Ian's Number 96
episode guide:


Pensioners Dorrie and Herb Evans live in Flat 3 of an apartment block known as Number 96.

The building occupies the site of their former house in Lindsay Street, Paddington, an inner suburb of Sydney. Six apartments are situated over two live-in shops on the ground floor: one a delicatessen, the other temporarily vacant but destined to become a pharmacy.

The series focuses on the lives and loves of the tenants and their associations with each other during their stay at Number 96.

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EPISODES 1, 2, 3. (First aired in Sydney: 13/3) Mark Eastwood (Martin Harris) and his eight-month pregnant wife, Helen (Briony Behets), move into Flat 4 of Number 96. Dorrie and Herb Evans (Pat McDonald & Ron Shand) introduce themselves to the new neighbours. When Helen rejects her frustrated husband's sexual advances, Mark turns to young Rose Godolfus (Vivienne Garrett) for consolation. In Flat 6, actress Janie Somers (Robyn Gurney) worries about her meeting with an American producer, Alex Lederer (Harry Harris). Mark rescues Rose from a sleazy bikie, Cliff Stevens (Vincent Gil). Helen's condition after her tragic fall causes concern and the building's residents are generous in their offers of support. Flat 5's Bruce Taylor (Paul Weingott) plans his latest wild party.

Three episodes were combined to create this special 90-minute premiere in Sydney. Episode #3 was a new version of the November 1971 pilot, reshot to blend with the other instalments. In Melbourne, the first two episodes were aired back-to-back on 14/3. Channel 0 elected to black out the lower half of the screen during Mark's attempted seduction of his wife. When repeated in a daytime timeslot, commencing 4/2/74 at 1.30 pm in Sydney, the episodes were aired in 30-minute segments. TV Times included a long list of the show's characters and performers, while TV Week listed only the characters of Vera Collins, Bev Houghton, Janie Somers, Alex Lederer and Rose Godolfus in their program guide. The "Janie/Alex" plotline was novelised for the 1972 Arkon paperback, Janie Stagestruck, while the "Mark/Helen/Rose" plotline was novelised in 1973 as The Wayward Husband.

4. (14/3) Dorrie, the self-proclaimed "conserge" of Number 96, continues her relentless interference into the lives of the building's tenants. Bruce's flatmate, Don Finlayson (Joe Hasham) admits that he sabotaged their latest party in order to pacify Dorrie. Flat 8's Lucy Sutcliffe (Elisabeth Kirkby) begins her job at the new laundrette, but her day is cut short by electrical problems. Meanwhile, in Flat 7, Vera Collins (Elaine Lee) is being plagued by phantom phone calls.

TV Times listed actors Ron Shand, Pat McDonald, Elaine Lee and James Elliott as stars, while TV Week listed Elaine Lee, Johnny Lockwood, Briony Behets and Joe Hasham.

5. (15/3) Vera hosts a party to celebrate Mark's good news about Helen and their baby daughter. Meanwhile, Janie and her flatmate, Bev Houghton (Abigail), do their own celebrating: a double date with Alex and Charles (Max Osbiston). Delicatessen owner Aldo Godolfus (Johnny Lockwood) is unable to keep his daughter at home. In desperation, he tries to arrange a suitable match for Rose "just as they did in the old country", but she is unimpressed with his selection, Dr Julian Myers (Lew Luton). Vera advises Peter Harvey (Peter Guest) about future business ventures through a card-reading.

TV Times listed Johnny Lockwood and Abigail as stars; TV Week listed only Elaine Lee.

6. (16/3) How will Mark break the shocking news about the baby to Helen? Alf Sutcliffe (James Elliott) is bickering with Lucy again; he wants to return home to England, but his wife is determined to stay. Bev flirts with both Don and Alex and each responds in quite different ways. Helen is suffering from catatonic withdrawal. Rose expresses her true feelings for Mark, but Aldo overhears.

From now on, TV Times usually listed the names of actors whose characters were mentioned in the episode descriptions. TV Week continued to list Elaine Lee over the next three weeks of episodes, sometimes alone (which, some gossip columns claimed, caused some resentment among the other actors) and sometimes with Robyn Gurney, Vivienne Garrett and/or Abigail.

7. (17/3) Dorrie makes it her special project to discover who is occupying the vacant shop in front of Flat 1.

8. (20/3) Maggie Cameron (Bettina Welch) and Bruce find their time well occupied when they return to Number 96, but Maggie has to be home by eleven o'clock to avoid arousing the suspicions of her husband, Victor (Owen Weingott).

TV Week's listing noted for the first time that the show was "an Australian produced series", the story of ordinary people "with ordinary emotions: desire, love, jealousy and hate". Note also that the actors who played Maggie's husband and lover were, in reality, father and son.

9. (21/3) Ethel Brinkman (Jenny Lee), the daughter of Alf and Lucy, returns from Newcastle in a desperate plea for help.

TV Times listed Norman Yemm and "Maggie Cameron" (sic) as stars.

10. (22/3) The mysterious caller finally reveals his identity to Vera. It is her estranged husband, Harry (Norman Yemm), and he's not very friendly.

11. (23/3) Helen returns home from the hospital and must face reality. Harry is not convinced that Vera's "clients" only want their fortunes read.

12. (24/3) Sonia Freeman (Lynn Rainbow) has begun moving chemist supplies and household effects into Flat 1 and its vacant shopfront. Aldo signs a purchase agreement on a restaurant with Mr Holloway (Ken Goodlet). Mark leaves for his job at the local school and while he's away, Dorrie tries to look after Helen. However, Dorrie's lack of tact only creates more of a disturbance.

13. (27/3) Dorrie condescends to patronise Lucy's laundrette, at least on a trial basis, to give Lucy a boost. However, two young hippies (Chard Hayward and Cathy Jones) have no inhibitions about using the laundrette at all.

Chard Hayward would later return as a regular character, Dudley Butterfield.

14. (28/3) Bev is devasted by Alex's treatment of her. Alf and Harry engage in a heavy drinking session, but Alf is supposed to be driving a 600 mile journey in just a few hours' time. Sonia is observed sharing a very passionate kiss with her brother, Gordon Freeman (Joe James).

This plotline was novelised for the 1973 Arkon paperback, Who Killed Sylvia Vansard?

15. (29/3) Don must leave Bruce's flat. Cliff, Rose's bikie attacker, suddenly becomes more intriguing to her: he's a married man, just like Mark. The Eastwoods' dinner guest, Doctor Jansen (Max Meldrum), surreptiously evaluates Helen's mental health.

16. (30/3) Vera is perplexed by a sense of deja vu. Where has she seen Gordon, the new chemist, before?

On Good Friday, 31st March, the show was pre-empted by Telethon '72, in aid of the Royal New South Wales Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. However, as compensation, viewers were promised telethon appearances by celebrities Johnny Lockwood, Pat McDonald, Joe Hasham, Briony Behets and "the entire cast of Number 96".

17. (3/4) Gordon is worried that Vera has recognised him and knows him to be the former Dr Vansard, so he takes action.

18. (4/4) Maggie discovers that Bruce is moonlighting again.

This plotline was novelised for the 1973 Arkon paperback, Bev & Bruce & Maggie & Don.

19. (5/4) Cliff calls by the deli late one evening and Rose discovers a whole new scene.

The censors decreed that Rose must be shown to dislike the effects of smoking a marijuana cigarette. Years later, young Debbie Chester was shown mainlining heroin and the writers had police input to ensure accuracy.

20. (6/4) Rose has been out all night, but when Aldo protests, she claims to have been with her friend Jenny.

21. (7/4) Janie reveals at lot more to Alex than she had planned.

TV Week described the series on this night as being the story of the lives of "ordinary people" who live in an apartment block.

22. (10/4) Aldo despairs over his real estate investment.

23. (11/4) Helen's reaction to Rose's revelation causes great concern to all at Number 96.

24. (12/4) Helen's outraged father, Mr Fulton (Kevin Manser), arrives from Perth.

25. (13/4) In desperation, Bruce turns to Maggie once again.

26. (14/4) Herb tries to hide his gambling winnings from Dorrie, but she is suspicious.

27. (17/4) Janie, the understudy, must step in at the last minute when her play's lead actress, Gloria Gould (Judy Lynne), withdraws from the cast.

28. (18/4) The tenants throw Janie a party to celebrate the resolving of her role in the play, The Rainbow Trap.

29. (19/4) A distraught Bev faces the truth about Don, but there is nothing she, nor anyone else, can do to change him.

This plotline was novelised for the 1973 Arkon paperback, Bev & Bruce & Maggie & Don.

30. (20/4) Aldo is pleased when Roma Lubinski (Philippa Baker) offers him the restaurant and he seems rather enamoured of Mrs Lubinski as well. Will Sharon Stevens (Mirren Lee) prevent Aldo from shooting Cliff?

31. (21/4) Sonia feels that Gordon is using her and she forces the issue with him. Herb's solicitor, Mr Calthrop (Ken Fraser), oversees the contractual agreement that makes Herb and Harry partners. Maggie invites Cliff up to Flat 5 for a modelling audition. Vera and Harry try to conceal an intoxicated Herb from Dorrie.

32. (24/4) Chad Farrell (Ronne Arnold) and Gordon argue over Sonia. Mark receives a lead in his search for Helen in the form of an anonymous letter, but it will cost him $50. Herb is in trouble when he reminds Dorrie that they had to marry in haste after their daughter, Joan, was conceived. An old lady (Molly Raynor) denies knowing Helen.

33. (25/4) Chad and Sonia share an evening out and he confesses his true feelings for her. However, Sonia tries to convince him that she has been in love with Gordon for two years. Aldo leaves Julian and Rose alone, but will he find out that they actually played Monopoly? Alf and Lucy's 30th wedding anniversary is threatened by an impromptu drinking session with George Baker (Barry Donnelly) and Harry. Harry's bigotry reaches breaking point when he encounters Chad on the stairs.

34. (26/4) Bev tries unsuccessfully to face reality; Don is no longer the man with whom she first fell in love.

35. (27/4) Don is surprisingly sympathetic towards Bev when she apologises for her previous outburst. Maggie has a surprise for Don and Bev, as does Bev's mother, Claire Houghton (Thelma Scott).

36. (28/4) Claire feigns a heart attack in her daughter's flat. Bev and Janie are not pleased that she seems to expect to be treated as an invalid. Sylvia Vansard (Shirley Cameron) visits Gordon but they are interrupted by Harry, who is seeking Gordon's help with a medical matter.

37. (1/5) Maggie makes herself known to many of the tenants and Claire finds great solace knowing the someone of her own social standing lives in the building.

38. (2/5) Bev returns home unexpectedly one afternoon and overhears a conversation between Claire and Doctor Gott (George Cardin), which confirms the truth about her mother's phoney illness.

39. (3/5) Harry and Herb's investment in the used car business seems to have paid off; after only a week in business, they have received a purchase offer of $24,000. At a meeting of the tenants, Harry mentions that Gordon was an abortionist.

40. (4/5) Rose suspects she is pregnant and a doctor confirms her fears. An illegal abortion seems to be her only solution. Maggie finds herself at the heart of a row.

41. (5/5) Sons often visit their parents but Jim Sutcliffe (Brendon Lunney) and his snobby wife, Noelene (Penne Hackforth-Jones), use Alf and Lucy's flat like a hotel.

42. (8/5) Sonia tells Gordon that she can't see a future for them. She has decided to accept Chad's proposal of marriage. After the argument with Noelene, Jim decides to resolve the situation once and for all, but he worries about their son Sebastian's future. Maggie's receptionist, Angela (Maureen Elkner), is concerned about her encounter with Cliff. Mr Calthrop explains to Herb that although Harry has left the state, he can't access Herb's money. Mr Thorburn (Reg Evans) is making staff cuts at the laundrette and he gives Lucy two weeks' notice; will she finally agree to return to England with Alf? Maggie overhears a heated row from Flat 1.

43. (9/5) Cliff spends the night with Maggie and then decides to provide Aldo with something to think about by calling by the deli for eggs. Aldo remembers their last encounter and, outraged, he pulls a knife on Cliff. Claude Strauss (Alexander Archdale) and Aldo reminisce about wartime Austria. Jim buys his parents two air tickets to Manchester. Sonia has decided that her heart belongs to Gordon. Thanks to Aldo's phone call, Cliff and Sharon's "freak out" is raided by the police, but Cliff escapes and heads for the deli.

44. (10/5) Chad and Mark come to Aldo and Rose's rescue. Don is still staying with Bev and Janie and the arrangement seems to have become permanent. With his final examinations approaching, Janie tries to put a stop to Bev's flirtations. Roma invites Aldo to a meal at The Blue Danube, where Janie is a waitress. Rose tells Vera that she is not pregnant. Peter and Vera get to know each other over dinner. Chad is stunned when the only job he is offered is in the outback, teaching Aboriginal children. Rose tries to seduce Julian.

45. (11/5) Herb is finding it increasingly difficult to hide his nest egg from Dorrie and the profits keep rolling in. Julian is guilty about deceiving Aldo and then learns that Rose is not taking the Pill. Sylvia argues with Gordon and Sonia. She reveals that Gordon's youngest son, Martin, has gone to live in England. When Mark and Chad pass by Flat 1 that evening, they find Sylvia dead on the floor.

This plotline was novelised for the 1973 Arkon paperback, Who Killed Sylvia Vansard?

46. (12/5) Detective Superintendent Carroll (Mike Dorsey) begins his investigation into Sylvia's death. Chad worries that Sonia may have been involved in a murder, while Dorrie has decided that Gordon must have been aborting a poor girl in the flat when something went wrong. Chad locates Sonia at her flat in Jubilee Gardens. An autopsy on Sylvia's body reveals that she had ingested cyanide. Sonia realises that she had found a descrepancy in the poisons book only the day before.

Mike Dorsey later returned as regular character Reginald P. MacDonald, otherwise known as "Daddy".

47. (15/5) Following the discovery of Sylvia's body, the police turn their attentions to Gordon and Sonia for possible motives. Thirty lethal potassium sulphocyanide are missing from the chemist shop. The revelation that Cliff has given Maggie's name as a character referee puts Bill Barton (Tony Allen), a reporter for a national crime magazine, on the trail for news. Gordon tells Vera that Harry was the only customer to have a prescription filled for same drug that killed Sylvia. Maggie decides not to mention Gordon's death threat until the result of the inquest is known.

48. (16/5) Alf's steadfast determination to return home to England finally convinces an exasperated Lucy to agree to accompany him. Mr Thorburn offers Lucy a promotion at the laundrette. Maggie spills the beans to Claire about Don flatting with Bev. Don manages to charm Claire by discussing his highly respectable connections; his uncle is a judge of the High Court. Julian presents Rose with a diamond engagement ring. Vera accuses her of rushing the relationship because Rose really is pregnant after all. Rose bursts into tears.

49. (17/5) Aldo mistakes Rose's crying fit for tears of joy. Claire has moved into Flat 5 while Maggie is away and uses every excuse to drop into Bev's unannounced. Carroll returns with more questions for Sonia and Gordon. Rose seeks advice from Bev, who tells her to let Julian think the child is his. No one can substantiate Sonia's alibi. Janie's boyfriend, Jack Sellars (Tom Oliver), thinks that there is a part for her in a new American play in which he's invested. Claire holds a "tiny soiree" and is most impressed with Jack's hysterical anecdotes about her society colleagues. Aldo discovers a doctor's appointment card in Rose's handbag. To his surprise, she blurts out that she thought she was pregnant.

50. (18/5) Alf is planning the trip to England, but Lucy is strangely quiet. Chad and Mark prepare to give evidence at Sylvia's inquest. Aldo advises Rose to tell Julian of her experience with Cliff so they won't start married life with any secrets. Ethel visits Lucy with the good news that her husband, Kevin Brinkman (Peter Corbett), has a new job and will be moving the family to Sydney; the Sutcliffe's grandchildren, Debbie and Garth, will get a chance to really know them. Mark suggests that Don seek solace in Flat 4 while he is preparing for his law finals. Julian seeks Aldo's permission to marry Rose, but Aldo is more concerned about the sumptious meal he is preparing. Roma is unable to attend Aldo's dinner for the Strausses. Mark gets an unexpected call about Helen's whereabouts.

51. (19/5) Helen reveals that she has been staying with two men, brothers John and Colin, whom she knew from Perth. They convinced her to get psychiatric help. Herb cleverly wins over Dorrie with a fur coat, while at the same time covering up his side dealings with George. Helen wants to try to make her marriage to Mark work, but refuses to return to Number 96. Don tells Janie to take up Jack's offer of help to get an acting role. Mark is moving out; perhaps Don would like to share Flat 4 with Chad? Herb gets good news from George and is quite enamoured of his two companions, Trixie (Noeline Brown) and Babs (Penny Ramsay). Gordon learns that Sylvia was suffering from an inoperable brain tumour and had only weeks to live.


Number 96 synopses © 1994 Ian McLean and Lindsay Street Productions. They have been rewritten from information derived from Sydney and Melbourne editions of TV Week and TV Times, cross-referenced with original Cash Harmon documentation and viewings of episodes. No text may be reproduced without the express permission of the author. To use this material in research, you are requested to inform the author and credit his contribution accordingly. Thank you.

1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977.

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This page revised March 2006
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