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Video 1: Jack Thompson 1


Title: Who Do You Think You Are? Jack Thompson: Segment 1

SBS Television

Video extract, recorded off air 21/02/2008

This segment introduces the audience to Jack Thompson and his search for his ancestors. He wants to find out more about the links of the past to the present. Jack is trying to make sense of the family connections and their influence on him today.



'Well, might as well get it out into the open' as the actress said to the bishop.

Narrator: Jack Thompson is one of the leading actors of his generation with an international career spanning many years.

Jack: As I told you when I took you on I only hire married men.

We should go inside, we have a lot to talk about.

Narrator: He's seen as the quintessential Aussie bloke, but is Jack a product of his upbringing or his genes?


Jack: Well, the reason I'm interested in my family history is that I've really never known anything very much about my family.

I was adopted at the age of ten having lost my mother at the age of four and my father was away at war.

I'm sure that some of the passions that I have in my life have their origins in my family background.

I am in some way or other a product of my ancestry and I have no idea what that ancestry is.


Narrator: As an adopted child the family history he has is very scant.

Jack is now on a mission to learn more.

Jack: I discovered through my Aunt Beverley that some of my forebears that were cedar cutters.

Now, I had bought a farm in the eastern Dorrigo, in this rainforest without ever knowing that my forebears

must have come a hundred years before to just such a forest where they made a living cutting the cedar trees.

What is that connection?

What made me decide to buy a farm?

I mean really only an hour's drive from where my ancestors were cutting cedar.


Narrator: Jack was born John Hadley Pain.

His parents were Marjorie Hall and Harold Pain.

Jack: And this is my mother together with an aunt and myself and David.

It must have been taken not long before she died.

She died when I was four.

So, this little boy here is about nearly four.

This little photograph is one I've never seen before it's obviously my father.

I know that it was said that he was a bit of a tearaway.

I remember him, I remember being with him when he was, I remember his laugh but I know really very little about him.

Narrator: Jack's mum died of a heart infection at the age of 30.

His father couldn't cope with raising the children on his own, so they were sent to boarding school.

Later, Jack was adopted and his name changed from Pain to Thompson.


Jack: Well, I suppose having been separated from my family very early I haven't had that feeling that a lot

of people have that, that sort of blood connection, that family connection automatically implies some sort

of real connection, some sort of privileged connection.

And to me they are essentially all interesting strangers.

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Video 2: Jack Thompson 2


Title: Who Do You Think You Are? Jack Thompson: Segment 2

SBS Television

Video extract, recorded off air 21/02/2008

Jack goes to Ireland to find out more about his great-great-great-grandfather, Patrick Byrnes. He discovers the circumstances of Patrick's crime and his transportation to Australia. He visits the countryside around Tipperary and comes to realise the importance of having a sense of place that links generations.



Narrator: Jack is going to Ireland.

The return trip forbidden to Patrick Byrnes who's sentence banished him from his Mother Country for life.


Narrator: Jack's great-great-great-grandfather was just 20 years old when he was charged and convicted of highway robbery.

He was arrested in Cork and locked up in a city jail.

Jack is met by Gabriel Doherty, a specialist in the history of crime in Ireland.

Jack: In 1836 Patrick is 20.

And it says on the record that he was convicted of highway robbery.

What would that have been?

Would it have been highway robbery?

Gabriel: Well, the original offence is an interesting one in terms of sentences, we have here the letter from the judge.

Jack: Ohhhh

Gabriel: Seeking clemency.

Jack: Really?

Gabriel: For Patrick.

This is grand bureau on April the 29th, 1836.

'I had the honour to recommend to his Excellency's consideration as a fit and proper subject of mercy.

Patrick Byrnes, who was convicted before me at the city of Cork classicus of robbery.

I was obliged to record sentence of death, I beg leave to suggest as a fit commendation of sentence

transportation for life by the unasserted etc to remain' Judge Baron.

Jack: Ohhhh, so he was sentenced to hang?

Gabriel: Initially.

Jack: So, why would a judge ask for clemency?

I mean what had this young Patrick had done to inspire such a plea for clemency or did they just need more people to be transported?

Gabriel: Well, I think the latter part is part of it.

Some of the factors that the judge would have taken into account almost certainly would be the fact that he

was young and it would be one of the basic factors.

He was presumably young, fit and able to work.

Jack: Yeah.

Gabriel: And it simply made sense.

You got rid of the problem from Ireland.

Jack: Yeah.

Gabriel: And Australia acquired a new set of hands to work upon necessary work.

Jack: Yeah.

Gabriel: And that seems to be ...

Jack: Better than releasing a perfectly good young man.

Gabriel: Exactly.


Narrator: Jack's final destination in Ireland is Tipperary, the place where Patrick was born.


Jack: I get a sense of the place he left behind.

It must have remained, no matter how harsh the life here was, there is always a sense of place about your homeland.

I feel closer to my own family I suppose.

Closer because we now share a common knowledge of where we came from.





Task 1 – 20 marks

Viewing and listening

View the two excerpts from the SBS television program Who Do You Think You Are? A link to the video excerpts is provided in your learning resource and they are also on the OLS website.


Once you have viewed and listened to the two video extracts from the interview with Jack Thompson, answer the following questions.

(a)  Where does Jack Thompson feel a strong sense of place? Why?

(b)  What did Jack find out about his family background? Why is it important to him to know more about his family history?

(c)   Why does Jack go to Ireland? What does he find out about his ancestor?

(d)  What techniques are used by the producers of the television program to make the account of Jack’s experiences more interesting?

Write approximately 300-400 words in total.


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