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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.

Are you looking for the trivia? That section has been moved; please click here.

Have fun!

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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 outdoor 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. Copnal Court is the street where all the main characters' houses are located. For instance, No 5 Copnal Court is the Bartons' house.

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 on the Filming Locations page.

Inside job
Indoor shots were filmed in the ABC's Ripponlea Studios in 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). Again, the Filming Locations page has an entry on the studio.

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.
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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.

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).

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

The French Connection I
Bartons was co-produced by the ABC and Revcom Television, a French company started in 1982 by German television producer Michel Noll as a subsidiary of the French publisher Editions Mondiales.

The co-operation was a result of the ABC joining up with several European broadcasters and Grundy Television to produce Secret Valley in 1980. Secret Vally did very well, and the ABC wanted more. They teamed up with Secret Valley's creator Roger Miram and Revcom to produce Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin; a 1985 direct sequel to Secret Valley. This was the first production out of the agreement; the very next production (aimed at children) was Bartons.

Revcom was very succesful in Australia and went on to produce the mini series Captain James Cook and Touch the Sun, to name a few. Because of its extensive ties to European media, pretty much everything that Revcom produced in Australia ended up on European screens too.

Revcom merged into TF1 International, the distribution arm of French commercial broadcaster TF1, in 1995. TF1 holds the international rights to Bartons to this day because of it.

The French Connection II
With Revcom involved from the start, they were able to make preparations for the French dub during filming of the series. Because of the difficulty of fitting a French dub into the timing of English speaking actors (apparently a common problem for French voice actors), some scenes were taped a second time without the (Australian) actors speaking. This allowed a version of the scene to be edited together for the French dub, giving the French child voice actors more "room" to time their lines with what is happening on screen.01

Fontastic I

The production used a mix of the fonts Pendry Script and Pendry Script Alternate for the show's title screen and opening credits.

Most of the text is in Pendry, but anytime an 'o' is used in the middle of a word (not as the first letter), that letter is displayed in Pendry Alternate:

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Pendry Script. The 'o' in "Bartons" is not the same as in the title screen (see below), but the 'r' is.
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Pendry Script Alternate. This time, the 'o' in "Bartons" is the same as in the title screen (see below), but the 'r' isn't. The letters are also slimmer.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
No no, this is not a placeholder I forgot to remove! Letraset, the company that first published Pendry Script, is also the company that invented the placeholder text "Lorem ipsum dolor".

That text and its use as a placeholder is now so common that you'll find it splattered all over the web.

Learn more
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A mix of both Pendry Script and Pendry Script Alternate in the show's title screen.

Note the 'o' and the 'r' in "Bartons". The "o" in "C/o" is Pendry Script, the "o" in "Bartons" is Pendry Script Alternate. The 'r' is Pendry Script.

Still digitised by me under fair use.

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Another mix of both Pendry Script and Pendry Script Alternate in the show's roll over opening credits.

Note the 'r' in 'Written by" and the 'r' in "Moorhouse". The former is Pendry Script, the latter is Pendry Script Alternate.

Still digitised by me under fair use.

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The use of the two fonts in the roll over credits is inconsistent between episodes.

PJ's credit doesn't use the Pendry Script Alternate version of the "o" in Half-time for example.

Still digitised by me under fair use.

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Letraset Pendry Script rub-on sheet from 1981.

Click the image to enlarge.

Wait, Martin!
Both Pendry Script and Pendry Script Alternate were designed by letterer and typographer (type designer) Martin Wait back in 1981. Wait at the time worked for a British company called Letraset, who published fonts for print use.

Wait is also the designer of the fonts used by Tetley's (a British tea brand), Fox's Glacier Mints and the Radio Times font, which is used (you guessed it) on the cover of Radio Times magazine. He passed away in 2012.

As desktop publishing wasn't yet a thing in 1981 (Apple's Mac computers made that mainstream three years later), the fonts typically came on large rub-on sheets like the one pictured here.

You'd put the sheet over whatever you'd need the font to be printed on, and then carefully rub over the letter of your choice. As the letters are in actuality on the back of the sheet (the sheet itself is made from a baking paper like see through material) the letter would come off from the back of the sheet and stick to the surface of the object you'd put the sheet on. Realign the sheet and repeat for the next letter.

The image shows a Pendry Script rub-on sheet from Letraset. Note that both Pendry Script and Pendry Script Alternate are included on the sheet.

On this example, each letter is 7.5 mm high (36pt). Sheets with different sizes of the font were available, but the sheets themselves were always the same size. So, the bigger the font, the less letters you'd get for your money. Sometimes, different colours were available too, although I'm not sure if that was the case for Pendry Script.

As you can see, each letter is printed multiple times on a sheet, and each letter on that sheet could only be used once. Ran out of "e's" on a sheet? Go out to the print shop and buy a new sheet… Oh how computers have simplified things!

Today, the font is owned by font publishing company Monotype, who still publishes it. Only in digital form though; you'll have to find rub-on sheets on auction sites if you'd want one. They go for about US$15 for a completely unused one.

Rather go digital instead? Each (digital) font will set you back US$35 for use in print; multiple online font stores sell it. A licence for use on the web is only available for Pendry Script (not for Pendry Script Alternate) and is on a per-view basis (US$35 per year for a maximum 250,000 page views in that year). This licence form is only available from Monotype's own store.

Fontastic II
The font used on the Australian and British book covers is Brush Script. This font was introduced in 1942 by American Type Founders and is included as standard with Microsoft Office.

For the film's titles, a font was used that looks remarkably like the typical FreightText Pro Black. However, it can't be that exact font, as FreightText Pro Black wasn't introduced until 2005.

Video killed the film star
As was common in the 1980s, Bartons was shot on analogue video tape. This, and the fact that the recordings accessible by me are all on VHS, mean that the image quality isn't what we're used to today.

Click on the link below to read an in-depth and a bit technical look into why this is, or just skip to the next bit if you just want to read about Bartons.

The system used to record Bartons was PAL/B, which means the camera recorded 50 images per second. However, each image is only about half the resolution (262 lines) of what a 1980s TV screen could display (525 lines). During broadcast, a TV would combine (or "interlace") two consecutive images to form a full picture (called a frame); the goal being a better image within the limitations of the camera and broadcast system.

During interlacing, the first image would be displayed in its entirety, stretching that image to the full size of the frame. The stretching left empty space between the lines, which was then filled with the lines from the next image. So in effect both images were "laced" together, hence the term. Some people were prone to the flickering effect this caused. On fast moving content, like sports or actions scenes, this caused discrepancies (like a fast moving object looking stretched or blurred).

This proces resulted in 25 full frames per second, made from 50 interlaced images. Those frames looked quite good during broadcasts because of the interlacing. But everything changed for the worse when you tried to record an interlaced broadcast to videotape at home.

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Interlacing explained in an animation

Animation by Grayshi. Used under Creative Commons licence,CC BY-SA 3.0

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Yellow "ghosting" around the letters due to the way VHS stores contrast and colour information.

Click to enlarge

Still digitised by me under fair use.

Hard to catch
In order to make everything fit within the bandwidth of a VHS tape, VCRs of the day only recorded half the resolution of the original broadcast. If you paid attention to the above factoid, you'll have figured out that this doesn't mean half the resolution of the entire picture on your screen (the frame), but in fact half the resolution of half a frame; so a quarter of the resolution of the image originally shown on the TV's screen.

To make matters worse, most VHS-recorders don't always capture the exact half of an image; on moderate to fast moving images, they tend to capture a quarter of one frame combined with a quarter of the next frame. This causes shadows of images called "ghosting" as you're basically seeing two frames at once; a magnification of the effect of the interlacing during broadcast.

This effect also occures when there are bright colours in a frame (due to the way VHS stores contrast and colour information). So, the Bartons title screen shows ghosting around the letters even though it's really only Elly's arm and leg that move any considerate amount while the "C/o The Bartons" title card is displayed.

Since all the stills on this site were taken from VHS tapes, you now know why they look much worse than you remember Bartons looking on your TV back in the day.

Sounds good?
I'm not sure if Bartons was recorded in stereo. In 1987/1988, the big stereo push for television was in full swing (at least it was in Europe), but I'm not sure about the situation in Australia at the time. All the recordings I have, are in mono. But that could be because they were recorded on a mono VHS recorder of course.


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