|Created by||Forrest Redlich|
|Written by||David Allen|
C M Covington
Mary Dagmar Davies
C V Schofield
Steve J. Spears
|Directed by||Michael Ailwood|
|Starring||(see list of credited cast below)|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||1 x 2-hour pilot|
404 x 60-minute episodes
716 x 30-minute episodes (UK)
|Running time||60 minutes/30 minutes|
|Original network||Network Ten|
|Picture format||4.3 PAL|
|Original release||24 January 1989 -|
20 May 1993
E Street is an Australian television soap opera created by Forrest Redlich and produced by his production company, Westside Television, for Network Ten. It was broadcast twice a week, from Wednesday, 24 January 1989 to Thursday, 20 May 1993. The series was very popular for a short period in the early 1990s and won several awards.
E Street was set in a tough fictional inner-city district called Westside, and stories revolved around the local community there.
The moderately successful soap opera, Richmond Hill, which was produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation was surprisingly cancelled by Ten to make way for E Street. Richmond Hill had also been successfully sold to ITV in the UK, and was rating in the high-teens in Australia, so it was a gamble by Ten to axe it and replace it with the untried E Street. Indeed, it would take 3 years for a UK broadcaster to pick up the soap and E Street initially rated somewhat lower than Richmond Hill in Australia, but audience research indicated that it attracted a significant proportion of the 14-35 audience and a large male viewership - a demographic highly prized by advertisers. Later, with improved storylines and characters, the ratings steadily climbed, eventually eclipsing the figures that Richmond Hill had attracted.
E Street ran for 404 one-hour episodes. Like many Australian soap operas before it, E Street was broadcast as two one-hour episodes each week and until the premiere of (unsuccessful) HeadLand in November 2005, it had been the last Australian soap opera to screen its episodes in this format. Notably, in the U.K, E Street aired as edited half-hour episodes, stripped 5 days a week.
E Street was created and produced by Forrest Redlich. The structure of the cast and the format of the original episodes were modelled on A Country Practice, a highly successful serial Redlich had worked on as a writer for several years. The earliest episodes of E Street could be seen as an urban version of that soap, tackling human interest, issue-led stories over two weekly hour-long episodes, with continuing storylines carried by a small regular ensemble cast. Further similarities included setting much of the action around the local police station, the pub, and a doctor's surgery with the regular cast established as working at one of these key locations. Whereas in A Country Practice, the veterinary practice was featured regularly, in E Street, this was replaced with a legal-aid centre which opened in space at the local Vicarage, perhaps to provide some moral tone to the programme's trickier legal issues.
A more obvious comparison with A Country Practice was with the addition of Penny Cook as E Streets leading, anchor character, Dr Elly Fielding. Penny Cook had previously had a popular run as vet Vicky Dean in A Country Practice from the series inception in 1981 through to 1985. After a break of two years, it was announced in late 1988 that Cook would be returning to television in a brand series. Penny Cook would be the first of several popular actors to move to E Street in key roles from other successful soap operas of the time.
Another very popular member of the original cast was Tony Martin as 50's throwback, hip and trendy Reverend Bob Brown and his blossoming relationship with Dr Elly spanned much of the entire run of the series. Other regulars from the beginning included publican Ernie Patchett (Vic Rooney) and his teenage son, Chris (Paul Kelman) who ran Patchett's Pacific pub, a central location seen in virtually every episode of the series. Chris was romancing the pub's barmaid, Lisa Bennett, played by Alyssa-Jane Cook, who became one of the soap's most popular stars. Soap veterans Leslie Dayman as police sergeant George Sullivan, and Cecily Polsen as district nurse Martha O'Dare enhanced the community feel of Westide.
Two characters, Sarah McKillop (Katrina Sedgewick), who arrived to re-open a Legal Aid centre in episode 2, and Rhonda Berry (Melanie Saloman), who arrived in the extended pilot episode to meet her husband Paul Berry (Warren Jones), were both newcomers to Eden Street when it began. Viewers would be introduced to life in E Street through the eyes of Sarah and Rhonda, with brash and bolshy Sarah disrupting life on the street with her progressive ideas on legal matters, as shy and timid country girl Rhonda struggled to adjust to her new life in the city with Paul. It would be with Sarah's varied legal cases at the Vicarage with Bob, and Rhonda's new job as Elly's Receptionist at the Doctor's Surgery where many of the original moralistic storylines revolved around.
After a much publicised launch in January 1989, and following positive critical reviews, E Street did not initially perform well in Australian ratings. After three months of following the original format of gritty, hard-hitting storylines, it became obvious that this approach was not working, so Forrest Redlich immediately began to make radical changes to his creation.
After six months on-air, E Street underwent its first major revamp. Initially, the preachy issue-based, social commentary storylines were dropped and replaced by an increase in comedy and upbeat plots. Episode titles were dropped and a pacier, serialised format was adopted with colourful new characters added to expand the small existing cast. Furthermore, costumes became more colourful and fashionable, plus the music soundtrack was completely overhauled to include current hits and showcase new musical talent. All these changes were part of the attempt to brighten up both the look and sound of E Street and move it away from the gloomy milieu of its earliest episodes.
There remained a dark undercurrent to the fledgling series, however, and while the writers ramped up the comedy factor, they also set about revamping the cast, and the violent demise of two original characters (one was shot dead in an armed siege, the other was stalked, raped, and then strangled to death) reinforced the original intention by the producers to shock the viewers and push boundaries.
By the end of 1989, E Street had adopted an entirely new look. There was a re-designed title-sequence accompanied by a brand-new, jazzier theme tune, plus the expanded cast of more likable and younger characters brought the desired balance of comedy, colour and drama to the new-look E Street. The series was well on its way to positioning itself as the hip and street-wise soap opera, but edgier and more trendy than the safe and established Neighbours and Home and Away.
In late 1989 and into early 1990, more new cast members were added to the established original line-up, and these characters included the dashing airline pilot Daniel Windsor (Chris Orchard) who moved his young family to E Street when he began a romance with Dr Elly. His eldest daughter, Toni (Toni Pearen), became particularly popular, and after Daniel eventually left the series with the rest of his family, Toni stayed in E Street and moved in with Elly for several years. She joined other young new characters, such as "Wheels" (Marcus Graham), "Harley" Brown (Malcolm Kennard) and Alice Sullivan (Marianne Howard) and they all helped the soap become more and more popular, as did the expansion of the Patchett family, when Ernie met and soon married Abbey (Chelsea Brown), and Chris eventually married depressed socialite Megan Bromley (Lisbeth Kenally).
During the 1990 season, E Streets viewing figures significantly improved; the previous years' revamp had been a success and it was now on its way to becoming a huge hit for Network Ten, which itself had been through a turbulent time, having been saved from closure in the previous few months. The next big storyline in E Street followed the arrival of its newest bad-boy character, the ex-inmate Sonny Bennett (Richard Huggett), who was the brother of the established character Lisa Bennett. Sonny was a hit with viewers; written as having a slick, throw-back look, along with his snappy one-liners and tendency to cause as much chaos as possible, the character was introduced to shake up the series and signalled the next big overhaul of the cast, with five established characters disposed of during this period. Three members of the Patchett family perished in perhaps E Streets most memorable moment when the car in which they were sat exploded in highly shocking and harrowing scenes which were cut by some broadcasters in international territories, including the U.K. By the end of 1990, more new characters were introduced, music videos became a regular rather than occasional occurrence, and storylines became more and more unpredictable but ratings continued to grow; E Street was now near the top of Australian TV ratings.
A 'super-bitch' character, Sheridan Sturgess, arrived in Westside at the end of 1990, taking over the local TV station WTV8. The role was played by Kate Raison, another actress famous for her four-year run in A Country Practice as Cathy Hayden. Following the exit of Penny Cook as key character Elly Fielding, Sheridan became the new leading lady, central to E Street and its next big storyline; the arrival of the serial killer Steven Richardson, a.k.a. "Mr Bad" (Vince Martin).
The 1991 season was dominated by this extensive and convoluted plot. Forrest Redlich explained on a DVD release of these episodes that the storyline was meticulously planned to affect every character over the entire year. Those actors wishing to leave during this era of E Street became a victim of Stephen Richardson's murderous alter-ego 'Mr Bad' and were duly killed off. This storyline was a huge success, finally sealing the popularity of the series when it peaked at #1 in the Australian ratings as viewers tuned-in to see what Mr Bad was going to get up too next.
In Technicolor dream sequences, Sheridan reveals to viewers the murder of a little girl called Becky Campbell, seemingly by a young man with his face painted half black and half silver. That person was revealed to be Steven Richardson, Claire Fielding's Karate teacher, who had been slowly introduced to viewers over the previous few weeks. As Sheridan's nightmares about Stephen became more intense, she starts to become more fearful of him, and tries to warn her friends to stay away from him, who all assume she is going mad.
Mr Bad's reign of terror began with the shocking murder of Dr Virginia Travis (Julieanne Newbould) followed soon after by Sheridan's brother Michael (Graham Harvey). When Sheriden finally uncovers the truth about Stephen, Becky Campbell and the murder of her brother, Stephen is finally arrested. With the tension of the storyline now at its peak, and coming at the end of the 1991 season, Sheriden blew Mr Bad's face off with a shotgun whilst he was in remand at Westside police station.
E Street had undoubtedly moved on from its well-meaning inception. The opening sequence introducing the cast was eventually dropped, the pace and melodrama increased, and cast turnover became exceptionally high; however, these moves did prove very popular and E Street topped the Australian ratings for the first time at the end of 1991. Viewers had seemingly accepted the radical changes in tone and content - plus the problematic re-cast of the leading character Dr Elly Fielding, after Penny Cook decided not to return to the role and was replaced by Diane Craig. At the end of 1991 and most of 1992, E Street was the most popular serial in Australia.
As the series established its identity, several music videos and musical performances were incorporated into episodes to promote music released on the offshoot Westside Records music label, whilst some of the actresses, namely Melissa Tkautz and Toni Pearen, released singles which were hits in Australia. Tkautz had the biggest selling single of 1991 with her #1 dance hit "Read My Lips" and the follow-up, "Sexy (Is The Word)", made #3 the same year, all thanks to their inclusion on E Street. Bruce Samazan also released a single, a rap record called "One of a Kind", and artists such as the Maybe Dolls and Euphoria also had hits thanks to the show.
E Street was now a recognised hit and had developed a look and sound all of its own. It eventually surpassed both Neighbours and Home and Away in the Australian ratings and popularity. At the 1992 Australian Logies, E Street won the coveted "Most Popular Serial" category, sealing the success of the series in its home territory.
Ironically, however, the popularity of E Street peaked in 1992 with the eventual conclusion of the truly long-running 'Mr Bad' storyline. Indeed, it was this plot that kept the show at the top of the Australian ratings, and even after the departure of Vince Martin, who originally played the sadistic serial-killer, and Kate Raison as his number one victim Sheriden Sturgess, the 'Mr Bad' plot continued with a new actor playing the part. Following Sheridan blowing Stephen's face off at the end of the 1991 season, at the beginning of the 1992 season, a new actor took over the role, his face wrapped entirely in bandages, with just one eye-ball visible. Soon, Stephen was telepathically communicating with his Nurse, Amy Preston, in a new story-arc for the serial-killer, reminiscent of the cult Australian 1978 film Patrick. Eventually however, Steven Richardson and his alter-ego 'Mr Bad' were killed off as the storyline reached its natural conclusion, but it was at this point the writers struggled to keep momentum, and E Street started to flounder.
Several high-profile characters departed at the same time many popular storylines were being wrapped up and the new characters and storylines seemed relatively tame compared to what had happened in the show before. A big loss to the series was Marcus Graham who completed 3 separate stints in the show as Stanley "Wheels" Kovac. Early in the series, he used a wheelchair, hence his nickname, although he was fully upright when he left E Street for good in episode 302, taking with him the popular character, Sheridan Sturgess.
Original favourite Lisa Bennett (Alyssa-Jane Cook) and long-running Alice Sullivan (Marianne Howard) had also left the series by this point, Melissa Tkautz departed to continue her music career, and many others were to leave soon after. The solution was a raft of fresh faces; 'lovable nerd' and city lawyer Jamie Newman (Scott McRae) joined the cast during the 'Mr Bad' revenge plot along with new police constable Sam Farrell (Simon Baker). A new much hyped bad-boy character arrived - Reverend Bob's long-lost gangster brother, Jack Brown, played by Andrew Williams from Neighbours where he'd spent 8 months playing Lou Carpenter's son, Guy. Melissa Bell, also ex-Neighbours, joined the cast as hippy Bonnie Tate, and fresh from her 6-month stint in Home and Away, Josephine Mitchell arrived as Penny O'Brien. These characters were met with limited success, however, and Penny was described as a clone of the departed character Alice Sullivan, and Jack Brown's gangster storylines were considered a low point of E Streets final few months - as was a much-derided dream sequence involving Max turning into a werewolf which was seen as a desperate attempt by the writers to hold on to a hastily dwindling audience.
In the UK, Sky Television bought the rights to the series in early 1992, some three years after its Australian debut and while the show was still a huge success on its home network.
The entertainment channel Sky One had already screened episodes of long-running Aussie serials A Country Practice, The Young Doctors and The Sullivans in the 1980s. In early 1992, the network was investing in newer continuing drama series and from Australia purchased both the Nine Network adult drama Chances and Network 10's E Street and Sky heavily promoted both series weeks before their subsequent launches.
Sky Television aired E Street in an edited 30-minute format. It was broadcast in an early evening timeslot, stripped Monday to Friday at 6:30-7pm, with a repeat the following afternoon at 1pm. This format had also been used in the UK when broadcasting hour-long drama A Country Practice on ITV in the 1990s, however, due to the earlier timeslot, some episodes were edited to make them suitable for younger audiences. E Street launched on Sunday, 5 April 1992 and following the two-hour original pilot, Sky (confusingly) picked up the story from episode 46  on Monday, 6 April, completely abandoning the opening 45 episodes that had achieved poor ratings in Australia, with no explanation given as to the 6 month jump in storylines.
Sky heavily publicised the launch of their new Australian soap, and promoted it with the taglines "Meet Your New Neighbours on E Street" and "Your New Neighbours are moving in", clearly using the popularity of the BBC's Neighbours to lure viewers. This slogan could be seen across the country on double-decker buses, billboards and teen magazine advertisements. The actors Tony Martin (Bob), Alyssa-Jane Cook (Lisa), Marcus Graham (Wheels), Leslie Dayman (George), Cecily Polson (Martha) and Vic Rooney (Ernie) all flew to Britain to appear in advertisements promoting the launch of the soap. The Sun newspaper ran competitions based on the show, with first prize being a holiday to Sydney, Australia; runners-up received satellite dishes so they could watch Sky. During the first 12 months it aired in the UK, E Street became one of the highest rated programmes on Sky One averaging around 750,000-1 million viewers an episode. This was at a time when there was an available audience of only around 2.5 million, due to Sky only being available via the Astra satellite and selected cable areas.
During the storyline involving character Sonny Bennett (Richard Huggett) killing three characters in a shocking car-bomb explosion (episodes 170-171), in the UK, where E Street aired in an earlier timeslot, these episodes were broadcast between 19-24 March 1993 and were preceded by a warning to viewers that the episode contained scenes that some may find upsetting as well as removing the actual explosion of the car entirely. The 12.30pm repeat the following day was replaced by The Simpsons. Similarly, cuts were made during the "Mr Bad" storyline, particularly the murders of Virginia Travis and Michael Sturgess which were edited for UK screenings.
Despite winning "Most Popular Serial" in the 1992 Australian Logies, plus actors Bruce Samazan and Simon Baker (then known as Simon Baker-Denny) both winning their respective categories in 1992 and 1993, E Street was cancelled by Ten early 1993. It was revealed by creator and Executive Producer Forrest Redlich on the DVD release The Best of Mr Bad Part 2 that the cancellation was more due to creative differences and the direction the network wanted to take the show, than falling viewing figures. A series of high-profile cast departures had also damaged the show's reputation, with long-running and popular characters Wheels, Sheridan Sturgess, Steven Richardson, Nikki Spencer, Claire Fielding, Toni Windsor and Craig "C.J" Jones all exiting during the show's final 12 months. A final blow was dealt when viewer favourite and a pivotal character from the start, Reverend Bob Brown, was dramatically killed off when Tony Martin quit the show, with the show's cancellation announced shortly afterwards. Storylines were hastily wrapped up, quicker than anticipated, and in the final episodes (403 and 404), the remaining characters were placed in life-threatening and cliff-hanger situations: Jo-Jo (Kelley Abbey) battled the attentions of a sleazy loan-shark; Ernie was electrocuted in the cellar of Patchett's Pacific, sparking a huge fire which then traps Elly, Laura and Sally as they try to rescue him; Max, Alice and Bonnie are lost in the outback as Bonnie relapses and slips back into a coma.
When the final episode began, time had moved on seven weeks and gradually it was revealed that all the characters are alive and well having survived the previous episodes various cliff-hangers. The remaining cast including Elly, Laura, Jack, Ernie, Sally, Nikki, Max, George, Martha and Alice gathered around comatose Bonnie's hospital bedside and each read a line from a poem Max had found in recently deceased Rev. Bob's prayer book. As the last line was read out by Max, Bonnie finally opened her eyes and said; "Max!". A final 10-minute montage of E Streets greatest moments was then played out to the closing credits, with Elly tearfully laying a single red rose on Rev Bob's grave as E Streets final scene, thus suitably signifying the end of the four-year series.
The final episode aired in Australia Thursday, 13 May 1993, with the UK run ending nearly two years later on Tuesday, 28 February 1995. A repeat run of the 1989 and 1990 seasons commenced on Ten in 2000, and was cancelled at the end of 2003. In the UK E Street has never been repeated.
Several cast members immediately went on to star in other Australian soap operas and drama serials:
Of the regular cast, Bunny Brooke, Vic Rooney, Chelsea Brown and Penny Cook have now died.
Further Cast 1989-1993
Wednesday 24 January 1989 - Thursday 13 May 1993
Wednesday and Thursdays
Repeated the first 184 episodes (1989 and 1990 seasons) during 2003 at 12pm.
Pilot episode screened Sunday 5 April 1992 at 2pm and 8pm.
From Monday 6 April 1992, E Street commenced with episode 46 and screened Monday to Friday at 6:30 to 7pm with a repeat the following afternoon at 1pm.
October 1993, from episode 252, E Street was moved to weekend daytime slots and was shown as hour-long episodes on Saturdays 6-7pm and Sundays 1-2pm. This was briefly to accommodate Paradise Beach in the 18:30 weekday slot but ultimately was an unpopular scheduling decision.
On Tuesday, 4 January 1994, E Street returned to the 6:30pm timeslot with the afternoon repeat now at 12:30pm, thus creating an 'Aussie Soap Hour' with Paradise Beach which aired midday/6pm.
E Street remained popular in the UK, despite its cancellation in Australia. During September 1994, a year and a half after it last aired Down Under, E Street was moved to the 7pm slot and the final episode 404 screened on Monday 27-Tuesday 28 February 1995 as 2 half-hour episodes.
Sky One did not transmit Episodes 1 to 45 of E Street. Subsequent episodes were customised and heavily edited for transmission on Sky One. This included notable music soundtrack changes, major cuts of violent and unsuitable scenes (Episodes 170, 254 and 260 are examples) and a different closing sequence, removing advertising and replacing music credits.
E Street has never been repeated in the UK.
The original episodes of E Street had a lengthy opening title sequence made up of clips from the pilot and first episodes and was accompanied by a slow, jazzy theme tune. However, when the series relaunched 6 months later at episode 46, the entire sequence, including the E Street logo, was replaced by a specially compiled montage of the contract cast, cleverly linked together with a paint-brush wipe effect. Episode 51 introduced a new pacier, upbeat and funky theme tune, replacing the previous version entirely. These changes were implemented to encapsulate the new 'cool' image the programme was trying to convey to attract a wider audience.
This design of opening titles and music lasted until episode 134, featuring only minor alterations as characters came and went. From episode 135, however, the opening sequence with the cast credits was dropped and replaced with a re-cap of the previous episode, an aerial view of Eden Street with the E Street logo forming, followed by establishing shots of the area with writer and producer credits. The theme tune changed to a new mix of the previous theme but was of a noticeable softer arrangement. This style and music was soon dropped and replaced with a short 10 second saxophone riff edited from the second version of the theme, with two long shots of Westside and a return to the E Street title card used from episode 46 to 134.
The end title sequence remained unchanged, with credits rolling over an aerial shot of Westside during nighttime. The original theme for the closing credits was 2 minutes in duration, and was changed from Episode 51 to the updated version, an extended version of the music now used for the opening titles.
On the original Australian credits, there were several sponsorship credits that were removed from UK broadcasts. A different music soundtrack was also used on the international version of E Street, but can be heard uncut on the recent DVD release of the series.
E Street and the cast have won and been nominated for several Logies during the shows four-year run.
On 20 August 2006, several cast members were reunited on the Australian TV series Where Are They Now, broadcast on Seven Network. The cast members that appeared on the programme were Marcus Graham (Wheels), Alyssa-Jane Cook (Lisa Bennett), Melissa Tkautz (Nikki Spencer), Bruce Samazan (Max Simmons), Melissa Bell (Bonnie Tate) and Brooke Anderson (Claire Fielding). The studio guests were joined via a satellite link-up to Vince Martin who starred as the show's most memorable character, Mr Bad.
In August 2007, E Street was finally released on DVD, through Umbrella Entertainment, who have also released celebratory DVD sets of other Australian soap operas, The Young Doctors and Sons and Daughters. The first boxset called "The Best of Mr Bad Volume 1" is a 5-disc set and, unusually for this kind of release, features 20 consecutive episodes from 253 to 272, that originally aired in 1991 (1993-94 in the UK). The set tells the beginning of the notorious Mr Bad storyline which achieved massive viewing figures when they originally aired. Commentaries on episode 272 are provided by Bruce Samazan (Max) and Melissa Tkautz (Nikki) with Australian soap expert Andrew Mercado.
A second 5-disc DVD set, "The Best of Mr Bad Part 2" was released on 3 December 2007, and once again, contained consecutive episodes from 273 to 292, which continued the long-running Steven Richardson/Mr Bad storyline. Episode 288 features revealing commentary provided by E Street creator and executive Producer, Forrest Redlich.
|Title||Format||Ep #||Discs||Region 4 (Australia)||Special Features||Distributors|
|The Best of Mr Bad (Volume 01)||DVD||20 (Episodes 253-272)||5||August 2007||Commentary On Episode 272.
|The Best of Mr Bad (Volume 02)||DVD||19 (Episodes 273-292)||5||3 December 2007||Commentary On Episode 288.
|E Street (Collection 01)||DVD||Episodes 01-96||25||4 December 2019||None||Via Vision Entertainment|
The Belgian channel vtm reshot E Street in a Dutch version called Wittekerke. Wittekerke followed similar storylines during first seasons, although there were some minor differences due to cultural differences. It was the intention to only make 1 season with 32 episodes. However, Wittekerke became a success and 15 seasons (1067 episodes) were made. Wittekerke was aired between 1993 and 2008 and again from 2012 on.