Most anecdotes and trivia come from Olivia, Rosemary and Jocelyn with my own observations and research thrown in for good measure.
Still from the opening credits. Digitised by me under fair use.
The knitted sweater Elly is wearing in the opening credits, was not issued by the ABC's wardrobe department. It's Olivia's own sweater she brought from home.
In the UK, viewers got a lot less 'Bartons for their buck', as the episode Suspected was never shown there. This left British viewers with only 11 episodes. The BBC (allegedly) decided not to broadcast Suspected because of the word poofter being used a lot in it.
I wonder how many Bartons fans from the UK just realised there's 8.33% more Bartons still to be seen. I sort of envy them, as the rest of us have 0% more Bartons to look forward too.
In the Netherlands, the show got a second run just months after its original run ended. This was after Dutch viewers (including myself) wrote the TV station telling them they loved the show and they missed it already. It wasn't an organised petition; it just so happened a good number of viewers felt the same and decided to write in. The host of the children's block of programming that Bartons was a part of during it's first run there, told viewers they recieved quite a few letters asking for a repeat. Eventually Bartons was repeated in full over the summer of 1991.
Not only did the Dutch station repeat The Bartons, they even bumped it to early primetime. The Bartons replaced Full House during that show's summer break. As the BBC repeated it during that same time period, Dutch viewers could watch Bartons twice a week for the entire summer. Those were the times!
Hands down, Germany is the country that's most nuts about the Bartons. Atleast if the number of runs the show had there is anything to go by. No less than seven runs, over a period of ten years, not counting next day repeats. Six of those runs were on national television, spread across several networks both commercial and publicly funded.
Last line of defence
Germany has another record up its sleeve: for as far as I could find out, the very last time The Bartons were on TV anywhere in the world, was in Germany in November 2000. Just stop and think about that for a second; that's nearly thirteen years after the series first aired world wide in Australia.
This probably also explains why, to this day in October 2020, you can still buy the German edition of Jocelyn Moorhouse' Bartons book, new and sealed, in Germany.
Compare the above trivial facts about Holland and Germany with the Barton's broadcast history in Australia, the show's home turf no less, where it only showed once. ONCE. Three weeks and gone. Someone at the ABC made a bad decision there.
When Olivia came to Denmark as an exchange student in 1992, she was told that The Bartons was still on TV in Europe. She could hardly believe that at the time, but she now knows that was very true!
Real Girl Guides
The extras that play the Girl Guides in Beautiful Beetroot are actual Girl Guides. It's the 2nd Glen Waverley Guide Company from the Glen Waverley Girl Guides, who might even be the world's most famous Australian Girl Guides out there because of it. And they probably don't even know it…
Speaking of Beautiful Beetroot: after finding the cigarettes, Elly lists which Guide Laws Vivienne must have broken ("1, 2, 4, 5 ("Definitely 5, that poor frog", Anita adds), and most likely No. 8 as well").
Well, I checked, and Elly's right: according to the Australian Guide Laws that were in use in 1987, Vivienne broke those exact ones.
The 9th Guide Law that Vivienne uses as an excuse to take possession of the girls' property is indeed as Shelley explains to Elly and Anita. Of course, Vivienne interprets it to her advantage and not in the way it as intended.
More Beautiful Beetroot: While Elly hated the barracks, Olivia absolutely doesn't; it's the very place her school booked for its annual Music Camp. So even though Elly is disgusted with the bunks and dorm rooms, Olivia has some great memories from that place.
Speaking of those barracks, in reality they're the main building of the YMCA Mt Evelyn Recreation Camp. The building is still there in 2021, but has seen some work done in the past decades. Most notably, the ground floor and the entrance to the building have since been expanded with a brickwork extension.
Compare how the building looked in the episode to how it looks today on the Filming Locations page.
Another love/hate relationship
You know what else Elly dislikes in that episode? Vivienne's obnoxious blonde side kick Shelley! But again: Olivia absolutely doesn't hate her, as that girl was played by Andree van Schaik, Olivia's real-life best friend at school. Olivia was really excited when it was time to shoot this episode as she had missed seeing her school friends while away on shoot.
This wasn't the first time Andree and Olivia shared the screen; Andree was also in the Kaboodle episode that Olivia was in.
One last Beautiful Beetroot bit of trivia: the book specifies how long Elly was a Girl Guide: three weeks. In the episode, it appears to be much shorter. Time flies when you're not having fun, I guess.
In Barton League of Bird Lovers Yvonne is forced to read from The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins. Elly thinks the book is about eagles, but in reality it's a World War II thriller definitely not suitable for seven year olds.
Later in the same episode, Elly and Anita initiate the "eggs" by asking questions from a bird guide. That's the 1980 A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Graham Pizzey (thanks to fellow Bartons fan Boubekeur from Algeria for identifying it!).
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins. There are several editions and prints of this book, but this is the print used on The Barton League of Bird Lovers
The ISBN for this exact edition is unknown (to me), but the book is available with a different cover under ISBN 9780553205411
Picture source unknown, used under fair use/citaatrecht.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Graham Pizzey, 1980 first edition. As used by Elly on The Bartons League of Bird Lovers.
ISBN for this edition: 0691082774
Picture by of OpenLibrary.org, used under fair use/citaatrecht. Source.
Speaking of Yvonne's reading skills, her actress Pippa Smith could, in fact, read quite fluently and had to act that she couldn't. Pippa and her parents practiced the scene the night before filming. From Rosemary's interview for this site.
When reading the Bartons book, you'll come across the term Hills hoist a lot. It's also in the show; it's the thing Elly has the eggs hanging off while answering bird related questions during initiation. Hills hoist is the Australian name for a drying mill. Hills is the company that invented them, and the name just stuck. Hills is still around today (external link). The picture is of my friend Toni's original Hills hoist.
Although, to me, they don't look like they can handle children hanging off them during bird club initiations, according to this article by the ABC, a Hills hoist was the only thing left standing after Cyclone Tracy hit a Darwin family's home during Christmas 1974. So yeah, on second thought, I think they could perfectly handle a few eggs hanging off them.
My friend Toni's original Hills hoist. Photographed exclusively for this website.
Picture courtesy of Toni.
Jocelyn and Frankie J. Holden knew each other from Kelly's Crossing; a series that never aired.13 Jocelyn wrote the "series bible" and Frankie was cast in the pilot episode (the only episode filmed).
Frankie J. Holden is the only actor who's both in the short film and the series. I guess he really is the perfect Robert Barton!
Right photo: Frankie J. Holden as Robert Barton. Still from the short film The Siege of Bartons' Bathroom, image credit: ACMI, used under fair use/citaatrecht
Now that we've mentioned the short: the next time you watch Australian soap Neighbours, take a long look at the character Terese Willis. Her actress, Rebekah Elmaloglou, portrayed Elly in the short film when she was about 12 years old.
Right photo: Rebekah Elmaloglou as Elly Barton. Still from the short film The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, image credit: ACMI, used under fair use/citaatrecht
The Ellys share traits and differ slightly from each other (not just in looks). See the Overview page in the film section for an in-depth look at the differences between the Ellys (and other differences between the film, the episode of the same name and the television version of the characters).
And speaking of other Ellys, there's another one we should mention: Stephanie Kellner voiced Elly in the German dub of the Bartons.
If you Google "Elly Barton", you'll notice that there is another fictional character by that name: Hercule "Elly" Barton is a Japanese anime character from "Tantei Opera Mike Holmes".
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes […] is a media franchise owned by a Japanese trading card game company Bushiroad. It consists of an Internet radio drama […], an anime adaptation […], a manga adaptation […], a visual novel PlayStation Portable game […], a trading card game tie-in […] and a light novel series[…].
Miranda, the girl that Anthony fancies in Bartons on the Beach, claims to be a mermaid. Actress Rachel Friend, who plays Miranda, portrayed a "real" mermaid on an episode of Round the Twist a year after filming that scene.
The blue dress Elly hides under her bed in Musical Rooms is the same dress she's forcing herself to wear in Suspected.
The song True Blue, as sung by Lee and Douglas in the episode Bartons on the Beach, baffled me as a kid. Only when I got some Australian friends later in life, who explained it to me, I finally got what it was about. The original is by Australian singer John Williamson and is up on YouTube for you to enjoy:
Jocelyn Moorhouse was living in a shared house when in school. Douglas, Anthony and Paul were her house mates. As a joke, she decided to name Elly's brothers after them. She later married her housemate Paul, who we all know better as PJ Hogan.
Jocelyn drew more inspiration from her own life when inventing characters for The Bartons; she had a red haired best friend named Anita when she was young, so Elly got one too. The real Anita is now a chef. Read more about Jocelyn's inspiration in the interview I did with her in 2020.
Speaking of (Elly's) Anita: her little sister Yvonne is played by Pippa Smith; she's the real life sister of Rosemary Smith, who plays Anita.
Pippa and Rosemary Smith
Picture kindly provided by Rosemary Smith. From her personal collection.
Some scenes from earlier episodes needed to be redone. Among those episodes were Half-time and Bartons on the Beach. This was a problem, as the kids had grown over the months between the original shots and the reshoot. This meant that the sports uniforms from Half-time were now too small. And Olivia struggled to fit into her ugly matching bathing suit from Bartons on the Beach.
Andrew Best has worked at Ripponlea Studios (where the interiour scenes were taped) since 1981 and is the site's unofficial historian (opens abc.net.au). If his name sounds familiar to you, that's probably because Andrew is credited as "Action Props" handler and "Staging Assistant" on most episodes of C/o The Bartons.
Since 2018, the ABC has been trying to sell off (opens external site) the Elsternwick property where Ripponlea Studios is situated. Former Countdown host Ian 'Molly' Meldrum is running a petition (opens external site) to save the complex by having it declared a heritage. If someone has $20m lying around, we could buy the lot and turn it into a Bartons museum! (All right all right; we'll sub let a small portion for a Countdown museum).
Andrew toured a reporter from The Age around the studio back in 2016, for the complex' 50th birthday, when it was still in full use. You can watch a video report of that tour, with Andrew, below.
After being cast, each actor was handed an information package on the series. Among the documents are descriptions for each major character. As these are drawn up early in production, they sometimes change by the time filming starts. Also, not every aspect of a character's personality ends up being used in a script. Here are some fun facts from those character descriptions that we'd never have known just by watching the series:
- In Clare's character description her name is Marjorie Barton. This was apparantly later changed;
- The reason why Clare loves the fire brigade so much, is that she was rescued from a fire by them as a child. She dreams of one day writing a thriller about a fireman;
- Robert hates archery and Countdown (the music programme), and is the manager for the local Super-K-Mart. However, in the final scripts, Robert is a bank manager instead;
- Elly's favourite animal is the tasmanian devil (not the Looney Toons kind, mind you), followed by cats;
- Paul loves learning about English Tudor at school;
- Anthony hates "Murder She Wrote"…;
- … but Elly loves "Murder She Wrote";
- Elly hates netball. She's too short to play it properly;
- Douglas 'adores' Mrs. Turner, who plays the piano during his school's music and folk dancing classes;
- Anita McPherson aspires to one day be a world famous model, hates Wheel of Fortune (the game show) and loves jelly beans;
- Skinner wants to be a famous jazz musician when he grows up;
- Mr Jensen's physical appearance is literally described as: "Just imagine the way Max Phipps can look", referring to the actor that played Mr Jensen in the Bartons film. Max Phipps is (internationally) perhaps best known for his role as The Toadie, who loses his fingers to a sharp edged boomerang in Mad Max 2;
- Vince Capaletti hates the German language (Warum lieber Vince, warum!? Sie werden sehen, dass die deutsche Sprache eine schöne Seite hat, wenn jemand danach sucht!);
- The Capaletti boys have a sister: 17 year old Rosa Capaletti, who sometimes babysits the Barton kids.
Anita's last name is interchangeably spelt as either McPherson and MacPherson in documents and scripts. I'm going with McPherson on Bartons on the Web, as that's how her last name appears on the end credits (and most documents).
Novel forms of expletives
A letter from producer Jenifer Hooks on some points about working with children was included with the package, addressed to the adult cast members and crew. One of the points is that adults are reminded to "perhaps moderate excessive smoking around them and maybe invent some novel forms of expletives so necessary on working on a film".
Wading through cold water.
On the set of Bartons on the Beach
Picture kindly provided by Rosemary Smith. From her personal collection.
In order to film the scene where Paul and Anita wade through the creek in Bartons on the Beach, the crew waded along with the actors. But the crew was wearing suitable clothing; Matt and Rosemary were not….
The camera was wearing appropriate attire too: it was floating in a water proof glass box so it didn't get damaged.
Well not really as father and son, but Matt Day and his TV dad Frankie J. Holden did team up again on A Place to Call Home in 2017. Matt didn't play Frankie's son this time around though; Matt guest starred in five episodes as Ed Jarvis, a character unrelated to Frankie's Roy Briggs.
Speaking of Matt Day: he was (is?) quite the doodler. He doodled all over other cast members scripts during script readings. Below is one of his art works.
The cover of the script to Half-time, with Matt Day's doodling all over it. Matt was into punk music by the looks of it!
Picture courtesy of Rosemary Smith.
Alan Lovett, who portrayed Mr Snoller, is a poet as much as he is an actor. He performs on stage poetry in both English and Japanese with the Zoom Company in Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK and the US.
In May 2020, Alan performed some of his favourite poems in an online performance titled Poems to Lockdown to on seriouscomedy.com.au. Below is his announcement for that event.
A more detailed profile of Alan can be found on the Cast page.
One role that Alan Lovett played will be remembered by a lot of Melburnians. From the 1980s throughout the early 2000s, Alan portrayed the city's official Santa Claus.
Here's an interview with
All the Snollers related storylines are missing from the book. This makes them the only "main" characters exclusive to the television series. There's one episode in which the Snollers do appear that was reworked into the book (Bye Bye Bartons), but the Snollers were left out of that story line.
The Partial Billycart Aid Race
For years, a chunk of The Great Billycart Aid Race was all there was to be found of Bartons on YouTube. Someone digitised a bit of an old VHS tape that contained this episode and uploaded it (no, it wasn't me). The recording was made from the BBC broadcast.
Speaking of the Great Billycart Aid Race, the newspaper from which Elly cuts the article about Bob Geldof in this episode, is the Thursday 21 May 1987 edition of The Age, a real life Melburnian newspaper. The paper was altered by the crew for this episode. There's an in-depth look at those alterations here.
That very issue of The Age has another connection to C/o The Bartons: printed on page 47 is a news story on the show being in production.03 So maybe 21 May 1987 is, as Doc Brown in Back to the Future II puts it, "a temporal junction point for the entire space-time continuum". Well that, or the crew had a few copies of the issue at hand because the show was mentioned in it. I'm going with the latter.
Click on the picture for a better look.
Photo by me.
Both the Australian and the British front cover of the book feature a photo of Paul and Elly (or Matt and Olivia, depending how you look at it) doing the "poofter test"; Paul is looking at his finger nails and Elly is crossing her legs, but both not in the way Anthony would prefer it. It took me a while to notice that!
More book trivia: the photo on the German front cover of the book (taken on the set of The Great Billycart Aid Race) was colourised: Elly's blouse has a red and black checkered pattern in the episode, yet on this photo what is supposed to be red is now yellow.
The red 1980 (XD) Ford Falcon GL that Robert drives is a bit of a Frankenstein's Ford according to the Internet Movie Car Database (IMCDb.com). It has bits and parts of different trims added; you couldn't buy that exact car in 1980.
Brendan Cowell portrayed Paul in the film. He was aged 10 when the film was made. Remember I mentioned that Rebekah Elmaloglou was 12 when she portrayed Elly? That means Paul is Elly's younger brother in the film (assuming the actor's age is about the same as their characters of course). Weird, huh?
Australia only had 16 million inhabitants in 1987; that's relatively small for the country's size. That makes for a relatively small pool of acting talent too, which means you'll see your favourite Bartons actors in a various other Australian productions on a regular basis.
Blue Heelers and Prisoner pop up as the productions that feature the most Bartons stars. Frankie J. Holden, Jennifer Jarman-Walker, Maud Clark, Alan Lovett, Lesley Baker, Bob Ruggiero and Maureen Edwards all had roles in one or usually both of these series. Australian soap opera Neighbours is a close second, followed by Phoenix (which also sees Olivia guest starring in an episode).
Although the first episode of the television series and the short film appear to have the same title, there is a small difference: the film is titled The Siege of Barton's Bathroom; while the episode is titled The Siege of Bartons' Bathroom; a difference of apostrophical size.
Max Phipps, Scott Bartle and Rebekah Elmaloglou all appeared in the Australian soap opera E Street in the late 1980's. Scott Bartle and Rebekah Elmaloglou teamed up again as relatives in the Touch the Sun film Princess Kate (1988).
In the film, Elly really is the middle child: she has two older brothers (Paul and Tony) and two younger brothers (Douglas and Dominic). Dominic was 'merged" into the Douglas-character for the television series.
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