Aug 19 2016

ABC3 relaunching as ABC ME

ABCMEABC‘s dedicated children’s channel ABC3 is to be relaunched next month as ABC ME.

ABC ME, aimed at school aged children and their families, will build on ABC3’s current program suite with new titles plus more opportunities for viewer interaction. The channel will also be available via a new app that can be personalised, and will include an optional section for parents, enabling better control over content.

New Australian programming includes pop culture review show News To Me, animation series Prisoner Zero and The Deep, arts and craft series Create, travel show Let’s Go, sports program The Ultimate Goal and short-form documentary series This Is Me as well as new episodes of Nowhere Boys, Doodles and You’re Skitting Me.

YouTube: ABC3

In a statement issued today, ABC Director of Television Richard Finlayson said:

“We’ve been listening to our young audiences and it’s clear that they want flexibility, mobility and control. In the past 12 months we’ve seen an extraordinary uptake of kids programming on our digital platforms. In 2016, 78% of ABC3 online program plays were viewed via a mobile device. Families who have children aged 4-12 in the home are 28% more likely than average to watch TV/Video on a mobile device. Such insights are at the heart of ABC ME and continue to inform our ongoing commitment to today’s digitally savvy Australian audience.”

ABC ME begins 19 September on free-to-air channel 23 and Foxtel channel 723.




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Aug 14 2016

ABC shows us When TV Was Awesome

whentvwasawesomeBack in the Nineties, ABC‘s The Late Show took footage from 1970s dramas Bluey and Rush and comically re-voiced them — resulting in the sketches Bargearse and The Olden Days.

Now, with the 60th anniversary of Australian television approaching, ABC is taking a similar tact with its new online series When TV Was Awesome.

Written and produced by Jason Marion (Rove Live, Dirty Laundry Live), When TV Was Awesome has trawled some vintage ABC productions and given them a comic twist.

ABC programs including This Day Tonight, In The Wild With Harry Butler and Patrol Boat have been adapted to new titles such as Pumpkin Phun Tonight, Harry Butler Gone Wild, Man Boat, Australia’s Got Talent ’82 and Bastard!.

My personal favourite is Pastamind, adapted from Mastermind but where the answer to every question is ‘pasta’.

When TV Was Awesome is currently available on ABC iView. Most episodes are rated M or MA and carry warnings of Coarse Language.




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Aug 13 2016

1996: July 6-12

tvweek_060796So long, Summer Bay…
Melissa George (pictured) was all smiles… and tears… as she bid farewell to Home And Away after three years as former street kid Angel. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see a little girl grow into a lady,” said producer Russell Webb, referring to George joining the cast as a 16-year-old, before handing her a bunch of flowers and a farewell gift from the cast and crew — a gold ring inlaid with precious gems. “Thank you for being so beautiful, you’ve been a great family,” she responded. George will soon be off to the UK to discuss plans for a department store to stock her nightwear label, An Angel At My Bedside. George’s final on screen appearance in Home And Away, scheduled for late August, will coincide with the show’s 2000th episode.

GP’s party turns into a wake
Past and present cast members of GP had gathered for a celebration of the taping of the show’s 300th episode — unaware that only hours later would come the news that ABC would not be renewing the series into 1997. The shock decision came after a meeting between ABC’s head of drama, Andy Lloyd James, and head of television, Penny Chapman, where it was decided to cancel GP to make way for other projects. “It is the ABC’s philosophy to continue to explore new areas of drama and to open up new Australian visions for our audience,” Lloyd James said. “In the coming year we have some very exciting new series going into production, both in Sydney and Melbourne, and for that reason we will be unable to renew GP after the end of the year.” GP, which first aired in March 1989, will end as ABC’s second-longest running drama series behind Bellbird, which ran for ten years until 1977.

lisamccunegeoffpaineBlue Heelers’ X-Files Secret
Geoff Paine, whose past credits have included Neighbours, A Country Practice, The Flying Doctors, Halifax fp and The Comedy Company, is now joining Blue Heelers in a guest role. He comes into Mount Thomas as criminology professor Roman Kellerman, who has an affair with Maggie Doyle (Lisa McCune). But PJ (Martin Sacks) uncovers some secrets about Maggie’s new man. “Roman is not what he seems, and it’s not smooth sailing,” Paine (pictured with McCune) told TV Week. “Something quite unexpected happens between Maggie and Roman. It’s quite an explosive ending. The last episode you see Roman in is an extraordinary episode, quite supernatural in many ways… very much like The X Files.”

erikthomsonErik’s legendary journey
Pacific Drive star Erik Thomson (pictured) is enjoying success on both sides of the Tasman at the moment. The Scottish-born, former New Zealand actor moved to Australia when he scored the role of Brett Barrett in Pacific Drive, but has since scored a role in the US series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys — which is being filmed in New Zealand. “Fortunately, they have managed my work on Pacific Drive so that I can go back to New Zealand to work on Hercules any time that I am needed,” Thomson told TV Week. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys airs in Australia on Network Ten.


  • Sale Of The Century hosts Glenn Ridge and Nicky Buckley have celebrated the show’s 16th birthday — a milestone that defies the predictions of many when Ridge took over as host from Tony Barber in 1991. Derryn Hinch, whose Seven Network current affairs show was up against Sale at the time, insisted, “We’ll kick their teeth in” — just a few months before his own show was axed.
  • martinhenderson_0001The Seven Network has hired former Echo Point star Martin Henderson (pictured), currently appearing on screen in Network Ten‘s sports drama Sweat, for a three-week guest role in Home And Away. Seven is keen to hear whether or not Ten will renew Sweat for a second series. If Ten opts not to proceed then Henderson may become a longer term cast member in Home And Away.
  • Money reporter Patrick Lindsay is to be host and executive producer of a one-hour special, Alternatives. The magazine program is based on alternative lifestyles and will feature reporters Joy Smithers, Michael Willesee Jnr and Catriona Rowntree. If the special is a success then Nine may spin-off the show into a series.
  • Some nervous times at Nine at the moment with budgets being slashed on existing shows and some other upcoming projects being canned completely. Speculation is mounting that owner Kerry Packer is making a push into the Fairfax newspaper business which could see Nine sold off if cross-media ownership rules are not changed.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 16 June 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 ER Nine Thu 2233000
2 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2233000
3 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2211000
4 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 2127000
5 The Nanny Ten Sun 1986000
6 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1926000
7 Our House Nine Wed 1891000
8 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1882000
9 Hudson Street Ten Sun 1835000
10 National Nine News Nine Sun 1831000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, July 6-12):
Beyond 2000 (3.30pm, Ten) reports on a giant x-ray machine that is helping to fight the war against drug smuggling; and the unseen dangers from volcanic ash that is causing planes to crash. Wimbledon (10.40pm, Nine) features the Women’s Singles Final and Men’s Doubles Final.

Sunday: AFL Today features Sydney Swans versus Geelong (1pm, Seven), live from Sydney, followed by Fremantle versus St Kilda (4pm, Seven), live from Perth. In Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River (6.30pm, Nine), Kathleen (Wendy Hughes) and Matt (Andrew Clarke) plan a romantic night but are interrupted by many things, including a crying baby. Sunday night movies are Addams Family Values (Seven), Halifax fp: Sweet Dreams (Nine), Shining Through (repeat, Ten) and Doctor Who: The Movie (ABC). Wimbledon (10.35pm, Nine) comes to a close with the Women’s Doubles Final and Men’s Singles Final.

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Lou (Tom Oliver) and Cheryl (Caroline Gillmer) can’t talk without arguing; and Karl (Alan Fletcher) continues his quest to find his real father. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shannon (Isla Fisher) and Alex (Nick Freedman) get back together. In the series return of Pacific Drive (11.35pm, Nine), Flood (Brian Vriends) steps up his insidious stalking of Laura (Simone Buchanan).

Tuesday: Elizabeth Hayes hosts a documentary, A Time To Live (8.30pm, Nine), following the stories of four people faced with the knowledge they have a terminal illness and will end their lives in Sydney’s Sacred Heart Hospice. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), PJ (Martin Sacks) and Maggie (Lisa McCune) must examine the events of the past to solve an allegation of childhood abuse. Patrick Lindsay hosts the one-hour special, Alternatives (9.30pm, Nine).

Wednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Steven (Adam Willits) hopes Travis (Nic Testoni) isn’t suspicious about his relationship with Kelly (Katrina Hobbs). In Pacific Drive (11pm, Nine), Martin (Joss McWilliam) fights to save Laura (Simone Buchanan) from the consequences of shooting Flood (Brian Vriends).

Thursday: In Getaway (7.30pm, Nine), Rebecca Harris goes kayaking on Sydney Harbour; and later, cricketer David Boon takes her on a tour of his home town, Launceston. In Mercury (8.30pm, ABC), Gibbo (David Roberts) is given a story that threatens the Leader of the Opposition. The final episode of internet series HTTP:// (9.20pm, ABC).

Friday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Karl (Alan Fletcher) receives a call from the wife of his biological father, Ron (Tony Hawkins); and Libby (Kym Valentine) finally meets Darren Stark (Todd MacDonald). Friday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) features West Coast Eagles versus Fitzroy, live from Perth.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 6 July 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.



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Aug 13 2016

1996: June 29-July 5

tvweek_290696Cover: Tasma Walton, Lisa McCune (Blue Heelers)

Wake up, Ramsay Street!
Network Ten has denied rumours that there were plans to dump Neighbours in favour of a new soap being developed by Southern Star, the producer of Ten’s ill-fated Echo Point. “The network is totally committed to keeping the show on air and is very happy with the new direction the show is taking,” Greg Stevens, the former Home And Away script producer now working on Neighbours, told TV Week. Ratings for Neighbours have taken a dive in recent times, with figures dropping to low double-digit shares in Sydney and Melbourne, and occasionally hitting single digits up against Today Tonight and A Current Affair. Stevens is confident that the new-look Neighbours, featuring more dramatic storylines and some surprising guest characters, will boost the ratings. “I believe that if we give the public good, strong emotional-based stories, they will respond with increased loyalty.” Viewers will start to see the changes on air from August, coinciding with a major publicity campaign.

maryannefahey_0001The gift of the gab!
Former The Comedy Company regular and Kittson Fahey co-star Maryanne Fahey (pictured) is making a return to TV — but you won’t see her on screen. Fahey is one of cast of actors providing voices for the Nine Network‘s animated series Crocadoo. Also featuring in the 26-part series are Judy Morris, Simon Westaway, David Gibson and Aaron Pedersen. Fahey’s former husband Ian McFadyen is also working as a writer for the series. Crocadoo tells the story of the battle between a hard-nosed property developer and a bunch of crocodiles.

grantbowler_0001Grant’s bald role
Former Blue Heelers star Grant Bowler (pictured) has landed a role in Network Ten‘s new medical drama Medivac, playing the part of Dr Archibald Craven. “The character’s great,” Bowler told TV Week. “He’s a very fine doctor who’s a heavy metal drummer at night. He’s got a shaved head, tattoos, the whole bit.” Bowler has also adopted the character’s wild-boy image by shaving his head and applying some fake tattoos. Viewers will also see Bowler soon in an eight-week guest stint on Pacific Drive, playing the role of leather-clad conman Garth Stephens. Production of Medivac is now in progress in Brisbane.


  • Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush‘s Tim Ferguson is to host a pilot for a new version of Blankety Blanks, the top-rating game show hosted by Graham Kennedy in the 1970s. The pilot, being produced at Nine, is set to feature panellists including Ernie Sigley, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and Elle McFeast (Libbi Gorr).
  • Production of Foxtel‘s soap parody Shark Bay has wrapped up, with the series due to debut in July. Series co-star Tina Thomsen is now set to return to Home And Away for a one-week guest stint, while Rowena Wallace is to join the cast of Pacific Drive.
  • salliannedeckertJournalist Sallianne Deckert (pictured), previously from A Current Affair and Sex, is the newest recruit to Seven‘s Talk To The Animals. Although Deckert grew up on a farm in Victoria, she wasn’t quite prepared for working with animals in her new job. “I thought I knew quite a bit about animals, but I’ve realised I don’t know anything at all,” she told TV Week. “I’m finding out more and more as we go.”

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 9 June 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2329000
2 ER Nine Thu 2238000
3 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2199000
4 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1965000
5 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1953000
6 Our House Nine Wed 1849000
7 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1821000
8 National Nine News Nine Sat 1805000
9 National Nine News Nine M-F 1794000
10 JAG Seven Mon 1792000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 29-July 5):
Saturday: Beyond 2000 (3.30pm, Ten) reports on a deadly poison that gives new life to kids with cerebral palsy; and a rocket that could replace the space shuttle. In Sweat (5.30pm, Ten), ignoring warnings from Greg (Quintin George) not to overdo it, Stewie (Heath Bergersen) pushes himself to the limit to impress the guest coach. Saturday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) includes Fremantle Dockers versus North Melbourne, live from Perth.

miketomalarisSunday: AFL Sunday includes Adelaide Crows versus Melbourne (2pm, Seven), live from Adelaide, followed by highlights of Footscray versus West Coast Eagles (5pm, Seven) from Whitten Oval in Melbourne. Les Murray and Johnny Warren present a half-hour review of Euro 96 (7pm, SBS) ahead of tonight’s final, while Mike Tomalaris (pictured) and Phil Liggett present the first highlights from the Tour De France (7.30pm, SBS). Sunday night movies are Rising Sun (Seven) and Mad Dog And Glory (Ten) up against the debut of mini-series Gulliver’s Travels (Nine). The Euro ’96 Final (4am, SBS), Czech Republic versus Germany, is live from Wembley Stadium in London.

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Casper (Adam Fiorentino) is scared half to death by the sight of a partially hidden body in the boys’ clubhouse. In Water Rats (7.30pm, Nine), the crew are kept busy by a group of drunken university students on Shark Island and are given a hand by national parks and wildlife officers. Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten) presents the second of its special episodes from along the Murray River — with Iain Hewitson looking at the fruit offerings of the Sunraysia region, Jim Brown reports on local camping sites, and Peter Wherrett investigates the ingenuity of paddle-steamers.

Tuesday: In The Great Outdoors (8pm, Seven), Frankie J Holden tours the Moroccan city of Casablanca. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Henry’s (Steve Bisley) loneliness propels him to the gym where he becomes involved with an instructor. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), as the Heelers become involved with discipline problems at the local high school, Tom (John Wood) realises that his own problems are nothing in comparison to that of the new school principal’s.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Angie (Lesley Baker) and Stonie (Anthony Engelman) come to grips with the robbery; while Lou (Tom Oliver) realises his relationship with Cheryl (Caroline Gillmer) is shaky.

Thursday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Duncan (Lewis Devaney) and Dylan (Corey Glaister) tape over Angel’s (Melissa George) video of Shane. In Mercury (8.30pm, ABC), Tess (Julie Forsyth) takes over Rocco’s (Michael Veitch) newspaper column for the week.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Chloe’s (Kristy Wright) attacker is caught. Rex Hunt Fishing Adventures In The Kimberleys (8.30pm, Seven) features Rex Hunt touring the Kimberley region in Australia’s north west, experiencing breathtaking views of the Pentecost and Chamberlain Rivers. Friday Night Football (9.30pm, Seven) features North Melbourne versus Carlton from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 29 June 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.

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Aug 13 2016

1996: June 22-28

tvweek_220696Cover: Tom Cruise

Angel’s saviour
Home And Away‘s recently-widowed Angel (Melissa George) is set to be swept off her feet by Simon Broadhurst (Julian Garner) in a storyline that is to mark George’s departure from the series. “Simon’s a rich businessman who develops (computer) software. He’s kind of the Bill Gates of England,” Garner tells TV Week of his character. “I think Simon’s definitely interested in getting together with Angel. He really is taken by her. He really cares about her a lot, in fact. A lot of people in Summer Bay like Simon and think he would be good for Angel in helping her to move on and be happy.”

nadinegarner_0002A new twist to Bryan’s career
Actor Bryan Brown — also a member of the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame — has taken on a new role to promote new talent with his new series Twisted Tales. With the idea of producing a series of twelve half-hour dramas, Brown placed a newspaper advertisement requesting scripts for the project. He ended up receiving more than 1200 entries which was culled to 12. Most of the successful script submissions came from writers who have never had a work go to production before. TV Week was invited to view the filming of The Crossing, one of the episodes of the upcoming series. The Crossing, starring Justine Clarke and Nadine Garner, tells the story of dramatic changes to a woman’s life after a serious car accident. “This is draining,” Garner (pictured) told TV Week. “There is actually quite a lot of pressure to this shoot. We have such limited time, and that is difficult when you are having to capture such high drama.” Garner was also full of praise for Brown in establishing the series. “It’s a very generous thing to do — giving back to the industry and giving new talent a go.” Twisted Tales goes to air on Nine later in the year.

sigridthorntontemueramorrisonWhipping up controversy
In preparing for her role in the upcoming telemovie Whipping Boy, actress Sigrid Thornton sat in on sessions of the NSW Royal Commission into police corruption. In Whipping Boy, based on the novel by Gabrielle Lord, she plays single mother and lawyer Cass Meredith, the state-appointed head of an inquiry into a child pornography racket. The Network Ten telemovie also stars Temuera Morrison (pictured with Thornton) as John Carrigan, a former vice squad detective suspected of corruption whose appointment to the task force cause conflict.


  • danieljohnsSilverchair lead singer Daniel Johns (pictured) was one of the performers at the lavish $300,000 party to launch the Foxtel music channel, Red.
  • Following the success of Nine‘s Water Rats, the former ABC drama Patrol Boat could be making a comeback. Producer James Davern, who created the series which ran from 1979 to 1983, has been in discussion with the Ten Network about reviving the drama for the Nineties.
  • The Seven Network has denied rumours that Family Feud host John Deeks will be replacing John Burgess as host of Wheel Of Fortune after production of the show moves to Sydney. “John (Deeks) was in Adelaide doing some fill-in voice-over work on Wheel and that’s how the rumour started,” a Seven spokesperson told TV Week. Wheel Of Fortune, an Adelaide-based production since it began in 1981, will be moving to Sydney this month.
  • marcusgraham_0002Former E Street star Marcus Graham, currently appearing in the Melbourne Theatre Company production of Julius Caesar, is soon to start filming on the new Nine Network series Good Guys Bad Guys. Graham (pictured) is to play the part of Elvis Maginnis, a cop with connections in high and low places, and a weakness for women.
  • Grahame Bond, who played Aunty Jack in the ABC series of the same name, fears that early episodes of the 1970s comedy may be lost forever. He recently approached ABC to discuss releasing the show on video but was told that some episodes can not be found. Because Bond and co-star Rory O’Donoghue own the music and script rights ABC can’t repeat the series, release it on video or sell it to pay TV.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 2 June 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 State Of Origin: NSW v QLD Nine Mon 2284000
2 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2267000
3 ER Nine Thu 2220000
4 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2191000
5 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 2033000
6 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1985000
7 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1955000
8 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1919000
9 Movie: Groundhog Day Ten Sun 1899000
10 National Nine News Nine Sun 1871000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 22-28):
Saturday: Beyond 2000 (3.30pm, Ten) reports on tyres what won’t go flat; and unlocking the secrets of Alzheimer’s disease. In Sweat (5.30pm, Ten), Tom (Martin Henderson) is on a downward slide and turns to steroids. In Bush Tucker Man: Stories Of Survival (6.30pm, ABC), Les Hiddins traces the journey of ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills who may have fared better if they had known more about the preparation of bush tucker. Saturday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) features Brisbane Bears versus Melbourne, live from Brisbane, with Sandy Roberts and commentators Malcolm Blight and Don Scott.

kristieraymondSunday: AFL Today (1pm, Seven) features Sydney Swans versus Footscray, live from Sydney, followed by West Coast Eagles versus St Kilda, live from Perth. In Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River (6.30pm, Nine), Danni (Kristie Raymond, pictured) falls in love with a charming young man, known only as Tuck (Christopher Gabardi), who arrives at Langara. Sunday night movies are Something Is Out There (repeat, Nine) and Death Becomes Her (Ten), up against the debut of two-part mini-series Murderous Passion (Seven).

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Hannah’s (Brooke Anderson) father (Scott McGregor) comes after her. Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show (7.30pm, Nine) presents a one-hour “best of” special. Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten) features the first of two special episodes on a journey down the Murray River, crossing three states along 2500 kilometres. Nine begins two weeks of nightly coverage from Wimbledon (10.35pm), featuring commentators John Newcombe, Fred Stolle, Tony Trabert and Betty Nagelsen.

bernardkingjohnjarrattTuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Danni (Eliza Szonert) climbs the fashion ladder after hearing from a rock star who sees her dress in the local newspaper. In Better Homes And Gardens (7.30pm, Seven), Bernard King (pictured with co-host John Jarratt) makes a guest appearance to offer tips on preparing for a dinner party. British comedy duo Gareth Hale and Norman Pace star in a one-hour special, Hale And Pace Down Under (8.30pm, Nine). In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), Tom (John Wood) is faced with a dilemma when the attempted suicide of Clancy’s (Michael Isaacs) mother places the future of her intellectually disabled son in jeopardy.

Wednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Keith (Scott McGregor) goes to Fisher’s (Norman Coburn) office with a gun, determined to get what he wants. Steve Robilliard and Anne Sargeant host coverage of Australia versus New Zealand at the Netball International Test (8.30pm, ABC) in Adelaide.

Thursday: In Getaway (7.30pm, Nine), Jeff Watson reports on a new accommodation package at a famous Sydney tourist destination; Catriona Rowntree presents a travel guide of Jerusalem and later goes backpacking at Ko Phangan, Thailand; and Lochie Daddo views the Great Barrier Reef from a surveillance plane. In Mercury (8.30pm, ABC), Tess MacDonald (Julie Forsyth) is working secretly on an exclusive story.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Chloe (Kristy Wright) is attacked on her way home from a party. Rex Hunt and Steve Starling host the special, Rex Hunt Fishing Adventures In Vanuatu (8.30pm, Seven).

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 22 June 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.

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Jul 30 2016

Obituary: Vivean Gray

viveangrayActress Vivean Gray, best known to viewers as Mrs Jessup in The Sullivans and Mrs Mangel in Neighbours, has died at the age of 92.

The English-born actress came to Australia in the 1950s, just as TV was beginning in this country. Like many actors at the time, Gray appeared in guest roles in early Crawford cop dramas Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police.

tvweek_031081Other roles followed in Power Without Glory, Solo One, Bluey and the ABC series Lucky Colour Blue, but it was her role as Ida Jessup in the World War 2 drama The Sullivans that made her a household name. Gray played the gossipy Mrs Jessup for the show’s entire six-year run, winning TV Week Logie Awards in 1978 and 1981 for Best Supporting Actress. It was front-page news of TV Week when the widowed Ida Jessup married Arthur Pike (Wallas Eaton).

Later credits included Carson’s Law, Anzacs and All The Rivers Run and a brief stint as prison inmate Edna Pearson in Prisoner. But Gray’s next defining role would be one that had parallels to Mrs Jessup. The character of Nell Mangel, the stereotypical nosy neighbour that was never short of an opinion, was initially written in to Neighbours in mid-1986 as a guest role but proved so successful that she stayed on. Gray ended up leaving the series after only two years following negative public reaction from viewers unable to separate Gray the actress from Mrs Mangel the gossip. Her departure from Neighbours was marked with Mrs Mangel’s marriage to Englishman John Worthington (Brian James) and calling a truce with frequent opponent Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston).

YouTube: The Soapology’s Channel

Although Mrs Mangel left Ramsay Street almost three decades ago, the Mangel name lived on for years to come with various offspring still residing in Ramsay Street — and a portrait painted by Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) still makes the occasional cameo appearance.

Film credits for Gray included Libido, A City’s Child, Picnic At Hanging Rock and The Last Wave.

Source: The Guardian, IMDB, Perfect Blend. TV Week, 31 May 1986.


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Jul 18 2016

Classic TV Guides: Bert Newton around the dial!

gownoftheyearIf people in more recent times wanted to dub Eddie McGuire as “Eddie Everywhere”, then they would find McGuire to be an amateur compared to Bert Newton in July 1973.

Newton had less than a year earlier lamented in a newspaper interview that he’d not had a lot of TV work during 1972, with his presenting commitments not extending much further than the TV Week Logie Awards and a series of commercials for TV rental company Canberra Television.

Go forward to July 1973 and it’s a different story. In the time since that newspaper interview Newton had reunited with his former TV partner Graham Kennedy for The Graham Kennedy Show.

And in mid-July Newton was appearing on not one but three rival channels — at a time when Melbourne only had four.

As well as The Graham Kennedy Show, Newton had a seven-week variety show on ABC, The Bert Newton Show, screening on Monday nights.

Newton (pictured above with models Jan Murray and Jill Considine) was also the host of ATV0‘s one-hour special Gown Of The Year, an awards presentation for Australia’s fashion industry. The 1973 awards marked the Gown Of The Year‘s 20th anniversary.

One program that didn’t feature Newton this particular week was a comedy special The True Blue Show. The one-hour program, produced at Sydney’s ATN7, was a sketch comedy production featuring Gerry Gallagher, Sue Walker, John Derum and Emma Gray. The special was the precursor to a regular series to go to air on the Seven Network later in the year.

The Gown Of The Year and The True Blue Show screenings are among the ten listings now added to the Classic TV Guides section:




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Jul 10 2016

Looking back at 50 years of Play School

kateritchiebigtedThe ABC special Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School takes a look back at Australia’s longest running children’s show.

Hosted by Nova FM‘s Kate Ritchie, the program features rare footage from the Play School archive — including scenes from the very first episode that went to air on Monday, 18 July 1966, plus some of the show’s earliest presenters.

Presenting their memories of Play School throughout the program are just some of the presenters who have graced the Play School set over the years, including Noni Hazlehurst, Benita Collings, John Waters, John Hamblin, Lorraine Bayly, Alister Smart, Georgie Parker, Luke Carroll and Justine Clarke. Other well known celebrities, including Craig McLachlan, Mikey Robins, The Wiggles, Hannah Gadsby, Joe Hildebrand, Nazeem Hussain, Benjamin Law, Adam Liaw and Andrew Gaze also share their memories of growing up with Play School.


John Hamblin and Lorraine Bayly

The special revisits some of the feedback that the show had received over the years, including the outrage from the media when one segment featured a family of two mothers.

Although Play School was produced for many years ‘as live’ — meaning that it all had to be done in one take — some bloopers inevitably had to be cut. Viewers will get to see a few such moments… which perhaps should carry a warning of containing obscene language! There are some words we just never imagined Benita blurting out on camera!


Benita Collings and John Waters with pianist Warren Carr

leighsalesannabelcrabbABC is also commemorating Play School‘s 50th anniversary with a series of short segments featuring a mix of Play School presenters and some other familiar faces giving their own take on some Play School songs and stories. Guy Sebastian, Magda Szubanski, Molly Meldrum, Hamish and Andy, Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Lee Lin Chin, Carrie Bickmore, Dami Im, Delta Goodrem and Kate Ceberano are just some of the names to appear in the segments that have been airing during the month on ABC Kids and on ABC iView.


Anne Haddy and Kerry Francis

playschool_0001Since its debut in 1966, Play School has clocked up around 2250 episodes and amassed a library of almost 2000 songs. Six versions of the opening titles have appeared over 50 years. The show was awarded a TV Week Logie in 1998 for Most Outstanding Achievement In Children’s Television and was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 2006.

The program has been a commercial success for ABC through product merchandising, concerts and recorded media and led to spin off titles Bananas In Pyjamas and Little Ted’s Big Adventure.


Alister Smart and Jan Kingsbury

Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School. Tonight, Sunday 10 July, 7.40pm. ABC

Pictures: ABC




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Jul 07 2016

Mass For You loses in WIN changeover

massforyouathomeThe recent changes in regional television affiliations have seen one of Australia’s longest running shows slip through the cracks.

Network Ten‘s Sunday morning program Mass For You At Home has not been picked up by the network’s new regional partner WIN, even though it had been screening through its previous affiliate Southern Cross Ten.

WIN, which covers regional Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT, Tasmania, regional Victoria, South East South Australia and regional Western Australia, has instead opted to schedule a syndicated American program, This Is Your Day With Benny Hinn, in the early morning Sunday timeslot. While this is also a religious program it does not fulfill the same objective as MFYAH and presumably is paid-for programming, like an infomercial, or derives revenue through commercial breaks. MFYAH goes to air commercial free.

MFYAH was started in 1971 as a Melbourne-only production, at a time when television stations were obliged to run a certain amount of religious programming. These days it airs across the Ten Network as a community service to allow viewers — mostly those isolated whether by age, distance, illness or imprisonment — access to participate in Sunday Mass. Even though it is broadcast early on Sunday mornings it claims a loyal following of viewers and supporters.

Despite the financial challenges Ten has faced over the years it has continued to support and broadcast MFYAH every week, still commercial free, missing only on the odd occasion when sporting telecasts or other obligations have taken precedence over the timeslot. The network donates production staff and facilities for the program and pays the cost of music licencing fees.

The program was bumped to Eleven a couple of years ago but has since been returned to the primary Ten channel. It is currently also screening on pay TV public access channel Aurora and is available to view online at TenPlay.

MFYAH continues to go to air on Network Ten outlets in other regional markets not covered by WIN.

Source: TenPlay, Aurora, Mass For You At Home



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Jul 03 2016

Regional WA gets its Nine back

9_logo_2009_0002West Digital Television, the regional WA operation that had its programming disappear on Friday, was last night back on the air with programs.

The station, a joint venture between regional networks Prime and WIN, had previously carried Network Ten programming but WIN’s deal to take over Ten affiliation from 1 July saw West Digital have to negotiate a new agreement with Nine.

Discussions between Nine, Prime and WIN failed to come to a conclusion by close of business on Thursday night, leaving West Digital to replace all programming across its three channels (which had formerly carried Ten, One and Eleven) with a loop of picturesque scenes of rural Australia from 12 midnight on Friday morning.

The change triggered a firm rebuke from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, reminding the parties involved that a broadcasting licence comes with an obligation to actually provide a service that “appeals to the general public”.

Regional Western Australia was the only market to lose a television service following the shake-up of regional affiliations triggered by Nine entering into a new partnership with Southern Cross Austereo. Similar joint venture services in Tasmania (TDT) and Mildura (MDV) which had also lost access to Network Ten programming were spared the loss of service following last minute deals with Nine in the lead up to 1 July.

Programming was restored on West Digital at 7.30pm (WST) last night (Saturday), picking up Nine’s election night coverage — with 9Gem and 9GO also restored to the region.

YouTube: WATVPresentation

Source: ACMA




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