DIANNE BUTLER OUT OF THE BOX
THEY should do Who Do You Think You Are episodes on those actors who do the family tree ads, where they go, ‘‘ wow, my grandparents owned a pub, I wish I could somehow own a pub’’, and so on.
This show should only ever do actors, I’ve decided. Preferably soap actors, who overemote. It’s Melissa George tonight, whose springboard to international superstardom was her role as Angel on Home and Away, and it couldn’t be more fitting, because her family’s story, or the stuff we discover tonight, is as dramatic and personal and shocking as a year on that show. And with dialogue to match: ‘‘ And Florence is like, ‘ I can’t deal’,’’ Melissa says, talking about one of her ancestors. It’s gold.
She focuses on her mother Pamela’s side of the family, because she already knows a bit about dad Glenn’s side.
They’re still in Perth, where Melissa grew up with a brother and two sisters and where her great-great-great grandfather, William Ward, arrived in 1862 to become warder at the miserable, Aboriginal-only Rottnest Prison. She has only happy memories of going to Rottnest as a kid, but she’s slightly nervous about what she’s going to find out about Ward and his role there.
On her maternal side she finds another local landmark figures prominently — the Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra, south of Perth.
The connection with Australian history makes this episode work, I think.
You may have heard of Fairbridge. It was for orphaned British kids and got very bad press much later on.
Sometimes there was more to it than that.
Melissa finds two Fairbridge children in her family who arrived from the UK. And they have quite a story. Who Do You Think You Are? SBS One, 7.30pm
Quest: Melissa George