In the late 1950s and ‘60s satirist Barry Humphries, art critic Robert Hughes, feminist Germaine Greer and poet, writer and broadcaster Clive James all left our shores and went on to become cultural iconoclasts at the centres of western cultural life; London and New York.
These Australians literally changed the cultural landscape of their homeland from half a world away. Hughes, Humphries, Greer and James were a brilliant quartet of minds, war babies born to the cheerful cultural stillness of the Menzies era, who were the vanguards of enormous cultural change both in Australia and around the world.
They all left Australia as the 1960s movement was blossoming. Germaine Greer wrote a book that literally rocked the planet, and then debated Norman Mailer in New York, winning his undying respect. Robert Hughes revolutionised the way we saw art and culture, and Barry Humphries rewrote the Australian lexicon, putting it back together with an ironic humour that now speaks to the heart of modern Australia.
As for Clive James, he became our favourite cultural critic – the everyman conquering “The North Face of Soho.” His 1983 book, “Brilliant Creatures” inspired the title of this series.
What’s unique about this series is that their remarkable stories are authored and presented by Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, who himself is an intrinsic part of the story.
This two-part series is creatively told with wonderfully rich archive and musical sequences that reflect a fond take on the era. It is also Jacobson’s deeply personal journey, going back in time and half a world away, and asking how it was that these four Australians came from the same place, a land that was three million square miles, but felt like a small village, then managed to leave a colossal footprint in the cultural capitals of London and New York.
Brilliant Creatures is a two part documentary series that first aired as Rebels of Oz on BBCFour and screened 16 & 23 September at 8.30pm on ABC.
Director Paul Clarke
Producer Dan Goldberg
Executive Producer Margie Bryant
Executive Producer Adam Kay
ABC Executive Producer Jo Chichester
Head of ABC Arts Katrina Sedgwick
The Greirson Awards
Director Paul Clarke has be shortlisted for The Grierson Awards for his work on Rebels of Oz (Brilliant Creatures) in the category Best Arts Documentary
The Grierson Awards commemorate the pioneering Scottish documentary filmmaker John Grierson (1898 – 1972), famous for Drifters and Night Mail and the man widely regarded as the father of the documentary.
Established in 1972, the Grierson Awards recognise and celebrate documentaries from Britain and abroad that have made a significant contribution to the genre and that demonstrate quality, integrity, creativity, originality and overall excellence.
Paul Clarke for Mint Pictures & Serendipity Productions; first shown: BBC Four
NSW Premiere’s Awards
Dan Goldberg and Margie Bryant (Mint Pictures & Serendipity Productions) have won the NSW Premieres Award in the category Multimedia History Prize for Brilliant Creatures.
Brilliant Creatures was also nominated for an AACTA Awards in the category Best Documentary Television Program.