Apr 24 2015

Prime7 signs off from Tamworth studio

fionafergusonIt was the end of an era tonight as Prime7 presented its last news bulletin from its Tamworth studios.

Local reporters will still be working from within the region but from Monday the half-hour bulletin will be presented from Prime7’s studios in Canberra.

Fiona Ferguson (pictured), who has presented the Tamworth-based bulletins for 17 years, will remain in Tamworth as news editor for the network’s NSW North Coast bulletin.

The Tamworth studios for Prime7 were opened just over 50 years ago, when the station originally launched as NEN9. The station premises on Goonoo Goonoo Road are expected to be sold off, with Prime7’s remaining local staff moving to a smaller location.



Source: Prime7 News




Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/prime7-signs-off-from-tamworth-studio.html

Apr 24 2015

Flashback to Funky Squad

funkysquad_0002Funky Squad, from the producers of current affairs satire Frontline, made its debut 20 years ago today.

Based on a series of radio sketches, Funky Squad was a parody of the 1970s cop shows that tried to make the genre “cool” by featuring contemporary characters with lots of ’70s lingo, hairstyles and fashion. The pork pie hats of the TV cops of the ’60s had no place here — this was more Mod Squad, Starsky And Hutch and Charlie’s Angels territory.

The team of hip crimefighters were cool and spunky Grant (Tim Ferguson), wisecracking ladies’ man Stix (Santo Cilauro), the enigmatic mute Poncho (Tom Gleisner) and token girl Cassie (Jane Kennedy). Keeping them in check back at police HQ was their boss, referred to only as The Chief (Barry Friedlander).

For seven episodes, Funky Squad solved murders, found missing people, tackled drugs and fought thieves as only the “now” generation could. Like the cop shows of the time, the storytelling was rather formulaic — one-dimensional goodies and baddies, and with each episode usually ending with the crims locked up and the squad assembled for some lighthearted banter and corny jokes before the credits rolled. All of it presented in the style and fashions of the day and in grainy ’70s-style film quality — even the end credits indicate the year “MCMLXXVI” (1976).


Just as entertaining as the show itself, Funky Squad also took us back in time by featuring actual TV commercials from that era — promoting the virtues of long-gone brands like RC Cola, Brashs and Uncle Sam — probably the only time we were able to see “commercial breaks” on the ABC!

Amid the various actors to feature in guest roles in the series was a young Anthony Callea — almost a decade before he became a star in Australian Idol.

funkysquad_0001And just like any TV show appealing to youth in the 1970s, Funky Squad had its own annual. Here we got to learn about the characters and the “actors” (the real-life actors had their own mock personas) with lots of style tips and behind the scenes insights. There were some crudely-drawn Funky Squad comic strips, plus lots of ‘cool’ stuff, like tips on how to decorate your bedroom (‘Cover your bedhead with aluminium foil. It catches the light and makes it look just like a bedhead covered in aluminium foil’) or host your own disco party.

Funky Squad may not represent a particularly ground-breaking venture in Australian comedy, but neither was it probably meant to be — appearing as a quirky interlude between two seasons of the more critically-acclaimed Frontline — and it is still an fun look back at a different TV and social era.

Funky Squad was released on DVD in 2007.






Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/flashback-to-funky-squad.html

Apr 22 2015

1995: April 22-28

tvweek_220495Cover: Lisa McCune (Blue Heelers)

Frontline’s US scoop
The ABC‘s hit current affairs satire Frontline has been sold to the US. Cable channel Comedy Central has bought the first series of Frontline for screening from September. Jane Kennedy, who plays Brooke Vandenberg in the show, recently spent two weeks in the US and met with Comedy Central executives. “It’s a very credible station. They are owned by HBO, which is the biggest cable network in the US,” she told TV Week. “It (the deal) will hopefully open the doors for more Australian comedy on American TV.”

gladiators_0001Gladiators come out fighting!
TV Week gets a preview of the Seven Network‘s new big-budget game show, Gladiators. The new show, being produced in the arena of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, features fourteen muscle-bound athletes using their brawn and brains to prevent the four weekly contestants from reaching their point-scoring goals. Hosting the show are Aaron Pedersen and Kimberley Joseph, with former tennis champ John Alexander as the referee. Joseph says the Gladiators are not to be underestimated in terms of intellect. “You have the stereotype in your mind, that they’re all just meatheads, and they’re not at all. Well, especially not ours,” she told TV Week.

Peter and his loincloth show
Law Of The Land star Peter O’Brien has been signed on for the UK stage production of Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. “I’m doing 10 performances while the current lead has a break,” he told TV Week. “I was heading back to the UK anyway to do the medical series Cardiac Arrest, so it fits in perfectly.”


  • The Seven Network has decided to pull the plug on Electric Blanket, the late night talk-panel show that had been piloted with David Reyne as host. The show was intended to debut later this month.
  • Derryn Hinch‘s next forum special, to discuss the topic of cosmetic surgery, is due to be taped next month. Nine has defended the poor performance of Hinch’s first special, Battle Of The Sexes, claiming they put it together too quickly. The cosmetic surgery special has already been in planning for most of this month.
  • Diane Craig, last seen on TV in E Street, has signed on for a guest role in Home And Away.
  • The Nine Network has put its new sitcom project Us And Them on hold. The network has asked the show’s producers, Telltale Films (makers of All Together Now and The Bob Morrison Show), for more scripts before it decides to give the show the green light.

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

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 ER Nine Thu 1878000
2 Lois & Clark Seven Mon 1865000
3 Home Improvement Seven Sun 1762000
4 Hey Hey It’s Saturday Nine Sat 1741000
5 Our House Nine Wed 1714000
6 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1714000
7 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1713000
8 National Nine News Nine M-F 1701000
9 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1690000
10 National Nine News Nine Sat 1650000
11 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1636000
12 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1614000
13 Money Nine Wed 1605000
14 National Nine News Nine Sun 1602000
15 Home And Away Seven M-F 1581000
16 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1575000
17 World’s Greatest Commercials Seven Sun 1575000
18 Fire Seven Tue 1525000
19 Million Dollar Babies (Part Two) Nine Thu 1524000
20 Wildlife With Olivia Newton-John Nine Thu 1523000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here:

“I have been involved, in one way or another, with the TV Week Logie Awards for a long time now (okay, okay, maybe too long), and one of the arguments trotted out every year concerns our practice of inviting international stars to be our special guests. Why, it is often asked, do we need them? The term “cultural cringe” frequently gets a run. The short answer, of course, is that we don’t need them. Maybe that was the case in the early days of the Logie Awards as a televised event, or even before. As far back as 1960, names such as Hugh O’Brian, who then would have been playing the title role in the US western Wyatt Earp, presented Logie Awards on Graham Kennedy‘s IMT. British comedian Jimmy Edwards was the “special” guest in 1961, when a half-hour of the Logies was televised by the ABC. The point is, I suppose, that international guests are part of a Logies tradition that we value a great deal. Your reaction — from TV ratings as well as letters and phone calls — indicates that it is a tradition you enjoy, so why should we even contemplate scrapping it?”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, April 22-28):
Saturday: Saturday NBL (2pm, Ten) includes Melbourne Tigers versus Illawarra Hawks, from Flinders Park, Melbourne. Beyond 2000 (5.30pm, Ten) reports on a silent piano which brings music to the ears for frustrated beginners. The special Doug Mulray’s Celebrity Slide Night (7.30pm, Seven) includes guest appearances by Charlie Sheen, Teri Hatcher, comedian Steven Wright and stuntman Superdave Osborne. AFL Saturday includes Round 4 highlights (6pm, Seven) and live coverage of Sydney Swans versus Fitzroy (8.30pm, Seven) from the SCG.

Sunday: AFL Sunday includes Brisbane Bears versus Carlton (1pm, Seven), live from Brisbane, followed by Adelaide Crows versus West Coast Eagles (4pm, Seven), live from Adelaide. Sunday basketball includes Sydney Kings versus South East Melbourne Tigers (2pm, Ten), from the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Sunday night movies are Sister Act (Seven) and Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut (Nine) — while Ten bucks the Sunday night movie trend with the two-hour series return of Melrose Place before it resumes in its regular Tuesday night slot. The FIFA World Youth Championship Quarter Finals (12am, SBS) are live from Qatar.

funkysquad_0002Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Sam (Richard Grieve) gives Annalise (Kimberley Davies) an expensive coming home present. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Jim Brown visits New South Wales and presents a special ANZAC Day story. Funky Squad (8pm, ABC), the new comedy series from the D Generation, makes its debut — starring Tim Ferguson, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Jane Kennedy (pictured)

Tuesday: ANZAC Day is commemorated with live coverage of the ANZAC Day March (9.05am, ABC). Special programs during the day include Waltzing Matilda: The Song That Shaped A Nation (12pm, Seven) and Sandakan — The Untold Story (12.30pm, Nine). In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Angel (Melissa George) has doubts about fighting for custody of Dylan (Corey Glaister). AFL Tuesday (7.30pm, Seven) presents highlights of the ANZAC Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG. In Fire (9.30pm, Seven), Morgan (Georgie Parker) discovers the identity of the pyromaniac — he knows she knows and tries to kill her in a fire. The FIFA World Youth Championship Semi-Final (12am, SBS) is live from Qatar.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Malcolm (Benjamin McNair) and Danni (Eliza Szonert) relish their new found physical relationship. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Curtis (Shane Ammann) steals Ailsa’s (Judy Nunn) credit card to buy booze. Ben Mendelsohn, Radha Mitchell, Amanda Douge, Livinia Nixon, Mark Hennessy and Robert Hughes join Rebecca Gibney in the latest Halifax fp telemovie, My Lovely Girl (8.30pm, Nine).

Thursday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), recovering from a huge night on the town, Lucy (Melissa Bell) is cared for by Mark (Bruce Samazan). Miranda Otto guest stars in the series return of Police Rescue (8.30pm, ABC).

Friday: Noni Hazlehurst and Andrew Daddo host the 37th annual TV Week Logie Awards (8.30pm, Seven), live from the Melbourne Concert Hall — featuring international guest stars Dean Cain (Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman), Mark Curry and Holly Robinson (Hangin’ With Mr Cooper) and Big Bird (Sesame Street). Nominated for the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality On Australian TV are Melissa George, Ray Martin, Daryl Somers and Gary Sweet. The FIFA World Youth Championship Final (12.15am, SBS) is live from Qatar.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 22 April 1995. Southdown Press





Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/1995-april-22-28.html

Apr 15 2015

Matlock Police now on DVD

matlockpolice_0001Matlock Police, the 1970s police drama, is the latest from the Crawfords Australia archive to be released on DVD.

The first volume of 26 episodes feature regular cast members Michael Pate, Vic Gordon, Paul Cronin and Grigor Taylor and include guest appearances by some of Australia’s most familiar actors — including Sheila Florance (in the first episode), Bill Hunter, Maurie Fields, Penny Ramsey, Terry Gill, Jacki Weaver, June Salter, Tom Oliver, Wendy Hughes, Queenie Ashton, John Meillon, Brian Wenzel, Joe Hasham, Harold Hopkins and Rowena Wallace.

Debuting in February 1971, Matlock Police was the third in the trifecta of cop shows from Crawford Productions. It was commissioned by Melbourne’s ATV0 on the back of Crawfords’ earlier success with Homicide for Seven and Division 4 for Nine.

It also followed 0-10’s unsuccessful attempt at making their own police drama — The Long Arm.

Matlock Police was axed after 228 episodes in 1975, the same year that Homicide and Division 4 were also cancelled, but continued to appear in re-runs well into the 1980s.

In more recent years the series was replayed overnight on regional network WIN, the company which now owns Crawfords Australia.

Matlock Police joins other DVD releases from Crawfords including Homicide, Division 4, The Box, The Sullivans, The Flying Doctors, Carson’s Law and sitcom Acropolis Now.

Source: Crawfords Australia, Classic Australian TV






Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/matlock-police-now-on-dvd.html

Apr 15 2015

1995: April 15-21

tvweek_150495Cover: Nicky Buckley (Sale Of The Century)

Logies: And your nominees are…
TV Week previews the upcoming 37th annual TV Week Logie Awards, to be held at the Melbourne Concert Hall on Friday 28 April and televised on the Seven Network. International guests at the Logies will be Dean Cain from Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman, Mark Curry and Holly Robinson from Hangin’ With Mr Cooper, and Sesame Street‘s Big Bird.

Nominations: TV Week Logie Awards publicly-voted categories:

Gold Logie — Most Popular Personality: Melissa George, Ray Martin, Daryl Somers, Gary Sweet

Silver Logie — Most Popular Actor: Dieter Brummer, Gary Sweet, John Wood

Silver Logie — Most Popular Actress: Melissa George, Lisa Hensley, Lisa McCune

Most Popular Light Entertainment Personality: Andrew Denton, Larry Emdur, Daryl Somers

Most Popular Comedy Personality: Russell Gilbert, Daryl Somers, Magda Szubanski

Most Popular New Talent: Daniel Amalm, Isla Fisher, Lisa McCune

Most Popular Drama: The Battlers, Heartland, Janus

Most Popular Series: Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River, Blue Heelers, Home And Away

Most Popular Comedy Program: Full Frontal, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Mother And Son

Most Popular Light Entertainment Program: Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Just Kidding, Man O Man

Most Popular Lifestyle/Information Program: Burke’s Backyard, Getaway, The Great Outdoors

Most Popular Children’s Program: Agro’s Cartoon Connection, A*mazing, Totally Wild

Most Popular Public Affairs Program: A Current Affair, The 7.30 Report, 60 Minutes

Most Popular Sports Program: Commonwealth Games, The Footy Show (AFL), Rugby League State Of Origin

TV Week Logie Award industry-voted categories:
Gold Logie — Hall Of Fame, Silver Logie — Most Outstanding Actor, Silver Logie — Most Outstanding Actress, Most Outstanding Achievement In Drama Production, Most Outstanding Achievement In News, Most Outstanding Achievement In Comedy, Most Outstanding Achievement In Public Affairs, Most Outstanding Documentary (Single Program or Series), Most Outstanding Achievement By A Regional Network

funkysquadThe odd squad!
Funky Squad, the new series from the D Generation, is described as “Mod Squad meets Starsky And Hutch“, paying homage to the cop shows of the Seventies. With the garish wardrobe and hairstyles of the decade, Funky Squad presents the hip team of crime fighters in touch with the “now” generation. The show stars D-Generation members Jane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner, joined by Tim Ferguson (formerly of the Doug Anthony All-Stars). Funky Squad begins on ABC later this month.


Messing with the Morphins!
The Full Frontal team are taking on children’s series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in an upcoming sketch — though the cast themselves needed to get acquainted more with the show. “I watched it for the first time the night before we did our version,” Shaun Micallef (pictured second from left) told TV Week. “It just looked like a big ad to me. But kids seem to like things that turn into other things.” Former solicitor Micallef joined Full Frontal last year as a writer but now appears on screen. “It’s my first exposure to TV,” he said. “But acting and the law are very similar — they’re both about performance. Getting dressed up in the wig and gown and appearing in court isn’t that different from getting into a Power Rangers outfit!” Another newcomer to Full Frontal is Kitty Flanagan (pictured right), who used to be a copywriter in Sydney. “They sacked me,” she said. “So I became a stand-up comedian.”


  • Rob Sitch is set to return home from studies at Harvard University in the US for production of a second series of Frontline. Co-star Bruno Lawrence is hoped to reprise his role of current affairs producer Brian Thompson. Lawrence is resting on a farm in New Zealand following treatment for lung cancer and has had discussions with the team about returning for the second series when production begins sometime after June.
  • Kerry Packer recently threw a $240,000 dinner to farewell Nine Network boss Bruce Gyngell who is heading back to the United Kingdom. Attending the dinner were much of Nine’s stable of stars, including Ray Martin, Glenn Ridge, Nicky Buckley and Derryn Hinch.
  • Rebecca Gibney, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell and Marg Downey are signed up as voice artists for an upcoming animated series, The Silver Brumby, for Network Ten.
  • Deborah Hutton is to return with a second series of fashion show Looking Good for the Nine Network. Production is to start in August and should be on screen from mid-September.
  • Sofie Formica is rumoured to have had discussions with casting agents for the hit US series Melrose Place.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 26 March): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 National Nine News Nine Sun 1926000
2 Home Improvement Seven Sun 1874000
3 Lois & Clark Seven Mon 1800000
4 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1790000
5 ER Nine Thu 1771000
6 Our House Nine Wed 1756000
7 A Current Affair Nine M-W 1708000
8 National Nine News Nine M-F 1706000
9 Sale Of The Century Nine M-W 1705000
10 Very Best Of The World’s Worst Drivers Nine Tue 1686000
11 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1655000
12 The World’s Greatest Commercials Seven Sun 1647000
13 Money Nine Wed 1631000
14 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1608000
15 Hey Hey It’s Saturday Nine Sat 1607000
16 National Nine News Nine Sat 1575000
17 A Current Affair Special Event Nine Fri 1557000
18 Wildlife With Olivia Newton-John Nine Thu 1536000
19 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1497000
20 Movie: The Man Without A Face Seven Sun 1489000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here:

melissageorge_0001Home And Away‘s Melissa George (pictured) was last year’s winner of the Most Popular New Talent Logie, and follows up this year with her first nomination for Gold. If her name is announced at the climax of the April 28 telecast, she will be the first female to win since Jana Wendt (1992) and the youngest since Kylie Minogue (1988).”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, April 15-21):
Saturday: Beyond 2000 (5.30pm, Ten) looks at new guitar technology with rock star Diesel. Variety show Quest (7.30pm, ABC) is a talent competition to find the best young performers in Australia — simulcast with ABCFM. AFL Saturday (8.30pm, Seven) includes live coverage of West Coast Eagles versus North Melbourne from Perth.

Sunday: AFL Sunday includes Brisbane versus Sydney (2pm, Seven), live from Brisbane, and Adelaide Crows versus St Kilda (5.30pm, Seven), live from Adelaide. Multicultural affairs program Vox Populi (7pm, SBS) presents a special forum — Is There An Ethnic Vote? Sunday night movies are Moonstruck (repeat, Seven), Bingo (repeat, Nine) and The Mission (repeat, Ten). The FIFA World Youth Championship — Burundi versus Chile (12am, SBS) and Australia versus Cameroon (2.30am, SBS) — is live from Qatar.

Monday: The Stawell Gift (2pm, ABC) is broadcast live. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Donna (Nicola Quilter) gives way to desire and kisses Andrew (Adrian Lee). In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Ross Greenwood shows how to go about getting a job if you’re over 40. The FIFA World Youth Championship (12am, SBS) features Russia versus Brazil and Argentina versus Portugal, live from Qatar.

Tuesday: In GP (8.30pm, ABC), one of William’s (Michael Craig) patients takes matters into his own hands when he has to wait months for elective surgery. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), a break-in at a Chinese restaurant raises police suspicions about a gang of racists; and Nick (William McInnes) is accused of negligence.

kimberleydaviesrichardgrieve_0001Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Annalise and Sam (Kimberley Davies and Richard Grieve, pictured) are over the moon as their relationship blossoms. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Selina (Tempany Deckert) tells Shannon (Isla Fisher) she thinks she may be pregnant. The FIFA World Youth Championship (12am, SBS) features Nigeria versus Brazil and Spain versus Chile, live from Qatar.

Thursday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Selina (Tempany Deckert) tells Irene (Lynne McGranger) that she’s pregnant. In the series final of Janus (8.30pm, ABC), Michael Kidd (Chris Haywood) faces the biggest challenge of his illustrious career. The FIFA World Youth Championship (12am, SBS) features Netherlands versus Portugal and Australia versus Germany.

Friday: Friday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) crosses to Perth for Fremantle versus Geelong. Comedy series Roy And HG Tonight (10.30pm, ABC) makes its debut. The Third Test, West Indies versus Australia, begins from Trinidad (12am, Ten).

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 15 April 1995. Southdown Press






Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/1995-april-15-21.html

Apr 10 2015

Obituary: Richie Benaud

richiebenaudRichie Benaud, champion Australian cricketer and icon of sports broadcasting, has died at the age of 84.

He died peacefully in his sleep at a Sydney hospice, his family advised.

Playing 64 Test matches as an all-rounder between 1952 and 1964, Benaud became a commentator for the BBC in 1960. Joining the Nine Network‘s World Series Cricket coverage in 1977, Benaud would lead Nine’s cricket commentary for over 30 years while continuing to cover the game for the BBC and later Channel 4 in the UK.

A former journalist, in 1980 he told TV Week: “The mixture of a former player and a journalist needn’t necessarily be ideal for commentating. I just do it to the best of my ability. It’s purely a team effort. Everyone has their own style. I’m not critical of that. You talk as little as possible and simply add to the picture on the screen.”

Nine Entertainment Company chief executive David Gyngell has paid tribute to Benaud:

Richie Benaud’s passing has robbed us not only of a national treasure, but a lovely man.

Richie earned the profound and lasting respect of everyone across the world of cricket and beyond – first as an outstanding player and captain, then as an incomparable commentator, and through it all as a wonderful human being.

Richie is a true legend not only to all the people who knew him, but to the many millions who didn’t. Which speaks volumes. He’s been part of the Australian psyche.

Since way back in 1977 Richie has been a much loved member of the Nine family. More than that, he sat at the head of our table. We shall miss him dearly, but we’ll forever treasure his indelible memory and all the marvellous values for which he stood.

Cricket is very much the richer for Richie Benaud’s lifelong engagement. And so are we all. Our deepest sympathies go to Daphne and Richie’s family.

Earlier this year Benaud appeared in a TV commercial promoting Australian lamb:

YouTube: We Love Our Lamb

Benaud was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame at the Allan Border Medal ceremony in 2007, and a spot in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame followed in 2009.

Source: TV Week, 19 January 1980. Cricket Australia




Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/obituary-richie-benaud.html

Apr 10 2015

Prime7 Tamworth turns 50

NEN9_towerTamworth television station NEN9, now representing the Prime7 network to Northern NSW and the Gold Coast, was opened 50 years ago today.

Television New England Ltd obtained the licence to provide a commercial television service to Tamworth and the Upper Namoi region in October 1962.

NEN9 was opened at 6.00pm on Saturday 10 April 1965 in front an invited studio audience of 100, including politicians and senior government and television industry figures.

Opening night on the station started with a 20-minute film, The Television New England Story, tracing the development and construction of the television station and the transmitter. NEN9’s studio was situated adjacent to radio station 2TM and the transmission tower located on Mt Dowe, 115 kilometres from Tamworth.

The first commercial played on NEN9 was for Streets Ice Cream, which sent an ice cream cake from Sydney for a ceremonial cutting on camera.

After compere David Longe introduced NEN’s on-air personalities, including Ellen Lee, Peter Hanrahan, Des King, Trevor Anderson and Brian Anderson, the station crossed to its first programs — Bandstand followed by The Phil Silvers Show, variety with The BP Super Show and then the western drama The Travels Of Jaimie McPheeters.

At the time of its launch NEN9 broadcast nightly from 5.00pm to around 10.00pm. It was reported that advertising spots on the station had been completely booked up weeks in advance before opening night.

Television New England recorded its first full-year profit after only two years on air — earning a profit of $43,000 in the 1966-67 financial year. Profits halved the following year before going back up to just under $49,000 in 1968-69.

The station’s coverage area expanded in 1966 with the launch of relay station NEN1 in Armidale.


NEN9_1965 nen9_1988
prime1988 primelogo
prime_2001 prime7

The company was also a shareholder in neighbouring TV station ECN8 in Taree/Manning River, before buying the station outright in the early 1970s. NEN9 and ECN8 then presented a uniform program schedule across both markets.

In the mid-1970s, NEN9/ECN8 joined the Great Eastland Television (GET) alliance. GET was a grouping of regional stations for the purposes of being marketed to national advertisers

NEN9_AustraliaNaturallyIn 1984, NEN9 won a TV Week Logie for Most Outstanding Contribution by Regional Television for its documentary series Australia Naturally. The six-part nature series was devised and written by zoologist Bob Hardie, assisted by zoologist Steve Phillips. Australia Naturally was screened across most of Australia, particularly in regional areas.

The aggregation of regional markets saw NEN9/ECN8 become part of the Prime regional network as an affiliate of the Seven Network. Prime expanded the NEN signal into the Northern Rivers/Lismore and Newcastle markets from December 1991 — while rival networks NBN and NRTV expanded into Prime’s markets as affiliates of the Nine and Ten networks respectively.

In January this year it was reported that Prime7 will vacate the Goonoo Goonoo Road premises it has occupied since 1965. Production of the Tamworth and Taree local news bulletins are to be moved to Prime7’s centralised facility in Canberra, while staff remaining in Tamworth will be transferred to smaller premises.

To celebrate the station’s 50th anniversary, Prime7 will hold a gala function in Tamworth on Thursday 7 May from 6.00pm, to be attended by Prime Media Group Chairman John Hartigan and Chief Executive Officer Ian Audsley, local dignitaries, business and community leaders and staff. The event will
also be attended by a number of former News Presenters and personalities

Source: Broadcasting & Television, 15 April 1965. Canberra Times, 19 September 1967. Canberra Times, 1 October 1968. TV Week, 28 February 1981. TV Week, 14 April 1984. Prime Media Group





Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/prime7-tamworth-turns-50.html

Apr 10 2015

Seven Queensland turns 50

wbq8_1966Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of what is now the Seven Queensland regional network.

The licence to operate the commercial television service for the Wide Bay region, north of Brisbane, was awarded to Wide Bay-Burnett Television in October 1962. The company’s shareholders included local radio and print media outlets plus theatre owners Birch, Carroll And Coyle.

The Postmaster-General later announced that the new station will be assigned the Channel 8 frequency.

Broadcasting from a tower on Mount Goonaneman, WBQ8 made its first test transmissions on 22 March 1965. A week later the station began daily test transmission from 2.00pm to 6.00pm, Monday to Saturday, before the official launch on Saturday 10 April 1965.

WBQ8_OpeningUp until WBQ8’s arrival, viewers in parts of the region — representing a population then of around 128,000 including towns Bundaberg, Maryborough and Gympie — may have been fortunate to receive distant television signals from Brisbane or Toowoomba. WBQ station manager Fred Yates estimated that as much as 30 per cent of households in the region already had access to a television set prior to WBQ’s launch date. (The local ABC station, ABWQ6, was not to launch until October 1965)

Because of the competition from distant channels, WBQ had to establish itself early with a local identity, including an emphasis on covering local news and events. “Local transmission will mean a quality picture for people who have had fringe reception from Brisbane and Toowoomba,” station chairman Mr E H A Nicholson told TV Week at the time of WBQ’s launch. “The station will provide an amenity that will encourage decentralisation. Our production, standard and programs will equal anything from any other provincial station.”

The station premises in the Maryborough suburb of Granville housed three studios plus an outdoor space for special presentations. At the time of its launch, WBQ8 scheduled around 36 hours of programming a week. Within two years this had increased to 45 hours per week including extended hours on Wednesday afternoons.

Because WBQ’s signal covered a wide area, from remote towns Eidsvold and Monto in the west to Bundaberg up north and Gympie in the south, the station often had to resort to chartered air flights to dispatch reporters and cameramen to cover news stories or other events such as agricultural shows from within its coverage area. Some of these towns were as much as 320 kilometres from Maryborough — a prohibitive distance for road travel which didn’t allow time for news film to be brought back to the station for developing in time for the evening news bulletin.

WBQ8_1974 WBQ8_1975
WBQ8_1976 SEQ8
sunshinetelevision sunshinetelevision_0001
7_1990s 7_2000s

The station attracted industry attention in its first year on air when it was caught in an unlikely dilemma — do they cover Prince Charles’ visit or go searching for the elephant that had escaped from the circus?

The prince, attending studies at Timbertop in Victoria, was spending a few days relaxing at a remote property near Eidsvold, 430 kilometres north of Brisbane, but media were advised that there may be a half-hour opportunity to obtain some casual footage of the visiting royal.

At the same time, the circus was in Eidsvold and their baby elephant Minyak decided to go for a wander. The big story was that the elephant could not be found.

With only one cameraman available the news director had to make a call — catch a glimpse of the prince or follow the hunt for the elephant? They chose the elephant!

minyakWBQ managed to obtain film of the prince’s visit from QTQ9 Brisbane and once Minyak had been located it was brought in to the WBQ studios to appear on children’s show Teleclub (pictured).

In the late 1970s, WBQ changed its call-sign to SEQ. The station won a TV Week Logie Award in 1982 for The Hawk, a report tracing a family’s fight to preserve a century-old sailing ship. The special report, featured in the station’s This Week program, traced the ship’s history from its construction in New Zealand to the campaign to stir authorities into helping preserve it.

By the 1980s, SEQ had come under the control of Christopher Skase‘s Qintex group, which also owned Brisbane channel TVQ0. The group also acquired MVQ6 Mackay in 1987, just as Skase was relinquishing TVQ0 and gaining control of the Seven Network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.


SEQ8 Program Guide, February 1990 (click to enlarge)


With the pending aggregation of regional television markets, SEQ8 and MVQ6 re-branded as Sunshine Television Network in 1990 with an affiliation to the Seven Network for program supply. The network, with the new call-sign STQ, expanded its coverage to Toowoomba in the south up to Cairns in the north, from December 1990.

Meanwhile, rival networks WIN and QTV were expanding into Sunshine’s territories as affiliates of the Nine and Ten networks respectively.

The collapse of the Qintex empire then saw Sunshine Television Network transfer ownership to Gosford Communications in 1992 before being bought into the Seven Network in 1995 — leading to Sunshine Television Network changing its name to Seven Queensland.

Seven Queensland continues to provide local news services to the multiple regions it broadcasts to. The weeknight bulletins, hosted by Rob Brough and Joanne Desmond, are based at studios in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

Source: Canberra Times, 5 October 1962. Canberra Times, 15 November 1962. Broadcasting & Television, 4 March 1965. TV Week, 10 April 1965. Broadcasting & Television, 21 July 1966. Canberra Times, 6 September 1968. TV Week, 20 March 1982. 



Noel Stanaway, Nev Roberts and Brendan Parnell.
Sunshine Television News, 1991.


Program schedule, Sunshine Television Network. June 1991

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/seven-queensland-turns-50.html

Apr 09 2015

1995: April 8-14

tvweek_080495We’re all doomed romantically!
The Blue Heelers men — Grant Bowler, Martin Sacks, William McInnes and Damian Walshe-Howling (pictured) — all agree that their characters have a lot to learn when it comes to relationships. “It’s a bit of an inside joke with us that we’re all doomed romantically,” Grant Bowler (Constable Wayne Patterson) told TV Week. “Tom’s (John Wood) wife was killed, my wife left me, and Nick’s (William McInnes) family died tragically. Chris (Julie Nihill) also has the all-time worst taste in men.” Although the actors have their fans, they say the show’s popularity is more about the quality of the drama rather than the look of its cast members. “None of us are ripping our shirts off in Blue Heelers,” Sacks told TV Week. “The scripts are tight, it’s cast well and it has a certain amount of integrity.” Despite the show’s change from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, Bowler said this won’t have any impact on the show’s formula. “The problem is we’re also dealing with international sales. Blue Heelers screens in the UK in the afternoon, so we adhere to that,” he said.

melissabell_0002Melissa’s back in town!
Melissa Bell has returned to Neighbours to reprise her role of Lucy Robinson, and she’s happier than she’s ever been. Her return to the series comes after a financially crippling experience in London, including the split from her London-based manager. “The situation with my manager in London became very difficult and expensive,” she told TV Week. “I had to hire an accountant and a lawyer to sort the situation out and it cost me a fortune.”

gavinharrison_0001Gavin goes grunge
Former A Country Practice star Gavin Harrison (pictured) might be at home in Beverly Hills, but he is happy not to pursue the glamorous side of the industry. Now sporting a disheveled grunge look, Harrison says he is picking his roles carefully. He has already put his voice to a Disney series called The Little Wizards and has a continuing role in the series Wing And A Prayer. Harrison has also adopted a strong American accent. “It is necessary for work,” he told TV Week. “Some people wear suits and have short hair because they are lawyers — they all the rules and regulations you have to follow to work. If you go in to a (script) reading or whatever talking like an Australian and then decide to turn it around, there can be doubts about whether you can pull it off. But if they perceive you as an American there can be no doubts.”


  • Dean Cain, star of Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman, is coming to Australia to guest star at the TV Week Logie Awards, to be held at the Melbourne Concert Hall later this month. Also coming to the Logies are Sesame Street‘s Big Bird and Hangin’ With Mr Cooper stars Mark Curry and Holly Robinson. For Big Bird it is his second Logies, having appeared once before in 1980.
  • Derryn Hinch‘s forum special, Battle Of The Sexes, hasn’t attracted much praise — with some labeling it a low point for Australian TV. “If you thought the hour was bad, you should have seen the two hours and 10 minutes we had before the editing,” one Nine staffer told TV Week.
  • ABC‘s TVTV could be on the chopping block. The show’s producer Mark Gibson has already moved on to other projects — including a proposed Saturday night comedy show. Insiders say the show’s future will be decided in June but the axe seems likely.
  • Artist Services, the production company of Steve Vizard and Andrew Knight, is said to be discussing new projects with ABC — in particular a new comedy show. The company’s exclusive contract with the Seven Network expires soon.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 19 March): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 National Nine News Nine Sun 1923000
2 Movie: Crocodile Dundee Nine Sun 1860000
3 Home Improvement Seven Sun 1818000
4 ER Nine Thu 1762000
5 World’s Greatest Commercials Seven Sun 1737000
6 Lois & Clark Seven Mon 1661000
7 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1610000
8 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1596000
9 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1559000
10 The X Files Ten Wed 1555000
11 National Nine News Nine Sat 1530000
12 National Nine News Nine M-F 1508000
13 The Nanny Ten Wed 1485000
14 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1483000
15 Money Nine Wed 1457000
16 World’s Craziest Inventions Nine Tue 1450000
17 Our House Nine Wed 1443000
18 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1436000
19 Wildlife With Olivia Newton-John Nine Thu 1406000
20 SeaQuest DSV Ten Sun 1381000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here:

“With this week’s announcement of our special guest stars, the countdown to the 1995 TV Week Logie Awards is on in earnest. Work on the 37th annual Logies has been progressing quietly (on occasions, not so quietly!) for some months, but, with the event only weeks away, now is the time to step up into overdrive. And we can’t think of a better way to do so than by announcing that three of the hottest young stars on American television have agreed to be part of our television industry’s biggest night of the year. Dean Cain, star of Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman, and Mark Curry and Holly Robinson, from the hit family sitcom Hangin’ With Mr Cooper, will be in Australia for the Logies. And we’ve also secured the services of a fourth big, international name… One of the all-time children’s favourites, Big Bird, will be here as part of a worldwide celebration of the 25th anniversary of Sesame Street, and he’s all set for a Logie Awards starring role, as well.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, April 8-14):
Saturday: Beyond 2000 (5.30pm, Ten) looks at a reality centre — the testing ground for tomorrow’s virtual reality and computer games. The Second Test, West Indies v Australia, begins live overnight from Antigua (12am, Ten)

Sunday: AFL Sunday includes Brisbane Bears versus Adelaide (1pm, Seven), live from Brisbane, followed by Sydney Swans versus Geelong (4pm, Seven), live from Sydney. Sunday night movies are Turtle Beach (Seven), Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster (Nine) and Dream A Little Dream (Ten). The Second Test resumes overnight (12am, Ten).

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Mal (Benjamin McNair) and Danni (Eliza Szonert) come to blows when her jealousy gets out of control. A British documentary, Hacker Attack (7.30pm, SBS), looks at how the development of the internet has resulted in the rise in electronic crime across the globe.

annetenneyaaronjeffery_0001Tuesday: In Fire (9.30pm, Seven), Banjo’s (Aaron Jeffery, pictured) secret is out, he’s getting married to Anne (Anne Tenney, pictured), and the platoon members aren’t invited. Boss (Peter Phelps) reminds him that they are his family above and beyond his wife-to-be.

Wednesday: Comedy special World Series Debating (8.30pm, ABC) discusses the topic That Australia Is The Arts End Of The World, featuring Robyn Archer, Louise Adler, Jean Kittson, John Herouvim, Bob Ellis, Margaret Scott and moderated by Campbell McComas.

Thursday: In Janus (8.30pm, ABC), Judge Glenda de Bono (Louise Siversen) takes on her first trial — a rape case. The Opening Ceremony of the World Youth Football Championships (11.30pm, SBS) is live from Qatar, followed by Nigeria versus Russia (12.15am, SBS) and Australia versus Costa Rica (2.45am, SBS).

Friday: The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal (9am, Seven) features celebrities from Home And Away, Blue Heelers, Wheel Of Fortune, Family Feud, Saturday Disney, Fire, The Great Outdoors, Eleven AM and Full Frontal. After breaking for Seven Nightly News, Today Tonight, Home And Away and Four Quarters, the appeal resumes (8.30pm, Seven) with a concert special from the World Congress Centre. The appeal closes at midnight. Compass presents a special Good Friday program (7.30pm, ABC), looking at the Homicide Victims’ Support Group.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 8 April 1995. Southdown Press



Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/1995-april-8-14.html

Apr 05 2015

TEN10… from Arcade to E Street

arcade_1980_0004Continuing the early history of TEN10, Sydney. Refer also to Part I and Part II.

Leading into the ’80s, TEN10 and the newly-relaunched Network Ten had its hopes stacked on its new soapie — Arcade.

lorraedesmondpeggytoppanoWith a $3 million budget, the main studio decked out to portray a shopping mall, an impressive cast of fresh and mature talent (including Peggy Toppano and Lorrae Desmond, pictured), and developed by the creative forces behind Number 96, Arcade promised enormous potential in taking on early evening stalwarts The Sullivans and Willesee At Seven.

The end result, however, was not to match the hype. Following its launch in January 1980, Arcade was panned by the critics and ignored by the viewers. The network pulled the pin on the series after only six weeks on air. Any completed episodes unaired at that point are still, even now, yet to see the light of day.

TEN10’s general manager Brian Morris, a newcomer to the television business having been promoted from Rupert Murdoch‘s magazine empire in Melbourne, said there were lessons learned from Arcade‘s failure. “(the channel) made a mistake by trying to do it ourselves,” he told The Australian Women’s Weekly‘s TV World magazine in 1981. “It was one of the few major programs a commercial channel or network has done itself without employing outside packagers. We weren’t properly equipped to do it.”

barrycrockerIn the wake of Arcade‘s demise, Ten’s next drama project, a prison series titled Punishment, didn’t fare much better. Described as a “male version” of the popular Melbourne-based drama Prisoner — and from the same production company — Punishment (featuring Barry Crocker, pictured, in his first TV dramatic role) failed to gain any interest and its series of 26 episodes was mostly shown out of ratings season.

Moving away from drama, TEN10 also tried its hand at variety. The station’s Saturday Night Live of 1979 made way for the weeknight The John Singleton Show in 1980. An attempt at sketch comedy, Ratbags in 1981, had a short life though some of the cast members and comedy characters soon re-appeared on the more successful ABC series Australia You’re Standing In It.

michaelparkinsonBut Ten did score a coup in signing up English interviewer Michael Parkinson (pictured) for an Australian version of his popular BBC interview series, shown in Australia on ABC. The deal was said to have cost Ten $3 million.

Parkinson was also signed up to host the TV Week Logie Awards, which departed from tradition in 1981 — being held in Sydney and for the first time was telecast on Network Ten.

With TEN10 (and its Melbourne sister station ATV10) now under Murdoch control, the Ten Network made an aggressive bid for the rights to cover the Olympic Games. For $9.2 million Ten gained the rights to cover the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 — a far cry from the $1 million that Seven paid for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Ten later followed this up with a successful $10 million bid to cover the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Ten led the revival of breakfast television with Good Morning Australia, launched in early 1981. Initially hosted by Gordon Elliott and Sue Kellaway, Good Morning Australia in that format continued for eleven years and saw the rival Nine Network respond with its own morning show, the program now known as Today.

gordonelliottkerrianneKellaway was signed up by Nine for its new show. Her replacement at GMA was Kerri-Anne Wright, who went on to become Kerri-Anne Kennerley. She became GMA‘s longest-serving co-host, staying with the show for ten years and outlasting a number of male colleagues — including Elliott, Mike Gibson, Terry Willesee and Tim Webster.

John Laws fronted the afternoon program Beauty And The Beast, revisiting a format made famous by Seven in the 1960s and, bizarrely, at the same time as Seven itself revived the format. Laws later left the program, to be replaced by Clive Robertson, but re-appeared on Ten as host of current affairs program The Reporters.

Ten_1985When Nine’s The Mike Walsh Show was to be replaced by Midday in 1985, Ten saw the opportunity to reclaim the early afternoon timeslot. Good Afternoon Australia, hosted by Gordon Elliott and Katrina Lee, ran over the summer of 1984-85. The program became After Noon in February 1985, and Elliott replaced by Tony Murphy. After Noon only went for a few months, unable to take much away from Midday with new host Ray Martin.

moiramcleanChildren’s programs produced at TEN10 during the decade included The Harry And Ralph Show (hosted by Moira McLean, pictured), while Simon Townsend’s Wonder World (which began in 1979) continued through to 1986. Its successors included Off The Dish (co-hosted by a young Cameron Daddo), Ridgey Didge and Double Dare.

Meanwhile, Billy J Smith and Fiona MacDonald hosted the outdoor game show It’s A Knockout. Produced a decade after Almost Anything Goes from Melbourne and which was based on the French program Jeux Sans Frontières, It’s A Knockout was a hit with viewers with its boisterous sporting challenges.

Don Lane had returned to Australia four years after The Don Lane Show was axed by Nine. He hosted You’ve Got To Be Joking, a Candid Camera-type program with practical jokes. The show had a short life but Lane was soon back on screen as host of Ten’s Late Night Australia, a talk and variety show hoping to tackle the popularity of Seven’s Newsworld. Late Night Australia lasted around six months, having also copped opposition from Graham Kennedy‘s return to television at Nine.

With big budget mini-series becoming the flavour of the decade, TEN10 after the failure of Arcade and Punishment took a break from producing serial dramas — while the Melbourne station ATV10 was making Neighbours and Prisoner for the network. After the demise of Prisoner in 1986, TEN10 provided its replacement — a semi-rural drama called Richmond Hill, launched in 1988. From the producers of Neighbours, Richmond Hill was moderately popular but could not escape the axe at the end of its first year.

Richmond Hill was replaced by the grittier inner-city drama E Street in 1989, which would go on for four years.

As the years went on, Eyewitness News became Ten News, and then Ten Eyewitness News. Newsreaders John Bailey and Katrina Lee went on to be succeeded by others including Tim Webster, Ron Wilson, Ann Sanders, Steve Liebmann, Robyn Johnston, Claudia Emery, Geraldine Doogue and Ian Leslie.

Good Morning Sydney eventually came to an end in 1988 after ten years. It was replaced by ‘Til Ten, a national program hosted by Joan McInnes. The new show continued for three years.

Despite Rupert Murdoch bursting in and turning the fortunes of the Ten Network around, he saw his future overseas and sought US citizenship to enable him to better crack the American market. Because of that he had to sell TEN10 and ATV10. The stations ended up being sold in 1987 to Frank Lowy‘s Westfield Corporation for $842 million.

Under Lowy ownership, Ten pursued an aggressive purchasing strategy to secure new American programs ahead of rivals Nine and Seven. This was in defiance of a traditional agreement between the three networks to prevent early season bidding for American product, hence keeping costs down. Lowy’s spending spree inevitably bumped prices up.

Ten also threw big money at sporting rights — such as $45 million for three seasons of Sydney rugby league, the Panasonic Cup and State Of Origin — and managed to get some new shows in development, including the expensive current affairs program Page One. TEN10 alone went from a workforce of 700 to around 1000. The station’s fleet of 100 company cars was said to include 33 BMWs. But Lowy’s spending was ill-timed. The stock market crash of 1987 sparked a wake up call to the television business that the big spending days were not to last.

ten_1988Although Ten ended 1988 as one of its best years ever, ratings took a fall in 1989 as established shows were losing some shine and new titles failed to grab audiences. Ten News was also being hit by a resurgent Seven Nightly News.

The appointment of American TV executive Bob Shanks to boost Ten’s fortunes led to a change in network branding to 10 TV Australia. The July 1989 relaunch was accompanied by a raft of game shows, including Sydney-based Superquiz, a remake of the classic Pick A Box hosted by Mike Walsh (returning to Ten after 12 years), Family Double Dare (hosted by Larry Emdur) and Candid Camera On Australia. Current affairs show Page One was renamed Public Eye, with new host Kerry O’Brien. And E Street was taken back to the drawing board and allowed to be revamped in a bid to boost its struggling ratings.

The rebranding to 10 TV Australia was not a huge success. Most of Shanks’ commissioned projects were gone by the end of the year, and he was soon to return to the US.

Ten’s overall ratings and financial downfall set the pace for a dramatically changed network heading into the 1990s. After Lowy sells Ten off for a bargain price to production house Broadcom, TEN10 would end up moving out of its North Ryde studios to smaller premises in Ultimo, and later Pyrmont.

This concludes the weekend series devoted to celebrating 50 years of TEN Sydney. The links below refer to posts published in 2014, written for the occasion of 50 years of Ten in Melbourne, that go through the progress of Network Ten from 1990 to the present day.

Ten: Rising from receivership
Ten: 2000 to now

Source: The Australian Women’s Weekly TV World, 4 April 1981. Sydney Morning Herald, 23 April 1989. The Age, 8 September 1989. The Age Good Weekend, 7 October 1989.



Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2015/04/ten10-from-arcade-to-e-street.html

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