Sep 25 2016

TV At 60: Hey Hey tops readers poll


The votes are in and have been counted… and readers of this website have voted Hey Hey It’s Saturday as their favourite program from 60 years of Australian television.

Meanwhile, three titles not included in the original top 60 were voted in enough numbers to get into the list — Wheel Of Fortune, Matlock Police and Division 4.

Thank you for your votes… here is the Top 60 as voted by you:

  1. Hey Hey It’s Saturday
  2. grahamkennedypandaHomicide
  3. Countdown
  4. Fast Forward
  5. A Country Practice
  6. The Sullivans
  7. Number 96
  8. In Melbourne Tonight (pictured)
  9. Adventure Island
  10. Frontlineannehaddykerryfrancis
  11. Play School (pictured)
  12. Mother And Son
  13. Neighbours
  14. Skippy The Bush Kangaroo
  15. Prisoner
  16. Four Corners
  17. The Don Lane Show (pictured)bertanddon
  18. Kath And Kim
  19. Rage
  20. Sale Of The Century
  21. Young Talent Time
  22. The Mavis Bramston Show
  23. Australian Story
  24. The Paul Hogan Show
  25. The Panel
  26. The Late Show
  27. Against The Wind
  28. Australia Live
  29. Media Watch
  30. Home And Away (pictured)haa_1988
  31. Spicks And Specks
  32. Bangkok Hilton
  33. Gogglebox
  34. All Saints
  35. Underbellybb_merlin
  36. Brides Of Christ
  37. Offspring
  38. Beyond 2000
  39. Big Brother (pictured)
  40. Wentworth
  41. The Mike Walsh Show 
  42. The Project
  43. This Fabulous Century
  44. Wheel Of Fortune
  45. The Curiosity Show
  46. Matlock Police
  47. Dirty Laundry Live
  48. 60 Minutes (pictured)tvtimes_100279
  49. We Can Be Heroes
  50. Behind The News
  51. Sylvania Waters
  52. Bellbird
  53. MasterChef Australia
  54. Division 4
  55. The Feed
  56. Life Support
  57. Letters And Numbers
  58. The Comedy Company
  59. I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here
  60. Go Back To Where You Came From




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 17 2016

TV At 60: Vote for your favourites

This week Television.AU has listed its Top 60 shows from 60 years of Australian television.


Numbers 60 to 51

slider_goggleboxNumbers 50 to 41

slider_curiosityshowNumbers 40 to 31

slider_mikewalshNumbers 30 to 21

slider_darylsomersossieostrichNumbers 20 to 11

slider_playschool_0001Numbers 10 to 1

Now it’s time to have your say.

Below is a poll for you to nominate up to 10 shows as your favourites.

There is also an option to vote for a show not already listed.

Voting closes 11.00pm AEST Friday 23 September, and results will be announced shortly after.

Create your own user feedback survey

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 16 2016

TV At 60: TCN9, Australia’s first channel

tcn9_1956After decades of experiments and government investigation, television was finally to come to fruition in 1956.

The government had determined that television shall take the form of a two-tier system, similar to radio, where there would be a government-owned service (operated by ABC) plus commercial services. Television was initially to be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne, with other cities to follow.

The first step towards establishing commercial services came in April 1955 with the licencing of four stations — two each in Sydney and Melbourne. The four successful applicants were Television Corporation (Sydney), Amalgamated Television Services (Sydney), General Television Corporation (Melbourne) and the Herald and Weekly Times (Melbourne).

Television Corporation was a venture of Frank Packer, owner of Australian Consolidated Press, publisher of newspaper The Daily Telegraph and magazine The Australian Women’s Weekly. Other shareholders in Television Corporation included Philips Electrical Industries, Tivoli Theatres, radio stations 2SM and 2KY, Diocese of Sydney, Associated Newspapers (UK) and the Church of England Property Trust.

Two months after its licence was awarded, Television Corporation was informed that it would be broadcasting on Channel 9 — creating the call-sign TCN9. (The ‘N’ stands for New South Wales)

The new station was constructing two studios, including one featuring a “permanent demonstration kitchen set”, in a building adjacent to its transmission tower on Artarmon Road, Willoughby.

By July 1956, TCN9 had commenced test pattern transmission to be followed from August with documentary films. Among the first film features to go to air were Tropical Paradise, a travelogue on Hayman Island, and The Boy Who Was Always Reading, a dramatic presentation on road safety.


TCN9 in July also announced that it would commence regular transmissions from Sunday 16 September. The new station was initially planning to broadcast for fourteen-and-a-half hours a week for its first six weeks, before extending to 24 hours a week.

As the big day approached, television and radio retailers and clubs across Sydney were organising “TV parties” — with The Daily Telegraph helpfully publishing a list of all the planned gatherings to ensure that as many people as possible witnessed the opening night.

One of the largest TV parties was to be at the Hotel Charles in Fairy Meadow, near Wollongong. The venue had purchased two 24-inch TV sets and were expecting crowds of anywhere between 500 and 1000.


On the eve of TV’s opening night, Frank Packer issued a statement to welcome the new channel but warned viewers that there may be some teething problems: “If tonight’s program goes smoothly it will be a great achievement for the staff of TCN. We will do our best to make tonight’s opening a memorable occasion. If there are any slips, we hope the public will remember that it is the “first night” of an entirely new show in an entirely new medium in Australia. Our staff have got a newspaper background. We know more about producing newspapers than we do about television. Therefore we hope the viewers will be tolerant and patient with us.”

“We have received many messages of congratulation and good wishes from TV and newspaper people in the United States and Britain. We are pleased and proud to be pioneering TV in Australia with Australians and for Australians.”

TCN’s opening night broadcast kicked off with a station identification announcement from John Godson: “This is television station TCN Channel 9, owned and operated by Television Corporation, 168 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. Transmitting on 195 to 202 megacycles per second from Artarmon Road, Willoughby, with an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts, vision, and 20,000 watts, sound.”

brucegyngellFollowing Godson’s introduction, Bruce Gyngell (pictured), a former ABC radio announcer, became the first presenter to be seen on screen with those famous words: “Good evening, and welcome to television.” Gyngell introduced the first program, a half-hour documentary This Is Television.

After the documentary the station presented highlights or previews of some of its upcoming big-ticket programs, including the new shows The Johnny O’Connor Show, What’s My Line? and Accent On Strings and imported programs The Patti Page Show, I Love Lucy, Douglas Fairbanks Presents and Father Knows Best.

The 15-minute program The Air Force Show was presented on what was the final day of Air Force Week and featured an interview with Air Vice-Marshall A L Walters.

The night concluded with a ten-minute film of dance performances from the previous Friday night’s opening at the Tivoli Theatre in Sydney.

Among the various TV parties, at the Hotel Charles in Corrimal a crowd of around 700 had gathered to view the first programs. Hotel licencee Arthur Johnson gave what was possibly the first market research of TCN’s programming, indicating that viewers were already discerning what they liked or didn’t like. “All of the programs went down well, except the quiz show. We could tell easily that this was not successful, because patrons began drinking faster during it.”


One of the hotel patrons, a Mr Russo from Rose Bay, seemed to concur with the general opinion. “My pick of the programs was I Love Lucy,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “The Air Force Show wasn’t bad either. But that quiz show was too long drawn out and most of the audience was, like me, a bit restive, during it.”

For the remainder of the week TCN9 presented around three hours of programming each night, starting with a six-minute religious segment, Give Us This Day, and then a 15-minute news bulletin presented by Chuck Faulkner. Prime Minister Robert Menzies became the first politician to appear on Australian television on TCN9’s second news bulletin, presented on the Tuesday evening, being shown arriving at Mascot Airport after a visit to Egypt.



Other local programs launched during that first week included quiz show Name That Tune and a women’s program, The Home Show.

Early programs were produced from a temporary studio constructed in a church hall in Surry Hills as construction at Willoughby was not quite complete.

Although 16 September is recognised as the opening day of television in Australia and the commencement of daily broadcasts, TCN was actually not officially opened until 27 October, when it expanded its broadcast hours and started launching some of its major overseas programs in tandem with its Melbourne sister station, HSV7, which was to open in early November. Some of the programs to launch during this time included Our Miss Brooks, Rin Tin Tin, Robin Hood, Four Star Playhouse, The Mickey Mouse Club, Disneyland and Hopalong Cassidy.

When Packer purchased Melbourne channel GTV9 in 1960 it led the way to form Australia’s first commercial television network by pairing up TCN and GTV. The National Television Network, as it was originally known in 1962, later became the Nine Network.


Source: Broadcasting And Television, 27 January 1956, 23 March 1956, 13 July 1956, 24 August 1956, 7 September 1956, 21 September 1956. The Daily Telegraph, 15 September 1956, 17 September 1956, 18 September 1956, 19 September 1956. The Sunday Telegraph, 16 September 1956.




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 16 2016

TV At 60: The Top 60 Part VI

slider_playschool_0001Concluding this week’s countdown of the top 60 shows from Australian television over 60 years. See also Part I, Part IIPart IIIPart IV and Part V.

kylieminoguejasondonovan10. Neighbours (Seven/Ten/Eleven, 1985-)
Neighbours was set to be one of Australia’s shortest lived soaps, being axed by the Seven Network only six months after its launch. But producer Reg Grundy‘s faith in the concept saw him do the unthinkable and sell the idea to rival Network Ten, which proceeded to turn Neighbours into a global success story. At its peak it was showing in over 50 countries and turned teenage unknowns like Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue (pictured) into international stars. The show’s ratings are a long way down from those heady days of the ’80s but it still plays to a considerable audience in the United Kingdom and to a small but loyal fan base in Australia.

9. The Mavis Bramston Show (Seven, 1964-1968)
mavisbramstonInspired by British comedy series That Was The Week That Was, The Mavis Bramston Show was a topical revue that poked fun at all manner of topics. After its launch in Sydney it became a huge hit nationally, with the series winning a TV Week Logie in 1965 for Best New Show and cast member Gordon Chater winning the Gold Logie in 1966. With the ensemble of Chater, Carol Raye and Barry Creyton (pictured) supported by a cast of regulars, The Mavis Bramston Show showed that Australian viewers were happy to have a laugh at themselves and triggered a boom in Australian comedy on television.

countdown_00028. Countdown (ABC, 1974-1987)
Launching at a time when Australian TV was about to burst into colour, Countdown epitomised the booming pop music scene of the 1970s. An appearance on Countdown, and some words from presenter Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum (pictured far right), could make or break a hit song or influence radio station playlists. Although it had an emphasis on live (albeit mimed) performances, Countdown also created an appetite for music video clips which were a rarity in the beginning but it was the growth in the access and production of video clips that eventually brought Countdown down a decade later. Other shows tried to emulate Countdown‘s success but it was a one of a kind and Meldrum, though far from being a polished presenter, has become a national icon and was recently the subject of a mini-series.

7. Play School (ABC, 1966-)
Another Australian production adapted from a foreign concept. After three months of showing the BBC series of the same name, ABC started its own version of Play School. Generations of Aussie kids grew up with its songs and games, and actors and performers would vie for a presenting role to add to their CV. Depending on how old you are, you might recall presenters like Anne Haddy, Lorraine Bayly, John Waters, Benita Collings, Jan Kingsbury, John Hamblin, Noni Hazlehurst, Don Spencer and Alister Smart (pictured up top with Collings) or later names like Monica Trapaga, George Spartels, Justine Clarke, Alex Papps, Deborah Mailman, Andrew MacFarlane or Rachael Coopes.

6. Fast Forward (Seven, 1989-1992)
Following the success of The Comedy Company, Fast Forward upped the ante in terms of production values. Its mocking of television, movies, politics, advertising, pop music and the then recession created some iconic parodies of its own — including but not limited to: the SBS lady and Jana Wendt (Marg Downey); Pixie-Anne Wheatley, Chenille, Joan Kirner and Mary MacGregor (Magda Szubanski); Darren Hunch (Steve Vizard); the gay flight attendants (Vizard and Michael Veitch); Bob and Cheryl Ugly (Peter Moon and Szubanski); Sveta and Viktor (Jane Turner and Moon); Michelle and Ferrett (Szubanski and Alan Pentland); the Queen (Gerry Connolly); Kerri-Anne Kennel and Eleanor LaGore (Gina Riley); and the cast of soap send-up Dumb Street.

YouTube: Classic Aussie Comedy/Fast Forward

frontline_00015. Frontline (ABC, 1994-1997)
Frontline was a satirical look at the workings of a current affairs program, uncovering some of the tricks and manipulations employed by producers, hosts and reporters in getting a current affairs program to air and at the expense of the opposition. The characters and events depicted were often thinly disguised parodies of real life people and situations. Such was the impact of Frontline that it soon became a text for school studies in media. Twenty years later much of what was depicted in Frontline would still ring true in television production today.

4. Four Corners (ABC, 1961-)
From modest beginnings 55 years ago, Four Corners has become one of our most important outlets of journalism. Even in its earliest days the program was having an impact in bringing issues to the mainstream. Just weeks after its debut its report on the conditions being faced by the indigenous community in a country NSW town caused a public outrage. In the years that have followed, Four Corners has uncovered cases of corruption, abuse and injustice with compelling detail. Its recent report on the systematic abuse of indigenous children in a youth detention centre in Darwin has led to a royal commission. The program has been recognised with national and international awards for excellence in journalism.


3. In Melbourne Tonight (Nine, 1957-1970)
Television was only a few months old when a shy radio announcer by the name of Graham Kennedy was appointed the host of GTV9‘s new nightly variety show, In Melbourne Tonight. Originally intended as an interview program, loosely based on the American Tonight Show concept, the show soon developed more in the area of variety performances, comedy skits and live commercials. Kennedy’s sense of comedy and his rapport with supporting cast such as Bert Newton, Geoff Corke, Joff Ellen, Patti McGrath, Philip Brady, Rosie Sturgess and the show’s various barrel girls (including Honni Van Den Bosch, pictured above with Kennedy) made IMT almost essential viewing for Melburnians for over a decade. Although as many as 50 presenters occupied the host’s chair at IMT at one time or another over its 13 years, it was always Kennedy’s show. IMT and Kennedy won multiple Logies for their popularity and Kennedy was soon dubbed the King of Australian Television. It is a title that nobody has dared or wanted to challenge ever since. IMT‘s success led the way for a long tradition of live variety from the Nine Network, particularly at Melbourne’s GTV9, and for Kennedy to go on to other success in both film and television. Blankety Blanks and Graham Kennedy’s News Show were similar success stories in the 1970s and 1980s respectively. Kennedy, who named the Logies after TV inventor John Logie Baird, won five Gold Logies over 20 years and won another when inducted into the TV Week Logies’ Hall Of Fame in 1998.

tvweek_1103722. Homicide (Seven, 1964-1977)
Homicide wasn’t our first television drama but it was the first to demonstrate that locally-produced drama can be compelling and popular with an audience generally accustomed to a dominance of American or British imports. Viewers tuned in overwhelming numbers to watch stories being told from our own familiar backdrops and with our own accents. The show’s attention to production values and thorough research and detail, often with the assistance of Victoria Police, set the standard for Australian television drama, and its success led to a boom in local production and significant opportunities for actors and crew in the still relatively new medium of television. Homicide told stories of significant social issues, such as rape, prostitution and drug abuse, and highlighted some of the dangers faced by our police forces. The success of the series created a production empire for producer Hector Crawford, with more police and crime dramas to follow, including Division 4 and Matlock Police. Generations of actors and production crew still to this day owe their careers to this one program, not just directly but through the industry and culture that it created.

number96_building1. Number 96 (Ten, 1972-1977)
Number 96 was a ground-breaking series and a success on multiple levels. It proved that Australian serial drama, or soapies, can be a viable production and reach a mass audience. Its debut forever became known as ‘the night Australian television lost its virginity’, as Number 96 told the adults-only story of the residents of a Sydney apartment block. It liked to shock and titillate, even if tame by today’s standards, as well as depict humour and the importance of community. Its characters represented a mix of cultural and sexual diversity at a time that society itself was going through rapid change. The series’ depiction of homosexual characters, in a manner of utmost normalcy and without derision, was a first for Australia and quite possibly the world. All manner of storylines and situations were played out, including stories of rape, murder, drug addiction, domestic violence, racism, cancer and child abduction, and its cliffhangers were legendary. With the show hitting top of the ratings, its stars became heroes of the small screen and their attendance at public events attracted crowds not seen since The Beatles came to Australia a decade earlier. The show’s immense and immediate popularity, with children as well as adults, essentially rescued the financially-troubled 0-10 Network and completely re-shaped viewing habits to the network against its older rivals. The series won four consecutive Logies for Best Drama, and scored a Gold Logie for actress Pat McDonald in 1974. Any soapie or serial drama that has followed in the history of Australian television contains elements and production styles that many first saw in Number 96.

YouTube: SilentNumber96




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 15 2016

TV At 60: The Top 60 Part V

slider_darylsomersossieostrichContinuing this week’s theme of the top 60 shows from Australian television over 60 years. See also Part I, Part IIPart III and Part IV.

20. The Panel (Ten, 1998-2004)
As far as TV formats go, this one was pretty basic. Just a line-up of presenters discussing the week’s events with some special guests to keep the chat going and closing with a music act. It was remarkably simple but in an era before shows like The Project it was a means of bringing news and light entertainment together. Even though the show ended in 2004 it continued to present annual Christmas Day specials for the next few years.

19. A Country Practice (Seven/Ten, 1981-1994)
Debuting in the summer of 1981-82, A Country Practice introduced us to the town of Wandin Valley, with the main focus on the local hospital with an eye also cast on the local vet, police force and watering hole. Viewers watched in droves to see Simon and Vicky (Grant Dodwell and Penny Cook) tie the knot after a two-year courtship; but one of its top-rating episodes was the tear-jerker when Molly Jones (Anne Tenney) succumbed to leukaemia. The series also explored controversial topics such as AIDS, nuclear war, suicide and drug addiction. A bushfire was set to wipe out the town for its two-hour final episode in 1993, only to have the show revived by Ten for one more series.

sheilaflorance_000318. Prisoner (Ten, 1979-1986)
Originally developed with the working title Women In Prison, Prisoner started as a 16-week series but was to run for seven years and almost 700 episodes. Inmate Bea Smith (Val Lehman) was top dog in Wentworth Detention Centre for around 400 episodes, though she always had someone ready to take her place. Viewers adored the mischievous Lizzie Birdsworth (Sheila Florance, pictured) and Doreen Anderson (Colette Mann), and loved to hate officers like Vera Bennett (Fiona Spence) and Joan Ferguson (Maggie Kirkpatrick). Of all the characters to pass through Wentworth, only officer Meg Morris (Elspeth Ballantyne) stayed the full distance. Prisoner gained a worldwide following, initially in the United States where it played out in prime time, and later in the United Kingdom where it still commands a strong fan base thirty years after its demise.

17. Big Brother (Ten, 2001-2008)
We’d already heard of Survivor, but the much-anticipated reality format to come from overseas was Big Brother — where a bunch of strangers were locked in a shared house with no connection to the outside world, directed by the booming voice of “Big Brother”. Network Ten had huge success with the show, which also made a household name of writer and comedian Gretel Killeen as its host. Each new series brought a new batch of housemate heroes and villains — often determined by some clever work in the editing suite — and FM radio stations had a new source of content and talent for their breakfast shows. Replacing Killeen with radio hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O ultimately sealed its demise before Nine revisited the format a few years later.

YouTube: andi2468

16. Sale Of The Century (Nine, 1980-2001)
saleofthecentury_0004A remake of the 1970s quiz show Great Temptation, which in turn was adapted from an American format. Sale Of The Century was hugely successful for Nine with the energetic Tony Barber as host, assisted initially by Victoria Nicolls and later Delvene Delaney and Alyce Platt. Glenn Ridge and Jo Bailey took over as the show entered its second decade, with Bailey later making way for Nicky Buckley and Karina Brown. Having updated the original format for the 1980s with great success in Australia, producer Reg Grundy ended up selling the new-look concept back to the Americans!

15. The Don Lane Show (Nine, 1975-1983)
bertanddonAmerican entertainer Don Lane might have thought his Australian TV career had already come and gone following his 1960s Tonight show in Sydney, but when he was invited to return to Australia for a Darwin benefit concert following Cyclone Tracy, Lane was offered the chance to host a new variety show. The Don Lane Show was the typical Tonight format with celebrity interviews, either in the studio or via the new era of satellites, and big budget music performances, often supported by the Tony Bartuccio dancers. It also brought a touch of Hollywood as when any big star of the past or present was in town they’d come in to the show, sometimes unannounced, as Sammy Davis Jnr had done on one occasion. The ratings were huge and the chemistry between Lane and sidekick Bert Newton (pictured) was legendary.

14. Kath And Kim (ABC/Seven, 2002-2007)
kathandkim_2A series of sketches featured in Big Girls Blouse and Something Stupid followed the antics of suburban housewife Kath Day (Jane Turner), her self-absorbed daughter Kim (Gina Riley) and Kim’s second best friend, Sharon (Magda Szubanski). The sketches were so successful that they formed the basis for a sitcom, with Kath joined by her new hunk-a-spunk husband Kel (Glenn Robbins) and Kim’s husband Brett (Peter Rowsthorn). Kath And Kim was a ratings hit for the ABC and more so when Seven snapped it up for one more series. A telemovie and feature film were also produced and the series concept was sold to America’s NBC.

13. The Sullivans (Nine, 1976-1983)
thesullivans_0001Life for a Melbourne family was never the same following the outbreak of war in 1939. The Sullivans traced the lives of Dave and Grace Sullivan (Paul Cronin and Lorraine Bayly, pictured) and their four children as World War II continued through the 1940s. The series was acclaimed for its thorough and accurate reconstruction of that era and sold well overseas as well as winning a string of Logies at home. When Cronin decided to leave the series in 1982 the war was well and truly over and it was deemed time to close the show.

12. The Late Show (ABC, 1992-1993)
After some members of The D Generation went across to form Fast Forward on Seven, the remaining team went to ABC to create The Late Show. Filling the void of Saturday night TV, The Late Show presented a mix of live and pre-recorded sketches as it mocked politics, TV, advertising, sport, pop culture and some of our social mores. The team comically re-voiced scenes from classic TV dramas Bluey and Rush and made them into Bargearse and The Olden Days, and created comedy gold with its musical mixups — where unlikely guest artists would perform songs made famous by others with similar names. Various sketches, such as the mocking of co-star Jane Kennedy‘s appearance on a celebrity edition of Sale Of The Century, are still memorable today!

YouTube: douchebag

11. Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine, 1971-1977, 1979-1999)
What began as a low-key Saturday morning show of cartoons would later evolve into one of Nine‘s most valuable prime-time brands. Host Daryl Somers was initially assisted by footballer Peter McKenna — but McKenna was soon to make way for an ostrich! With Somers and Ossie Ostrich (pictured at top) up front, they were to be joined by booth announcer John Blackman, and after a while they didn’t bother playing the cartoons anymore. A brief detour to Melbourne’s ATV0 for the ill-fated The Daryl And Ossie Show in 1978 saw the team return to Nine a year later, a little older and wiser, and this time joined by Queenslander Jacki MacDonald. The move to prime time in 1984 saw a greater emphasis on variety and for years its ratings were unbeatable as the early evening timeslot meant viewers could keep up with the show before heading out for the night. MacDonald left Hey Hey in 1988, making way for others including Denise Drysdale, Jo Beth Taylor and Livinia Nixon. Nostalgia saw the show revived for two reunion specials in 2009 and, surprising everyone, a new series in 2010.




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 14 2016

TV At 60: The Top 60 Part IV

slider_mikewalshContinuing this week’s theme of the top 60 shows from Australian television over 60 years. See also Part I, Part II and Part III.

30. We Can Be Heroes (ABC, 2005)
Comedian Chris Lilley had a stand out hit when he played not one but all six lead characters vying for the title of Australian of the Year in this mockumentary-style comedy.

29. The Project (Ten, 2009-)
It’s a delicate balance to get news and comedy to work together, but The Project has emerged as a success. It perfectly typifies the Network Ten brand of youth and provides an alternative to traditional news and current affairs. It will make laughs of the news but also explores more serious social topics. Two of the show’s hosts, Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly, have won TV Week Gold Logies.

goback28. Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS, 2011-2012, 2015)
The asylum-seeker debate has always been a controversial one in Australia, and SBS had huge ratings and critical success (including coverage in The New York Times) in taking six outspoken Australians — most of whom were against the settlement of refugees — on a journey to see just what makes these people leave war-torn countries in unstable and unsafe vessels in the hope of starting a new life in a distant land.

27. Spicks And Specks (ABC, 2005-2011, 2014)
spicksandspecksThe seemingly simple format of quizzes and games with a music theme was to be a hit for ABC, largely due to the chemistry between host Adam Hills and team captains Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough, but also via its stream of guest artists representing a Who’s Who of comedians and the music industry from Australia and overseas spanning multiple generations. ABC revisited the format a few years later with a new host and team captains but never quite matched the chemistry or popularity of the original.

tvweek_03086826. Skippy The Bush Kangaroo (Nine, 1968-1970)
What began as a children’s adventure series was to become an icon of Australian culture as Skippy was soon exported to over 100 countries and dubbed into various languages. Ninety-one episodes saw Skippy (pictured with Ed Devereaux) tackle villains and cope with all manner of challenges with human-like ease and intelligence. Almost 50 years since its debut the show is still going in re-runs on the Nine Network.

25. The Comedy Company (Ten, 1988-1990)
The Melbourne comedy scene in the 1980s was to be a breeding ground for the renaissance of Australian TV comedy in the late 1980s. Melbourne’s HSV7 had a short-lived sketch comedy series, The Eleventh Hour in 1985, that would form the origin of what would emerge three years later as The Comedy Company. Originally launched in a low-profile Tuesday timeslot, Network Ten took a gamble and shifted the show to 7.30pm Sunday — the most competitively intense timeslot of the week. It was a gamble that paid off handsomely and the irony in big-budget shows like 60 Minutes being knocked off by a cheap studio-based comedy was not missed. The characters of The Comedy Company became suburban heroes — with the likes of Col’n Carpenter, Con The Fruiterer, Uncle Arthur and Kylie Mole (pictured) — and triggered a whole new breed of Australian TV comedy.

motherandson_000224. Mother And Son (ABC, 1984-1994)
The comic tale of a geriatric mother in the care of her often-frustrated son ran for six series over ten years. Ruth Cracknell, as the confused but still crafty Maggie Beare, and Garry McDonald as son Arthur were a winning pair supported by Henri Szeps and Judy Morris, and scripting by Geoffrey Atherden.

23. The Mike Walsh Show (Ten/Nine, 1973-1985)
In the early 1970s Mike Walsh (pictured top with Margaret Whitlam) sought to prove that housewives and retirees, who made up the majority of daytime TV audiences, deserved better content in daytime TV than re-runs, cheap game shows and segments on housekeeping. The Mike Walsh Show not only brought variety to afternoons but also frank and open discussion about all manner of social topics, including everything from politics to sex to immigration. Among its stable of regulars were Jeanne Little, John Michael HowsonDr James Wright and music director Geoff Harvey. Its success — first on the 0-10 Network before going across to Nine in 1977 — saw it earn the type of ratings at midday that many prime time shows would have envied. Ironically when the show itself moved to prime time it didn’t last long, but the daytime format lived on for years to come as Midday.

22. 60 Minutes (Nine, 1979-)
Based on an American format of the same name, 60 Minutes was a multi-million dollar gamble played by Kerry Packer to establish a premium current affairs brand for his Nine Network. Early ratings would have almost justified the axe but Nine persisted and 60 Minutes was soon to become a flagship for the network and its early crew of reporters, including Ray Martin, George Negus and Jana Wendt, became as famous as the stories they covered.

ytt_1979a21. Young Talent Time (Ten, 1971-1988)
It was camp, it was cheesy and it wasn’t overly original, but Young Talent Time managed to strike a chord with kids and families across Australia. Featuring ’60s pop star Johnny Young leading a cheery bunch of junior performers, Young Talent Time took kids from suburbs and turned them into seasoned performers, with Debra Byrne, Tina Arena and Dannii Minogue among its most famous alumni — although in the ’70s its biggest star was teenager Jamie Redfern, who ended up touring the US under the wing of legendary performer Liberace. The nostalgia from the original saw Ten revive the format in 2012 but the new Young Talent Time lacked the charm of the original and limped off air after its three month season was completed.




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 13 2016

TV At 60: The Top 60 Part III


Continuing this week’s theme of the top 60 shows from Australian television over 60 years. See also Part I and Part II.

40. Bangkok Hilton (Ten, 1989)
Coming in at the tail-end of the era of big-budget Kennedy-Miller mini-series, Bangkok Hilton told the compelling story of the vulnerable Aussie tourist who inadvertently got caught up in drug smuggling and ended up in a Bangkok prison. Featuring Nicole Kidman in the lead role of Katrina Stanton, Bangkok Hilton was a ratings hit at the end of what had been a challenging year for the Ten network.

39. Beyond 2000 (Seven/Ten, 1985-1999)
What began as Towards 2000 on ABC was to get a boost when it was picked up by the Seven Network and re-modelled as the much bigger and glossier Beyond 2000. The show that brought science and technology to a mainstream commercial audience became an international success story, being sold to a number of overseas networks. Beyond 2000 eventually went over to Network Ten where it managed to hang on long enough for the show’s title to almost become redundant.

38. Behind The News (ABC, 1969-)
Bringing education and news together, Behind The News began back in 1969 and for generations of school kids (and some of their parents) gave context to news and current affairs in terms that they could understand without being condescending. Budget cuts saw Behind The News axed in 2004 but it was soon to be reinstated and is still going today.

paulhogan_000437. The Paul Hogan Show (Seven/Nine, 1973-1984)
Working as a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a young Paul Hogan appeared as a contestant on talent quest New Faces as a dare. His appearance led to a regular stint on the original A Current Affair and from there his comic career grew. The Paul Hogan Show (featuring Delvene Delaney, pictured with Hogan, among the supporting cast) began as a number of specials for the Seven Network before going into a comedy sketch series for Nine, with Hogan playing various caricatures and parodies. From there he became an international star through promoting Australian tourism to the American market and then playing the lead role in Crocodile Dundee, one of the most successful Australian films of all time.

36. Media Watch (ABC, 1989-2000, 2002-)
Since it began in 1989, Media Watch has been analysing and scrutinising journalism and the media in general — giving credit where it’s due but more significantly pointing out where the media oversteps the mark. Its reporting of the ‘cash for comment’ scandal in Sydney talkback radio scored it a number of awards for journalism.

35. The Curiosity Show (Nine, 1972-1990)
The Curiosity Show began as a series of segments on Here’s Humphrey before becoming a regular series of its own. It brought the basic concepts of science and the environment to a junior audience and won international acclaim, including the prestigious Prix Jeunesse in 1984. Original segments from the show, featuring hosts Dr Deane Hutton and Rob Morrison (pictured top), are now playing to a new audience via an official YouTube channel.

34. All Saints (Seven, 1998-2009)
Like GP, All Saints gave us a weekly dose of medical drama surrounded with all manner of personal and professional relationships and conflicts. Former A Country Practice and Fire star Georgie Parker was the lead in earlier seasons as Terri Sullivan, the nun who was now in charge of Ward 17 at All Saints Western General. But the show’s unsung hero was Von Ryan, played by Judith McGrath, the hardened nurse with a heart of gold, and the only character to last the show’s entire run of 12 seasons and 493 episodes.

masterchef_000133. MasterChef Australia (Ten, 2009-)
When MasterChef was announced as the big ticket reality show to take over from Big Brother nobody was all that convinced. Who would watch a cooking show, six nights a week? What sort of drama or human emotion can be dragged out over a hot stove over thirteen weeks? The critics were soon silenced as MasterChef became one of the biggest TV hits since the turn of the century.

32. Australian Story (ABC, 1996-)
Since its debut in 1996, Australian Story has covered the often-unique stories of a diverse range of Australians from their own perspective. Some of the people to feature on Australian Story have been household names, others less so but with stories just as captivating. The program has been widely acclaimed with a number of Walkley and industry-voted Logie awards to its credit.

againstthewind31. Against The Wind (Seven, 1978)
Although ABC had produced some small-scale historical mini-series in the early years, it took the huge success of the US mini-series Roots for commercial television to begin mining Australia’s history for big-budget mini-series. The first such production, Against The Wind, was a 13-hour saga which told the saga of Mary Mulvane (Mary Larkin), an Irish girl unjustly convicted and sent to Sydney to serve time. The series also featured rock star Jon English (pictured with Larkin and Gerard Kennedy) in his first major acting role, and for which he went on to win a TV Week Logie Award for Best New Talent. English also worked on the show’s soundtrack and co-composed and sung the series’ theme song, Six Ribbons.

Tomorrow, from 30 through to 21.




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 12 2016

TV At 60: The Top 60 Part II


Continuing the countdown of the top 60 Australian TV shows. Numbers 60 to 51 were published yesterday.

Feel free to share or comment and there will be a poll later in the week.

peterluck50. This Fabulous Century (Seven, 1979)
Billed at the time as the most expensive documentary project ever undertaken by Australian TV, This Fabulous Century (presented by Peter Luck, pictured) took us back through 80 years of various aspects of Australian life, including sport, politics, industry, fashion, crime, media, the performing arts, war and natural disasters.

49. The Feed (SBS2, 2013-)
The relaunch of SBS2 into a channel of youth and emerging culture came with current affairs program The Feed. Presenting a mix of news, current affairs and satire, The Feed will effortlessly scan the spectrum of topics from the flippant to the most serious — noting special episodes on topics such as school bullying, drugs and Sydney’s lockout laws. The show has also single-handedly elevated Lee Lin Chin from the rank of serious newsreader to a cultural phenomenon and Gold Logie nominee.

YouTube: SBS2Australia

48. Life Support (SBS, 2001-2003)
Before reality TV really kicked in, Australian television was heavily into lifestyle ‘infotainment’. Shows about renovations, finance, cooking, dating, gardening and travel dotted the prime time TV landscape — all told with sugary sweetness. Life Support took the premise and sent it up ruthlessly, providing blunt social commentary (some of which they couldn’t get away with today) and the sort of handy hints you’d never see on Better Homes And Gardens.

47. Home And Away (Seven, 1988-)
Created by Seven in response to the success being enjoyed by Ten’s Neighbours (ironically, a show original dumped by Seven), Home And Away has become a huge success in its own right. For almost 30 years the residents of Summer Bay have endured just about every personal and emotional crisis ever known plus a constant string of natural disasters — bushfires, floods, earthquakes and even landslides. Ray Meagher, who plays the grouchy Alf Stewart, has been with the series since day one.

gp_199446. GP (ABC, 1989-1996)
The weekly tale of life around a Sydney GP surgery not only uncovered all manner of personal relationships among its staff but also brought to the mainstream audience a constant stream of diseases, ailments, medical conditions and social issues. For over 300 episodes its guest cast includes a roll call of just about every film and television actor known in the country at the time.

45. Australia Live (Nine/ABC/SBS, 1988)
A one-off production that really makes the list purely for its technical marvel in linking up presenters positioned all over Australia into a single four-hour program — a feat that had only become possible with the advent of the domestic satellite — to provide a snapshot of Australia to kick off the bicentennial year of European settlement.

offspring_000245. Offspring (Ten, 2010-2014, 2016-)
The story of Melbourne family the Proudmans has given us the full gamut of emotional dramas — from quirky and amusing to heartbreaking and complicated. With a strong ensemble cast (led by Asher Keddie, pictured with Matthew Le Nevez) and great guest actors, Ten was reluctant to let the series wrap up as it did in 2014, eventually leading to the gang getting back together this year.

43. Gogglebox (Foxtel/Ten, 2015-)
The premise of a TV show about people watching TV shows sounds ludicrous, but the Brits made it into a winning formula that has since been picked up in various other countries including Australia. A format that makes its everyday participants (including Angie and Yvie, pictured top) almost as famous as the shows being featured, it also gives us all a reminder of what is good, or not so good, about TV.

42. Bellbird (ABC, 1967-1977)
There was nothing all that remarkable about ABC’s nightly serial of life in the fictional country town of Bellbird, and in the cities it had barely an audience. But in the country it was a popular ritual to watch Bellbird leading up to the local news. To this day it remains ABC’s longest running drama and producer James Davern went on to create another popular rural series, A Country Practice, a few years later.

sylvaniawaters_000241. Sylvania Waters (ABC, 1992)
Often credited as one of the first reality TV shows, this BBC-ABC co-production took us into the lives of the extended Baker-Donaher family in the plush waterside suburb of Sylvania Waters. It made family matriarch Noeline Donaher both a heroine and a villain at the same time, as viewers watched, scrutinised and judged the family’s dramas every week.


Permanent link to this article:

Sep 11 2016

Obituary: Norman May

normanmayNorman May, legendary sports commentator for ABC, has died at the age of 88.

May, a keen sports fan, had been working as an insurance clerk when a chance meeting with ABC sporting supervisor Dick Healey in 1957 led to an invitation to call the surf-lifesaving.

From 1958, while television was still new, May officially joined ABC as a trainee. He called various sports for ABC radio and television and covered his first Olympic Games in 1964.

While covering the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games it was May’s enthusiastic call of the 4x100m medley relay that was to become his trademark: “Fifteen metres from the gold medal for Australia … 10 metres now, Brooks in front. Five metres now, four, three, two, one … Gold! Gold to Australia! Gold!”

May covered a total of 11 Olympic Games and 11 Commonwealth Games for ABC.

He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1983. He officially retired in 1984 but continued to serve in various media and ambassadorial roles.

Source: ABC

YouTube: Real Estate News Television

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 11 2016

Obituary: Ken Sparkes

kensparkesKen Sparkes, for many years the “voice” of the Nine Network, has died at the age of 76.

It is reported that Sparkes died overnight (Australian time) of a heart attack while hosting a river cruise in France.

His career began in radio as a sixteen-year-old in country radio, but it was only a few years before he made it to Sydney station 2GB.

He then moved to Melbourne to top-rating radio station 3UZ. It was also at this time that he hosted the national pop music TV show, Kommotion.

Other TV credits included Homicide, Division 4, Bandstand and Wide World Of Sports, but he most prominent role was as an announcer for many years for the Nine Network and for radio station 2UE. His voice became one of the most widely heard in Australia.

For a brief time he was also a voice-over announcer for TEN10 in Sydney.

More recently Sparkes hosted the music program Jukebox Saturday Night for Foxtel channel Aurora.

Source: Noise11




Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «