Bartons on the Web!


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A very big thank you goes out to Nick from ACMI for providing me with a way to view the film from abroad (as an exception for this site) and for Jocelyn Moorhouse to give ACMI the green light to do so.

Without your efforts, I wouldn't have been able to view this film or make this section of the site into what it is.

Thank you!

Welcome to the film's section on This is the first page. You can use the "More about the short film" box found near the bottom of every film related page to easily jump between the film's pages.

For all other contents on, please use the main menu.

Jocelyn Moorhouse made The Siege of Barton's Bathroom in 1986 shortly after finishing her education as film maker at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). It was her third film and the first one she made after finishing her education at AFTRS.

It took her a weekend to write the script; it was based on her own childhood experience of her father planning to cut down the tree in her family's backyard.13

The Australian Film Commission, a funding body for film, was asking for submissions for short films for children. Jocelyn sent in the script, and she received a grant to film it.

The script to the television series episode of (almost) the same name is "pretty much the same"12 as that of the film, and the ACMI's synopsis does indeed read like that of the television series first episode:

Elly Barton lives in a barren suburban housing estate where there is only one tree left standing. Now the neighbours want to cut it down, but what no-one seems to understand is that it is Elly's tree - and she is not going to let anybody touch it.
The Siege of Barton's Bathroom synopsis by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Elly Barton lives in a barren suburban housing estate where there is only one tree left standing. Now the neighbours want to cut it down, but what no-one seems to understand is that it is Elly's tree - and she is not going to let anybody touch it.
The Siege of Barton's Bathroom synopsis by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image

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Rebekah Elmaloglou as Terese Willis in a 2019 episode of "Neighbours"

Source: Wikipedia
under WP:NCFI disclosure
and "citaatrecht"

The Production
The story for the film was written by Jocelyn over the course of one weekend. The production was halted after filming but before mixing could be done because she ran out of funds.13

When enough funds were available again, mixing was finished.

The film is officially produced by Jocelyn's company Bathroom Productions, is three seconds short of being seventeen minutes long and was shot on 16mm colour film, in 4:3 aspect (not wide screen).

Although restored and digitised, some marks (like scratches) present on the 16mm film are visible in the digital file. The audio and dialogue are both clear although it's apparent you're listening to an older analogue recording with some hisses and ticks here and there.

Jocelyn asked her friend John McAll to write the film's music.13 It's quite different to the television series' soundtrack, but I like it a lot. Both styles (the film's and the series') fit the scenes well.

While Royce Craven and Bryan Patterson went for a more 80's synth soundtrack, John McAll went for a more classic children's film sound. With real instruments (either that, or he had one very expensive synthesizer for 1986) and a much calmer arrangement with one major recurring theme.

Jocelyn sent in VHS copies of the film to various film festivals. Eventually the film only got shown at the Melbourne Children's Film Festival, run by her friend Mary Sdraulig, in 1986.13

All the other festivals returned the tapes that Jocelyn had sent them. Luckily, that meant that she now had enough VHS copies of the film to send one to the ABC. Although the ABC initially lost her tape, and she almost gave up hope, eventually ABC's Noel Price phoned her and asked her to make a series out of it.

Read more about that, and what happened next, here.
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Brendan Cowell at the "Save Your Legs" movie premiere in Sydney, Australia in 2013. Brendan appeared in the film when he was about 10 years old. In which role you ask? Well, read on…

Photographer: Eva Rinaldi
License: CC BY-SA 2.0
and "citaatrecht"

There are a few differences that are only noticeable when you watch the episode and the film side by side (or if you, like me, are a Bartons nut and have the episode pretty much memorised) a few bigger ones and one really big one.

One small difference that is immediately noticeable to someone like me, is the small difference in the title.

The short film is titled The Siege of Barton's Bathroom
The episode's title is The Siege of Bartons' Bathroom
Film Episode
Film Episode
Left photo: Title card from the film
Right photo: Title card from the episode
Running stretch
The film is only about 17 minutes long (including the end credits) while the episode has eight additional minutes of runtime to fill the 25 minute slot it was intended for. Some scenes in the episode are stretched out a bit more in order to fit that slot, making the film seem more fast paced.

For instance, it takes Olivia's Elly about five times longer to walk from her bedroom to the bathroom and turn on the tap than Rebekah's Elly.

  • Rebekah's Elly tiptoes to the bathroom in a seemingly straight line and locks the door, then looks out the window for a second or three before she turns on the tap.
  • Olivia's Elly stops and looks into her brother's bedrooms on the way and the shot where she looks out the bathroom window at the tree is stretched out much longer, switching between Elly's face and the tree multiple times. Only then does she turn on the tap.

Elly's dialogue through the bathroom when eating the cookie is much shorter in the film, leaving out quite a few lines that are in the episode.

All in all this is a recurring theme: the scenes are there, the dialogue is there, but the series has more lines added in and more shots to make up the scene.

Anger issues
There is a noticeable difference in delivery between Olivia's and Rebekah's lines: Olivia's Elly is a lot angrier at her parents at the beginning of the story than Rebekah's Elly is. Not that Rebekah's Elly is cheerful, don't get me wrong, but it's only when her brothers start to tease her that her Elly's anger really starts to show. Before that she comes across as steadfast and determined to save her tree, but not particularly angry.

Notable is the way Elly reacts to Anthony's (Tony's in the film) suggestion of him taking a shower while she's in the bath. Film Elly responds with a determined and defensive "No.", while TV Elly almost breaks the glass in the window with her high pitched "NO!".

Max Phipps delivers a different Mr Jensen than we're used to. Scary, yes, as Max seems to excel at being, but different scary to Robert Essex' performance; Max makes a more maniacal Mr Jensen to Robert's more sinister and plotting Mr Jensen.

The delivery of the lines on what to do with the tree stump are good examples of this: Robert's Jensen is absently dreaming of what he'd do with the stump if it was up to him, while Max's Jensen just wants to get it over with and start cutting the tree down, and gets impatient with everybody there.

  • Robert's Jensen: "…then we rip out the stump, [pause] and…perhaps burn that section…then you can [pondering]. either fill in the hole that remains [pondering]or perhaps to install a cement pond [pause] some people do that [pondering]. If I had a hole [pondering] I'd do that…"
  • Max' Jensen: "…and then: we RRRRIPPP out the stump, (and-you-probably-burn-that-bit-of-it [hastily]), then you fill in the hole in the ground or perhaps… put in a cement pond. Some people do that!"

The delivery of the word "Neat" is also a good example of the different deliveries between the two actors. Max' delivery quickly corrects the statement of "flat", with an undertone of "now shut up, and let's turn this tree into bits", while Robert's really throws the word out as to convey his opinion as the only truth.

Other differences in delivery are mostly timing and choice of wording; nothing major.

The shots are mostly the same too. Of course the film was shot at a different location (not at 5 Copnal Court), and the tree is very different (a straight, very tall eucalyptus tree). The bathroom is a lot smaller and the kitchen looks completely different to the one in the series, but in general the shots are very similar between the film and the episode.

But there is one shot in the film that stands out: when Mr Jensen rings the doorbel, the camera zooms in dramatically on mum, who is startled by his arrival and quickly makes sure her hair looks nice. Why does she do that? She doesn't in the episode…. does Film Mum have a crush on Mr Jensen? Oooh…. speculation…!

This idea is strengthened by the fact she tells Mr Jensen and Robert "Off you go boys… uhhh… I mean MEN" while half giggling as they head off to the tree with the chainsaw and the climbing gear. Oh dear, Mrs. Barton… oh dear!

Click X to close?
One funny difference is one of necessity: after throwing the toilet paper at her brothers, Elly hangs out of the bathroom window. Then Robert walks into the yard and starts shouting at her. In the film, he merely gets a few words out before Elly slides the window shut with a bang. But TV Elly has to "wind" her window shut, which takes a while. So Robert gets a whole second sentence out before she's gone.

So all in all, film and episode are similar, but slightly different.

…but I haven't mentioned the big difference yet…

Elly in the Middle
Unlike in the television series, Film Elly has a fourth brother: Dominic Barton. That's right: the film has 14.3% more Bartons in it!

The Barton family in the film consists of Mum, Dad and (old to young) their kids Tony, Paul, Elly, Dominic and Douglas.

While Film Elly is about twelve years old*, Dominic Barton is about ten* and in the film he basically takes the place that Douglas has in the series' first episode. That includes much of TV Douglas' dialogue all around, especially in the scene where he brings Elly a cookie.
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Short, Sun, Soap
Max Phipps, Scott Bartle and Rebekah Elmaloglou all appeared in the Australian soap opera E Street in the late 1980's.

Scott Bartle and Rebekah Elmaloglou teamed up again as relatives in the
Touch the Sun film Princess Kate (1988).
Film Douglas, meanwhile, is still in the film. He just plays a much smaller part than we're used to.

He has a broken arm (he wears a cast around his left arm) and is much younger than TV Douglas is (at about five years old* while TV Douglas is seven). Of course the real age difference is even bigger, as Ben Toovey (TV Douglas) was nine years old at the time of filming the series, while Scott Bartle (Film Douglas) really was five when the film was shot.

Douglas only appears in a few scenes in the film and doesn't speak in most of them.

The speaking lines that he does have are:
  • In the scene outside the bathroom door early in the story (the hilarious "I gotta have a p*ss!");
  • When mum orders everyone to gather dirty laundry and tells Douglas to stack the dishes ("Mum I can't! I have a broken arm!") **;
  • At the very end underneath the tree with Mr Jensen ("Everything will be flat!").
All lines are memorable as ever. He does end up doing the dishes though; five years old or not, broken arm or not. Don't mess with Mum Barton!

Paul is the same character as in the episode with the same lines of dialogue. The Anthony character is simply known as Tony in the film. He's stil a bit of a jock and has the same dialogue, but unlike TV Anthony, his voice has not yet dropped.

Paul and Tony also appear to be slightly younger than their television counterparts, and maybe closer in age, but I could be mistaken.

So Elly really is the middle child in the film, as she has two younger brothers and two older brothers.

* Judging by the actors' age during the time of filming
** Anthony gets told to stack the dishes in the episode

The Mother Situation
While Frankie J. Holden is credited as "Father", he is called "Robert" by both his wife and Mr Jensen in the film.

But Claire Crowther is credited as "Mother" and isn't called by her name in the script. We know, from the series production documents, that the mother was going to be named "Marjorie Barton" before they changed it to "Clare Barton" later into the production. But in the film, she's just "Mother".

The Cast
Seven Bartons and one Jensen make up the cast of the film. Frankie J. Holden is the only actor who would reprise his role in the television series and the character is indeed identical in both.

This is what the cast looks like:

Elly Barton
Rebekah Elmaloglou

Dominic Barton
Brendan Cowell

Max Phipps
Mr (Laurie) Jensen

"Father" (Robert Barton)
Frankie J. Holden

Claire Crowther

Paul Barton
Cameron Scott

Tony Barton
Rhys Atkinson

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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!

Thanks to ACMI, who digitised the film into their collection in 2021, a few stills are available to the public. You'll find them below.
The stills below are sourced from ACMI's website and are not in the public domain. ©1986 Bathroom Productions. Used under fair use/citaatrecht.

Rebekah Elmaloglou as Elly Barton in The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, 1986
Rebekah Elmaloglou as Elly Barton in The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, laying siege to the family's only bathroom as Ellys tend to do.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

Frankie J. Holden as Robert Barton and Max Phipps as Mr Jensen in The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, 1986
Max Phipps as Mr Jensen (right) telling Elly (who's hanging out the bathroom window) he knows she's been spying on him from the tree.

Mr. Barton (Frankie J. Holden, left) is already doubting his neighbour's motives by the looks of it.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht
Elly Barton's tree, Banksiawood from The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, 1986
The tree in question, towering over the Barton's Banksiawood home.

Note: this is not 5 Copnal Court by the way; the film was shot somewhere else. But the houses do look strikingly similar.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

Brendan Cowell as Dominic Barton in The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, 1986
Brendan Cowell as Dominic Barton asking his father about climbing trees.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

Robert Barton trying to convince his daughter Elly Barton to unlock the bathroom's door. From The Siege of Barton's Bathroom, 1986
Frankie J. Holden (Mr Barton) trying to convince Elly to come out of the bathroom.

Image credit: ACMI
Used under citaatrecht

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Crossed Kelly
Jocelyn and Frankie J. Holden already knew each other from Kelly's Crossing; a series that never aired. Jocelyn wrote the "series bible" and Frankie was cast in the pilot episode (the only episode filmed).13



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