Set in a small, fictional, New South Wales country town called Wandin Valley, A Country Practice focused on the staffs of the town's medical practice and local hospital and on the families of the doctors, nurses, and patients. Many of the episodes also featured guest characters (frequently patients served by the practice) through whom various social and medical problems were explored. Although often considered a soap opera, the series was not built around an open-ended narrative; instead, the two one-hour episodes screened per week formed a self-contained narrative block, though many of the storylines were developed as sub-plots for several episodes before becoming the focus of a particular week's storyline. While the focus was on topical issues such as youth unemployment, suicide, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and terminal illness, the program did sometimes explore culturally sensitive issues, including, for example, the Aboriginal community and their place in modern Australian society.
Among the show's principal characters were Dr Terence Elliott, local policeman Sergeant Frank Gilroy, Esme Watson, Shirley Dean Gilroy, Bob Hatfield, Vernon 'Cookie' Locke, and Matron Margaret 'Maggie' Sloan. In addition to its regularly rotating cast of characters, A Country Practice also had a cast of semi-regulars who would make appearances as the storylines permitted. Interestingly, while the series initially targeted the adult and older youth demographic, it became increasingly popular with children over the years.
One of the most popular drama series in Australian television history, A Country Practice ran on the Seven Network for 1,058 episodes from 18 November 1981 to 22 November 1993. It was produced in ATN-7's production facility at Epping, Sydney, with location shooting at Pitt Town (on the outskirts of Northwest Sydney). After Seven closed down production in 1993, Network 10 co-produced 30 additional episodes with JNP Films. This series, which aired between April and November 1994, was filmed largely on location in Emerald, Victoria.
The series was popular in a number of other countries, airing, for example, in the United Kingdom (through ITV), in several European countries, and in Hong Kong and Canada. It has been estimated that at its height, the show received a worldwide audience of five to six million each week.
Many well-known identities from outside television made guest appearances on the series over the years, including Baz Luhrmann, Smokey Dawson, John Meillon, Sir Robert Helpmann, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, and Simon Baker. The series is also one of the most successful series in the history of the Logie Awards, having won twenty-nine times.
After Molly suffers a fall at the farm, her and Brendan's son is born prematurely and dies a few days after birth.Sydney : JNP Films , 1984
'Matron Sloan takes a special interest in a stranger who applies for a job at the hospital. Fatso is missing and Simon and Vicky are terrified when they hear that a wombat has been shot. Simon gets some unexpected training for the sleepless nights he can expect with the baby. Matron Sloan tries to help a Vietnam veteran who is suffering a breakdown.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 20/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1985
'Wandin Valley is invaded by gun-toting hunters as the annual duck-season gets under way. Cathy is determined to find out who shot her horse. Jo refuses to talk to Michael despite his profuse apologies. Cathy decides to resign. Matron Sloan is intrigued to know why her two doctors are being so formal with each other. A shooting accident tears a family apart. Penny tries a little match-making between her two favourite doctors, although Terence and Alex don't seem to need much encouragement. Cathy tears up her resignation.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 20/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1987
'A boy turns to his father for help when he is tormented by a fellow student. The hospital chef decides to propose to the girl of his dreams, but wakes up the next morning to find he has popped the question to someone entirely different. A terrified boy takes desperate measures to stop a bully. There are a few surprises for Jo on her eighteenth birthday.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 20/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1988
'Victoria Flemming, a famous opera singer and her "maestro," Francesco Giannini, are befriended by Frank and Shirley. Cathy returns from Kakadu with a smile on her face. Could it have something to do with a mysterious helicopter pilot? Frank and Shirley's match-making pays off with the wedding of Victoria and Francesco. Lucy has big financial problems. With a bit of help from old Perce Hudson, Luke's precious car becomes a vet-mobile.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 20/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1989
'Esme's use of steroids startles Wandin Valley residents. Steve's animals are being poisoned. John Bushnell, a mildly retarded man is abandoned at the hospital by his mother Sue and sister Alison. Jess and Cris help John overcome some of his difficulties. Terence and Ann form a new bond and relationship as they help Linda McNeil give birth. Matt has egg on his face when Bob and Cookie fall for his yarn about feral chooks.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 20/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1990
'Lynette Cooper, a young and inexperienced farm hand, is left on her own to run the farm where she is working—until her long-lost sister shows up after having broken out of detention. Shirley has pneumonia. Harry tries to impress a young woman on the golf course. Steve has a close encounter with a horse on the highway.
'Harry decides that it would be best for him to move out of Steve's house and he finds a new home with Terence at Camelot. Rowie decides to donate one of her kidneys to save her sister. Tiger Kelly drives a truck into Cookie and Bob's house. Kate Bryant, a new nurse at the hospital, moves in with Steve and Luke at the farm and takes possession of the horse Steve nearly hit.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 20/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1991
'Maryam Zahedi, an immigrant woman originally from the Middle East, loses her job at the hospital. She and her daughter Zozan are getting a rough time from people in the community, and when Tom comes by to see them, Maryam's daughter runs away in fear of him, or more accurately, his uniform. A farmer leaves his barking dog with Anna when his neighbours start complaining but it doesn't take long for the incessant noise to get to Harry either. The dog it turns out, can only be soothed by the music the farmer's recently deceased wife used to play. Maryam's application for residency is rejected. The new clinic receptionist is fired for smoking on the job.
'Hugo finds Zozan hiding out at at the lodge and takes her back to her mother. Bernice consults Harry, the resident golf expert, about putting in a golf course in at Rainbow Farm, while at the same time, Darcy is undertaking a plan to revegetate the land. Maryam receives notice that her husband has been executed. She is sent the bill for the bullet which provides the evidence she needs to claim refugee status. A party for Terence's 50th birthday is held at the club.'
Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 21/6/2013)Sydney : JNP Films , 1993