On a Tuesday morning in late May, Sydney's Enmore Theatre has been transformed into 1964 London to shoot a scene from Friday On My Mind, the ABC miniseries about Australia's answer to the Beatles, the Easybeats, which is scheduled to air late this month. Mop-haired teens in polyester flares and screaming girls in go-go dresses bumrush the stage as actors bearing a startling resemblance to the real Easybeats repeatedly shimmy through "She's So Fine" for the cameras.
The story of the Easybeats is one of the great Aussie underdog legends. A mismatched bunch of immigrants from Scotland, England and the Netherlands form a band at a Villawood migrant shelter and go on to be the most successful Aussie group of the Sixties, enjoying brief-but-huge success in the UK and the U.S. Telling their story is writer Christopher Lee (Paper Giants, Howzat!), director Matthew Saville (The Slap) and a cast of relatively unknown actors.
The energy of the young cast feeds the drama well, as they bring the same nervous energy to their performances that a young Stevie Wright or George Young would have felt taking to the stage for the first time. Ashley Zukerman, who plays the Easybeats' guru and Aussie music-biz royalty Ted Albert, says the cast often had trouble discerning where the performance ended and life began.
"They were like a gang, which was what the real Easybeats were like. When the director would call 'cut' they'd all be standing about tinkering with their instruments like a real band."
For the miniseries, Zukerman, who viewers of Netflix drama Designated Survivor or ABC's The Code will immediately recognise, had to get inside the skin of Albert, a towering figure in the music industry, who was as misunderstood as he was respected.
"Ted Albert was such a well-loved man, that I wanted to do justice to him, not just play him as an uptight businessman. I wanted you to see the passion behind the business."
The drama that propels Friday On My Mind (street fights, drugs, womanising) never detracts from the fact that the power of music and self-expression is at the heart of this story, and it's hard to imagine the surviving members of the Easybeats not enjoying seeing a new generation of youth being inspired by their warts-and-all story.
'Friday On My Mind' aires on Sunday, November 26th and Sunday, December 3rd on ABC and iView.
From issue #793 (December, 2017), available now. Top photo: the cast of ABC's 'Friday On My Mind', credit: Tony Mott.
Topics: The Easybeats