Airdate: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo

ABC1’s anticipated miniseries Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo will premiere at 8:30pm Sunday April 17.

The 1970s-based drama stars Asher Keddie (Offspring, Love My Way, Hawke) as Cleo magazine editor Ita Buttrose and Rob Carlton (Chandon Pictures, Underbelly) as emerging media mogul Kerry Packer.

It also stars Matt Day, Jessica Tovey, Ian Meadows, Maeve Dermody, Annie Maynard, Cheree Cassidy, Octavia Barron Martin and Olivia Pigeot. It is produced by John Edwards and Karen Radzyner, written by Christopher Lee and directed by Daina Reid.

Part Two will air at 8:30pm the following night, replacing Four Corners, Media Watch and Q & A .

In early 1972, 30 year old journalist and editor, Ita Buttrose (Asher Keddie) and 35 year old Kerry Packer (Rob Carlton), heir to what was then Australia’s most ruthlessly powerful and influential publishing family, got together to create a magazine that became one of the most dramatic sensations in Australian publishing history. CLEO went on to help define women, Australia and the relationship between the two.

Research and marketing analysis showed the project would be a failure and the magazine was vehemently opposed by the powerful head of the Packer clan, the domineering Sir Frank Packer (Tony Barry) (known to his employees as ‘God’), yet Ita and Kerry, knowing the consequences of failure would be dire, decided to back their gut instincts anyway.

With courage and a stubborn belief in each other the odd couple went for it, and the result was a magazine that not only surfed the emerging 70s zeitgeist, but led the way in articulating for women a new way of thinking about themselves and their place in cultural Australia. Women readers found in CLEO a manifesto for a new confidence and an argument against the entrenched patriarchy that had for too long defined the relationship between the sexes. Filled with intelligence, wit and a ‘go for it’ attitude, the fledgling CLEO took off on its first issue, taking Kerry, Ita, and a hand picked bunch of iconoclastic staffers along for the ride.

CLEO was a women’s magazine with a libido and a curiosity about almost everything…


  1. Cheryl Talve

    I had to record the series as I have been away & unfortunately for me I recorded the first part twice on ABC1/ABC2 so I was just hoping that there may be a repeat of the series in the near future.
    The first part had me riveted to my seat & I became incredibly emotional during the scenes with Ita & her partner before their baby was born & I was quite shaken by the strength that Ita portrayed during work hours – she is an amazing woman.
    Looking forward to hearing from the Help Desk.
    Regards from Cheryl Talve

  2. Hi
    I watched the show last night and thought how good it was waiting to see tonight. I also have my car in the show the FE Holden looked really good this car was also featured in another show Agnoy Aunts

  3. daveinprogress

    Really looking forward to this one. It is high time that Asher Keddie wins a Logie, if not for this, then for Offspring. She has been nominated umpteen times, no wins. Ita Buttrose is an iconic figure in the Australian media. I hope this is a detailed portrait.

  4. Feels like a genuine interest in and understanding of women at the Nine Network died along with Kerry Packer. Good on the ABC for getting back in the business of commissioning drama that looks at ourselves.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.