How We Are Now – Sun Herald (13/02/94)

13 February 1994
Sun HeraldĀ 

Under The Skin is a new 12-part series of half-hour dramas, which looks below the surface of Australian life. A Film Australia/Realworld Pictures co-production in association with SBS Television, Under The Skin reflects the regional and cultural diversity of contemporary Australia.

Premiering on SBS at 8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm) this Wednesday, and continuing each Wednesday night in that timeslot for 12 weeks, Under The Skin exposes with humour, frankness and sophistication the cultural diversity that lies at the heart of Australia today.

Written and directed by a new generation of award-winning film-makers, the series’ stories are fresh and original and deal with universal themes. Each episode is a one-off drama with its individual style, characters and location settings. Many are set in family situations and some are told from a child’s or teenager’s point of view. There are hard-hitting refugee stories, quirky black comedies, street-wise drama, family conflict, old age love stories, road movies and teenage romance – something for everyone.

The series includes well-known names and showcases some of Australia’s brightest up-and-coming acting talent including: Norman Kaye, Noni Hazlehurst, Alwyn Kurts, Nadine Garner, Joe Spano, Frankie J Holden, Sean Scully, Kerry Walker, Irini Pappas, Peter Whitford, Anna-Maria Monticelli, Annie Byron, Gwen Plumb, Tina Bursill, Barry Otto and John Jarratt.

And the series introduces youngsters who could well be Australia’s stars of tomorrow, including Bianca Murdaca, Justin D’Orazio, Gina Do, Arthur Angel and Lawrie Watts, while former SBS presenter Annette Shun Wah makes her acting debut.

“The actors from non-English-speaking backgrounds we’ve cast have been extraordinary, there’s no other word for it,” says series producer Franco di Chiera. “Many have agents but have been unable to get lead roles until now. They’ve been no less impressive than the profile names the series has attracted.”

The same applies to everyone who worked on the series: either in front of or behind the cameras, from all over Australia – no matter what cultural background they came from.

“If you are trying to prove there are worthwhile stories from places other than Sydney and Melbourne, great writers and directors from non-English-speaking backgrounds and that there are women who are the best people for a particular job, you don’t adopt discriminatory practices, otherwise it defeats the purpose,” di Chiera explains.

“We only ever asked that people remain geniunely open to the possibilities. The onus was on the directors and line producers to show they had considered a range of people. It’s more of an effort to find what talent is really out there, but it’s worth it.

“Once the effort had been made to consider such a range of people, the rest was up to the director to make the final recommendation based on quality, suitability and working relationship criteria. I like to think that at the end of this process you have choices that might otherwise have been overlooked.

“Although this process has been intense, it has proved to be a true test of commitment by everyone involved and the results show, both in terms of the integrity of the stories and the freshness of the programs.

“Let’s hope Under The Skin marks the end of Australian television’s’monochrome’, and the start of a truly vibrant industry, which not only entertains but reflects the real Australia as well,” di Chiera says.

The 12 episodes are:


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), this Wednesday. The prettiest and smartest girl in high school never dates schoolboys – until, that is, the awkward yet fast-talking Dino comes along. (This episode was filmed in Victoria)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, February 23. An eight-year-old girl is looking forward to her confirmation and shocks the local priest when she takes revenge for her “uncle’s” abuse. (NSW)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, March 2. Grandma’s passing away precipitates a seething tragi-comedy. A tango of life, death, food and sex. (NSW)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, March 9. Two middle-aged women cleaners find themselves in a plush executive office, where they live out a fantasy of romance and luxury. (South Australia)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, March 16. A nine-year-old boy is introduced to some of the tough facts of life during a long taxi ride to a country town with his mother and sister. (NSW)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, March 23. When a military coup ends democracy in Fiji in May, 1987, the lives of a young Fijian-Indian couple living in Australia are shattered. (Queensland)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, March 30. The poignant story of a woman, a widow for 10 years, who shocks her family when she starts dating a charming 70-year-old man. (South Australia)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, April 6. A nine-year-old boy must learn to adjust to a new life, living with his doting grandmother and attending a new school, after his parents’ divorce. (Victoria)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, April 13. An outspoken 19-year-old Aboriginal girl finds herself living on the outskirts of the city, five months pregnant and worried about her baby’s future. (Queensland)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, April 20. From her heavenly vantage point, the family matriarch looks down on a gathering of her family at Chinese New Year and decides it’s time to sort out their troubled lives. (NSW)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, April 27. Sam doesn’t care much for kids until he develops a friendship with his young neighbour. (Western Australia)


8pm (Adelaide, 7.30pm), Wednesday, May 4. A young girl makes a special blanket for her sick grandmother, which will bless her with long life and good health. But her activities get her into trouble. (Western Australia)

Funding for Under The Skin was provided by the NSW Film and TV Office, Film Queensland, Film Victoria, FilmSouth, the Western Australia Film Council, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Ethnic Affairs Commission (NSW.)

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