As America readies itself for series 3 of the brilliant Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on public television, another Australian drama is headed our way. Debuting in Australia in 2013, A Place to Call Home stars Marta Dusseldorp, Noni Hazelhurst, Brett Climo, Craig Hall, David Berry, Abby Earl and Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood. While its pretty certain these are names you won’t recognize here in the States, they are household names in Australia who bring this series to life with spot-on quality performances. Once broadcast on public television stations, comparisons will be inevitable to the British drama juggernaut, Downton Abbey, and some critics have even gone as far as touting this as the Australian Downton Abbey. As a matter of fact, when A Place to Call Home actually premiered in Australia, it was in the Downton Abbey timeslot on Channel 7.
While A Place to Call Home is set in a very different time than Downton (1953 vs. 1912-1925), you can definitely see some surface similarities. Downton Abbey has the Crawleys, A Place to Call Home has the Bligh’s. Downton Abbey has, well, Downton, while A Place to Call Home has Ash Park, the stately home of the Bligh’s. One family has their Dowager Countess, the other has their own family matriarch, Elizabeth Bligh. You may have thought the Dowager Countess was ruthless and had issues with Lady Sybil defied her aristocratic position and went outside the family class structure by marrying the staff chauffeur, Tom Branson, you don’t even know the meaning of ruthless until you see the lengths to which Elizabeth Bligh will go to to keep the ‘family’ together and their place in society intact.
Set in Country New South Wales in the period following World War II, A Place to Call Home follows Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp), as she returns to Australia after twenty years abroad to start a new life. Armed with a very secretive past, she ends up clashing with wealthy matriarch Elizabeth Bligh (Hazelhurst). Actually, ‘clashing’ is being very, very kind. There are so many twists and turns for the residents of both Ash Park and the town of Inverness that you are going to need to keep score to keep up with the melodrama and all that that implies. The series is set against the backdrop of all the social change of the 1950s that is happening which also gives it a bit of a Call the Midwife feel.
Nominated for three Logie Awards in 2014, the Australian equivalent of the Oscars in the U.S., for Most Outstanding Drama Series, Most Popular Actress and Most Popular New Talent, there are 2 series of A Place to Call Home that exist with a third one currently in production in Australia. This is definitely one worth checking out when it comes to a public television station near you. Series 3 will premiere in Australia in late 2015.