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Two major new television dramas will challenge Australia’s foundation myths in 2015. But will it be Gallipoli or The Secret River that sparks the bigger national conversation?

Gallipoli, airing over seven weeks from the first week of February and inspired by Les Carlyon’s book, is billed by the Nine Network as the “definitive dramatisation” of what executive producer Andy Ryan calls “our nation’s greatest foundation story”. The series spans eight months from April 25 1915, when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula.

Jane Turner’s highly individual dual acting-dancing career has a 40-year heritage. At 14, she was among the girls from Sacré Cœur in Glen Iris invited to perform in Romeo and Juliet, staged by Xavier College up the road in Kew. She was late for rehearsal, thus relegated to “dancer 12” and forced to wear the ugliest costume pattern.

She was given no lines, but the director saw potential. “You should have been in it,” he said, “You’ve got such a gravelly voice.” Four decades later, Turner mimes smoking a cigarette to explain why she sounded hoarse as a teenager. “I was a naughty girl,” she says.

Fifty essays and dispatches on
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