Mother and Son

Mother and Son is an Australian television sitcom that was broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) from 16 January 1984 until 21 March 1994. The show stars Ruth Cracknell, Garry McDonald, Henri Szeps and Judy Morris. It featured many Australian actors of the time in guest roles. It was created and written by Geoffrey Atherden. Its theme song features the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, playing to "I Want a Girl", a jazz standard which was recorded by Al Jolson in the 1920s.

Mother and Son
Created byGeoffrey Atherden
Directed byGeoff Portmann
StarringRuth Cracknell
Garry McDonald
Henri Szeps
Judy Morris
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes42 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)John O'Grady
Producer(s)Geoff Portmann
Running time22 minutes per episode
Original networkABC TV
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Original release16 January 1984 

21 March 1994

A stage version of Mother and Son was written by Geoffrey Atherden and premiered at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne on 18 July 2014.


The plot of the show addresses the problems of ageing and caring for somebody with increasing memory loss, with an often sharp-edged humour which carried with it a tinge of sadness. Despite its unlikely subject matter for a comedy, the show was a favourite with audiences. Maggie's and Arthur's relationship was presented with a fascinating complexity—Maggie's cruel attacks on and emotional manipulation of Arthur disguised her deep dependence on and need of him, and Arthur's dutiful love of Maggie was constantly in conflict with his guilty frustration at the huge limitations for his own life which looking after his mother entailed. The performance of Cracknell, a famous stage actress, as Maggie was particularly lauded as one of the finest characterisations on Australian television. The series itself became extremely popular and has screened in constant reruns, particularly by Network Ten. Garry McDonald and Ruth Cracknell in character would appear in television adverts for Dynamo laundry liquid.

Main characters

Maggie Beare [née Lapsy] (Ruth Cracknell)

Margaret May "Maggie" Beare, is the widow of World War II veteran Leo, mother of Robert and Arthur, sister to Lorna and grandmother to Damien and Teonie. Maggie (Cracknell) is in the early stages of some form of dementia and her younger son Arthur lives with and takes care of her. However, despite being increasingly forgetful, Maggie is lucid enough to manipulate Arthur when she wants to, usually for something devilish that will seriously inconvenience him. Maggie was a nurse and met Leo while treating him for war wounds.

Arthur Beare (Garry McDonald)

Younger son of Maggie and Leo, brother of Robert, uncle to Damien and Teonie and recent ex-husband of Deidre. Arthur (McDonald) is an editor and journalist for a newspaper. When he is not working, he is usually at home attending to the demands of his impish and increasingly confused mother. He drives a 1955 Morris Minor Series II Tourer[1] convertible that is constantly breaking down, has trouble bringing dates back to the house because of his mother's deliberate interference, and is almost always thwarted by Maggie whenever he attempts to socialize with his work friends. Maggie frequently excoriates Arthur, labelling all his would-be girlfriends as "floozies", he is nicknamed "Artie" by brother Robert.

Robert Beare (Henri Szeps)

Elder son of Maggie and Leo, brother of Arthur, husband to Liz and father of Damien and Teonie. Robert is a successful dentist who likes to take lots of holidays and have extramarital affairs. He does so by disguising his overseas holiday trysts as dental research conferences. His mother tells him off for his womanising and says that it is the reason he failed medical school, much to the disappointment of his late father. He is a 'man of leisure' who is adept at providing excuses as to why it is Arthur and not he that must take the primary care of their elderly mother. Robert loves to play tennis and golf and throughout the show, owns three cars; a Jaguar, Volvo and a BMW. When Arthur asked him for a loan to buy a new car, all Robert would offer him was a seriously impaired Volvo at a discount.

Liz Beare (Judy Morris)

Wife of Robert, mother to Damien and Teonie. The long-suffering Liz (Morris) is well aware of her husband's affairs but finds it difficult to prove any of them, because of Robert's well honed skill at covering them up. So in the meantime, Liz compensates by spending Robert's money and socialising with her equally rich, bored and unhappy friends. She occasionally seeks consolation from Arthur, using behaviour that could suggest that she is attracted to him. She is frequently, however, just as insensitive and selfish as Robert is and just as eager to put Maggie in a home. Liz has a verbal drawl, and is frequently heard to say "Oh Gawd" or "You're weird Arthur".

Recurring characters

Deidre Beare: Ex-wife of Arthur. Appears in five episodes. Deidre seems to want the best for her ex-husband Arthur and dislikes him looking after his mother. They end up getting back together in the final episode.

Aunty Lorna: Sister of Maggie. Appears in three episodes. She is married to Stan and has 3 children—Colin, Dawn and Murray. Lorna is the "younger and prettier" sister, much to Maggie's chagrin. Stan, Colin, Dawn and Murray do not appear in the show. In the second episode in which she appears it is revealed that Stan has died.




  • Suzanne Roylance as Deidre Beare (5 episodes)
  • Melissa Jaffer as Aunty Lorna (3 episodes)
  • Martin Vaughan as Dr. Holloway (3 episodes)
  • Roslyn Gentle as Wendy (2 episodes)
  • Warwick Moss as Fireman (2 episodes)
  • Ron Haddrick as Claude Price (2 episodes)
  • Constance Lansberg as Helen (2 episodes)
  • Suzette Williams as Constable (2 episodes)

The House

The house used for outside shots with the cast, built by John Cockerill in 1927, had an auction which was “off the Richter scale with well and truly over 100 people, at least”.

The house was mainly unknown in connection to the show (with most bidders being too young to know the sitcom) and sold in 2014 for $1.95 million to build a dual-occupancy dwelling with an underground garage and swimming pool.

No objections were received, the application was amended and demolition and construction was approved in June 2015.[2]

DVD releases

All six series have been released in Australia.

  • Vol. 1 (2 Disc Set) – 10 June 2004
  • Vol. 2 (2 Disc Set) – 3 February 2005
  • Vol. 3 (2 Disc Set) – 7 July 2005
  • Vol. 4 (2 Disc Set) – 6 October 2005
  • Vol. 5 (1 Disc Set) – 7 November 2007
  • The Complete Series 1–6 (6 Disc Box Set) – 7 November 2007
  • Series 1–1 April 2010
  • Series 2–1 April 2010
  • Series 3–1 April 2010
  • Series 4–1 April 2010
  • Series 5–1 April 2010
  • Series 6–1 April 2010

Digital Release

In 2016, the show in its entirety was available on Netflix in Australia.

As of 2018, it is on Stan.

Awards and nominations

Gold Logies

  • 1994: Most Popular Comedy Personality, Ruth Cracknell.

Silver Logies

  • 1993, 1994: Most Outstanding Actress, Ruth Cracknell.
  • 1994: Most Outstanding Actor, Garry McDonald.

Other awards

Stage productions

The stage version of Mother and Son, written by Geoffrey Atherden and starring Noeline Brown, Darren Gilshenan and Shane Jacobson, premiered at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne on 18 July 2014.

Jally Entertainment will tour the stage production in June and July 2020 to Caloundra, Wangaratta, Bainsdale, Wonthagi, Sale, Drysdale, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Mackay, Brisbane, Redland, Cessnock, Taree, Newcastle and Queanbeyan. The production stars Julie McGregor and Christopher Truswell.


  1. "Mother and Son Morris for sale | CarAdvice". Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  2. Frost, Nicole. "Iconic Australian TV home from Mother and Son demolished",, Australia, May 12, 2016. Retrieved on 2018-06-24.
  3. "1987 Human Rights Medal and awards winners". Human Rights Medal and Awards. Australian Human Rights Commission. 1987. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  4. Tynan, Jacinta (13 September 2008). "Weird how my rello won his fame". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
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