Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo is a 2011 Australian two part television miniseries about the beginning of Cleo magazine and its creator, Ita Buttrose. The series stars Asher Keddie as Buttrose and Rob Carlton as Kerry Packer.

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo
Paper Giants The Birth of Cleo title card.jpg
Opening titles
StarringAsher Keddie
Rob Carlton
Matt Day
Jessica Tovey
Country of originAustralia
No. of episodes2
Running time90 minutes
Production companySouthern Star Group
Original networkABC1
Original release17 April (2011-04-17) –
18 April 2011 (2011-04-18)

A miniseries sequel, titled Paper Giants: Magazine Wars was screened on ABC1 on 2 June, and 9 June 2013. It features Rachel Griffiths, Mandy McElhinney, Lucy Holmes and Alexander England, (who played Tony Greig in Howzat) assumes the role of a young James Packer.[1][2]


The series follows Buttrose as she creates the fashion magazine Cleo, as well the fashion and politics of the period.[3]

Cast and charactersEdit


Reviews for the show were generally positive. The Sydney Morning Herald said:

Biopics rarely succeed. Invariably, they are thinly veiled hagiographies designed to push an "official" and pared-back version of history, dulled by performances that are merely impersonations. Thankfully, Paper Giants suffers no such problems.[4]

Australian TV blog, TV Tonight rated the series with four stars out of five, and commented:

Whilst Keddie may not be a dead ringer for Buttrose she has the voice down pat: the tone is pitch perfect, complete with the slight Buttrose lisp (we would have expected nothing less). Keddie captures the inner strength of Buttrose, forging a path in a male-dominated world, navigating through pioneer publishing, inspiration and compromise.[5]

The program was the subject of defamation proceedings brought against the ABC by the former husband of Buttrose, Alasdair Macdonald, who objected to how he was portrayed in the series. The action was settled out of court in April 2012 when the ABC apologised for what it agreed was an "untrue" portrayal of Macdonald.[6]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Award Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series Nominated
Best Direction in Television Daina Reid Nominated
Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama Rob Carlton Nominated
Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama Asher Keddie Nominated
Switched On Audience Choice Award - Best Performance in a Television Drama Asher Keddie Won
Switched On Audience Choice Award - Best Television Program Nominated
Logie Award Most Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Most Outstanding Actor in a Series Rob Carlton Won
Most Outstanding Actress in a Series Asher Keddie Nominated
Most Popular Actress Asher Keddie Won

Christopher Lee also won a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award in 2011 for his screenplay.[7]


Part one of the miniseries rated over 1.2 million viewers nationally, ranking as the fifth most watched program of the night,[8] and the eighth-most watched program of the week.[9] Part two was watched by 1.346 million viewers in the main five Australian TV markets, ranking as the second-most watched program of the week[9] and the most watched program of the night.[8]


The miniseries was produced by John Edwards (Love My Way, Rush) and Karen Radzyner by Southern Star Entertainment in association with Screen NSW, Screen Australia and ABC TV. The executive producer was Carole Sklan, ABC TV head of fiction; and the script was written by Christopher Lee.


  1. ^ "Rachel Griffiths for Paper Giants: Magazine Wars". TV Tonight.
  2. ^ "Double trouble in Paper Giants". TV Tonight.
  3. ^ Byrnes, Holly (11 April 2011). "Ita Buttrose recaptured in ABC1 telemovie Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo". Herald Sun. News Limited. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  4. ^ Kalina, Paul (17 April 2011). "Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Sunday April 17". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  5. ^ Knox, David (7 April 2011). "Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo". TV Tonight. David Knox. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  6. ^ "ABC apologises to Ita's ex for Paper Giants". The Daily Telegraph. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  7. ^ Queensland Premier's Literary Awards – 2011 Archived 5 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 13 August 2012
  8. ^ a b Knox, David (18 April 2011). "Ratings: Week 17". TV Tonight. David Knox. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  9. ^ a b Knox, David (24 April 2011). "Paper Giants was the week's best cover story". TV Tonight. David Knox. Retrieved 27 April 2011.

External linksEdit