall’s career are some of the peaks of Australian film.
I’m not going to bother going into that part of his career any further.
What I’m now embarking upon is a public campaign to restore and revive Tim’s television adaptation of Thea Astley’s remarkable novel “A Descant for Gossips”. Published in 1960, the book was adapted for TV by Burstall and Ted Roberts and went on the ABC in 1983 as three ‘one hour’ episodes.
So, start with Thea Astley. This is from a website Good Reads.
The mini-series never sank without trace. It is mentioned in Scott Murray’s 1996 book Australia on the Small Screen. But there have been no revivals and my inside information is that the material is not likely to be in any condition to be shown on a modern TV set without some fairly major restoration work. Well, the time has come. The Melbourne Revival Movement we can call this and its possible that other things might emerge to pick up the theme begun with Colin Bennett and now with Burstall, I hope.
|Kaarin Fairfax in A Descant for Gossips|
So let me start by saying that whatever material exists, it is catalogued on the database of the National Archives of Australia. Here’s the starting point. Click on this NAA link and you find there are ‘audio-visual records’. It’s the beginning. There are as well "Paper Files and Documents".
I’m not sure what the next step is. I sure don’t imagine that anybody from the NAA will be ringing, slapping their forehead and saying my god how did this happen, or not happen.
Stay tuned....and of course contributions welcome including from anybody who remembers anything of the series itself.