Glenda Hambly's involvement in film and television began as early as the late 1970s, when she was both researcher for and director of The Distant Lens: Western Australia's Moving Memories (1979), a fifty-minute documentary made for the Film and Television Institute of Western Australia and the Perth Institute of Film and Television.
Hambly remained associated with the Western Australian film and television industry for her next work: Fran (1985), a film showing a single mother's attempts to balance her love and care for her children with her own need for an intimate relationship, was filmed in Perth and produced by Barron Entertainment. Written and directed by Hambly, the film won her an AFI Award and an AWGIE Award for her script, as well as attracting AFI Award nominations for Best Director and Best Film.
After Fran, Hambly concentrated more on script-writing than on directing, writing episodes of The Flying Doctors (1986) and Home and Away (1988). She retuned briefly to directing with a succession of episodes for children's adventure series Ship to Shore (1993) and in 2000 both wrote and directed Waiting at the Royal, in which four women with seemingly little in common enter the same maternity ward: Waiting at the Royal got Hambly her second directing nomination (AFI Award for Best Direction in a Television Drama, 2000), and won both the Banff Rockie Award for Best Made-for-TV Movie (Banff Television Festival, 2001) and the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Telemovie/Mini-Series (2001).
She is also credited as the script editor for John Cundill's 1993 film Love in Limbo.
Home and Away is a television serial created by Alan Bateman and produced by the Seven Network. The idea for the series came to Bateman (then head of drama at Seven) after he stopped to buy ice-creams in a small country town in southern NSW. While chatting to some locals, he learned that the town was unhappy about plans to build a home for foster kids from the city. At that time, Channel Seven was still smarting from its decision to let Neighbours go to the Ten Network, where it had become hugely popular, and was looking to create another series to rival its success. Bateman saw in the idea that became Home and Away the potential for plenty of storylines and conflict by having streetwise city kids being relocated to a small regional environment,
In the beginning, the series focused on Pippa and Tom Fletcher, who, being unable to have children of their own, decide to become foster parents. When Tom is retrenched from his city job, the couple buy the rundown Summer Bay Caravan Park and move there with their five foster children. Soon after arriving, they also take in troublesome Bobby Simpson.
The series debuted in January 1988 with an hour-long telemovie. Although this rated well, the series itself took some while to develop an audience. Having learned their lesson from the Neighbours debacle, Network Seven gave its new show time, and its ratings gradually increased. As with Neighbours, the Home and Away series and performers became very popular in the United Kingdom.