Bartons on the Web!


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Below you'll find some facts about the production of the television series. Most of this information is compiled from information Olivia, Rosemary and Royce told me and my own research. That research includes so much time looking around Glen Waverley on Google Maps and Streetview, I could probably find my way there blindfolded.

I've split everything in "Production details" and "Trivia", because, well, it seemed like the logical thing to do. The trivia section also includes a few bits on the short and the book, but mostly is about the show.

Have fun!


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Overshot
The series was filmed from March 1987 through to mid August 1987. Original paperwork states that shooting would last until mid July, so production overran its schedule by about a month.

Monash for the win
Most outdoors footage was shot in and around Glen Waverley, part of the City of Monash, a suburb of Melbourne. It's located in the east of Melbourne's metropolitan area.

  • The Barton's house is on 5 Copnal Court;
  • Mr Jensen's house is right next door to it, at No. 6;
  • The Capaletti's house is right across the street, at No. 10;
  • The Banksiawood city center, seen during the chase scene in Mr Snoller's Black Bag, is actually that of Glen Waverley;
  • Elly follows Mr. Snoller into a library; that's the Glen Waverley branch of the Monash Public Library;
  • In the shot where she looks around just before entering the library, you can see the Monash City Council building, which is right next to it;
  • The scenes where Clare and Elly post the application letters for the fire department in Position Vacant, were filmed on Townsend Street. The street sign is visible and readable in Clare's scene;
  • The mall shown in Suspected is the Century City Walk mall;
  • The cinema in that same episode is the Village Cinema inside that mall.

Although Glen Waverley has changed a lot in the past 34 years, all those locations are still there. According to one cast member, 4 Copnal Court (a house not used in the show but of course right next door to number 5 and seen in some shots) hasn't changed at all in that time.

Other locations
  • The outdoors scenes in Half-time were filmed at the Cheltenham Oval (renamed to the Jack Barker Oval in 2008) in Melbourne; home of the Melbourne AFL club Cheltenham FNC;
  • The camp scenes in Beautiful Beetroot were filmed at the YMCA Mt Evelyn Recreation Camp, Mount Evelyn;
  • The beach scenes in Bartons on the Beach were filmed at Somer's Beach, Somers, Victoria.
Have a look
5 Copnal Court, the library, the cinema, the football oval and the camp site's main building are all on Google Streetview. I've saved you the effort of looking them up; you can have a (virtual) stroll around all of them in the boxes below.

View contents from Google Maps and Streetview.
Please note that Google Maps (and Streetview) is an external service and not covered by our privacy policy. Please read Google's privacy policy to see how it collects and handles your (personal) data.

Inside job
Indoor shots were filmed in the ABC's Ripponlea Studios on 8 Gordon Street, Elsternwick. This legendary studio, nicknamed Dream Factory, was built in the 1950s as one of the first ABC studios. The studio was decommissioned in 2017, with all productions and staff moving to ABC's Southbank Studios. You can read a bit more and watch a tour of the studio in the Trivia section below (under the "Best kept secret" and "House for sale" headers).

Real(istic) Estate
Talking of the indoor shots, set designers Frank Earley and Mem Alexander did a great job making the sets look like the real thing. Pics of the interior of the real house can be found online (links to a real estate agent's site). The kitchen and the bathroom look just like the Bartons set (or rather the other way around).

Tree's company
The location scouts couldn't find a suitable house that actually had a tree in the backyard. So they went with a house that didn't, and filmed the scenes involving the tree elsewhere. If the house and the tree were needed in a single shot, like the opening shot of the first episode, the tree would be added to the shot in post production.

All hands on deck
Episodes were filmed and produced in a staggered way. This means that, as the cast and on set crew moved on to the following episode, the previous episode went into editing and post production with that episode's director. While saving time compared with doing things the "sequential way", it means a reshoot of a scene for the previous episode could cause delays in the schedule or would be moved all the way to the back of the schedule. This sometimes led to funny situations (see "Tight fit" below).
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Elly's tree, seen here towering over the Barton's house, is not really there.

Still from the opening scene of The Siege of Bartons' Bathroom. Digitised by me under fair use.

Taping schedule
Below is the 25 March 1987 taping schedule as handed out to cast and crew. It was amended from the original schedule, which couldn't be kept because some major roles had yet to be cast (see "The right Elly"). I know this isn't the final schedule; it must have been amended yet again on a later date, as the show overran this schedule by about a month, wrapping up in the second half of August 1987. Unfortunately I don't have access to the final version.


Block 1:
The week of 5 - 11 April
Scenes for Half-time

Block 2:
The week of 18 - 25 April
Additionally: 27, 29 and 30 April
Scenes for Bartons on the Beach (outdoors only)

Block 3:
The week of 3 - 9 May
And the week of 10 - 16 May
Scenes for The Barton League of Bird Lovers and Three Little Pigs

Block 4:
The week of 17 - 23 May
And the week of 24 - 30 May
Scenes for Mr Snoller's Black Bag and Position Vacant

Block 5:
The week of 31 May - 6 June
And the week of 7 - 13 June
Scenes for The Great Billycart Aid Race and Suspected.
Indoor scenes for Bartons on the Beach

Block 6:
The week of 14 - 20 June
And the week of 21 - 27 June
Scenes for Beautiful Beetroot and The Siege of Bartons' Bathroom

Block 7:
The week of 28 June - 4 July
And the week of 5 - 11 July
Scenes for Bye Bye Bartons and Musical Rooms

Block 8:
The week of 12 - 18 July
Additional scenes and reshoots




 
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Olivia Harkin Bartons opening credits

Olivia's sweater

Still from the opening credits. Digitised by me under fair use.

Sweet sweater
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.

Under twelve
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. Regulations in the UK don't allow certain swear words in television programming before 9 PM, which is known as the watershed. And although poofter itself is not on that list, it comes pretty close to a British equivalent that is (just leave out some letters). If that is really the reason, I guess the BBC was afraid The Bartons would add a swear word to British playground vocabulary.

It's a real shame Suspected was dropped, as the episode itself is excellent and the plot can be a real eye opener to some kids, regardless of the language used in it. And just like other aspects of what makes Bartons stand out and special: the use of the word without shame perfectly reflects how kids talk when adults aren't around (and sometimes when they are…). So is leaving out an episode for this reason rightfully protective, or naive? Was it left out for the good of the kids watching the show, or out of fear for the letters of complaint from disgruntled parents? Discuss in the comments =)


Percentage envy
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.

Petition time
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.

Primetime Elly
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!

Rerun record
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.

Das Buch
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.

Silly Auntie
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.

Exchange student
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…

Legally Correct
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.

Love/hate relationship
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.

Beautiful Barracks
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 by moving the slider over the picture below. The pink circle in the side view comparison highlights one of the few elements that has survived all the changes over the past 35 years: a single tube light by the service door.

1987 2021
1987 2021
Left photo: still from the episode Beautiful Beetroot, digitised by me under fair use
Right photo: ©2021 Google; cropped for clarity source (opens Google Streetview in a seperate window)

1987 2021
1987 2021
Left photo: still from the episode Beautiful Beetroot, digitised by me under fair use
Right photo: ©2021 Google; cropped for clarity source (opens Google Streetview in a seperate window)

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.

Time flies
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.

Hills hoist
When reading the 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.

The Hills hoist is somewhat of an icon in Australia. While doing research for this site, I came across poems, documentaries, family photo's of random Australians sitting underneath it (is that a thing? I know shade can be scarce there, but there has to be a better way…? ;)).

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.
Toni

My friend Toni's original Hills hoist. Photographed exclusively for this website.

Picture courtesy of Toni.


Type casted
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!

The other Elly
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 11 years old.

If you've only ever seen the television version of Elly, like I have, this is a weird thought to wrap your head around.

Noch eine Elly
And speaking of other Elly's, there's another one we should mention: Stephanie Kellner voiced Elly in the German dub of the Bartons.

True Blue
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:

View contents from YouTube.
Please note that YouTube is an external service and not covered by our privacy policy. Please read YouTube's privacy policy to see how it collects and handles your (personal) data.

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Pippa and Rosemary Smith


Picture kindly provided by Rosemary Smith. From her personal collection.

What's in a name?
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.

Actual Anita
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.

Actual sisters
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.
Tight fit
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.

Best kept secrets
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.

Studio Safari
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.

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Opens 'The Age' website in an external window or tab


House for sale
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).

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Wading through cold water.
On the set of
Bartons on the Beach


Picture kindly provided by Rosemary Smith. From her personal collection.



Wading
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.

NCIS: Banksiawood
The episode The Great Billycart Aid Race was written by Shane Brennan. Later in life, Shane became executive producer and overall "show runner" for the American drama series NCIS. He also created that series' spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles.

Descriptions Discrepancies
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.

McMac
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".








 

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