Burke’s back

Twenty years after launching Burke’s Backyard on television, garden guru Don Burke is back again at the Nine Network for Burke’s Backyard Spring Special.

Burke’s Backyard began as a radio program on Sydney’s 2UE and in September 1987 made the move to television with a Saturday afternoon timeslot which subsequently earned ratings high enough to justify a move to prime time – so it was not long before the program was shifted to Friday nights, just the right time to attract all those budding gardeners ready to tackle the weekend.

The move to prime-time in 1988 paid immediate dividends, and generated many thousands of letters sent in from viewers each week. The success of the program led to a magazine spin-off, and the program continued through the ’90s giving Nine strong Friday night ratings.

But by 2004, Nine decided that the show was “too old” and not sexy enough for the 21st century and let the program out to pasture, though Burke’s spin-off program Backyard Blitz, hosted by Jamie Durie, continued for two more years before it too was considered a bit old-hat.

However, Nine’s axing of the programs came back to bite them this year when rival Seven signed up Durie to host his own new show Australia’s Best Backyards. Nine tried to spoil Seven’s new catch with two-year-old, though unscreened, episodes of Backyard Blitz. The two shows have fought it out against each other, but both kept strong ratings – confirming the star-power of Jamie Durie, who has also captured the eye of one Oprah Winfrey who featured him on her show earlier this year.

Now as the supply of Backyard Blitz episodes has dried up, and as Nine’s creative cupboard is looking somewhat bare, they’ve decided that Burke’s Backyard was not such a bad show after all. Three years after axing it, they’ve given it a reprisal for a one-off special to up against Burke’s former colleague now at Seven – but if it rates, Burke and his backyard buddies could be back in a regular timeslot.

Burke’s Backyard Spring Special, Sunday 23 September, 6.30pm on Nine*

* Melbourne. Other areas check local guides/affiliates.

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/09/burkes-back.html

Seven gets HD envy??

Nothing like a bit of healthy competition in the TV biz! No sooner has Network Ten announced their new high-definition channel to be launched later this year – the Seven Network has now announced that they will also be launching their own HD multi-channel in the coming months.

While Ten has put a name to their new channel (the very creative TenHD!) and given an indication as to the channel’s content, Seven have really only said that they will be launching a new channel so one suspects that they are not as progressed as Ten is but obviously using Ten’s lead to say “Hey, we’ll be there too!”.

It is probably safe to say though that Seven’s new break-away HD channel will feature a fair amount of sport – with the network having coverage rights to AFL, V8 Supercars and next year will have the Olympic Games. Plus they’ll no doubt relish the opportunity to extend their hit shows such as Dancing With The Stars, It Takes Two, Kath & Kim and City Homicide with time-shifting or additional features on the new channel.

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/09/seven-gets-hd-envy.html

A new channel… seriously!

Exciting news in the world of digital television with the Ten Network announcing that they are going to be the first commercial network in Australia to offer a separately-programmed high-definition channel.

TEN HD, to commence in December, will offer programs currently simulcast with the analogue and standard-definition channels, but significantly also promises 50 hours per week of exclusive content plus 11 hours per week of time-shifted content including Ten News.

The new high-definition channel will include extended programming of its major franchise formats including Australian Idol, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance, plus sports coverage, movies, documentaries and themed-programming such as dedicated sci-fi nights. The new channel will certainly boost the take-up of digital tuners which has lagged somewhat – in the six years since digital television began only 28 per cent of households have converted to digital free-to-air television and with analogue signals potentially being switched off in the next three to five years, there is a need to increase market penetration of digital receivers.

The launch of TEN HD marks the first channel since restrictions on high-definition multi-channels were lifted earlier this year and in metropolitan areas is the first digital multi-channel to launch since ABC2 began in 2005. From 2009, commercial networks will also be permitted to open an additional standard-definition channel – something that has been allowed on the national broadcasters ABC and SBS since digital television began in 2001.

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/09/a-new-channel-seriously.html

WIN and Nine.. friends again!

After months of negotiations and more than a fair share of hostility – even as recent as only days ago (see previous post) – the Nine Network and regional WIN Television have patched up their tattered relationship.

WIN has announced that it has signed a five-year agreement to source programming from Nine for its regional network and also its recently-purchased STW9 in Perth.

The deal will be a welcome relief for both networks as failure to come to an agreement could have had dire effects for either party, and also the viewers in WIN’s coverage areas that could have lost their Nine Network programs – although for those in South Australia’s south east and Riverland districts the deal may be too late as WIN has signed those respective stations to a program deal with the Seven Network.

So now we can all get some sleep!!

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/09/win-and-nine-friends-again.html

WIN fires next shot in Nine battle

It seems to be a case of another day, another shot by regional WIN Television in their souring relationship with the Nine Network.

Negotiations between Nine and WIN, over the issue of affiliation fees, have been going on and off for most of the year, and has seen WIN act defiantly against Nine’s program line-up including dropping a number of Nine’s daytime and news programs from its schedule as well as the late-night Quizmania (now The Mint) – and now the latest blow to Nine comes as WIN chums up with the Seven Network to feed programs to its South Australian regional channels.

WIN and Seven have today announced their new-formed friendship which will see South Australian regional channels SES8 Mount Gambier and RTS5A Riverland change from a Nine-fed line-up, to a Seven Network schedule. This will mean that local viewers will now lose access to Nine’s programs as the only other commercial TV outlet in the area is also owned by the WIN group and carries a program feed from Network Ten.

WIN’s pairing up with Seven, while representing only a relatively small number of viewers, represents a significant change for the regional broadcaster which in the past has had a tight relationship with Nine, with some dealings with Ten. It will be with some interest to see how Nine reacts to this latest development – and how local viewers react to losing their McLeod’s Daughters in favour of City Homicide, and losing Days Of Our Lives to repeats of All Saints.

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/09/win-fires-next-shot-in-nine-battle.html

Robert Fidgeon

Some sad news this weekend with the passing of TV writer Robert Fidgeon after a battle with cancer. He was 65.

Joining the Herald and Weekly Times (HWT) group in the 1960s, Fidgeon became a well known cartoonist and was famous for his weekly caricatures of TV personalities published in the now-defunct TV Scene newspaper.

After the demise of TV Scene in the late 1980s, he later returned to the HWT stable to head the art department but also found himself fulfilling an ambition to write about television for the Herald Sun. He later became the editor of the Herald Sun’s weekly television guide.

Fidgeon was well respected by industry identities, both on- and off-air, even the ones who he may have savaged in his newspaper column.

One of Robert Fidgeon’s cartoons, featuring Channel Ten newsreaders David Johnston and Jo Pearson, that appeared in TV Scene in 1987.

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/09/robert-fidgeon.html

Do we need SBS?

The Sydney Morning Herald has published an opinion piece by Paul Sheehan pondering the issue, do we need SBS?

Mr Sheehan is of the opinion that SBS, created at a time when there was little alternative media available, and which continues to cost taxpayers many millions of dollars a year for something that is only watched by around 4 per cent of the population, has now been made obsolete by the plethora of specialist news, sport and entertainment channels now available by other media such as pay-TV. A nice idea, for those that have or can afford pay television.

For the rest of us without pay-TV – and at this point that still makes up the vast majority of households in Australia – does SBS still have a valid place in society as an alternative to ABC and commercial free-to-air television? Or should the government, as Mr Sheehan suggests, disband SBS and sell of its valueable broadcast spectrum to the highest bidder?

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/08/do-we-need-sbs.html

Do you know… ??

I received an email from an overseas visitor to the website asking the following:

My question, and I hope you can point me in the right direction for further research if you don’t know the answer, is this: There was a short run musical mini-series on, probably in late ’76 – I think it was on 0-10, but who knows. 6 hour long episodes, about three women, who form a band, are discovered, and eventually bought out by evil corporate management -losing their artistic freedom, trashing their ideals, et al. But I liked it because it was actually quite a bit like what happened in the industry – at least as far as it could be distilled into 6 hours on the smallscreen. Any idea what the name of the series was? Thanks much.”

So if anyone knows the answer, feel free to respond via the Comments link

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/08/do-you-know.html

TelevisionAU Website Update 5-Aug-07

http://televisionau.siv.net.au

FLASHBACK #42:
A reunion of familiar Melbourne television identities from the 1960s on the set of Tonight With Bert Newton in 1984. Pictured with Bert Newton (centre) are Ken Delo and Jonathan Daly – a popular American night club act that came to Australia in the early 1960s and were subsequently offered their own late night TV program, The Delo And Daly Show, for the Seven Network in competition with GTV9’s In Melbourne Tonight, featuring Newton. (Pictures: TV Week, 2 June 1984)

CLASSIC TV GUIDES:
Melbourne (1973, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1988)
Victoria (1969, 1976)
Sydney (1981)
Brisbane (1974, 1989)
Western Australia (1975, 1980)

TELEVISIONAU – THE HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION
http://televisionau.siv.net.au

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/08/televisionau-website-update-5-aug-07.html

Lucky Grills

Making news this weekend was the passing of veteran actor and performer Lucky Grills who died early on Saturday morning at his Gold Coast home. He was 79.

Grills’ most famous role came in 1976 as the unlikely detective Bluey Hills in the Melbourne-based police drama Bluey. The series had only a short run but gained a cult following almost 20 years later when the D Generation’s The Late Show overdubbed footage and the character Bluey Hills was renamed the comical Bargearse, a cop with a penchant for donuts and over-eating.

Other television roles included appearances in Matlock Police, A Country Practice, Glenview High, Special Squad, Fire and the mini-series Vietnam.

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2007/07/lucky-grills.html