Mar 04 2015

The National, ABC’s $25m news gamble

thenational_0001It was a brave — or, in hindsight, perhaps foolish — ABC that decided 30 years ago to cut through decades of tradition in order to ‘refresh’ its news portfolio.

Swept away in the reshuffle was the traditional 7.00pm ABC News and the Majestic Fanfare that went with it (and is still used today on ABC radio), the mid-evening current affairs program Nationwide, the Sunday night Weekend Magazine (a program that dated back to the 1950s) and the 6.55pm regional news bulletins.

The man in charge of the revamp was Ian Carroll, former executive producer of Nationwide who ironically had now led the charge to ditch it.

“We needed to do something with the news,” he told TV Week at the time. “We became boring and our technology was behind. It was inevitable that the news and the audience were going to decline. Every program on the ABC suffered because the news wasn’t up to scratch. And despite the deserved reputation of Nationwide, it had a lot of faults and I found those faults very hard to rectify.”

After months of planning, starting Monday 4 March 1985, the new venture that was to take ABC’s news into the future — The National — was launched with a budget of $25 million.

The National was a glossy, one-hour program combining news and current affairs. It was scheduled at 6.30pm weeknights, in itself an odd timeslot as the commercial networks were (mostly) programming their news and current affairs commitments in the hour between 6.00pm and 7.00pm. Any chance of trying to appeal to non-traditional ABC viewers would likely have failed from the timeslot alone, but it was hoped that by offering a quality alternative that viewers would come across.

“We’re not going to win everyone. You can’t. But in my view the three commercial news services are pretty much the same,” Carroll said. “We are in a fortunate position where we can afford to be the one news program that is different. We believe we have a vastly greater depth of a reporting team than is available elsewhere.”

thenational_0002The National also took the risky move of abandoning state-based news coverage, with New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT and Northern Territory all receiving the same program from Sydney (fronted by Richard Morecroft and Geraldine Doogue, pictured) with only a token 10-minute ‘window’ at the end of the program to allow Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Darwin to cover their own local news.

Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia presented their own editions of The National but still derived much of their content from the Sydney-based program which included political analysis from Richard Carleton and Max Walsh, finance news with Robert Gottliebsen and reports from foreign correspondents Richard Palfreyman and Geoff Sims.

And in producing a one-hour news bulletin, The National embarked on breaking the golden rule of the ABC — no program breaks. “We’re even putting in breaks in the news,” Carroll said. “I suppose they will be the closest thing the ABC will ever come to commercial breaks. We’ll be promoting other programs on the station and some of our sister programs on radio.”

The National was not well received, although in its 1985 Annual Report, the ABC remarked that news audiences had lifted in all states except Victoria. But by the end of the year, after copping criticism from inside and out of the ABC — including claims the bulletin was more focused on lighter content than serious news — management had to pull the pin on The National.

The 7.00pm state-based bulletins were reinstated from 9 December. A new current affairs program, The 7.30 Report, was to be launched in each state from January 1986.

In its 1986 Annual Report, ABC acknowledged that viewers didn’t adapt to The National, in particular to the timeslot:

“Research in mid-year showed that the change in time-slot away from the ABC’s traditional placing at 7.00pm was a fundamental problem. Many among the ABC’s regular audience were not prepared to change the habits of a lifetime; others found the new timeslot physically inconvenient because of the competing demands of business or family life. The large numbers of viewers who do watch news at 6.30pm or earlier remained unpersuaded by the merits of a change.”

Although Richard Morecroft would continue to front ABC News in Sydney until 2001, Geraldine Doogue resigned from ABC after the end of The National. She later moved into radio (2UE) and read the news at TEN10 before returning to the ABC in 1990. She is now host of ABC’s long-running religious affairs series Compass.

Despite the failure of The National, Ian Carroll went on to many successful ventures at ABC — working on programs including Lateline, Four Corners and The 7.30 Report and was later chief executive of the ABC’s Asia-Pacific Australia Network. He also led ABC’s innovation portfolio, overseeing mobile and online applications as well as ABC iView and two digital channels. Later married to Doogue, he passed away from cancer in 2011.

Source: TV Week, 2 March 1985. The Age, 1 August 1985. Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 1985. ABC 2nd Annual Report, 1984-85. ABC 3rd Annual Report, 1985-86. The Women’s Pages.





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Feb 26 2015

Obituary: Terry Gill

terrygillActor Terry Gill, star of many Australian television dramas, has died at the age of 75 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

English-born Gill made his first appearances on Australian TV in the late 1960s in dramas Hunter and Bellbird. During the Seventies he appeared in children’s series Alpha Scorpio and in cop dramas The Long Arm, Matlock Police, Homicide, Division 4, Ryan, Solo One and Bluey. He also featured in historical dramas Power Without Glory, Against The Wind, Cash And Company and The Last Outlaw.

Credits during the Eighties included Come Midnight Monday, Prisoner, Sons And Daughters, Special Squad and The Henderson Kids. He played the role of Sgt Jack Carruthers in the mini-series The Flying Doctors and its long-running spin-off series.

Later roles included appearances in Ratbag Hero, Boys From The Bush, GP, Snowy, Wedlocked, Neighbours, Stingers, Something In The Air, Blue Heelers and Bed Of Roses.

In 2013 he featured in the ABC comedy It’s A Date.

Movie credits included End Play, Mad Dog Morgan, Phar Lap and Crocodile Dundee. 

terrygillcaroleanngillGill and his wife Carole Ann (pictured) also worked together, running the Tivoli Theatre and performing theatre restaurant revues and children’s pantomimes for many years, both locally and on tour. Their theatre work was covered in the documentary Curtain Call.

Gill also played the role of Santa Claus at the traditional Carols By Candlelight. Carole Ann said his appearance at Carols last year was special because he knew then he was ill. “He was a sick man but we had a wonderful night. He went on stage with the cast and we didn’t get home until 1am. He loved Carols and did it for 27 years, it was one of the highlights of his whole life. I thank Channel Nine and Carols for that,” she told The Age.

Source: The Age, IMDB, Tivoli, Studio





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Feb 20 2015

1995: February 18-24

tvweek_180295Cover: Isla Fisher and Daniel Amalm (Home And Away)

New soap ready to roll
As reported last week, Network Ten has plans for a new soapie. Originally reported as being titled Back Home, a number of alternative names have been discussed but Bells Point appears to be the current favourite. Filming is due to start in April on the series that hopes to combine the cool inner-city vibe of E Street with the relaxed, bayside feel of Home And Away. Bells Point is set to feature four families — the Lomans, Brennans, Wintons and O’Connors — and mystery man Daniel Blake, a 33-year-old property owner who returns to Bells Point after a 15-year absence. Daniel has a dark secret involving the unsolved murder of parents many years earlier. The new series is a production of Southern Star Xanadu, better known for ABC’s Police Rescue.

kimberleyjoseph_0001Kimberley Joseph joins Hey Hey
Following the retirement of Ernie Carroll (Ossie Ostrich) from Hey Hey It’s Saturday at the end of 1994, the show’s host and producer Daryl Somers has selected a new co-host to give the show a fresher look. Former Paradise Beach star Kimberley Joseph has joined the show after making some guest appearances last year. “I think she’ll be fantastic for us this year,” Somers told TV Week. “She is one of the most natural people we’ve ever had. She is comfortable on camera and nothing seems to faze her.” Somers also paid tribute to Carroll after the pair had worked together on-screen and off-screen for over 20 years. “It was obviously sad to see Ernie go, but the show has proved that it can change when necessary. This is one of the biggest changes ever, but we’ll get through it.”

petertrembathFlying vet’s feet stay on the ground
Peter Trembath is the man they call “The Flying Vet”. His veterinary clinic is located in Katherine, 300 kilometres south of Darwin, and his Cessna aircraft takes him around the Top End to tend to anything from crocodiles and snakes to domestic pets in outback stations. Starting this week his work days will be shown to a national audience in the new ABC series The Flying Vet, but he anything but a willing celebrity. “I think being a celebrity would be a hassle,” he told TV Week. “Being recognised won’t give me a rush of adrenalin; that only gives you a big ego and you become unbearable to those who live around you. I think fame must corrupt people to a certain extent.” No matter how the show pans out, he says it’s unlikely he’ll line up for a second series. “Like anything, the novelty wears off. The first few weeks were fun, but then you see the film crew coming and you say, ‘Oh s***! Here they come again’. I guess we’ll just wait and see.”


  • Blue Heelers returns for its second series this week, and with it comes a higher profile for actress Lisa McCune. “Lisa is one of the best actresses in Australia at the moment, and we want to use her talents more,” producer Ric Pellizzeri told TV Week. “She’s a great asset to us.”
  • johnmorris_0001Former Neighbours and Home And Away star John Morris (pictured) is a last minute addition to the cast of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, being staged at Melbourne’s Rippon Lea — having only 12 days notice after the actor originally cast as the gamekeeper left the production. Morris is fairly pragmatic about the nudity in the production. “I’m an actor portraying a character, and as such I feel secure and have no problem with taking my clothes off,” he told TV Week. Morris is no stranger to controversial roles. In Neighbours he played the series’ first gay character, Andrew McKenzie.
  • Former A Country Practice stars Paul Gleeson and Sophie Heathcote have won supporting roles in the British drama Soldier Soldier. Production of the series will be heading to Australia for several episodes later this year.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 29 January): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 National Nine News Nine Sun 1816000
2 National Nine News Nine Sat 1748000
3 The Nanny Ten Wed 1743000
4 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1717000
5 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1687000
6 National Nine News Nine M-F 1674000
7 The Simpsons Ten Wed 1661000
8 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1560000
9 Wild Life Nine Thu 1538000
10 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1407000
11 Sale Of The Century Nine M-W 1404000
12 Seinfeld Ten Tue 1404000
13 The X Files Ten Wed 1381000
14 Seven Nightly News Seven M-F 1350000
15 Matlock Nine Wed 1336000
16 Mad About You Ten Tue 1319000
17 Models Inc Ten Tue 1293000
18 Baywatch Ten Sun 1289000
19 Byrds Of Paradise Ten Mon 1267000
20 Movie: El Diablo Nine Mon 1262000

Caron James: The View From Here:

“Death and destruction, a government cover-up and a sinister plot that has never been solved, with a victim determined to see justice done… It sounds like the synopsis for a new thriller movie. In fact, it’s a real event in Australian history, the 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing. A new ABC documentary, Conspiracy, aims to re-open the case on this 17-year-old mystery. This is television at its powerful best. And far from being a dry, dreary program, Conspiracy is a gripping saga that includes dramatic re-creations of the bombing and its aftermath.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 18-24):
Saturday: The Mercantile Mutual Cup (10am, Nine), Tasmania versus NSW, is live from Hobart. The Australian Masters Golf (12pm, Seven) continues through to Sunday. Harry Connick Jnr is the special guest in the return of Hey Hey It’s Saturday (6.30pm, Nine). Beyond 2000 (7.30pm, Ten) returns for a new year in a new timeslot.

Sunday: The documentary Conspiracy (8.30pm, ABC) looks at the events surrounding the bombing of the Sydney Hilton in 1978. Sunday night movies are The Crying Game (Seven), Reckless Kelly (Nine) and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (repeat, Ten). And for the first time we see the program title Infomercial (2am, Ten) appear in the TV listings.

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Brett (Brett Blewitt) still has the mumps and Cheryl (Caroline Gillmer) makes it her business to look after him. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Peter Wherrett visits an Energy Rally at Maryborough, Victoria. The event provides an opportunity for school students to design, build and operate purpose built vehicles of their own choice.

zoecaridesTuesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shane (Dieter Brummer) unleashes has anger on Alf (Ray Meagher), blaming him for putting Angel (Melissa George) in hospital. In the series return of Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), when a middle-aged couple disappear from their farm without a trace, and a farmer Ron Novak (Petru Gheorghiu) reports that a UFO has landed in his back paddock, the Blue Heelers bring in the dog squad. In the return of GP (8.30pm, ABC), following the departure of Dr Tessa Korkidas (Marilynne Paspaley), William (Michael Craig) enlists the skills of bright young doctor Sonia Kapek (Zoe Carides, pictured) for the surgery.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Rick (Dan Falzon) returns from Darwin with some exciting news.

Thursday: The daily adventures of vet Peter Trembath are covered in the new six-part series The Flying Vet (8pm, ABC). In Janus (8.30pm, ABC), the Hennesseys’ money has run out and Michael Kidd (Chris Haywood) won’t defend Mal (Brett Swain) unless he gets paid.

Friday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Lou (Tom Oliver) faces the moment of truth in the council elections. Burke’s Backyard (7.30pm, Nine) returns for another year. AFL is back with the Ansett Australia Cup (8.30pm, Seven), featuring Fremantle Dockers versus St Kilda, live from Fremantle Oval.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 18 February 1995. Southdown Press




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Feb 19 2015

1995: February 11-17

tvweek_110295Cover: Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman)

Bobby’s back from the dead!
Former Home And Away star Nicolle Dickson is set to return to the series even though her character, Bobby, was killed off two years ago. Producers are planning to bring Bobby back in a series of dream and flashback sequences. “Ailsa (Judy Nunn), Bobby’s unofficial guardian and former partner in the Summer Bay diner, has a mental breakdown and has flashbacks and dreams about Bobby,” TV Week heard from an insider. “Nicolle is returning to film Ailsa’s ‘visions’.” Dickson’s return, plus the return of Emily Symons to the show, are part of an effort to boost its ratings. The show’s creator, John Holmes, has been brought back to work on improving the soap’s profile in the competitive 7.00pm timeslot.

Let’s give Jimeoin a big hand
Five years after coming to Australia, Irish-born comedian Jimeoin has become an Australian citizen. “I wonder how my life will change as a result of this?,” he said. “I hope my accent doesn’t change. The reason I did this is because a few of my friends did it… none of us know why! People are always saying to me that Ireland must be a terrible place. But they do laugh so much over there. They have a very black sense of humour.” Jimeoin’s comedy show, Jimeoin, returns this week on the Seven Network.

paulmercuriocarolinewestPaul rides into Beyond 2000
Network Ten technology series Beyond 2000 is returning for the new year with some changes. While the show has normally looked only at the innovations of the future, it will now have a new focus on how new technology is infiltrating everyday life. Dancer-actor Paul Mercurio is featured in the returning episode to demonstrate how modern technology now impacts on his life — from his new high-speed motorbike to the gizmos and gadgets he uses to keep organised. “The point of this technology to me is that anyone can use it, and you don’t have to be a computer scientist to understand parts of your computer or motor engine to understand the workings of your motorcycle. I’m looking forward to going digital (on his mobile phone), because I do a lot of travel and I like the idea that I can link up with other people via modem. I’m not at the forefront of technology — I’m just using it.” Reporter Dr Caroline West has defended the changes being made and denies suggestions that the long-running show is becoming infotainment. “It’s exciting to go through a change… I think that every program has to evolve with the times,” she told TV Week. “You constantly have to listen to what viewers want to watch, become innovative and push the boundaries with the presentation format.” The revamped show could also mean less overseas trips as the new focus draws more on technology in Australia. “The international hops are quite a hard slog, 23 or 24 stories at a time, so I think that all of us are looking forward to spending more time at home and doing more Australian stories,” she said.

carolraye_0001Memories of Mavis
The Seven Network is screening a special to pay tribute to the legendary comedy series The Mavis Bramston Show, 30 years after its debut. Carol Raye (pictured) devised the concept and, although she wasn’t originally intended to appear on screen, became part of the ensemble cast. “In London, the TV sensation was That Was The Week That Was, a news-oriented satirical program with David Frost, and I proposed something similar,” Raye told TV Week. “I can still hear the reaction from the head of the network, Jimmy Oswin, who said, ‘Oh, Carol, you’re far too BBC!’. He also said that Australians weren’t ready to laugh at themselves. I told him not to be so silly. I badgered and badgered and finally got the go-ahead for pilot on a small budget of £1200.” The show became a huge hit across the country, but the title role of Mavis Bramston was not a real person. The character was a send-up of the tradition of bringing foreign stars to appear in Australian shows. Mavis was originally played by Noeline Brown and later by Maggie Dence. “Maggie never appeared in any of our sketches, but she became a star, touring around and opening petrol stations (the show was sponsored by petrol company Ampol). She felt like the Queen!,” Raye said.


  • Full-frontal nudity is to feature in the debut episode of Seven‘s drama series Fire. Tayler Kane will bare all as his character, Lou “Grievous” Fazio, seeks to intimidate (or impress?) his new female colleague, Morgan Cartwright (Georgie Parker). “Some viewers will probably find the nudity a touch confronting,” Kane told TV Week. “But it’s part of what Fire is. It’s a brave series and the producers are taking chances. On its own, the fact that I appear nude is not a big deal.”
  • Southern Star Xanadu (producers of Police Rescue) are set to produce a new prime-time soap for Network Ten. The series, with the working title Back Home, is hoped to be a rival to Home And Away with a setting around the Pittwater region in Sydney. Ten is proposing a mid-year launch for the new show.
  • Actress Doris Younane has decided to quit the Network Ten series Heartbreak High. “I thought it was time for me to move on and I was being offered other things,” she told TV Week. “Then came the offer of Medea, which I just couldn’t say no to because it may not come up for another 10 years.” Younane will play the title role of Medea in a production at the State Theatre in Adelaide.
  • Sale Of The Century‘s ‘That’s Entertainment’ challenge this week features celebrity contestants including Aaron Pedersen, Guy Pearce and NZ singer Margaret Urlich.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 22 January): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 National Nine News Nine Sun 1725000
2 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1614000
3 National Nine News Nine M-F 1557000
4 National Nine News Nine Sat 1545000
5 The Simpsons Ten Wed 1517000
6 The Nanny Ten Wed 1488000
7 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1484000
8 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1429000
9 Movie: Passed Away Seven Sun 1422000
10 Seinfeld Ten Tue 1414000
11 Mad About You Ten Tue 1388000
12 Seven Nightly News Seven Sat 1350000
13 Making A Million Nine Sun 1286000
14 Baywatch Ten Sat 1255000
15 The Bill ABC Sat 1252000
16 The X Files Ten Wed 1242000
17 Seven Nightly News Seven M-F 1234000
18 Movie: Ghostbusters II Nine Sun 1208000
19 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1192000
20 Models Inc Ten Tue 1183000

Caron James: The View From Here:

Fire is the best Australian drama series ever made, so the promos say. The hype from Seven Network executives in the lead-up to the screening of its new big-budget series has been frightening. And, like anything whose reputation precedes it, Fire has a lot to live up to. When something is labelled the “best ever” before its arrival, it’s almost bound to disappoint. While Fire has some excellent special effects, superb music and a well-chosen cast, it’s far from perfect. The first hour, in fact, is unnecessarily slow. Most of it is spent introducing the characters, instead of getting on with the story. There is a big build-up to a non-event (a false alarm made by some drunken louts), and almost no build-up to the main event, a fire in which several people died.”

georgieparkernicholaseadieProgram Highlights (Melbourne, February 11-17):
Saturday: Sport includes cricket with the Mercantile Mutual Cup (10.15am, Nine), South Australia versus Victoria, live from Adelaide Oval. There is golf with the Australian Skins (3pm, Seven) from Laguna Quays, and the Ford Open Championship (3pm, ABC) continues from Adelaide. In the series final of Over The Hill (7.30pm, Seven), the stress of running the pub is finally too much for Sandy and Don (Georgie Parker and Nicholas Eadie, pictured). They end up having an argument and Sandy leaves for the city.

Sunday: Rural affairs program Landline (12pm, ABC) returns with host Catherine Phillips. The Mercantile Mutual Cup (11am, Nine) moves to the Gabba, Brisbane, while golf continues with the Australian Skins (3pm, Seven) and the Ford Open Championship (2pm, ABC). The National Soccer League Match Of The Day (7.30pm, SBS) features Morwell versus Adelaide City. Current affairs programs 60 Minutes (7.30pm, Nine) and The Times (10.55pm, Seven) return for 1995. Sunday night movies are The Distinguished Gentleman (Seven), Falling Down (Nine) and Housesitter (Ten).

Monday: Wheel Of Fortune (5.30pm, Seven) features the $100,000 Champion Challenge. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shannon (Isla Fisher) wrestles with the aftermath of her public humiliation. In the series return of Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Jim Brown visits Haddon Rig, a historic sheep station in central NSW, and Tonia Todman demonstrates the ancient skills and creative patterns of tie-dying. Four Corners (8.30pm, ABC) returns for 1995.

Tuesday: The long-awaited drama series Fire (8.30pm, Seven) makes its debut with a two-hour episode and bumps Blue Heelers out for the week. In the debut episode, after completing an arduous training course, Morgan Cartwright (Georgie Parker) becomes the first female firefighter in Brisbane. George NegusForeign Correspondent (9.30pm, ABC) returns for the new year.

Wednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Fisher’s (Norman Coburn) upcoming 50th birthday forms the basis for Jack’s (Daniel Amalm) plan of revenge. Our House (7.30pm, Nine) and Money (8pm, Nine) return for the year. Fast Forward’s Funniest Send-Ups (8pm, Seven) features a collection of skits from the long-running comedy show.

Thursday: The Australian Masters golf (12pm, Seven) begins four days of competition from Huntingdale Golf Club, Melbourne. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), wedding plans turn sour as tragedy strikes Shane (Dieter Brummer) and Angel (Melissa George). Andrew L Urban tackles ordinary Australians with off-the-cuff interviews in Front Up (8pm, SBS). Seven’s new comedy line-up features a new series of Jimeoin (8.30pm) and Big Girl’s Blouse (9pm) and the return of Denton (9.30pm). In Janus (8.30pm, ABC), an inexperienced barrister in a minor drug case jeopardises the murder charge against Mal Hennessey (Brett Swain).

Friday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Hannah (Rebecca Ritters) is highly embarrassed when Philip (Ian Rawlings) insists on wearing his sauna suit. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Summer Bay is shocked by the news of Angel’s (Melissa George) tragic accident. The one-hour special The Mavis Bramston 30th Anniversary (7.30pm, Seven) pays tribute to the comedy sensation of the 1960s, hosted by Amanda Keller and featuring Mavis originals Carol Raye and Barry Creyton with guest stars Garry McDonald, Andrew Denton, Noeline Brown and the cast of Big Girl’s Blouse.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 11 February 1995. Southdown Press




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Feb 17 2015

30 years for Perth’s Rick and Sue

rickardonWhen you think of TV’s most successful partnerships, it’s easy to get drawn towards the traditional name: Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton, Don Lane and Bert Newton, Daryl Somers and Ossie Ostrich, Ernie Sigley and Denise Drysdale and more recent names like David Koch and Melissa Doyle, Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson and Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton.

But there is one pair that has lasted longer than all of them. They may not be household names through much of Australia, but Perth’s Seven News presenters Rick Ardon and Susannah Carr have celebrated 30 years as a newsreading team over in Western Australia.

susannahcarrArdon had been a reporter and news presenter at TVW7 since 1978. Carr had been working at the ABC, and was the national broadcaster’s first female newsreader in WA, when she moved across to Seven and teamed up with Ardon in 1985. Both have won Logies for their popularity in Western Australia, and Seven News has long been the dominant news service in Perth.

Their longevity together is in contrast to their rivals at Nine, which has had an ever-changing newsreading line-up as it plays second fiddle to Seven in the local ratings. Offers for the pair to move up the road to Nine have been refused.

Both have been involved in news coverage for the wider Seven Network. Carr was in London to cover the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 and more recently was a news anchor for Seven’s coverage of the Lindt Cafe siege when Seven’s Sydney studios were forced offline. Ardon has recently covered the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

As Australia’s longest serving newsreading team it was thought their longstanding on-air partnership was also a world record. That was until they discovered that Americans Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons had clocked up 32 years together at NBC, ending in 2012, so their eyes are on at least breaking that milestone.

Meanwhile, “Rick and Sue”, as they are known to viewers across Western Australia, have made a rare appearance on national television with an interview on Seven’s Sunrise:

Source: WA TV History, West Australian, Sunrise, Seven Perth





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Feb 13 2015

I’m A Celebrity hosts are Logies dream team

imacelebrityI’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here has been Ten‘s super-hyped new reality show of 2015.

The premise is a mash up of other reality shows that we’re all familiar with. It’s basically Celebrity Big Brother meets Survivor. Like the UK original, I’m A Celebrity features a list of B or C-list celebrities with a random international name thrown in.

In this case the initial cast of contestants were made up of Merv Hughes, Chrissie Swan, Joel Creasey, Andrew Daddo, Barry Hall, Leisel Jones, Laura Dundovic, Tyson Mayr and Lauren Brent — with Maureen McCormick (Marcia from the classic US sitcom The Brady Bunch) being probably about as random as one could get for an international name.

Jones was voted out last weekend but the remaining contestants have since been joined by The Bachelor‘s Tim Robards and Anna Heinrich and two new celebrity ‘intruders’ are set to move in over the weekend.

maureenmccormick_0001The players have mostly been good talent and good sports, braving all sorts of wild tasks in the quest to boost their meagre food rations. McCormick (pictured) appeared at first to be the one most likely to scream the words ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’ and make her exit — with early signs of not coping with the jungle environment surrounded by a whole lot of Australians she’d never heard of. But despite the apparent culture shock, and after forming an unlikely bond with cricket star Hughes, she has emerged as a gutsy contestant who’s not been afraid to dunk her head in a vat of elephant dung to score food rations for the team.

maureenmccormickHaving proved her mettle with two gruesome tasks, at the behest of the viewing public, she has avoided being tormented with any more. So far.

But while the show hasn’t quite hit the ratings that Ten would have hoped for, it has uncovered one big discovery — the hosting double of Julia Morris and Dr Chris Brown. An unlikely pairing but right from the get go they have shown a great chemistry in the all-too-brief hosted segments of I’m A Celebrity.

juliamorrischrisbrownIf the TV Week Logie Awards are yet to settle on a host for this year’s presentation then Julia Morris and Dr Chris Brown are the team that they need on stage. Morris is still tied to Logies broadcaster the Nine Network through drama series House Husbands, and while Brown is a Network Ten identity (Bondi Vet and The Living Room) it would not be too unusual to have someone from a rival network co-hosting TV’s night of nights. It’s been done before.

Pictures: Ten Play






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Feb 11 2015

Australia gains wildcard entry into Eurovision Grand Final

eurovision_2015Australia has long held a fascination with the Eurovision Song Contest — with the annual pop extravaganza first being broadcast on SBS back in 1983 — but this year things step up a few dozen notches with the news that Australia will be competing at this year’s contest.

As part of the 60th year celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest, Australia has gained a once-off “wild card” entry to compete in the Grand Final, due to take place in Vienna, Austria, on 23 May.

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said, “SBS has been broadcasting Eurovision for over 30 years and we have seen how Australians’ love of the song contest has grown during those years. Jessica Mauboy’s performance last year was a truly momentous occasion and achievement. This year we are thrilled to be advancing our involvement by sending an Australian artist to compete for the first time, and presenting Australia with our first opportunity to vote in the contest.”

But even if Australia wins the contest above the 39 other countries set to take part, the 2016 contest will not be coming down under but will still be hosted somewhere in Europe.

This wouldn’t be the first time that a winning country has not hosted the next year’s contest, it’s happened a number of times in Eurovision’s long history but usually it’s by choice rather than by rules. SBS is not a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which runs the contest, but is an Associate Member.

Australia competing in Eurovision will be a huge boost to SBS, which has built up the contest’s presence in Australia to this point with a full scale coverage hosted in recent years by Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang (pictured) as well as companion shows, such as Eurovision A To Z, The Heart Of Eurovision, The Road To Eurovision and The Eurovision Quiz Contest, an online presence and a pop-up digital radio station.sbs_eurovision

Australia is no stranger to the Eurovision stage. Johnny Logan from Frankston, Melbourne, won the contest for Ireland in 1980 and 1987 and wrote Ireland’s winning entry in 1992. Olivia Newton-John represented the United Kingdom in 1974 (coming fourth) and Gina G did the same in 1996.

Newcastle-born Jane Comerford was part of the German entry in 2006, and last year Jessica Mauboy performed the interval act at the second semi-final.

Due to the time difference between Europe and Australia the contest events (two semi-finals and grand final) will be taking place from 5.00am Australian Eastern Standard Time, and Australia will be eligible to send its own points. The logistics in allowing Australians to vote for the two semi-finals and grand final are being investigated, while in line with usual Eurovision protocol, a jury will also be appointed to contribute to the tally.

With Australia now taking part, SBS will broadcast the grand final live from Vienna on the (very!) early morning of 24 May with its usual delayed telecast to follow that evening. Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang will again be hosting SBS’ Eurovision telecast.

SBS has just over a month to select the Australian entry to compete in Vienna

Source: SBS, Eurovision




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Feb 08 2015

1995: February 4-10

tvweek_040295Lisa leads Blue Heelers’ British invasion
Lisa McCune (pictured) is heading to the UK to promote Blue Heelers‘ debut on the ITV network. Her tour is expected to include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool. While she is there, she hopes to meet up with cast members of British cop shows The Bill and Between The Lines, both of which are also shown on ITV. “It’s a weird thing to think that across the other side of the world, people who know who I am,” she told TV Week. “It will be interesting to see how the English react to us. It’s good that they’ll be getting to see a show that’s different from other Australian series there, such as Neighbours and Home And Away.”

antoinettebyronMercy flight leads to Melrose Place
A mercy flight to the US for personal reasons has led actress Antoinette Byron (pictured) to land a role in Melrose Place. Byron had worked in the US before but had returned to Australia with roles in E Street, Paradise Beach and Time Trax (being produced for US cable television). In Melrose Place she plays a nasty nanny. “She’s a modern-day Mary Poppins who appears very charming and understanding, but underneath she’s a very dangerous woman with a secret agenda,” Byron said. Although her appearance in the series is only for a few episodes, Byron is hopeful they might have her back. “She (the nanny) didn’t get killed, so I suppose that’s a good sign,” she said.

kimwatkinsMoney’s good news for Kim
After eight years of reporting serious news, Kim Watkins (pictured) describes her new role as Money reporter as a dream. “Instead of bringing people rotten news all the time, or depressing or sad news, the job I’ve got here is a dream job,” she told TV Week. “It (Money) is top rating, the best job I could have asked for, and you get to help people.” She replaces Alison Peters, who quit the program to relocate to Melbourne. Watkins’ TV career started at a very early age. As a youngster she was a reporter for the Nine Network children’s program You Asked For It (later called Boomerang), which she described as “sort of like the Leyland Brothers, but for kids”. She later moved to various on-air roles at the Seven Network, including newsreading in Brisbane and reporting from the Barcelona Olympic Games..


  • Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and his companion, novelist Blanche d’Alpuget, will receive $200,000 to be interviewed on 60 Minutes‘ first show for 1995.
  • Bryan Brown is tipped to gain the lead role in ABC‘s two-part series Blue Murder. The mini-series, which dramatises the corruption in the NSW police force in the 1980s, is being produced by the same team behind Police Crop and Joh’s Jury.
  • raquelstevensJournalist Raquel Stevens (pictured) has joined Network Ten as a sports reporter. She will be covering AFL during the season but will cover other sports during the off-season. A former producer with radio station 3AW, Stevens was last seen on TV on Seven‘s I’m Rex Hunt And You’re Not.
  • SBS technology series The Big Byte will not be returning in 1995 but there are rumours that the show is being pitched now to the Seven Network.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 15 January): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 National Nine News Nine Sun 2182000
2 Cricket: Final 1, Australia v Australia A (day) Nine Sun 1667000
3 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1640000
4 The Nanny Ten Wed 1629000
5 National Nine News Nine M-F 1603000
6 The Simpsons Ten Wed 1600000
7 The X Files Ten Wed 1498000
8 Seinfeld Ten Tue 1450000
9 Blossom Seven Thu 1445000
10 Taggart Nine Wed 1431000
11 Cricket: Final 2, Australia v Australia A (night) Nine Tue 1399000
12 Mad About You Ten Tue 1329000
13 The Mummies Seven Thu 1327000
14 A Current Affair (Pope special) Nine Wed 1316000
15 The Bill ABC Sat 1264000
16 National Nine News Nine Sat 1259000
17 Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em Ten Fri 1248000
18 Seven Nightly News Seven M-F 1230000
19 Cricket: Final 1. Australia v Australia A (night) Nine Sun 1204000
20 Over The Hill Seven Mon 1193000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here:

Dr Kildare it most certainly ain’t, but, if you’ll pardon the very bad medical pun, ER is not a cure for cancer, either. The prognosis, however, is that it will be a success, with high teens to low 20s ratings.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 4-10):
Saturday: The Fifth Test, Australia v England, continues from the WACA, Perth through to Tuesday (1.20pm, Nine).

Sunday: Afternoon sport includes Rugby Union Five Nations, England v France and Scotland v Ireland (3pm, Ten), hosted by Gordon Bray, and Round One of the Shell Australian Touring Car Championships (4pm, Seven). In the series return of Talk To The Animals (6.30pm, Seven), Dr Harry Cooper travels to Brisbane to offer advice on Ann-Maree Biggar‘s dog who has a broken leg; while Jane Holmes meets a world recognised expert on penguins. Sunday night movies are Outrageous Fortune (repeat, Seven) and Murder In Boston (repeat, Nine) up against a delayed (by two weeks!) telecast of The Golden Globe Awards (8.30pm, Ten).

Monday: Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton (9am, Ten) returns for another year of interviews, segments and advertorials. In a two-hour episode of Over The Hill (7.30pm, Seven), Bob and Bob (Bruce Spence and Roy Billing) wake one morning to find two Germans camped in their front yard — naked; while Don (Nicholas Eadie) and Sandy (Georgie Parker) are having trouble making a profit, so Sandy plans a trivia night to attract more of the locals.

Tuesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Curtis (Shane Ammann) unearths the truth about Jack’s (Daniel Amalm) shady deal with Eric (Daniel Goddard).

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), everyone is overjoyed when Bianca (Annie Gagliardi) decides to return home. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Roxy (Lisa Lackey) sadly realises Rob (Matt Lilley) is refusing to accept their relationship is over. The classic ’60s sci-fi series Star Trek starts a rerun from the very first episode (10.30pm, Seven).

Thursday: Andrew Daddo and Alyssa Jane Cook host the new series Funniest People (7.30pm, Seven), featuring contestants performing everything from party tricks to impersonations — with the three best each week winning prizes to the value of $10,000. Comedy special Big Girl’s Blouse (8.30pm, Seven) gets a repeat screening ahead of its spin-off series.

islafisherFriday: Gardening Australia (6.30pm, ABC) returns for another year. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shannon (Isla Fisher, pictured) is humiliated when her secret becomes known.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 4 February 1995. Southdown Press






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Feb 07 2015

HD? Not for Aussie TV!

superbowlEarlier this week the NFL Superbowl XLIX was played out to a television audience of millions, if not billions, around the world. It is one of the largest annual TV spectacles – but Australian viewers wishing to witness the event were tied down to watching it in standard definition on the Seven Network’s main channel instead of having the option to enjoy it in high definition.

This is despite the preceding NFL season being broadcast on Seven’s HD channel, 7mate.

The situation becomes even more frustrating with overseas reports that the Seven Network was the only broadcaster in the world not to take the HD broadcast of Superbowl.

In the world.

It is a frustration being experienced by fans of various sporting codes in Australia. Seven also opted to show the AFL Grand Final, officially the most watched program for the year 2014, in standard definition with no option of an HD simulcast.

The recent Australian Open telecast also had no HD option.

The Nine Network is not much better, offering much the same limited broadcast for the NRL Grand Final, although some of Nine’s sports coverage has been made available in HD on GEM.

And it’s not just the commercial networks. ABC‘s recent telecast of the AFC Asian Cup was restricted to standard definition channels, though their HD channel ABC News 24 has little scope to break away from its continuous news format.

By not simulcasting it does afford the networks the chance to offer an alternative program for those not wanting to watch the main event, though what value is in some of these alternatives is perhaps not clear. When most of these events are taking place the offerings on HD channels are often just C-grade filler or vintage reruns of reruns that have fairly nominal appeal.

The networks also have a secondary standard definition channel, such as 7Two or GO, for an extra program option, anyway.

mykitchenrules_0003The frustration with this is that while networks are seen to be offering more choices, they do manage to find the “high definition simulcast” switch for the series launches of My Kitchen Rules and The Block. Network Ten continues to offer Family Feud across three channels, including its high definition channel One. So the commitment to offer more viewing alternatives suddenly vaporises when it is deemed commercially or strategically convenient, and for programs where the HD format is not exactly necessary.

There are plenty of viewers who would cry out for an alternative to the constant flow of reality shows, far more than would insist on watching an alternative to a major sporting event.

Part of this muck up with standard and high definition rests with broadcasting legislation. When digital television was in planning stages, high definition was seen as an add-on rather than the basic viewing platform, so rules dictated that certain major events could not be shown exclusively on high definition. But that was 15 years ago. These days very few households would be without access to a high definition screen.

So while viewers will always want to have more choices, surely the networks can exercise a little discretion and reward viewers of large scale events with the option to see them in high definition as well as in standard definition for those who don’t have HD capability. It is, after all, only for a couple of hours and not a long term arrangement.

And it doesn’t have to be just about sport, either. This coming week will see the Nine Network unveil its big budget mini-series Gallipoli, a drama that promises outstanding production values and special effects. How would viewers not like the opportunity to see it in HD? How do networks not want to show off large scale productions like this in as premium format as possible? Millions of dollars and years of planning and production have gone into this series, why not give viewers the opportunity to better appreciate or experience the end product by simulcasting it with GEM?

HD technology is not new, it has existed since the last century and other countries are already looking at the next technology to take its place, but the Australian networks in their attitude and previous governments in their policies have ensured that high definition is barely being utilised to its proper potential despite viewers buying sets able to display it.

The networks will be the first to cry that viewers are abandoning them for alternative viewing options such as pay TV, streaming video on demand services or torrent sites, but at the same time seem intent on shooting themselves in their own feet by stubbornly adhering to restrictive practices and by not listening to their audience.

Source: Sports Video Group





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Feb 05 2015

Obituary: Norman Yemm

normanyemm_0001Norman Yemm, veteran actor of Australian film, stage and television, has died at the age of 81.

With a background in opera and musical theatre, Yemm made the transition to television in the police drama Homicide. After making a number of guest appearances in the series, he took on the regular role of Detective Jim Patterson from mid-1969.

He also appeared opposite his twin brother Gordon, who made a guest appearance in the series as Patterson’s twin.

After leaving Homicide he starred in controversial drama Number 96, playing the part of car salesman Harry Collins. He made his entrance into the series as the estranged husband of Vera Collins (Elaine Lee) who returns to her apartment and rapes her. At the time it was believed to be the first time a male actor had appeared nude on Australian TV.


He later bared all in a Cleo magazine centrefold.

tvtimes_130578Yemm was one of the regular cast members of the long-running World War II drama The Sullivans, playing the part of Norm Baker.

Other television credits included Hunter, I’ve Married A Bachelor, Boney, Ryan, Matlock Police, The Lost Islands, The Fourth Wish, A Country Practice, Prisoner, Neighbours, Joh’s Jury, The Flying Doctors, Blue Heelers and Something In The Air.

In 1993 he harked back to his musical roots with a guest appearance in comedy show The Late Show.

Norman Yemm is survived by three children, including actress Jodie Yemm.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, IMDB. TV Times, 2 July 1969. TV Times, 13 May 1978. TV Week, 26 February 1972.




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