Aug 30 2015

1995: August 26-September 1

tvweek_260895Acting romantic
Great TV romances don’t always have the same chemistry off-screen. Home And Away‘s Shane and Angel might be Australian TV’s hottest couple but the actors that play them, Dieter Brummer and Melissa George (pictured), are less than friends off screen. The pair rarely attend publicity together and only do photo shoots together as contractually obliged in Australia. In the UK, however, it’s a different story as they are able to call the shots and say “No” to any photo opportunities there. A Seven Network spokesperson defended the pair, saying, “they come in, do their work and leave. They don’t exactly socialise together, but they don’t have to — or would want to — after working together all day”. It seems that a similar scenario is also happening over on Ten‘s Echo Point, where Martin Henderson and Jessica Napier play young couple Zac and Edwina. A source from inside the production told TV Week, “they do any publicity they are asked to do, but off screen Martin and Jessica are poles apart. They didn’t hit it off from day one. Martin is keen for the Zac-Edwina romance storyline to end and for his character to be paired with someone else”.

A night to remember
It was a night of celebration as an all-star cast of performers paid tribute to Australia’s World War II veterans in the Australia Remembers concert, staged at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre and broadcast on ABC. The concert, celebrating 50 years since the end of the war, was the first production to come from Steve Vizard‘s Artist Services company since its exclusive contract with the Seven Network came to an end. Among the cast of performers were Slim Dusty, Maurie Fields, John Farnham, James Blundell, Marina Prior, Gina Jeffreys and Toni Pearen. The night also featured old diggers telling their stories, Prime Minister Paul Keating presenting a speech, and a message from Queen Elizabeth II.

Court changes stop ABC series
Unfortunate timing has meant that ABC‘s new mini-series Blue Murder, set in Sydney’s underworld of the 1980s, may never be shown in New South Wales. Two charges brought against one of the crime figures depicted in the series have resulted in any reference to him be deleted from the production. Production company Southern Star Entertainment has decided that this would essentially cut more than 40 per cent of the show’s content, making it too difficult to screen the program in New South Wales, but it can continue to be screened unedited elsewhere. But ABC is so sensitive to the issue that it is limiting the availability of pre-publicity material and previews, even outside of New South Wales. Each state outside of NSW will only get one preview tape which will only be shown at closed screenings in ABC offices. Blue Murder is set to screen in states outside of New South Wales later in September.

Quantum turns 10
ABC‘s science series Quantum clocks up 10 years but, as reporter Geoffrey Burchfield points out, “it is only the twinkling of an eye in geological terms!” Burchfield, who has been with the show for nine years, was one of only 10 people in the world to be chosen in 1993 to complete a 10-month Knight of Science Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. “I think shows such as Quantum have made us more aware of the extraordinary changes,” he told TV Week. “I look back and I am staggered at the amount of territory we have covered and the ideas we have ranged over.” But despite the show’s recent series return featuring the heavy topic of nuclear testing, Burchfield hints that there will be some lighter topics coming up this year as well. “Science is fun, and we will be doing a lot of fun stories.” He wasn’t giving anything away but hinted that future stories may feature mad scientists, robots with consciences and learning to speak the language of animals!


  • The Nine Network has secured a deal with US production company Lorimar that may see it grab a number of shows currently airing here on Seven. High on Nine’s list is Lois & Clark The New Adventures Of Superman, which has been a top-rater for Seven. Meanwhile, Seven is believed to be making moves to secure a new program deal of its own which could see it pinch The X Files from Ten.
  • Network Ten has picked up Heartbreak High for its fourth season. Some changes to the show’s cast include former E Street star Diane Craig stepping in as Hartley High’s strict new principal. Also joining the series are American-born Deni Gordon and newcomers Rupert Reid and Tara Jakszewicz.
  • Pay TV network Galaxy‘s documentary channel Quest is now to become Discovery Channel Australia, following a deal signed with the American Discovery Channel. This means that local documentaries produced for the channel in Australia will likely be shown across Discovery, which operates in 100 countries and across 80 million households worldwide.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 6 August): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Lois & Clark Seven Mon 2331000
2 National Nine News Nine Sun 2116000
3 Gladiators Seven Sat 2114000
4 Home Improvement Seven Sun 2029000
5 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1984000
6 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1907000
7 National Nine News Nine M-F 1886000
8 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1879000
9 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1795000
10 The World’s Greatest Commercials Seven Sun 1795000
11 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1779000
12 The Footy Show Nine Thu 1778000
13 The Best/Worst Of Red Faces Nine Thu 1775000
14 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1772000
15 The X Files Ten Wed 1744000
16 Getaway Nine Thu 1730000
17 Our House Nine Wed 1729000
18 Just Kidding Nine Tue 1719000
19 Movie: Twins Ten Sun 1681000
20 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1679000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here

“On-air promotions for Hope And Gloria, a recent addition to the Nine Network‘s Monday night schedule, bill it as “the hottest new comedy in the US”, or words to that effect. While the truth has never stood in the way of a good line for an on-air promo, this one is a touch ironic in light of the fact that Nine now does have rights to America’s hottest new show, but won’t screen it until next year. The series is called Friends and, on the most recent Nielsen figures I’ve seen, it has been number one in the US for six weeks running. (Hope And Gloria, for the record, was number 22.) Friends is about a group of 20-somethings, most of whom live in the same New York apartment building and hang out at a coffee joint called Central Perk. Apart from Courtney Cox, who was in Family Ties and is Michael Keaton‘s girlfriend, Friends does not boast any stars known in Australia.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 26-September 1):
Saturday: In Beyond 2000 (5.30pm, Ten), the safest car in the world; a woman creates amazing artwork with a photocopier; and using lasers to treat sudden hearing loss. Gladiators (7.30pm, Seven) presents the final of its Ashes series, Australia versus UK. AFL Saturday (8.30pm, Seven) crosses live to Brisbane for Brisbane Bears versus Essendon.

Sunday: The Eastern Creek 12-Hour Race is broadcast live on SBS for the first time, with previous races from Mt Panorama on Network Ten. SBS’ coverage begins at 5.45am through to 7.30am, then returns for two hour slots at 10.30am and 4.30pm. In children’s drama Sky Trackers (8.30am, Seven), Nikki (Petra Yared) is making a video on the Search for Extra Terrestrials which Tony (Steven Jacobs) is researching. He begins to lose interest in science until a real signal appears. AFL Sunday (1pm, Seven) includes Sydney Swans versus Fremantle, live from Sydney, followed by West Coast Eagles versus Carlton, live from Perth. Maeve O’Meara hosts new current affairs program 7 Days (7pm, SBS). Sunday night movies are The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (repeat, Seven), Unforgiven (repeat, Nine) and Single White Female (repeat, Ten).

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), as fire grips Summer Bay, Nelson (Laurence Breuls) is paralysed as he watches the car explode in flames with Jack (Daniel Amalm) caught inside. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Ross Greenwood has some alternative ideas for Christmas shopping, and Lyn Talbot travels to the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and meets guitar master craftsman Richard Howell. In Frontline (8pm, ABC), Sam (Kevin J Wilson) is keen to boost ratings by building a playground for underprivileged children, but he doesn’t count on Mike (Rob Sitch) offering to help out.

Tuesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Fisher (Norman Coburn) is in deep shock over losing his house in the fire; and Sally (Kate Ritchie) blames Jack (Daniel Amalm) for Nelson’s (Laurence Breuls) injuries. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Sonia (Zoe Carides) lands an assault charge after defending herself from a sexually aggressive patient.

timwebsterWednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Luke (Bernard Curry) is over the moon about his job offer, but Ren (Raelee Hill) is in two minds about it. In Correlli (8.30pm, ABC), when Kevin Jones (Hugh Jackman) assaults Sam (Richard Piper), Louisa (Deborra-Lee Furness) has some hard choices to make. Sports Tonight (11pm, Ten), with Tim Webster (pictured), celebrates its second birthday.

Thursday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Shannon (Isla Fisher) finds a charred body in the bush. In Getaway (7.30pm, Nine), Rebecca Harris goes whale watching with Mimi Macpherson; Christina Morrissy goes on a tour of Istanbul; and Jeff Watson hires his own island off the coast of Tasmania.

Friday: Actor Ruth Cracknell narrates The Web (5.55pm, ABC), a new series of five-minute animations, with each episode dealing with a threatened animal living in varied habitats on different continents of the world. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Irene (Lynne McGranger) and Selina (Tempany Deckert) feel they are suspects when Sgt Hale (John Meillon Jnr) arrives with the news of Mud’s (Tom Richards) murder. Friday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) crosses live to Brisbane for Brisbane Bears versus Melbourne. Sports Tonight (11.10pm, Ten) goes on location for the first time, coming live from the Thredbo Alpine Hotel.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 26 August 1995. Southdown Press





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Aug 27 2015

Aussat: Dawn of TV’s satellite age

aussatAustralia’s domestic communication networks entered the space age 30 years ago today, with the launch of the Aussat satellite.

The concept of a domestic satellite was first raised in 1977 with a proposal from Kerry Packer‘s Australian Consolidated Press, owner of TCN9 Sydney and GTV9 Melbourne. Packer, who at the time was masterminding his rebel World Series Cricket competition, was said to be frustrated at the lack and cost of carrier network infrastructure and the fact that he could not get national coverage of his new cricket code. His idea for the satellite was to allow for the metropolitan networks to have Australia-wide coverage or to give regional viewers, most of whom had access to only ABC and one commercial station, access to a second commercial service.

There were also wider concerns that a significant number of Australians, particularly in remote areas, were deprived of basic communications services — even just having access to an ordinary telephone in some cases — and that Telecom’s land-based infrastructure was inadequate for the nation’s future communications needs. And at a time that Australia was converting to colour television it was estimated that as many as 300,000 Australians had still yet to have access to television services, and even more had never seen commercial television.

A government task force later released its report recommending a domestic satellite system capable of delivering communications, including radio, television and telecommunications, across Australia. The initial system was estimated to cost around $200 million.

The company to operate Australia’s domestic satellite, Aussat, was created in 1981 — owned jointly between the Commonwealth Government (75%) and Telecom (25%). The Satellite Communication Act 1984 also allowed provision for Aussat to provide satellite communication to neighbouring countries.

The first Aussat fleet was made up of 3 satellites, constructed in the United States, with the first deployed via NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery, which launched from Cape Canaveral on 27 August 1985.


Aussat 1 is deployed from Space Shuttle Discovery at 3.34am (AEST), 28 August 1985.

The second satellite was deployed from NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis three months later. The launch of the third satellite (with capacity to cover the South West Pacific region) was delayed but finally happened in September 1987 from the European Ariane rocket.

The system was designed to handle radio, television and telecommunications traffic — including video, voice and data transmission — as well as providing the Department of Aviation with capacity to link all air traffic control centres, allowing improved communications with aircraft.


Aussat had established Major City Earth Stations (MCES) in each capital city — though Sydney (pictured above) and Perth were the most significant sites — while the ABC had upgraded some of its technical facilities to handle the additional content being circulated across its radio and television networks.

The ABC, as Aussat’s largest customer, started conducting test transmissions via Aussat in October 1985 with the official inauguration of its satellite service on Australia Day, 26 January, 1986. The national broadcaster relayed state-based ABC television and three radio networks via satellite. Remote viewers, or even viewers in populated areas with poor reception of normal terrestrial television, could receive their ABC services direct from the satellite if they were not within range of a transmitter. The satellite also provided a reliable means to send ABC’s radio and television networks to transmitter sites across the country.


Aussat also meant the ABC could cease its existing remote area television (RATV) service which had operated since 1980 via the international satellite Intelsat. This service was limited in its functionality in that it was a TV-only service to remote areas and was not able to provide a state-based system, with only an Eastern (a composite of ABC’s Sydney and Brisbane stations) and Western service (from Perth). The ABC’s Intelsat relay was officially ceased in December 1985.

Sky_Channel_flyer_0001Then the commercial operators came into play. Bond Media, then owner of QTQ9 Brisbane and STW9 Perth, had used Aussat to launch Sky Channel, aimed at providing sports and entertainment programming to hotels and pub venues across Australia. Sky Channel found itself with two competitors, Club Superstation and Sportsplay, both with their own sports and entertainment program offerings. Bond Media ended up buying the rival two channels and merging them with Sky Channel — now owned by Tabcorp and known as Sky Racing.

Aussat also had the ability to provide commercial television services (RCTS) to remote areas, many of which had never had access to commercial television before. The first RCTS to commence was a satellite relay of the Golden West Network (now GWN7) to cover the entire state of WA outside of Perth. In January 1988 RCTS was expanded to central Australia with the Alice Springs-based Imparja Television covering Northern Territory and South Australia. In April 1988, QSTV (operated by Townsville-based NQTV) provided a commercial TV service to remote Queensland. Like the regional television structure at the time, the RCTS stations each broadcast a mix of programs from all three metropolitan commercial networks.

One of the first major TV productions to come as a result of Aussat was Australia Live, a four-hour look at Australia and its people, produced by ABC, SBS and the Nine Network, in association with regional networks. The program, aired on New Year’s Day 1988 to kick off the year-long celebration of 200 years of European settlement in Australia, was a huge technical exercise with Aussat linking the Sydney-based hosts with reporters situated all over the country. It was a technical feat not possible before Aussat.

Aussat was sold to Optus in 1992. The telecommunications carrier still owns the fleet which now comprises six satellites.


Source: Canberra Times, 28 September 1978. Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 1983. ABC Satellite Program Guide, ABC, September 1985. Canberra Times, 19 January 1986. Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 1986. The Age, 12 October 1987. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 1987. 1984-85 Annual Report, Aussat Pty Ltd. Year Book Australia 1988, Australian Bureau Of Statistics. Optus




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Aug 22 2015

1995: August 19-25

tvweek_190895Undercover lovers!
Blue Heelers stars Lisa McCune and Martin Sacks (pictured) are such good friends off-screen that it was hard for the pair to be romantic on-camera. Their characters, Constable Maggie Doyle and Detective Sen-Constable PJ Hasham, are sent undercover and discover their attraction which leads to a kiss, but neither is prepared to admit their feelings to the other. “Marty and I get on famously off screen,” McCune told TV Week. “But taking it that step further on screen and trying to get romantic chemistry happening is quite hard.” Sacks summed it up as “it’s like kissing your sister. It’s so technical that it can’t possible be enjoyable. There are camera angles to think of, and the equivalent of the Essendon Football Club standing round making comments. People assume it’s like this heavy affair but it’s not like that at all.”

dieterbrummerSummer Bay ablaze
Summer Bay is about to be threatened by a bushfire in episodes of Home And Away to go to air later this month. The fire, triggered when Jack (Daniel Amalm) steals a car which crashes and explodes, sees buildings destroyed, the town evacuated and Fisher (Norman Coburn) battling a fire at the school, unaware that his own home is burning down. “The fire results in some permanent changes. A lot of things are lost,” Amalm told TV Week. “It’s not all Jack’s fault but the blame falls on him, so I hope he might get a bit of sympathy from the audience.” Shane (Dieter Brummer, pictured) heads up the team of volunteer firefighters and works alongside Fisher to save the school.

Correlli crisis
The ABC series Correlli might be enjoying all sorts of hype but behind the scenes the actors have voiced their disappointment and a dispute has led to six of the show’s scriptwriters walking off the job. “We were led to believe when we went into Correlli that we were doing one thing, and when it came to the crunch it was something entirely different,” one cast member told TV Week. “There was a lot of ill feeling, and six or seven of the lead actors on the show would back me up on this.” The discord on the set was the result of extensive re-writing of scripts. Six of the show’s writers have had their names removed from at least one of their episodes as they felt the finished product did not represent their work. Executive producer Sue Masters conceded that the ABC had not fulfilled its obligation to negotiate significant script amendments with the writers involved, but says it was an outcome forced by production relocating from New South Wales to Victoria. Such a change presented challenges in modifying pre-written scripts to be based on the Victorian prison system rather than New South Wales, which presented significant changes. One actor said that a frustration with the series was the constant change of tack. “The episode that was meant to be my character’s big moment became a token gesture,” he said. “What we were all led to believe about that episode just didn’t eventuate. It was extremely disappointing. They got some wonderful actors in and I don’t believe they used them to their full potential.” The production hassles with Correlli come after similar behind the scenes disruption over the production of The Damnation Of Harvey McHugh, where Masters was brought in to replace producer Denny Lawrence and production was halted while scripts were re-written.

naomirobson_0002Off to a shaky start
Former Seven Network newsreader Naomi Robson had not long arrived in Los Angeles when she experienced some middle of the night aftershocks from the big earthquake that hit the city a couple of years earlier. “There were three tremors,” she told TV Week. “After it was over I went back to bed and went straight back to sleep, even though my heart was going bang-bang-bang. When I woke up in the morning I thought I had dreamt it.” American-born Robson, whose family moved to Australia when she was two, had knocked back an attractive offer to stay with the Seven Network and intends to stay in the US for at least a year and is currently working on developing a documentary series. “It wasn’t that I was unhappy at Seven or anything, but it was something that had always been on my mind — that I’d been born here and that perhaps I should come back.”


  • Beyond International — the company behind Beyond 2000, Fire, Just Kidding, Wild Life With Olivia Newton-John and Fish International — has announced a new $9 million production slate for 1995-96. Included in the package are new series of those titles plus a new 10-part series, Invention, for the Discovery channel in the US. The company is also committed to producing another 18 hours of an American version of Beyond 2000, also for Discovery.
  • Artist Services‘ exclusive contract with the Seven Network has now expired and the company has been pitching projects to all of the networks — except Ten — and pay TV providers. Some of the planned projects include The Sound Of One Hand Clapping, Siam Sunset and Dead Letter Office. It is also proposing two mini-series — Making Babies, about four women who make a pact that each will have a baby within a year, and Mountains Of The Mist.
  • Christmas is a few months away but there seems to be some uncertainty as to who will be hosting Nine‘s Carols By Candlelight on Christmas Eve. The show’s usual host, Ray Martin, is said to be unhappy about disrupting his family Christmas to commute to Melbourne for the event. Hey Hey It’s Saturday‘s Daryl Somers, already based in Melbourne, has been mooted as a possible replacement.
  • Production of ABC‘s new drama series Mercury, set behind the scenes of a newspaper, is to begin in November.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 30 July): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 ER Nine Thu 2285000
2 National Nine News Nine Sun 2072000
3 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1916000
4 Lois & Clark Seven Mon 1877000
5 The Footy Show Nine Thu 1843000
6 National Nine News Nine M-F 1816000
7 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1806000
8 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1802000
9 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1797000
10 Seven Nightly News Seven Sun 1745000
11 Gladiators Seven Sat 1744000
12 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1741000
13 The X Files Ten Wed 1735000
14 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1724000
15 Getaway Nine Thu 1711000
16 Our House Nine Wed 1705000
17 Hey Hey By Request 3 Nine Mon 1701000
18 Weddings Nine Wed 1694000
19 Seven Nightly News Seven Sat 1674000
20 The Simpsons Ten Wed 1634000

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here

“The ABC itself is lucky enough — smart enough — to have its own Natural History Unit, under Dione Gilmour, and it has been responsible for some brilliant offerings in recent years, including Wolves Of The Sea and The Big Wet. But David Attenborough, who is now close to 70 and a BBC man for more than 40 of those years, is regarded as the doyen of this genre, and probably rightly so when you consider past achievements such as Life On Earth, The Living Planet and other universally acclaimed series. The Private Life Of Plants quite possible surpasses them all, however, because while Attenborough grows older, the technology becomes and newer and more sophisticated. Thus, a microscopic caterpillar can turn up on the screen in your living room and assume the proportions of your forearm; in the space of a minute you can see the dramatic changes that take place in a week in the life of a plant.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 19-25):
Saturday: Hayley Lewis, Kieren Perkins, Samantha Riley, Glen Housman, Daniel Kowalski, Stacey Gartrell, Rob Hansen, Emma Johnson and Susie O’Neill are among the Australian swimmers competing in the Pan-Pacific Championships (1pm, ABC) in Atlanta, the host city of the 1996 Olympic GamesBeyond 2000 (5.30pm, Ten) takes a spin in the rocket car, the closest thing to a racing car on the road, and Andrew Waterworth goes on safari to spot the creatures of the night. Gladiators (7.30pm, Seven) continues its Ashes series of Australia versus the United Kingdom. AFL Saturday (8.30pm, Seven) includes live coverage of Adelaide Crows versus Sydney Swans from Football Park, Adelaide.

Sunday: AFL Sunday (1pm, Seven) includes Brisbane Bears versus Richmond, live from Brisbane, followed by Fremantle Dockers versus Footscray, live from Perth. In Heartbreak High (5.30pm, Ten), everyone is surprised when Sam Robinson (Kym Wilson) turns up as a casual relief teacher; and Bart (Ryan Lappin) kisses Effie (Despina Caldis) but she is distressed because she does not know how to respond. Sunday night movies are Quick (Seven), Bitter Blood (Nine) and The Doors (Ten).

Monday: In children’s series Ocean Girl (4.30pm, Ten), Mera’s (Lauren Hewett) unfamiliarity with the island’s habitat puts her life in danger. In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Ren (Raelee Hill) needs time to think about Luke’s (Bernard Curry) marriage proposal. In Frontline (8pm, ABC), when a Frontline cameraman films a savage assault, the story with aired with disastrous results.

Tuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Ren (Raelee Hill) gives Luke (Bernard Curry) the answer he has been waiting for; while Danni (Eliza Szonert) gives Mal (Benjie McNair) an ultimatum. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Sally (Paris Jefferson) is so desperate to find a compatible donor for her 10-year-old daughter who is dying of leukaemia that she falls pregnant, hoping the baby will provide the compatibility.

deniseroberts_0001Wednesday: In Echo Point (6pm, Ten), the bones discovered on Daniel’s (Phillip Gordon) property are identified. Science program Quantum (8pm, ABC) returns for a new series, hosted by Karina Kelly. In Correlli (8.30pm, ABC), Helen (Denise Roberts, pictured) is fighting hard to regain her position of power after the shooting. Gordon Bray presents delayed coverage of the rugby union match David Campese XV versus Australian Barbarians (11.40pm, Seven), from the Sydney Football Stadium.

Thursday: The Young Performers Of The Year Awards (8.30pm, ABC) feature four finalists in the categories of percussion, vocals, piano and strings, performed with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Werner Andreas Albert.

Friday: Model Kate Fischer guest stars in Echo Point (6pm, Ten). Friday Night Football (9.30pm, Seven) features delayed coverage of Melbourne versus Adelaide Crows from the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Ian Turpie guest stars on Roy And HG Tonight (10.30pm, ABC).

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 19 August 1995. Southdown Press

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Aug 21 2015

Maggie Kirkpatrick to appeal conviction

maggiekirkpatrick_0001Actor Maggie Kirkpatrick, best known for playing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson in the long-running series Prisoner, has filed an appeal against her conviction for a historic sex abuse charge.

Kirkpatrick, 74, was earlier this week found guilty of two charges of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency from an incident that occurred with a 14-year-old girl at Kirkpatrick’s Prahran home in 1984. Kirkpatrick said in a recorded police interview that she had taken the girl, a keen Prisoner fan, home for dinner but did not abuse her.

She was spared a jail sentence but instead given an 18-month community corrections order, including 100 hours of community service, and would be placed on the sex offenders’ registry for eight years.

Kirkpatrick played the role of corrupt prison officer Ferguson in Prisoner from 1982 to the series’ conclusion in 1986. She also starred in Richmond Hill and had guest roles in various programs including Hey Dad, Blue Heelers, All Saints, Home And Away and Pizza.

The case is to return to court on 11 September.

Source: ABC



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Aug 18 2015

AFL locks in Seven, Foxtel, Telstra for $2.5b

AFLThe AFL has locked in the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra as broadcast partners for the league for the 2017 to 2022 seasons, collecting around $2.5 billion in the process.

The value of the six-year deal is well above the existing rights package which was valued at $1.25 billion for the 2012 to 2016 seasons.

The package will see Seven continue as the free-to-air broadcast partner — a role it has held for most of its 60 years.

Seven will broadcast Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games as well as holiday “blockbuster” fixtures. The network has also secured rights to Finals, the Grand Final and the Brownlow Medal.

The AFL advises that games will be broadcast in HD from 2017, if not earlier. Currently, Seven broadcasts games in standard definition only.

Foxtel, as the pay TV partner, will have access to broadcast all games, except the Grand Final, live. It also reserves the right to on-sell coverage of selected Saturday afternoon games to a free-to-air operator, if it chooses.

Telstra will provide online coverage of all games through the AFL website and on mobile and handheld devices.

The announcement of the new AFL deal comes just over a week after the NRL announced a $925 million five-year deal with the Nine Network for the 2018 to 2022 seasons.

Source: AFL, Seven, Foxtel





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Aug 18 2015

Nine to sell Willoughby studios

9_logo_2009_0002For almost 60 years it has hosted some of Australian TV’s most successful personalities and productions. Today, the Nine Network announces that it has sold its studio property in the Sydney suburb of Willoughby for $147.5 million.

Nine advises that the property has been bought by Hong Kong-based Euro Properties, with the sale expected to be completed in two years.

Nine has also secured a lease on the property for a further three years while it moves to new state of the art facilities.

The sale is still subject to FIRB approval and other standard completion requirements.

Nine Entertainment Company’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Simon Kelly said, “The move from the birthplace of Australian free-to-air television is a significant milestone for Nine. Our relocation to state of the art facilities will enable us to further optimise our operations as we evolve our business model in a digital world.”

tcn9_sign_newThe Willoughby studios date back to the earliest days of Australian television — as TCN9 was the first station launched in Australia in September 1956. Some of the shows to have come from the studios have included Bandstand, Say It With Music, Sound Of Music, Tonight With Dave Allen, The Super Flying Fun Show, The Young Doctors, Wide World Of Sports, The Mike Walsh Show, Midday, Sunday, 60 Minutes, Graham Kennedy’s News Show, Robbo’s World Tonight, Today, A Current Affair, The Footy Show, Mornings, Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, its infamous spin-off, Australia’s Naughtiest Home Video Show, and thousands upon thousands of news bulletins.

Nine’s Melbourne station GTV9 moved out of its Bendigo Street studios in 2010, while Nine’s Adelaide and Perth stations are currently in the process of relocating from their original premises.

Source: Nine News

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Aug 17 2015

Classic TV Guides: The 1959 Royal Tour

princessalexandraThe 1959 Australian visit by Princess Alexandra (pictured) was cause for Sydney’s three TV channels to jointly cover some of the official events during her brief stay in Canberra.

Covering events from the national capital was a considerable technical exercise for ABC in setting up local outside broadcast facilities and getting pictures sent direct from Canberra to Sydney for transmission.

Among the Princess’ tour diary on 17 August 1959 was visiting an assembly of schoolchildren at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, and that evening attending an official State Ball at (the old) Parliament House. ABC covered the events and made its coverage available to commercial channels ATN7 and TCN9.

Princess Alexandra, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II who was often called on to attend royal duties on the Queen’s behalf, was primarily in Australia to attend the Queensland centenary celebrations. After leaving Canberra, the Princess headed to Queensland, where she toured Brisbane and regional centres for three weeks to a huge public response.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane was named in her honour following the 1959 visit.

Coverage of the 1959 royal visit to Canberra features in the latest batch of additions to Classic TV Guides.



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Aug 14 2015

1995: August 12-18

tvweek_120895Cover: Josie Bissett (Melrose Place)

Come in, Spinner!
The Nine Network is grooming star cricketer Shane Warne for a TV career. The network, which has the 26-year-old under an exclusive contract, is developing The Cricket Show which it hopes will be the summer equivalent of its top-rating The Footy Show. The Footy Show, which has versions based in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, is watched by around 1.7 million viewers each week and Nine hopes to repeat its success with Warne, former International Cricketer of the Year Simon O’Donnell, and batsman Michael Slater. “With The Footy Show production already in place in Sydney and Melbourne, the infrastructure for The Cricket Show is already there,” a Nine spokesperson told TV Week. “We’re looking at getting it up by November to coincide with the early days of the international cricket season.” Nine hasn’t ruled out the possibility of having the new show essentially touring the country, following wherever the matches are being played. Warne has already been appearing on Nine on Wide World Of Sports, National Nine News and as a sports correspondent for Ernie And Denise. “He is seen by the network as the next generation of the likes of the Max Walkers, Ian Chappells and Simon O’Donnells,” the spokesperson said.

kateritchieLook at Kate now!
Kate Ritchie, who has played the part of Sally in Home And Away since the age of eight, has just turned 17. “It has been hard for everyone to accept that Sally has grown up,” Ritchie told TV Week. “I guess it is different for me, but for Sally it has always been a special part of her character that she is very mature in the way she thinks, but she has always been lagging behind the teenage group.” Despite her Year 11 studies, Ritchie has this year added an extra day to her Home And Away schedule, which is now three days a week. She hopes this will allow more scope for her character’s storylines. “I have more time, Sally is getting more storylines and there are more typically teenage storylines,” she said. Recent episodes have had Sally with a boyfriend, the rebellious Gus (Samuel Johnson), which Ritchie said made people finally realise Sally is getting older. “People were coming up to me saying, ‘Sally is finally growing up’. It is good that she’s out there getting a boyfriend and getting into these storylines.”

denisedrysdale_0001Cackle along with Denise
Since starting in television in the 1960s, Denise Drysdale has always had the ability to make people laugh and has worked on a string of shows including In Melbourne Tonight, The Ernie Sigley Show, Beauty And The Beast, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, In Melbourne Today and Ernie And Denise. With this is mind she is the ideal candidate to host the segment dedicated to comedy — What Makes Us Laugh — in the second of Nine‘s 50 Fantastic Years specials. Looking at comedy, Drysdale says the thing that makes her laugh most is “silliness — absurd stuff”. “The most comical thing you can see is old ladies falling off their high heels — as long as they don’t get hurt, of course,” she told TV Week. She names Graham Kennedy as the ultimate comedian. “He is brilliant. He could have done anything if he’d been in America. He was such a talent, he could have been bigger than Bob Hope. Graham could sing, he could move. Entertainers did everything in those days. And look at that stupid David Letterman. Graham never had to resort to tricks like he does,” she said. But some old jokes never go out of fashion. “There are some gags that always work. A pie in the face always makes people laugh, even when it’s expected to happen.”


  • Kerri-Anne Kennerley is set to return to TV with a new show on Network Ten. The network has confirmed it is developing an afternoon show to take the timeslot previously occupied by Trish Goddard‘s Live It Up.
  • Home And Away‘s Melissa George has scored a nomination for Most Popular Actress in the British National Television Awards. Her fellow nominees include Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect) and stars from Coronation Street, EastEnders and Brookside. Home And Away has also been nominated for best soap. The awards will be announced in London later this month.
  • timferguson_0002Former Doug Anthony All-Star Tim Ferguson (pictured) returns to TV this week as host of Nine‘s new game show Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush — a format where audience members have the chance to win anything from a can of sardines to a trip to New York.
  • Casting is almost complete for Nine‘s new Gold Coast-based soap Pacific Drive. Set to be joining the series are Simone Buchanan, Michelle Pettigrove, Melissa Tkautz, Adrian Lee and Lloyd Morris. Pacific Drive is expected to go to air in a late-night timeslot.

TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 23 July): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 ER Nine Thu 2039000
2 60 Minutes Nine Sun 2005000
3 Lois & Clark Seven Mon 1968000
4 National Nine News Nine Sun 1958000
5 Sale Of The Century 15th Anniversary Nine Mon 1931000
6 Home Improvement Seven Sun 1919000
7 National Nine News Nine M-F 1887000
8 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1842000
9 Sale Of The Century Nine M-F 1835000
10 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1803000
11 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 1803000
12 Our House Nine Wed 1789000
13 Getaway Nine Thu 1778000
14 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1767000
15 National Nine News Nine Sat 1762000
16 Weddings Nine Wed 1759000
17 The Nanny Ten Wed 1721000
18 Movie: Accidental Hero Nine Sun 1720000
19 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1677000
20 The Footy Show Nine Thu 1646000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 12-18):
In Beyond 2000 (5.30pm, Ten), horsetrainer Gai Waterhouse reveals the latest technology for injured racehorses. Gladiators (7.30pm, Seven) begins a three-week battle featuring the Australian Gladiators versus their United Kingdom counterparts, hosted by John Fashanu (host of the UK version of Gladiators) and Kimberley Joseph.

Sunday: The City To Surf (9.30am, Ten) is telecast live from Sydney with highlights later in the afternoon (4pm, Ten). AFL Sunday (1pm, Seven) includes West Coast Eagles versus Adelaide, live from Perth, followed by highlights of Carlton versus Brisbane from Optus Oval, Carlton. In Heartbreak High (5.30pm, Ten), Yola (Doris Younane) panics when she thinks she might be losing her baby. Jennifer Keyte hosts Our Victoria (6.30pm, Seven), taking a look at some of Victoria’s best holiday destinations. Sunday night movies are Interceptor (Seven) and The Face On The Milk Carton (Ten), up against The Australia Remembers Gala Tribute (8.30pm, ABC), featuring John Farnham, James Morrison, James Blundell, Margaret Urlich, Don Burrows, Grace Knight and Rick Price to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of VP Day. The second 50 Fantastic Years special (8.30pm, Nine) features Brian Naylor, Paul Clitheroe, Don Burke, Molly Meldrum, Tracey Curro, Denise Drysdale and Rebecca Gilling looking back at how Australia has changed over the 50 years since the end of World War II.

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Angel (Melissa George) receives devastating news from the hospital about Dylan (Corey Glaister). In Frontline (8pm, ABC), Mike (Rob Sitch) is bored, but when the Frontline team suspect someone is leaking stories to the opposition, he springs into action.

australiaremembersTuesday: Various special telecasts to commemorate Australia Remembers — the 50th anniversary of VP Day. The Australia Remembers Parade (10am, ABC/Seven) is live from Brisbane, the site of the Australian headquarters of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur. The Melbourne VP Day parade follows (12pm, Seven), while ABC crosses to the Shrine of Remembrance service (12.30pm). The Prime Minister’s Address To The Nation (1pm, Seven) is followed by prime minister Paul Keating opening the National Youth Forum (2.30pm, ABC), at the Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School, attended by veterans and local students. Andrew Olle hosts a special edition of The 7.30 Report (ABC) from the War Cabinet Room, Melbourne. This is followed by the Flame Of Freedom Celebrations (8pm, ABC), live from Brisbane, including fireworks, lasers, military aircraft and a cast of young people, veterans, choirs and military bands. The documentary Faces Of War: The Battle Comes Home (9pm, ABC) features first hand accounts of the war. Seven Nightly News (6pm, Seven) and Today Tonight (6.30pm, Seven) both present special editions in commemoration of VP Day.

Wednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Nelson (Laurence Breuls) tries to save a girl from committing suicide. In Correlli (8.30pm, ABC), separate incidents cause Louisa (Deborra-Lee Furness) to question the relationship between the inmates and the women working close to them. In Old Flames (8.30pm, Nine), the latest Singapore Sling telemovie, when a film’s leading man is killed in an apparent stunt-gone-wrong, only Stamford (John Waters) suspects that the accident is really murder.

Thursday: Getaway (7.30pm, Nine) goes diving with sharks at the Canberra Aquarium; demonstrates hang gliding the safe and easy way; discovers the cheapest five-star lunch in Sydney; and goes on board the Titanic at a theatre restaurant in Melbourne.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Angel (Melissa George) reveals why she can’t have Shane’s (Dieter Brummer) baby; and Jack (Daniel Amalm) decides he’s had enough of Fisher (Norman Coburn) and school. Friday Night Football (9.30pm, Seven) includes delayed coverage of Collingwood versus Hawthorn from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 12 August 1995. Southdown Press



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Aug 10 2015

Nine secures NRL deal for 2018 to 2022

9_logo_2009_0001Nine Entertainment Co, owner of the Nine Network, has announced that it has secured coverage to the National Rugby League (NRL) for the 2018 to 2022 seasons.

There had been earlier speculation in media reports that the Ten Network, which failed in the last round of NRL rights, was again seeking to access NRL.

The deal, worth up to $925 million, gives Nine exclusive free-to-air coverage to NRL matches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, as well as the Finals series, State Of Origin, and other special event matches.

Nine has also secured free streaming rights, while NRL reserves the right to make available simulcast rights to the pay TV platform — but if this does occur it reduces Nine’s bill.

Press release from Nine:


SYDNEY, 10 August 2015: Nine Entertainment Co. (ASX:NEC) has executed an agreement for premium National Rugby League (NRL) rights for the 2018 to 2022 seasons.

Under this agreement, NEC has acquired the exclusive Free-to-Air rights to broadcast 4 premium live games a week on each of Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, as well as the Finals series, State-of-Origin, and other special event matches. NEC has also acquired all free streaming rights for these games. The National Rugby League may elect to grant the pay simulcast rights for certain games, but otherwise the live distribution of these games across any free visual media is exclusive to NEC.

NEC’s average cost over the new rights period amounts to $185m per annum, inclusive of contra, which will be reduced if the NRL elects to grant pay simulcast rights for certain games.

Rugby League fans will enjoy a vastly improved experience – four premium live games each week, more than doubling live coverage to over 270 hours per season, all of which will be available free across Nine’s Free-to-Air television and digital media.

David Gyngell, CEO of NEC, said: “Rugby League is part of Nine’s DNA. This is a transformational outcome for supporters, Rugby League and Nine, enabling viewers to see the best of the NRL, live and free, 4 days per week, anywhere, on any device.

As the audience for television fragments, the value and marketing power of free, live premium sport across multiple media cannot be underestimated.”



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Aug 09 2015

WIN to move out of Canberra site

WIN_canberraWIN Television is moving its Canberra operations from Kingston to a new site in the industrial suburb of Fyshwick.

The Kingston site, 1786 square metres in size and less than one kilometre from the Canberra GPO, is to be auctioned by Colliers International on 3 September.

WIN has occupied the Wentworth Avenue address since it debuted in Canberra in 1989, although it has not hosted any production there since news presentation was moved to Wollongong in 2013.

Some of the famous names to have come through WIN in Canberra include Seven News‘ Melissa Doyle, Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage, Ten Eyewitness News reporter Lachlan Kennedy, former Network Ten presenter and journalist Hamish Macdonald and The Footy Show‘s Erin Molan. The late Peter Leonard was WIN’s longest-serving local newsreader in Canberra.

The property is expected to be redeveloped into apartments.

Source: Canberra Times, Colliers International


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