Back to their Roots

Legendary miniseries Roots will have a screening on FOX Classics in January.

The 12 hour miniseries, filmed in the 1970s, was compelling viewing in its time, breaking television records. More than 130 million tuned in to the epic series, surpassed only by the MASH finale and the ‘Who Shot JR’ episode of Dallas.

The series features an enormous roll call of African American actors -including ‘newcomer’ OJ Simpson.

It airs Monday, January 19 at 8.30pm.

Press Release:

The most-watched mini-series of all time, Roots, will have its Australian subscription television premiere on FOX Classics in January.

FOX Classics will present Roots over five weeknights, starting Monday, January 19 at 8.30pm and concluding on Friday, January 24.

Based on Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize winning best-seller, the 12 hour mini-series is the sweeping saga of his own family’s generations of struggle to survive slavery and regain freedom.

The story begins with the birth of Kunta Kinte in West Africa in 1750. At 15, he is kidnapped by slave traders and shipped to America where he and his descendents face great hardship and oppression while holding on to their proud heritage.

When Roots premiered in the U.S. and Australia in 1977 it was a ground-breaking television and social event; captivating audiences of all backgrounds and arousing interest in tracing genealogy.

FOXTEL Executive Director of Television and Marketing Brian Walsh said: “FOX Classics is the definitive channel environment in which to present the subscription television premiere of Roots, a superb example of the story-telling art form of the mini-series.

‘Roots was the first blockbuster television mini-series and has retained its prominence in cultural history on the basis of its phenomenal ratings and the impact of this inspiring story of an African-American family being produced on such a scale and played out on national and international television at a time when the biggest prime time hit series were shows like Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley.”

Roots was, and remains, the most-watched mini-series event ever – in the U.S. alone, more than 130 million people tuned in to its premiere run over eight nights in January 1977. The final episode became the most watched TV show in the U.S. to date, attracting a 71 per cent share in the Nielsen Ratings (meaning some 36.38 million households viewed). This has only been surpassed by the M*A*S*H finale and the “Who Shot JR?” episode of Dallas.

The mini-series won a Golden Globe for Best TV Series – Drama and was nominated for 37 Emmy Awards – nine of which it won, including Outstanding Limited Series.

The cast of Roots includes LeVar Burton as the young Kunta Kinte and John Amos as the older Kunta Kinte (then known as Toby), Cicely Tyson, Edward Asner (Emmy winner), Sandy Duncan, Ralph Waite, Louis Gossett Jr (Emmy winner), Olivia Cole (Emmy winner) Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, O.J. Simpson, Maya Angelou, Robert Reed, Doug McLure, Lynne Moody, Lorne Greene, Georg Stanford Brown, Gary Collins, Ren Woods, Vic Morrow, Brad Davis, Carolyn Jones, Chuck Connors, George Hamilton and Alex Haley.


  1. I have been watching with great interest the series Winds of War that was screened on Foxtel Classics during the week commencing 20 July 09.All we finished up with were episodes 1-3 and 6-7. Episodes 4 @ 5 were not screened .The screenings have suddenly ceased with no explanations or apologies to viewers for this monumental mix up.
    Surely your viewers are entitled to more courtesy than this.

  2. Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the DVD (for Australia DVD players) of “Roots”?
    I’ve been looking for a few years now and even specialised DVD websites/companies can’t get ahold of it, and say it’s out of print. After being replayed again on Foxtel Classics, I thought perhaps it will be re-released.

  3. Correct David, it was originally shown on Ten (then the 0-10 Network) in 1977, and they also showed the sequel Roots The Next Generations in 1979. Some years later, Nine had secured re-run rights to Roots as part of one of its output deals from the US but from memory they only showed it in a daytime slot over summer.

  4. I never saw this but even as a kid read about it’s incredible ratings in (of all places) the World Book encyclopedia year book! Ever since then I’ve hung to actually see this thing to no avail – so finally Fox Classics brings the goods – they have been on fire this year – just last Friday we got Close Encounters of the Third Kind – now this!

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