By David Knox
June 4, 2018
Prolific screenwriter Tony Morphett, whose vast body of work includes Blue Heelers, Water Rats, The Shiralee, The Last Wave has died, aged 80.
He reportedly died of a heart attack in Katoomba on Saturday, surrounded by family.
Morphett was a titan of Australian storytelling having written or co-written 7 feature films, 10 telemovies, 12 miniseries, 3 stage plays and hundreds of TV episodes. He created or co-created seven TV series including Blue Heelers, Water Rats, Certain Women & Rain Shadow, winning 14 industry awards including several AWGIE Awards.
He started as a copy-boy and cadet reporter for the Daily Telegraph in 1956, moving to the ABC in 1957 where he worked in the ABC Talks Department for 10 years.
In 1968 he left the ABC to become a freelance writer, which led to a lifetime of acclaimed credits, spanning generations of Australian drama.
Morphett’s television credits include A Place to Call Home, Serangoon Road, Packed to the Rafters, Sea Patrol, Rain Shadow, Blue Heelers, MDA, Young Lions, Water Rats, Above the Law, Heartbreak High, Sky Trackers, Secrets, G.P., Tracks of Glory, Sky Trackers, Bangkok Hilton, The Dirtwater Dynasty, The Flying Doctors, The Shiralee, My Brother Tom, Robbery Under Arms, Winners, The Flying Doctors, A Country Practice, Patrol Boat, Skyways, Against the Wind, Chopper Squad, Glenview High, The Sullivans, Luke’s Kingdom, Elephant Boy, Boney, Certain Women, The Evil Touch, Dynasty and more.
Film credits included The Last Wave, Dark Age & Robbery Under Arms.
His official website includes a “Bottom Drawer” of other unproduced projects.
Morphett was also on the board of the Children’s Television Foundation, the Australia Council, Australian Writers’ Guild and the Australian Writers’ Foundation.
Writer Bevan Lee told TV Tonight, “Tony was a true gentleman of the industry, a role model for me as I made my way up the ladder. It was a thrill to finally work with him and to discover the man and the professional both lived up to the reputation.”
“Very sad to hear of passing of Tony Morphett legend of Aus screen industry Goliath of writers” – Dave Warner.
In 1973 Tony Morphett told TV Times, “There’s an old showbiz saying, ‘You’re only as good as your last script.’ I’m not Superman and if I take on too much work, the quality will go down and I will lose the reputation I have in the industry.”
He never did.
MORPHETT, Tony (Anthony David Morphett)
Born: 3/10/1938, Granville, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 6/2/2018, Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia
Tony Morphett’s westerns – writer:
Robbery Under Arms – 1985
Snowy River: The McGregor Saga - 1995