The Years that Made Us
Sunday, 9.25pm, ABC1 Are we made by the times and people that went before us? Australian mythology has it that the nation was forged in the trenches at Gallipoli in 1915. In this remarkable threepart documentary series, journalist and author Chris Masters offers a different view. He claims that far from bringing the nation together, World War I tore the place apart. The Depression followed and, just when things were starting to look up, World War II was upon our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Masters focuses on the years from 1919 to 1939, a time he says saw Australia change from a southern extension of Britain to a Southeast Asian nation. In last week’s debut, Roaring 20s, he presented the period through the prism of three war heroes including his great uncle James ‘‘ Judy’’ Masters. In this episode, Survival, we jump forward to 1929. The ALP is back in power under PM James Scullin after 12 years in the wilderness. But beginning with the famous Wall Street crash just a week after he is elected, Scullin faces shocking recession and unemployment in a country divided along class lines. The years from 1929 to 1933 become the greatest crisis in Australian history. A masterful retelling, with stunning archival footage and re-enactments that won’t make you cringe as those in Whitlam may have done.