Oct 20 2014

Homicide: 50 years on

homicide_0004Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first appearance of Homicide on Australian television.

The series, produced by Crawford Productions, wasn’t the first drama produced by Australian television but was the first to demonstrate that Australian audiences would watch locally-produced drama in overwhelming numbers. Its success sparked a booming industry of Australian television drama production.

But launching Homicide did not come easy. Since television began in Australia drama production had been largely limited to televised plays and short-run daytime serials. There were some notable prime-time efforts, including GTV9‘s Emergency in 1959 and ATN7‘s historical series, Jonah, in 1962. In the early 1960s ABC had produced historical mini-series including Stormy Petrel, The Outcasts, The Patriots and The Hungry Ones.

johnpaciniCrawford Productions, headed by Hector Crawford and his sister Dorothy, had been making radio programs since the mid-1940s. One of its most popular shows was a crime series, D24, based on real-life cases and produced in association with Victoria Police. The advent of television in 1956 saw Crawford Productions immediately begin the production of television programs but it was 1961 before the company had launched its first TV drama, a courtroom series called Consider Your Verdict, for Melbourne’s HSV7. When Consider Your Verdict was rumoured to be cancelled in April 1964, TV Times columnist John Pacini (pictured) implored Seven to replace it with one that he’d heard was in the pipeline:

Consider Your Verdict has had a three-year run. This reflects great credit on HSV7. It has demonstrated quite clearly a desire to support locally made television products. To maintain what should be a jealously guarded record HSV7 must replace Consider Your Verdict with another “Made in Australia” series. Dame Fortune has been kind indeed for such a show is waiting on the sidelines to be pressed into service.

Its title… Homicide.

And it’s as dramatic as it sounds, believe me. It tells the story (I hope weekly) of a homicide case in which three detectives, supposedly based in an Australian Police HQ, conduct the investigations. The series is Australian acted and Australian written.

Sack Consider Your Verdict if you will — as I believe is your intention, HSV7. But replace it with this Homicide series. It’s better than Consider Your Verdict, and provides another step forward in the cultivation of locally made shows.”

homicide_0002Whether HSV7 had already agreed behind-the-scenes to go ahead with Homicide is not clear, but by July it was reported that the station had picked up Homicide for series production. The commissioning of Homicide no doubt came as a relief to Crawfords, as Hector had mortgaged his house to fund its production and both he and Dorothy had worked without salary for a year to keep the company afloat. Even so, Crawfords still made a considerable loss on the initial series as Seven paid far less than what it cost to make.

homicide_0003The first episode, titled The Stunt, went to air on HSV7 on Tuesday, 20 October 1964 at 7.30pm.

The episode opens with the scene of a mock bank robbery being staged by university students as a prank. The leader of the ‘robbery’, Lindsay Murdock (Ian Turpie), armed with a cap gun, was fatally shot by the bank’s security guard, John Healy (Gordon Glenwright).

Enter Homicide‘s first squad, Inspector Jack Connolly (John Fegan), Detective Sergeant Frank Bronson (Terry McDermott) and Detective Rex Fraser (Lex Mitchell), to determine if Healy acted within his duties or if there were other factors at play — in particular the relationship between Murdock and his university colleagues, Prue Ellison (Susan Haworth) and James Collier (Laurence Beck).

The episode featured interior studio scenes recorded on videotape combined with exterior scenes recorded on film — a production technique to be employed by various Crawford productions in the years that followed, although Homicide would later change to film-only production.

Early reviews for Homicide were promising, with TV Times’ Pacini following up his April comments:

“Hats off to Crawford Productions and HSV7 for excellent premiere of Homicide which looks like being the first mature crime series made in this country. A long-wanted step in right direction to enable near opportunityless actors and actresses ply their trade in something other than corny commercials.”

Fellow TV Times critic Frank Doherty‘s only criticism was that the efforts of the episode’s scriptwriters, Ian Jones and Phil Freedman, were not given their due recognition, with their names placed near the end of the closing credits:

“Burying the identity of the author of an hour-long drama near the tip of the tail of the credit list would seem, at best, a perfunctory way of admitting the part he played in the feature.”

lexmitchellTV Week columnist Alec Martin said the series “has plenty of potential, but let’s hope that Lex Mitchell (the younger detective, pictured) gets a better hair style as the series goes on.”

But not everyone was thrilled with the new show. TV Week critic Frank Thring was far from complimentary:

“The scripts are unactable, the dialogue unspeakable, the actors a strange mish-mash of the professional and the amateur, and the final result a goulash that could tickle only the most undiscriminating palate.”

homicide_ad1Despite Thring’s criticism the viewers clearly felt otherwise. The opening episode gained a rating of 33 (per cent of households) for HSV7 — an outstanding result for the new four-station market. When the first episode aired in Sydney (still a three-station market at that time) in January 1965 it rated 40, a staggering result given that Melbourne-made programs usually drew only a lukewarm response in Sydney.

By 1966 Homicide was the third top rating series on Australian television. It then hit the number one spot in 1967 and topped the national ratings again in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972. It won Best New Drama at the 1965 TV Week Logie Awards, and went on to win Best Drama at the Logies in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1973.

Homicide‘s success paved the way for a growing demand for Australian-made television drama. The Nine Network followed Seven’s lead with a spy drama Hunter and, later, police series Division 4 — both from the Crawfords stable.

The third commercial network, 0-10, had failed in its first attempt at police drama, the in-house production The Long Arm in 1970, but had commissioned Crawfords for its next project which became rural cop series Matlock Police.

Seven also commissioned another series, a private detective drama, Ryan in 1972. Ryan, which starred a young Pamela Stephenson alongside lead actor Rod Mullinar, only lasted one season.

By 1975 the proliferation of Crawford productions was at breaking point — with three cop dramas, Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police, alongside soap opera The Box and sitcom The Last Of The Australians. All up it was accounting for six hours of prime time programming each week, plus the additional hours of daytime re-runs.

tvweek_110372Despite strong ratings the Nine Network cancelled Division 4, citing financial constraints amid a growing slate of local production, and 0-10 soon followed in cancelling Matlock Police.

Homicide, the show that started it all, was the last to go. It was axed in August 1975 but with a backlog of episodes stayed on screen until early 1977. It finally bowed out with its 510th episode — creating a record for a weekly series not matched until a later Seven Network drama, Blue Heelers, came to an end in 2006.

There was speculation that the rapid cancellation of three of Crawfords’ major productions was an act of collusion by the networks, responding to Crawfords’ push for increased Australian content on TV — but the timing of the axings also came as soap operas were emerging as the new ratings giant, with Number 96, Reg Grundy‘s Class Of ’74 and Crawfords’ own The Box delivering strong ratings. Soaps were also cheaper to produce and could fill more hours of airtime each week than a weekly police drama.

The Box continued through to 1977, while Crawfords went on to establish two new hit shows — World War II period drama The Sullivans for Nine and soapie-based police drama Cop Shop for Seven.

Crawford Productions is now Crawfords Australia and owned by WIN Corporation. The company has been releasing selected titles of its archive on DVD — including Homicide and Division 4. Details of these and other releases can be found at their website.

Seven Melbourne will pay tribute to Homicide with the special 50 Years Of Homicide, screening Wednesday 22 October, 10.30pm.

Source: IMDB. Australian Television Information Archive. TV Times, 8 April 1964. TV Week, 18 July 1964. TV Times, 14 October 1964. TV Times, 4 November 1964. TV Week, 31 October 1964. TV Week, 12 December 1964. TV Times, 8 February 1975. TV Times, 16 August 1975. The Age, 15 July 1981. Australian Television: A Ratings History 1956-1998, ACNielsen. Australian TV The First 25 Years, 1981.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/homicide-50-years-on.html

Oct 19 2014

On TV: 19 October 1979, Melbourne

tvweek_131079The next in our occasional series looking at what was on TV on this day in years past. Today we’re going back to Friday, 19 October 1979 in Melbourne, as listed in TV Week (with Mike Walsh on the cover with Jeanne Little and Sue Smith, celebrating 1500 episodes of The Mike Walsh Show)

If you wanted to watch the news with your breakfast you’d better find a radio or a newspaper, because morning television in 1979 is purely for the kids — with Thunderbirds and The Super Flying Fun Show on GTV9, The Early Bird Show on ATV0 (soon to be ATV10) and Sesame Street on ABC.

HSV7 doesn’t make it to air until 10.00am, with Romper Room leading into US variety show Dinah!, featuring Dinah Shore. ATV0’s mid-morning includes Fat Cat And Friends for the pre-schoolers followed by repeats of family dramas The Rovers and Barrier Reef.

Bernard King presents his half-hour of cooking and lifestyle before Roy Hampson and Annette Allison present the Melbourne-based Everyday (which would become Good Morning Melbourne in the early 1980s).

Nine’s soapie line-up begins at 10.00am with All My Children — and apart from The Mike Walsh Show all you’ll see on Nine are soaps right through until 4.00pm.

Midday movies are Tick Tick Tick on Seven and Wind Across The Everglades on 0.

Re-runs dominate the mid-afternoons on both Seven and 0 — with Homicide, The Streets Of San Francisco, The FBI, King Of Kensington and The New Dick Van Dyke Show. It would appear that putting anything more substantial up against Nine’s daily soapie marathon would only be an exercise in futility.

As per usual, ABC’s daytime is dominated by schools programming with a 10-minute news update at 1.00pm.

The after school line-up include ABC’s programming block ARVO, hosted by Ron Blanchard and Alexander The Bunyip, featuring Play School and Sesame Street. Seven has Shirl’s Neighbourhood, Nine has The Curiosity Show and 0 has Simon Townsend’s Wonder World. The afternoon winds up with Andrew Harwood‘s It’s Academic, British series Just William and Out Of Bounds and re-runs of US shows Get Smart, Here’s Lucy and Wonder Woman.

tvstrike_1979It would seem that a extended strike by television production workers has started to impact on some schedules — and for Nine in particular. Nine’s early evening fixtures Family Feud, The Young Doctors and The Sullivans are nowhere to be seen — instead replaced by US shows My Three Sons, Celebrity Charades and What’s Happening.

Nine had also been forced to cease production of the top-rating The Don Lane Show, which normally aired on Monday and Thursday nights, and replace it with “best of” episodes.

Nine is reported to have even approached the other networks about suspending the ratings surveys while programs are being taken out of circulation, but tough rival Seven had instead taken advantage as it produced fewer live shows and still had more episodes of its regular dramas in the can. The absence of fresh episodes of The Don Lane Show gave Seven an instant boost to its new prime time series Skyways, airing in the same timeslot.

The 0-10 Network’s ratings were so perilous that it had nothing to lose by plugging away in the hope of picking up some disgruntled Nine viewers.

In the lead-up to its 7.00pm news, ABC had a one-hour local magazine program Statewide, hosted by David Johnston — up against I Dream Of Jeannie and Seven National News on Seven, Celebrity Charades and National Nine News on Nine, and ATV0’s Eyewitness News with Bruce Mansfield, Annette Allison, John Waters (presumably not the actor of the same name!) and Rob Gell.

derrynhinchcorneliafrancesAfter the news, Seven had current affairs with Willesee At Seven and ATV0 had magazine program Peter Couchman’s Melbourne, including regular contributors Derryn Hinch, Cornelia Frances (pictured), Marie van Maaren, Don Jolly, Tony Porter, Bob Maumill and barrister Frank Galbally.

ABC’s Friday night included the The Two Ronnies, British detective panel game Whodunnit?, soccer, snooker, gardening with Sow What? and a late news bulletin — before signing off for the night at 11.10pm.

Over on the commercial channels it was a battle of the movie epics — with 55 Days At Peking on Seven, The Guns Of Navarone on Nine and The Nun’s Story on 0 — all three hours in length.

Late nights included the late news with Malcolm Gray on Seven followed by music program Nightmoves with Lee Simon, while Nine had a repeat episode of Australian sitcom The Last Of The Australians before a late news bulletin, and ATV0 had two-and-a-half hours of tennis with the Custom Credit Indoor Tennis Championship from the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney.

Nine’s overnight movies are The Best Of Enemies, The Man From The Diner’s Club and The Giant Claw before the regular re-run of Sixties crime drama The Baron.

Source: TV Week, 13 October 1979.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/on-tv-19-october-1979-melbourne.html

Oct 18 2014

1994: October 22-28

tvweek_221094All kidding aside!
The ratings success of Nine‘s new Just Kidding has handed co-host Sofie Formica (pictured) a tough choice to make. With the first series of 26 episodes completed in advance, Formica went on an extended holiday in the US. But now the Nine Network wants her to come back to do more episodes. “If we negotiate the contract that I do another series, I’ll have to go home in December — but if I don’t, I’ll be staying here,” she told TV Week. “It’s with the agents now, so I can’t say for sure I’m going to do it and I can’t say for sure I’m not. But chances are I will…”

andrewdentonamandakellerIs Denton at his wits’ end?
The ratings for his late night show Denton haven’t been brilliant, but Seven Network host Andrew Denton (pictured with co-star Amanda Keller) isn’t about to give up the game just yet. “My only frustration is that it is on at a time when a lot of people can’t stay up to watch it, which is a shame because it’s actually a pretty good show,” he told TV Week. But Denton’s career in television leaves him feeling torn — as the celebrity who does not want to be famous. “The ego trip you get from being famous is not worth the pain, in my opinion. And when I’m no longer famous, when I give this away, I’m not going to miss it for a second.” One of his long term goals is to follow in his father, Kit Denton‘s footsteps and go into writing. “I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes, but I’d like to become a really successful writer, because then you can have that joy and privilege of having your ideas out there in public and getting a response, but you don’t have to be out there yourself.”

nicolaquilterQuilter’s no quitter
Being “kicked out” after only a year at the Victorian College of the Arts did not perturb new Home And Away star Nicola Quilter (pictured) from pursuing an acting career. “I think institutions like that are really great for some people, and not for others,” she told TV Week. “But I learned heaps from it. For a while it was destructive, but it’s fine now. Actually, it’s good.” Quilter has previously appeared in dramas Chances, Skirts, Boys From The Bush, Police Rescue and Under The Skin, as well as a national tour in the stage musical Hair, before starting the long-term role as school counsellor Donna Bishop in Home And Away.

Briefly…

  • Rumours surrounding Derryn Hinch‘s future, or lack thereof, as host of Midday are gaining momentum as the year draws to a close. Hinch is not on a long-term contract with Nine, so it would not be difficult for them to cut ties. Rumours also suggest that Don Lane may even be a favourite to take over hosting the daytime show.
  • Former Home And Away star Les Hill has returned to the UK to be involved in an Oxford University debate on whether Aussie soap soaps should take the lead roles in English pantomimes at Christmas.
  • Network Ten has plans for a new Sunday afternoon show dedicated to surfing. The new yet-to-be-titled series is to be hosted by former world champion surfer Martin Potter with reporters Tom Carroll and Stuart Bedford-Brown.
  • Producers Beyond-Simpson-Le Mesurier are planning a second series of Halifax fp telemovies.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 2 October): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Money Nine Wed 2145000
2 Just Kidding Nine Tue 2100000
3 Our House Nine Wed 1935000
4 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1891000
5 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1818000
6 Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman Seven Mon 1802000
7 Getaway Nine Thu 1775000
8 National Nine News Nine Sat 1713000
9 Hey Hey It’s Saturday Nine Sat 1695000
10 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1618000
11 National Nine News Nine M-F 1617000
12 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1574000
13 Home Improvement Seven Wed 1565000
14 National Nine News Nine Sun 1560000
15 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1551000
16 Healthy Wealthy And Wise Ten Mon 1528000
17 Married With Children Nine Tue 1515000
18 Seven Nightly News Seven M-F 1501000
19 Hangin’ With Mr Cooper Seven Thu 1457000
20 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1456000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, October 22-28):
Saturday: Game One of the Grand Final of the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge — Adelaide 36ers versus North Melbourne Giants — is broadcast live (8.30pm, Ten)

Sunday: In Banjo Paterson’s Man From Snowy River (6.30pm, Nine), Herbert (Greg Parker) arrives home with some local dignitaries to find Anita (Victoria Tennant) and Luke (Josh Lucas) in a passionate embrace. Sunday night movies are Strictly Ballroom (Seven), Lethal Weapon 3 (Nine) and Darkman (Ten).

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Cody (Peta Brady) and Stonefish (Anthony Engelman) are outraged to discover that there will be no end-of-year school party. New Zealand drama series Shortland Street (7pm, SBS) makes its Australian debut. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Lyn Talbot meets The Banana Benders — a group of barber shop singers who have turned their hobby into a business; Tonia Todman shows how to create family heirlooms; Peter Wherrett finds a company that produced Cobra replicas; and Iain Hewitson prepares a minute steak with a Moroccan salad.

theinvestigatorsTuesday: Consumer affairs program The Investigators (pictured) presents a special episode to celebrate its 10th anniversary (8pm, ABC). In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Eva (Sue Walker) returns to rekindle William’s (Michael Craig) heart. In Law Of The Land (9.30pm, Nine), strange things are happening in the small town of Merringanee — Sgt Clive O’Connor (Richard Moir) can’t account for five hours of his life.

Wednesday: In Heartbreak High (7.30pm, Ten), Deloraine (Stephen O’Rourke) is honoured when Hartley High is selected to host the high-profile Education Awards, but is concerned when a visibly pregnant Rose (Katherine Halliday), a class captain, will be taking part in the event. Mary Kostakidis hosts the Ethnic Business Of The Year Awards (8.30pm, SBS) from the Sydney Sheraton Wentworth.

Thursday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Sarah (Laura Vasquez) says a final farewell to Summer Bay. In Janus (8.30pm, ABC), Rob Griffin (Felix Nobis) is investigating a 10-year-old unsolved murder.

Friday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Serendipity (Raelee Hill) invites Chip (Martin Crewes) over for a romantic dinner but is stood up. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shane (Dieter Brummer) can’t admit that he was partly to blame for the breakdown of his relationship with his mother. Game Two of the Grand Final of the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge — North Melbourne Giants versus Adelaide 36ers — is broadcast from Melbourne (8.30pm, Ten).

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 22 October 1994. Southdown Press

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/1994-october-22-28.html

Oct 17 2014

Anne Wills for Adelaide’s Feast Festival

annewills_0001For 50 years, Anne Wills has been an icon of Adelaide. From early beginnings as a contestant on NWS9‘s Telethon Quest she was soon appointed as weather presenter for NWS9 in 1965.

She famously made front page news when she promised that she would wear a bikini on screen if the temperature hit 100 degrees fahrenheit (37.8°C) and came good on that promise when the mercury later hit 105.3 degrees (40.7°C).

She worked alongside Ernie Sigley on Adelaide Tonight and later with Sandy Roberts and Bob Francis on ADS7‘s The Penthouse Club. She hosted her own show, Movie Scene, for 17 years.

annewills_0002She hosted daytime shows including the popular AM Adelaide, appeared on telethons and was still presenting the weather 30 years after donning the bikini.

Outside of Adelaide, she appeared on programs including Beauty And The Beast, The Bert Newton Show and Good Morning Australia.

And she won Logies. Heaps of them. From an era when the TV Week Logie Awards presented state-based awards, ‘Willsy’ won a record 19 of them for her popularity in South Australia. No other individual — not even ‘The King’ Graham Kennedy — has collected as many Logies.

annewillsNext month, Willsy will be appearing in Adelaide’s Feast Festival to share the joys, the dirt, the pain, the glamour and possibly even the earrings of 50 years in the spotlight. Willsy: The Gay Divorcee (Well, Sort Of…) features Willsy “in conversation” with local ABC radio host Peter Goers in three shows at Queer Nexus, Lion Arts Centre, corner Morphett Street and North Terrace, Adelaide.

Details are at Feast Festival’s website.

Source: Made In Adelaide, SAS7, 2005. Miracle On Tynte Street: The Channel 9 Story. Vegas Promotions

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/anne-wills-for-adelaides-feast-festival.html

Oct 13 2014

Big Girl’s Blouse turns 20

biggirlsblouseIt is 20 years ago today that Big Girl’s Blouse made its television debut.

The sketch comedy series, featuring Fast Forward co-stars Gina Riley, Jane Turner and Magda Szubanski, initially aired as a one-hour special on 13 October 1994 before eight half-hour episodes were screened during 1995.

Big Girl’s Blouse introduced us to Kath Day (Turner), her daughter Kim (Riley), and Kim’s second best friend, sports-loving Sharon (Szubanski) in a sequence of sketches leading up to Kim’s wedding to fiancé Brett. The characters were revisited again in the later series Something Stupid, as Kim was preparing for the birth of her baby, while divorcee Kath had met ‘hunk-a-spunk’, Nev (Glenn Robbins).

kathandkim_0003The Kath and Kim sketches formed the basis for the spin-off series Kath And Kim, featuring the same cast with the addition of Peter Rowsthorn as downtrodden husband Brett, and Robbins’ Nev is re-named Kel. Kath And Kim became a huge success, running for four series (three by ABC and one by Seven), a telemovie (Da Kath And Kim Code) and feature film (Kath And Kimderella) as well as being adapted for the US market by NBC.

Big Girl’s Blouse also took us behind the scenes of women’s magazine ‘Big Girl’s Blouse’ — with one of their major crises being the threat of legal action from Kylie Minogue after the magazine claimed that she was pregnant — and followed a week in the high-pressure production of children’s show Play School.

pattystokerDrag queens Carlotta (Riley) and Frantique (Turner) gave us their take on current events with their Community Access Television show What A Drag (with the pair emerging from behind a shower curtain), and we were educated on the social mores of the 1960s with groovy Patty Stoker (Riley, pictured).

The political grind of the suburban ladies tennis circuit was examined in ‘Midweek Ladies’, a sketch inspired by a recent ABC documentary on the inner workings and power struggles within the Australian Labor Party:


YouTube: Classic Aussie Comedy

We saw the pushy showbiz mother (Riley) dragging her ‘child star’ daughter (Szubanski) to Kay Karnt’s (Turner) children’s talent agency — after pyjama-clad Szubanski’s real life appearance in a Sorbent commercial — and we followed the awkwardly-daggy shopping buddies Thalia (Szubanski) and Evelyn (Turner) as they hit the “groovy” fashion stores.

magdaszubanski_0001The show interviewed veteran choreographer Coralee Hollow (Riley), the creator of the famed ‘Channel 9 Run’, accompanied by husband Ross (Szubanski) and their pet dogs — Geoff and Harvey — and we saw Home And Away starring Hollywood legends Katherine Hepburn (Szubanski, pictured), Joan Fontaine (Turner) and Bette Davis (Riley).

And we realised that women all over Australia have the undying urge to stalk and ravage Michael Douglas!

Big Girl’s Blouse was released on DVD in 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/big-girls-blouse-turns-20.html

Oct 13 2014

1994: October 15-21

tvweek_151094Jo Beth’s Cinderella story
Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show host Jo Beth Taylor and Getaway‘s Lochie Daddo (pictured) will be starring in Australia’s first all-star Christmas pantomime. Taylor will be playing Cinderella and Daddo her Prince Charming — but it’s not the first time the two have been paired up professionally. In the video clip for her debut single 99 Reasons, Daddo was Taylor’s leading man which led to a kiss. “Yes, it was Lochie,” she said. “And now he’s my Prince Charming again!” Also starring in Cinderella are Bert Newton, Bruce Spence, Paul Blackwell, Nancye Hayes, Wayne Scott Kermond and Miguel Ayesa.

kimberleydaviesbrucesamazanEngagements to ring up big ratings
The upcoming engagement of Neighbours‘ Annalise Hartman and Mark Gottlieb (Kimberley Davies and Bruce Samazan, pictured) could either see them as a happy couple in Ramsay Street, but with Davies’ contract with the show soon to expire and Samazan’s early next year, it is possible that we may not be seeing them happily ever after. “Marriage is usually the nail in the coffin for soapie characters,” Samazan told TV Week. “And engagement is the first step. But a lot of stuff happens in between, and even we don’t know yet if Mark and Annalise will get married.” Viewers will see Mark propose to Annalise while the pair are swimming by a waterfall on a romantic getaway in the Northern Territory. Meanwhile, Home And Away‘s long-engaged couple Shane (Dieter Brummer) and Angel (Melissa George) are set to go down the aisle on screen in April. The wedding ceremony is to be filmed on a closed set in January, with some former characters making return appearances.

donlane_0003Down memory Lane
Don Lane (pictured) is making a return to the Nine Network to relive some of the best moments from The Don Lane Show. In the two-hour special, Lane will be joined by members of the D Generation, comedian Brian Doyle and the Geoff Harvey orchestra in remembering the variety show that ran for 668 episodes between 1975 and 1983. Lane recalls the early days of the show: “The truth is, I never wanted to host the show. After seven years in Australia, I had returned to the US determined to try and make it there. My agent rang me in LA and wanted me to come back to do a short season in Sydney’s league clubs. ‘By the way’, he said, ‘I’ve also booked you to host two Mondays of In Melbourne Tonight‘. After five years at TCN9 in Sydney, I didn’t want to know about doing any more TV, but he already committed me to it. What started as two Monday nights stretched out to lots of Monday nights. Peter (Faiman) kept calling me up telling me the ratings, which were figures like 42 and 38 — unbelievable stuff. I knew there was a lot of crap going on with Ernie Sigley, who was doing Tuesday and Thursday nights, and my instinct told me he would blow it… and he did. The day Ernie went, Kerry Packer rang me in Sydney and told me to get on a plane to take over. People don’t believe this, but Kerry carried my bags through the airport. And that’s how it all started. The next eight-and-a-half years were among the most enjoyable of my life.”

Briefly…

  • Network Ten is expected to make an announcement soon about a new drama for the 7.00pm timeslot. Four proposals have been submitted to Ten for consideration, including a medical drama from John Edwards and Sandra Levy, the producers of Police Rescue and Bony. The other three concepts are from Grundy Television (producers of Neighbours), Roadshow, Coote and Carroll (GP) and Crawfords Australia.
  • Casting for the guest role of a French exchange student has caught out the producers of Home And Away. An actor with a current driver’s licence was found and they’d started filming — until producers realised 10 days later that exchange students are not allowed to drive in Australia. The guest actor was dropped from the show and the scriptwriters had to start again.
  • Reg Prasad, the sidekick on Doug Mulray’s Seven Network series Mulray, says that despite some of the unflattering gags and stunts played on him by the host, he has a great deal of admiration for Mulray. “Doug is a very generous man,” Prasad told TV Week. “Everything I have learned about radio and television I have learned from him. He’s been a fantastic mentor for me.” For Mulray, Prasad has been jumping out of planes, being beaten by a buxom dominatrix and been chased around the studio, naked, by an over-zealous Colleen McCullough — but none of it has phased him. “It can be very scary. Doug says he never will put me in danger, but being chased by Colleen McCullough is pretty frightening!”

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here

“Very early on in his foray back into prime-time television, Don Lane explains in eight words why his show was so successful for so long: ‘We were never afraid to take a chance’. Of course, there were other elements that contributed to a run of more than 660 talk-variety shows over the eight years that Don Lane loved our faces. But taking chances was a hallmark, especially so when you consider that, almost without exception, The Don Lane Show was genuine live-to-air television. The decision to revisit The Don Lane Show — on the Nine Network (this week) — apparently was made when some initial research started at Melbourne’s GTV9 on a special to celebrate the 40th anniversary of television in Australia, coming up in 1996. The Nine Network, which as turned into an art form the recycling of old programs (the Ray Martin interview shows and the Red Faces specials have been winners), obviously saw another chance that was not to be passed up, and it was promptly grasped.”

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 25 September): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 AFL Grand Final Seven Sat 2513000
2 Just Kidding Nine Tue 2249000
3 60 Minutes Nine Sun 2154000
4 National Nine News Nine Sun 2092000
5 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1991000
6 Money Nine Wed 1975000
7 Lois And Clark The New Adventures Of Superman Seven Mon 1897000
8 Our House Nine Wed 1889000
9 Movie: Unforgiven Nine Sun 1887000
10 Seven Nightly News Seven Sat 1857000
11 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1804000
12 Getaway Nine Thu 1787000
13 The Man From Snowy River Nine Sun 1715000
14 National Nine News Nine M-F 1668000
15 Home Improvement Seven Sun 1634000
16 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1628000
17 Home Improvement Seven Wed 1615000
18 Hangin’ With Mr Cooper Seven Thu 1558000
19 Married With Children Nine Tue 1486000
20 AFL Brownlow Medal Count Seven Mon 1458000

heyhey_0001Program Highlights (Melbourne, October 15-21)
Saturday: In A Country Practice (5.30pm, Ten), Jess (Jane Hall) and Harry (Andrew Blackman) try to keep their relationship a secret from Matron Sloan (Joan Sydney). Hey Hey It’s Saturday (6.30pm, Nine) presents a celebration of its 23rd birthday — including a look back at some of the show’s most memorable moments.

Sunday: Sunday sport includes the Mercantile Mutual Cup (11am, Nine), the Uncle Toby’s Super Series Ironman (2.30pm, Ten) and the Telecom Rally (3.30pm, Ten). Sunday night movies are National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (Seven), The Fire Next Time (Nine) and Only The Lonely (repeat, Ten). A special overseas AFL match, Carlton versus Richmond, is telecast live from London (10.20pm, Seven).

Monday: Talk show Live It Up (3.30pm, Ten) presents the topic ‘Living In The Seventies’. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shannon’s (Isla Fisher) warning for Selina (Tempany Deckert) to stay away from Curtis (Shane Ammann) falls on deaf ears. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Ronnie Burns looks at cubby houses, Iain Hewitson serves up a yabbie salad, Jim Brown and Peter Wherrett continue their 4WD road trip to Mackay, and Tonia Todman shows how colour and texture on walls can transform a room.

Tuesday: In Blue Heelers (7.30pm, Seven), when a carpet shop is ram-raided and a body goes missing from a funeral parlour, Tom (John Wood) believes it is B&S ball revellers. Homicide… 30 Years On (8.30pm, Seven) presents a look back at the classic Australian drama that ran for 12 years — hosted by Blue Heelers stars John Wood and Lisa McCune and featuring guest appearances by Alwyn Kurts, Ian Turpie, Sigrid Thornton, Maurie Fields, Val Jellay, Denise Drysdale and Terry McDermott.

Wednesday: In Heartbreak High (7.30pm, Ten), Steve (Corey Page) is devastated when he discovers a veto on contacting his birth mother. The Very Best Of The Don Lane Show (8.30pm, Nine) features Don Lane introducing some of the memorable segments to have come from the popular variety show that ran from 1975 to 1983, including footage of guest stars Mel Brooks, Billy Connolly, Charlton Heston, Bob Hope, Liza Minnelli, Robin Williams, Sammy Davis Jnr, Peter Allen, Peter Sellers and Johnny O’Keefe.

Thursday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Pippa (Debra Lawrance) and Michael (Dennis Coard) continue to drift further apart. Beyond 2000 (7.30pm, Ten) looks at a cheap and easy home testing kit for osteoporosis, and an invisible hearing aid described as a contact lens for the ear. In Janus (8.30pm, ABC), Steve Hennessey (Leon Teague) is still on the run and the police manhunt is proving fruitless. Documentary They Said Don’t Worry: The Deborah Maybury Story (8.30pm, Nine), hosted by Perth news presenter Tina Altieri, tells of a young woman’s brave fight to beat the disease that eventually claimed her life. The special Three Drags And A Wedding (9.30pm, Nine) features the making of hit Australian films Priscilla Queen Of The Desert and Muriel’s Wedding.

Friday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Sam (Richard Grieve) does not take the news of Mark (Bruce Samazan) and Annalise’s (Kimberley Davies) engagement very well.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 15 October 1994. Southdown Press

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/1994-october-15-21.html

Oct 10 2014

Nine Adelaide is on the move

nws9_newstudioAfter 55 years operating from studios in North Adelaide, NWS Nine Adelaide is on the move to new premises in the Adelaide CBD.

Refurbishment at the new address, 169 Pirie Street, has commenced with Nine’s 100-strong staff expected to be onsite from the third quarter of 2015.

Nine will also gain naming rights to the former Adelaide Bank building and will occupy space previously used by Bendigo Bank. The redevelopment will include a glass-fronted studio at street level, enabling passers by to witness production from the street.

David Gyngell, Chief Executive Officer of Nine Entertainment Company, said:

“Since we acquired Nine in Adelaide last year Sean O’Brien and the team have worked tirelessly to build the business and connect with the community.

“This move to the heart of the city, to become an integral part of the fabric of Adelaide, will reinforce that commitment.

“Congratulations to Sean and the team who have secured this new site for us.”

Sean O’Brien, Managing Director of Nine Adelaide, said:

“We have undergone significant change over the past twelve months.

“Our business has grown and now is the time to undertake the biggest change in our history since we started broadcasting in 1959.

“We leave the bricks and mortar behind but take our memories to a building we have designed to support a business that is no longer just about television, but encompasses digital, events, social media and a resurgence in community involvement.”

NWS has been operating from its existing Tynte Street site since it began broadcasting in September 1959. The studios have hosted a number of productions, including national programs Here’s Humphrey and The Curiosity Show. In more recent times the station’s ‘Kevin Crease Channel 9 Studio’ has also been used as a venue for events such as the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Last month the studios hosted a photographic exhibition celebrating 55 years of NWS Nine.

Tomorrow night (Saturday 11 October) at 7.00pm, Kate Collins and Brenton Ragless, joined by former Federal Minister Amanda Vanstone, radio 5AA‘s David Penberthy and Jane Reilly, and news veteran Keith Conlon, present a local Nine News special looking back at the biggest news stories from South Australia over the past 55 years. 55 Years Of News — The 10 Biggest SA Stories will also be broadcast on WIN South Australia and Southern Cross Nine in Spencer Gulf/Broken Hill.

 

nws9_news

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/nine-adelaide-is-on-the-move.html

Oct 10 2014

On TV: 10 October 1990, Melbourne

tvextra_071090The second in our occasional series looking at what was on TV on this day in years past.

Today we’re going back to Wednesday 10 October 1990 in Melbourne, as listed in Sunday Sun TV Extra (with Annie Jones on the cover).

Today (Nine) battles out with Good Morning Australia (Ten) for the morning news viewers. Seven and ABC both catering to the youth market at that time of day with cartoons and old favourites Sesame Street and Play School.

Mid-mornings are largely taken up by re-runs on Seven plus the obligatory pre-school program, Fat Cat And Friends. Nine has Here’s Humphrey followed by chat show In Melbourne Today, hosted by Ernie Sigley and Denise Drysdale. Ten has the national Til Ten program with Joan McInnes, followed by Mulligrubs, Ten Morning News and then Another World marks the beginning of the daily run of US soaps.

After Eleven AM, Seven’s midday movie is Finnegan Begin Again from 1984, starring Mary Tyler Moore, up against Midday With Ray Martin (Nine) and Ten’s soap double Santa Barbara and The Bold And The Beautiful. SBS begins its broadcast day with the Russian news bulletin, Vremya, then goes back to test pattern until its children’s shows kick in later in the afternoon.

Ten’s afternoon includes US talk show Donahue (Ten), then re-runs of The Rockford Files and Gimme A Break — while Nine’s Days Of Our Lives and The Young And The Restless keep the soap suds flowing.

After school shows include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Now You See It on Seven, Mr Merlin and The Bugs Bunny Show on Nine and Double Dare, Charles In Charge and Candid Camera on Ten.

The 6.00pm hour starts off with news bulletins on all of Seven, Nine and Ten, while ABC caters for music fans with Countdown Revolution and SBS has Dutch sitcom Say Aah before Mary Kostakidis and World News.

Seven then goes to Home And Away at 6.30pm, avoiding a clash with Ten’s Neighbours at 7.00pm, before going into current affairs with Hinch, which in turn dodges a clash with A Current Affair (Nine).

The Flying Doctors (Nine) and E Street (Ten) provide more Australian drama while Seven’s comedy hour includes Hey Dad! and Full House.

shadowsoftheheart_0001The 1990 AFI Awards are presented at the World Congress Centre, Melbourne, with a 90-minute telecast on ABC. Seven and Nine have both slotted movie re-runs at 8.30pm, while Ten presents the final chapter of mini-series Shadows Of The Heart, starring Jerome Ehlers, Josephine Byrnes and Marcus Graham (pictured).

Couchman and Lateline present late news and discussion on ABC, while Tonight Live With Steve Vizard (Seven) presents variety and Robbo’s The World Tonight (Nine) gives a unique take on the news. Ten has a five-minute late news break before going into a repeat of Prisoner. Ten then crosses to Newswatch — overnight coverage of news from CNN — which takes them through to Good Morning Australia.

ABC shuts down by midnight, while SBS has a late movie from Vietnam before it signs off just after 1.00am. Seven’s relay of Today from NBC is followed by Unsolved Mysteries, Rituals, Generations, Singles, Trial By Jury and Ocean Quest.

Nine’s overnight movies include La Cage Aux Folles III from 1986 and The Happy Time from 1952, before Dukes Of Hazzard and The Young Doctors take us through to daybreak.

tv_101090

(click to enlarge)

Source: Sunday Sun TV Extra, 7 October 1990.

  • Don’t forget, there are over 400 classic TV listings archived here.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/on-tv-10-october-1990-melbourne.html

Oct 08 2014

1994: October 8-14

tvweek_081094Cover: Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman)

Seven scores Logies coup
The Seven Network has won the rights to the 1995 TV Week Logie Awards. “The Seven Network is delighted to be a part of TV Week‘s 37th Logies presentation,” Seven’s managing director Bob Campbell said. “The Logies are the industry’s longest-running awards and the full resources of the network will be thrown behind 1995’s event to ensure a fabulous night, coupled with a mighty ratings success.” It will be the third time that Seven has hosted the Logies presentation. The date and venue for the 37th annual TV Week Logie Awards will be announced at a later date.

A long way from home videos
As Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show nears the end of production for the year, host Jo Beth Taylor will be heading to Africa to take part in a TV special for aid organisation World Vision. Accompanied only by a small film crew, Taylor will spend two weeks traveling across Africa to look at some of the problems and hardships being faced in the region. “The documentary is really about all the different projects World Vision is involved in,” she told TV Week. “I don’t know when it will be screened, but this is something I really believe in.”

paulineterrybeitzWhy Pauline jumped at Janus
When Pauline Terry-Beitz heard ABC was casting for new courtroom series Janus, she couldn’t believe the coincidence. Janus was the name of the a theatre company she ran in Adelaide a decade ago, and she was now wanting to make a move into television. “I’ve been the artistic director for a couple of theatre companies in Adelaide,” she told TV Week. “One of them was called Janus and that was part of the reason I thought I should send off my resume.” Unknowingly, she had also been preparing for her role of criminal matriarch Shirl Hennessey (pictured) by spending four years as a teacher at a women’s prison. “There were a lot of interesting characters, some of whom I’ve been able to take elements of for Shirl because she’s not an easy character to research.” Janus marks Terry-Beitz’s television debut. “I’d wanted to work in television but, being based in South Australia, there isn’t a lot happening, and I hadn’t reached a point in my life where I felt it right to make a move into another state. When this came up, it was the right time… I’m very fortunate to come into TV in something as strong as Janus.”

‘God just made me a bit differently’
GP star and Logie-winner, teenager Tracie Sammut is taking on a new challenge — having been chosen in the NSW Special Olympics team to compete in the National Games in Perth. And she hopes to represent Australia in the International Disabled Olympics in Kentucky, USA, in 1995. “I really love acting, but my heart is set on becoming a gymnast,” she told TV Week.  Sammut, who has Down’s syndrome, has a positive outlook on life. “I’m Down’s syndrome. I don’t see myself as having a disability. God just made me a bit differently.” As well as her acting and gymnastic pursuits, she is also taking a deportment course and reading a book on strengthening relationships.

Briefly…

  • Every year, rumours of a 5.00pm “national news” seems to surface at Network Ten and this year is no exception. The word is that while Ten’s head of news and current affairs, Carmel Travers, was visiting the Los Angeles news bureau, she had talks with US correspondent Andrew Warne about the possibility of him returning to Australia to anchor a national 5.00pm news bulletin in 1995.
  • Anne Tenney, best known as Molly Jones in A Country Practice, is returning to TV as the older lover of fireman Banjo (Aaron Jeffrey) in Seven‘s new series Fire.
  • Former Paradise Beach star Ingo Rademacher has been called back for a third audition for US series Models Inc. The new show’s poor ratings in the US have led to speculation that much of the existing male cast, including Aussie Cameron Daddo, could be written out.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here

“We have managed to increase the number of pages in TV Week, add some new features and make some attractive offers without having to increase our cover price. In this day and age, I can tell you, that has not been easy. We believe we now have a really worthwhile package to offer for only $2, although the direction in which we’re steering your vessel has been questioned from a few quarters. As I have remarked here before, our aim at TV Week is to please all of the people all of the time. We realise it’s impossible, but we are committed to keep on trying nevertheless.”

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 18 September): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Just Kidding Nine Tue 2295000
2 60 Minutes Nine Sun 2097000
3 Money Nine Wed 2082000
4 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 2026000
5 Our House Nine Wed 1958000
6 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1857000
7 Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman Seven Mon 1840000
8 Getaway Nine Thu 1805000
9 National Nine News Nine M-F 1716000
10 Ray Martin Presents… Olivia Newton-John Nine Thu 1684000
11 Married With Children Nine Tue 1653000
12 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1578000
13 Hangin’ With Mr Cooper Seven Thu 1577000
14 Home Improvement Seven Wed 1558000
15 Home Improvement Seven Sun 1538000
16 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1528000
17 National Nine News Nine Sun 1518000
18 National Nine News Nine Sat 1516000
19 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1502000
20 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1499000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, October 8-14):
Saturday: In A Country Practice (5.30pm, Ten), Jess (Jane Hall) and Harry (Andrew Blackman) are on the edge of romance. Ken Shorter stars in the Australian cult biker movie Stone (9.30pm, SBS).

Sunday: The summer of cricket begins with the Mercantile Mutual Cup (11am, Nine), Queensland versus Tasmania. Sandy Roberts and Allan Stone host live coverage of the final of the Australian Indoor Tennis Championships (1.30pm, Seven), live from the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Sunday night movies are Switch (repeat, Seven), Patriot Games (Nine) and Unlawful Entry (Ten). The European 500cc and 250cc Motorcycling Grand Prix (11pm, Nine) is telecast from Barcelona.

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Malcolm (Benjie McNair) decides to face up to his actions and apologise to Lou (Tom Oliver) for the shooting accident, and Philip’s (Ian Rawlings) drinking gets him into trouble. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), overcome with emotion, Shane (Dieter Brummer) finally comes to terms with his father’s death. Actor Bill Hunter guest stars in the comedy series Three Men And A Baby Grand (9.30pm, ABC).

Tuesday: In Blue Heelers (7.30pm, Seven), when a drug raid goes wrong, suspicion is rife among the Blue Heelers as to whose fault it was, while Adam (Damian Walshe-Howling) has a hard time believing that his friend Melissa (Alex Schepisi) is stealing from the bar till.

Wednesday: In Wedlocked (8pm, Seven), after the death of his best friend, Chris (Brandon Burke) questions the meaning of life. Five-part documentary series The Liberals — Fifty Years Of The Federal Party debuts (8.30pm, ABC). SBS documentary Dream House (8.30pm) looks at the experiences of two Chinese students studying in Australia. In telemovie The Feds: Obsession (8.30pm, Nine), when the wife of a family court judge is the victim of a crazed bomber, the Feds swing into action — however, the culprit is much closer than the team realises.

Thursday: Beyond 2000 (7.30pm, Ten) looks at a sleep-inducing hormone which may hold the key to curing insomnia. Comedy special Big Girl’s Blouse (9.30pm, Seven) features new sketches from former Fast Forward stars Jane Turner, Gina Riley and Magda Szubanski.

angelapunchmcgregorFriday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), despite Ros’ (Angela Punch-McGregor, pictured) reconciliation attempts with Shane (Dieter Brummer), he refuses to forgive his mother. In The Great Outdoors (7.30pm, Seven), guest reporter Ann-Maree Biggar goes on a sapphire hunt not far from the NSW town of Inverell, and Bridget Adams discovers that Cape Byron is a great place to whale watch.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 8 October 1994. Southdown Press

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/1994-october-8-14.html

Oct 07 2014

40 years of colour TV

colourtvIt was 40 years today that Australian TV (finally…!) began to colour our world.

The wait for colour was a long one for Australia. The United States and Canada made the transition to colour from the mid-1960s, and the United Kingdom started the conversion to colour TV from 1967. Many European countries followed in 1968.

Even New Zealand viewers were able to see Queen Elizabeth II open the Sydney Opera House in colour in October 1973.

colourtv_0008But for much of the 1960s and early 1970s, Australians were left with just speculation as to when colour TV might finally arrive.

Some tentative steps were made in 1964 when ATV0, the channel that had just launched in Melbourne, had conducted some experimental colour transmissions prior to receiving permission from the broadcasting authorities. The tests consisted of a colour test pattern for durations of between five and fifteen minutes in the early hours of the morning on an almost daily basis for about three months.

colourtv_0009The channel was keen to experiment with colour, in particular because films and many imported shows from the US had started to be made in colour.

The Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) then ruled that no further transmissions were to take place pending the formation of standards for colour television in Australia.

colourtv_0012

ATV0 and the ABCB did eventually agree on a trial of colour television. In June 1967 the station covered a country horse racing event in colour — making it the first “live” colour program on Australian TV. The colour broadcast was not transmitted to the public but was able to be viewed on closed circuit monitors located at the ATV0 studios in Nunawading. Station executives, government representatives and members of the press were invited to view the colour pictures.

TV Times reporter Fred Robertson was impressed:

“It did not take long to realise the impact that colour television is going to have on Australia when it is introduced. People will return to the old routine of watching everything and anything that the channels put on the screen.”

Some TV executives were making bold predictions that Australian TV would be in colour by 1 January 1970. Even the technically conservative ABC was weighing into the debate. “Whether the Government is aware of it or not — the great colour race is on,” one ABC representative told TV Week in April 1967. “You can forget predictions that colour TV is many years away.” Bruce Gyngell, manager of TCN9, responded that, with colour equipment on order that would enable them to broadcast colour film, “It would be possible for TCN9 to make colour test transmissions in 18 months.”

TV stations across the country also went ahead with their colour tests and demonstrations, including HSV7‘s closed circuit demonstration at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1968:


YouTube: aussiebeachut0

Canberra station CTC7 also displayed colour television in a shopping centre demonstration over ten days in September 1969.

ABC had already started filming major sporting events and some documentaries in colour for archival purposes and potential export. The Government, however, was maintaining its slow and steady approach — with Postmaster-General Alan Hulme insisting that the transition to colour was not going to be a rush job, taking into account the long term investment by government, industry and viewers on new equipment.

ATV0 then embarked on what was the largest colour TV project to date — covering the Australian tour of the Billy Graham Crusade. ATV0, in association with Glen Warren Productions of North America, produced four one-hour programs from Graham’s Melbourne appearances which would be syndicated to 600 stations, covering approximately 50 million viewers, across the United States. More than $1 million of equipment was freighted to Australia for the production, including cameras on loan from a Canadian TV station, CFTO9.

In February 1969, the Federal Government announced that after years of consideration — and fierce lobbying by equipment manufacturers from all sides — Australia would adopt the German PAL colour TV standard as opposed to the American NTSC and French SECAM systems. PAL was found to provide a better quality and definition of picture and was compatible with both VHF and UHF bands — although at that time television in Australia was exclusively VHF. Engineers also found that PAL was better suited to rugged terrain areas like those in many Australian cities and country areas. PAL had also been adopted in the United Kingdom and various other European countries.

Although the PAL system had been chosen, government and industry still had another 18 months or so ahead of them for testing and to settle on specific Australian standards — and with the Government’s commitment that manufacturers would get at least 18 months between the announcement of a conversion date and the date itself, Australians looked set to get colour TV possibly by around 1973.

theroversBut even though Australia was still waiting on a conversion date, independent production companies had already taken steps towards ongoing colour production. Programs like Skippy, Barrier Reef and The Rovers (pictured) in the 1960s and Homicide, Ryan, Boney and Spyforce from the early 1970s, all produced on film, were being made in colour in advance of the colour TV conversion, with a view to potential sales to countries where colour was already in place.

colourtv_00017Three years after the government decided on adopting the PAL standard, Prime Minister William McMahon finally announced on 15 February 1972 that Australian TV would be switching to full-time colour transmission from Saturday 1 March 1975 — “C-Day”.

The announcement came with predictions that colour TV sets would likely retail for around $700 (in 1972 dollars). The conversion was predicted to cost ABC around $46 million over six years with the commercial sector expected to spend around $70 million to upgrade studios and transmitters — although some stations had already invested in colour-based equipment. A spokesperson for Sydney’s ATN7 said in 1972 that the station already had a colour-ready transmitter plus videotape machines that were colour compatible. ATN had expected its overall conversion bill to be no more than $700,000.

Melbourne’s HSV7 had already converted its transmitter for colour by 1972 and was ready to commence the phase-in of colour production. In March 1972, GTV9 produced a special series, International Opportunity Knocks, a talent quest to find an Australian contestant to compete in the long-running UK series, Opportunity Knocks. The contest final was produced at the GTV9 studios in colour and broadcast in the UK a few days later.

Len Mauger (pictured), formerly of ATV0 but by this stage the manager of Australian Consolidated Press which controlled TCN9 Sydney and GTV9 Melbourne, said that despite the channels being well advanced in conversion he expected the full three-year advance period would be necessary. “Even now in Sydney there are areas where good reception is impossible on all four channels. Good reception is vital to good colour,” he told TV Times. “The three-year period will allow us to experiment and perfect our transmission equipment, and manufacturers to improve their aerials to ensure the kind of colour reception that will justify the expense.”

With over 130 transmitters scattered across the country, ABC in 1972 expected that it would have capital city studios and equipment such as videotape machines, microwave links and transmitters all converted for colour by 1 March 1975. The roll-out of colour conversion to regional sites was then expected to take a further three years.

By 1974 colour conversion was in full swing with capital city stations making the final conversions to studio equipment and commencing regular colour TV production. The Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations (FACTS) had proposed that the Government bring forward the conversion date to 1 July 1974 but this was denied — with the Broadcasting Control Board maintaining that test transmissions in colour would be allowed to commence in October 1974 with C-Day still to be on 1 March 1975.

TCN9_colourMonday, 7 October 1974, saw the commencement of regular colour test pattern transmission (such as TCN9’s, pictured). This was at first limited to only a maximum of a couple of hours a day, to enable broadcasters the opportunity to fine tune or test their equipment and for TV retailers to put colour TV sets on display.

Two weeks later, 19 October 1974, saw the colour tests expanded to allow sports coverage — but still limited to only a couple of hours a day to a maximum of four hours a week. Hence, viewers could be watching a tennis match or golf or the afternoon horse racing but only be able to see a portion of it in colour.

colourfever_0003

TV Week, 14 December 1974

9_news_colorThe tests were later expanded to allow full sports coverage plus other program material in colour such as news bulletins, special events, movies and selected episodes of general programming.

ABC’s new pop music show, Countdown, made its debut in November as a half-hour show on a Friday night — produced and broadcast in colour. ATV0’s annual telethon for the Nerve Deafness foundation was renamed Colorthon, with six of its scheduled 26-and-a-half hours broadcast in colour.

Viewers were treated to colour broadcasts of the Showcase talent quest finals and the Miss Australia Quest.

Christmas saw Carols By Candlelight and Bobby Limb’s Sound Of Christmas broadcast in colour, as well as the ABC’s via satellite coverage of the opening ceremony of the Holy Year, followed by midnight mass from the Vatican.

The changeover period also saw networks ramp up their promotional efforts. ABC had ‘tweaked’ its logo to be bolder and to incorporate colour designs, and also unveiled some cheeky new station idents.

The Seven Network also unveiled a modernised logo featuring the rainbow colours, while Nine added colour to its existing logo. Meanwhile, new slogans started appearing around the networks — including “First In Color”, “Living Color”, “Color Your World” and “Come Home To Colour”. (Australian commercial networks insisted on the American spelling of “color”, while ABC maintained its spelling as “colour”)

ABC_1975_0002 hsv7_colour
9_livingcolor_0001 TEN10_colour_1974

Finally, after months of test transmission, C-Day finally arrived on 1 March 1975. The week leading up to the final changeover saw networks imposed a restriction that no prime time programming was to be in colour until C-Day, but daytime tests were still allowed.

At 12.00am, 1 March 1975, Australian television finally burst into full, unrestricted colour. Because networks, as they are now, didn’t exist in the Seventies it was up to individual stations to determine how they would mark the event. Some channels stayed on the air all night for the occasion with a range of colour specials and movies. For some channels, particularly regionals, it was “business as usual” with transmission ceased overnight and in some cases not resuming until late afternoon. ABC probably made the most significant effort in the launch of C-Day, starting with a five minute sketch featuring the cast of comedy series Aunty Jack — with Aunty Jack (Graeme Bond) armed with a tin of “colour remover” to fruitlessly resist the incoming flood of colour:


YouTube: National Archives of Australia

johnfarnham_0002The sketch was then followed by a one-hour edition of Countdown, introduced by Johnny Farnham (pictured) and featuring an all-Australian line-up of performances. ABC’s special overnight transmission continued with an episode of the British series Monty Python’s Flying Circus followed by a replay of a world championship tennis match from 1973.

ABC’s C-Day daytime line-up included special children’s programs and seven hours of sports coverage. Prime time was highlighted by the variety special Colour It Music from the Sydney Opera House and including performances by Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, the Australian Ballet, Claire Poole Singers, Judy Stone, Darryl Braithwaite, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Later in the evening the half-hour special The ABC Of It looked at 24 hours in the life of the ABC, encompassing radio and television operations as well as crosses to international bureaus in London, Tokyo, Jakarta and New York.

Even though the ABC had proposed a three-year schedule to roll-out colour transmission to all regional sites, it had managed to complete the transition by 1976. Only three commercial stations were reported to have missed the C-Day deadline — the most significant being NTD8, Darwin, which was off the air for ten months following Cyclone Tracy destroying much of the city at Christmas, 1974.

Earlier predictions that Australians would be slow in adopting colour TV, as had been the experience in the UK and US, were found to be way off the mark. Approximately 2.5 per cent of homes were reported to have converted to colour TV in time for “C-Day”, but by July 1976 an estimated 17 per cent of households had made the switch. This number would shoot up to 60 per cent by the end of 1977. Australia went on to complete one of the fastest changeovers to colour TV anywhere in the world.

But early adopters of colour TV were warned about buying a set that may not allow for future requirements — in particular the advent of UHF television in Australia which was due to occur anytime from the late 1970s. Early colour sets had either VHF-only (Channels 0 to 11) controls or dual VHF-UHF tuners. The policy was that after 1976 all colour TV tuners sold in Australia were required to have both VHF and UHF capability, or at least the capacity to have a UHF tuner added.

colourtv_0017

The advent of colour also marked a shift in the scheduling of re-runs. Black-and-white programs that had been circulating in re-runs were suddenly being frowned upon, and as a result short-sighted TV networks (around the world, not just in Australia) discarded swathes of black-and-white programs from their archives as they were deemed to not be of any further use or market value. Very few predicted the future potential for re-runs or merchandising — and nobody was to predict the development and growth of new technologies such as home video, pay TV and the internet that would breed an appetite for such classic material.

Source: TV Times, 13 January 1965. TV Times, 28 June 1967. Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 1968. The Age, 28 February 1969. TV Times, 12 March 1969. Canberra Times, 3 September 1969. TV Times, 26 February 1972. TV Times, 18 March 1972. The Australian Women’s Weekly, 23 October 1974. TV Week, 14 December 1974. Choice, January 1975. TV Times, 22 February 1975. TV Week, 1 March 1975. Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 1976. Canberra Times, 28 October 1977. Classic Australian TV.

YouTube: aussiebeachut0, National Archives Of Australia

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2014/10/40-years-of-colour-tv.html

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