Australia’s power couple – circa 1972

In 1972, Sir Frank Packer rolled the dice and gave Ita Buttrose a chance to launch a women’s magazine – eventually to be called Cleo – that would help change and guide the sexual revolution in Australia. Paper Giants launched onto our television screens in all it’s plaid and big-collared glory to show us some of that journey… and it was brilliant.

Asher Keddie’s Ita Buttrose was perfect: accent, lisp and all. She portrayed a strong woman who, despite her personal struggles and tragedy, went on to deliver an incredible body of work for Australian Consolidated Press in the 1970’s help build the Packer empire. Her grace on-screen is compelling. Major congratulations to the staging and wardrobe department for the set and costumes helping the actors deliver on point performances, further contributions to an overall final product that many are calling “Australia’s Mad Men”, and with good reason. It’s sharp, it’s era reflective, and it’s well-paced.

The menace Tony Barry’s Sir Frank Packer delivers sends shivers up your spine, and the much chastised Kerry Packer (again a spot on performance by Rob Carlton) swings from a cowering child to a monstrous demon from scene to scene. A younger, complex, and uncertain titan-to-be. The line of the night was Kerry’s as he lumbered into a Cleo production meeting, which fell silent at his arrival: “Ignore me. Pretend I am not here.” Bloody unlikely, KP.

Carlton & Keddie are surely Australia’s next King & Queen of character acting. Paper Giants only reinforces it. In fact, it also reinforces that if you write good drama and deliver it well, people will watch and rave about it. Even twitter fell in love with it (and it’s usually a snarky bitch-goddess). The biggest wrap had to have come from The Today Show’s Lisa Wilkinson and Mia Freedman, who both spent time working for Cleo at ACP under the rule of KP (Lisa was editor for some time).

In case you missed the first episode, here’s the promo to whet your whistle:

You can catch the first episode in full on ABC’s iView here, and the website for the mini-series is here.


Paper Giants (mini-series final) – Mon 8:30pm, ABC1.
Image/Video source – ABC.