The longest-running serial on Australian radio and an Australian institution, Blue Hills was broadcast by the ABC from 1949 to 1976. Written by Sydney playwright Gwen Meredith (1907–2006), Blue Hills was the sequel to The Lawsons (1944–49), an immensely popular drama created by the ABC’s Rural Department.
Meredith was originally commissioned to write a serial for a new ABC program, The Country Hour. The serial was intended to serve as a vehicle to convince farmers to modernise their methods and grow new crops. A drama of a farming family during wartime, The Lawsons debuted on 23 February 1944. Episodes ran for 15 minutes every weekday, and Meredith wrote them all.
By 1949, and 1299 episodes later, Gwen had exhausted the dramatic possibilities of her Lawsons characters, so she created a new serial with a more portable framework, also broadcast as part of The Country Hour. Blue Hills was named, she said, because ‘everywhere you go in Australia there are blue hills in the background’. Blue Hills began immediately after The Lawsons ended. Meredith still grounded the serial in relationships and family life, but she peppered the drama with ‘social issues’—for example, alcoholism and migration. In total, Meredith created 5795 episodes of Blue Hills.
At its heart, Blue Hills was a drama of character rather than plot, and Meredith was masterful in her creation of a large family of believable, warm characters. She depicted the drama of middle-class life with a distinctively Australian accent. Blue Hills earned Meredith the fierce loyalty and devotion of a huge fanbase, many of whom listened to Blue Hills their entire adult lives. She published several novels from the serials, and was appointed MBE in 1967 for her services to radio broadcasting and an OBE in 1977 for her services to the arts.
REF: Blue Hills Revisited (1988).