Jun 14 2017

Network Ten in administration… and viewers show the love

Lots of uncertainty but lots of love for the Ten Network as the network goes into voluntary administration.

The announcement of the appointment of administrators comes after trading in Ten shares was halted on Tuesday.

In a media release issued earlier today, Ten stated:

“The Directors of Ten regret very much that these circumstances have come to pass. They wish to take this opportunity to thank all Ten employees and contractors for their commitment and enthusiasm for Ten’s programs and business. In particular, they would like to express their sincere gratitude, respect and admiration for Ten’s leadership team, who have achieved everything the Board has asked them to do over the past few years in very challenging circumstances. They wish Ten and its management Ten all success in the future as the Administrators look to the potential sale or recapitalisation of the business.”

The appointed administrators, restructuring firm KordaMentha, have subsequently announced:

“Customers, employees and other stakeholders are assured that the administrators intend to keep the business running. Viewers can expect the same content that they currently enjoy on Network Ten. The appointment will allow the voluntary administrators to explore options for the recapitalisation or sale of Network Ten.”

Meanwhile, under the hashtag #FixNetworkTen, viewers have taken to Twitter to share memories of their favourite Network Ten programs — mostly from times gone by:


Source: Network Ten, Network Ten, The Age

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/06/network-ten-in-administration-and-viewers-show-the-love.html

Jun 08 2017

Obituary: Jill Singer

Jill Singer, award-winning journalist and former host of Today Tonight, has died at the age of 60.

She was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder earlier this year.

Singer’s career began at ABC radio in 1984, working her way up to television to a reporting role for The 7.30 Report and as producer of breakfast program First Edition.

She also had a stint at the Ten Network in the 1980s, reporting for its current affairs show Page One.

The Seven Network signed her up to host the Victorian edition of its new current affairs program, Today Tonight, in 1995.

Promising a more serious tone than its rivals or predecessors, Today Tonight soon made headlines of its own. In 1996, Singer fainted during a commercial break after having to announce that a politically sensitive story on Victorian premier Jeff Kennett had been pulled by Seven’s management at the last minute. Singer later recalled it was withdrawn to “placate the premier”. The report in question did go to air the following night, earning Today Tonight its highest ratings.

Singer and others associated with the report were later told their services were no longer required at Seven, with Singer replaced on-air by Naomi Robson, and Today Tonight began its slide into tabloid reporting.

Singer went on to become a long-running columnist for the Herald Sun and taught journalism at RMIT.

Her accolades included a Walkley and joint winner of two Quill awards for journalism.

In April this year she married Anthony Broad.

Source: The Age, ABC, Four Corners


Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/06/obituary-jill-singer.html

Jun 05 2017

Expo 67: Satellite TV makes history

Television by satellite came to Australia in the mid-1960s — with two special event programs that brought the world to bleary eyed Australians in the early hours of the morning.

The first such program was a live coverage of Australia’s contribution to Expo 67, being held in Montreal, Canada. Tuesday, 6 June 1967 was “Australia Day” at the Expo and it was heralded with a live satellite transmission to Australia’s eastern states and South Australia.

To bring the pictures to Australia, the signal was first directed from a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) outside broadcast van situated at the Expo site. From there the signal was sent by microwave to the NASA satellite tracking station at Rosman, North Carolina. The Rosman station then sent the signal across the Pacific Ocean via NASA’s ATS-B satellite in orbit above the equator.

The signal was then picked up in Australia at the tracking station located at Cooby Creek, near Toowoomba, Queensland. From there the signal is carried via the PMG-ABC microwave networks to the ABC studios in Gore Hill, Sydney.

While all that was going on the sound component of the broadcast was delivered via a different route — via the COMPAC cable that connects Vancouver to Sydney via Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand.

Because of the two different methods of transmission, the sound was due to arrive at Gore Hill around an eighth of a second before the pictures come in via satellite. It was at the Gore Hill studios that the two components were to be synchronised up.

Given the time difference it was 12.45am (AEST) on Wednesday 7 June when ABC reporter Eric Hunter (pictured) introduced what was the first direct satellite transmission from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere.

This was followed at 1.00am by the official opening of the day from Expo’s Place de Nations — the arena which each country occupied on its particular “national” day — including a speech from Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.

At 1.40am the telecast switched to a half-hour pre-recorded presentation of Australia’s exhibition at Expo.

At 2.15am the first part of the telecast came to a close. Viewers had a 90-minute break — and perhaps some sleep — before transmission from Montreal was scheduled to resume.

The second installment of the telecast commenced at 3.45am. Viewers were treated to coverage of some of the demonstrations taking place at the arena — including sheep dogs, woodchopping, timber felling, boomerang throwing and an Australian-American tennis match.

Then came the entertainment highlight of the day, Pop Goes Australia! The concert featured entertainer and TV host Bobby Limb (pictured as he appeared on screen) and his band, pop star Normie Rowe, singing group The Seekers and performer Rolf Harris.

The telecast came to an end at around 8.30am — leaving many tired viewers to face the new day with very little sleep.

Limb wrote of his experience of the event for TV Week: “We had been warned that the people were not friendly, two-thirds of them only spoke French — and that they were the toughest audience in the world.

“After we arrived, the rehearsal was a debacle — everything went wrong. There we were, The Seekers, Rolf Harris, Kathy Lloyd, Frank Donnellan, Normie Rowe, The Playboys, the Australian All-Stars Band and I — all petrified.”

“Now the show: we opened with the theatre in darkness then recorded cooees done by eight voices in Australia, then Long John Laws‘ voice introducing ‘the youngest nation” finishing with Pop Goes Australia.”

“The show was a tremendous success and at the reception all concerned were thrilled. Closing the show are The Seekers. It’s not necessary for me to dwell on the reception they receive. Every night they literally stop the show.”

“All of us in Australia can feel very proud — our Pavilion is marvellous, the Australian Ballet was tremendous and our show is going great.”

Back in Australia, television personality, ATV0‘s Jimmy Hannan was among those to watch the all-night telecast. “It was marvellous,” he told TV Week. “The first thing I did this morning was send a telegram congratulating Bobby Limb. I thought he put on a great little show.”

ABC’s chief supervising engineer in Melbourne, Colin Stockbridge, was pleased with the end result: “We were delighted. It certainly justified all the hard work and planning that went into the operation. There were very few defects.”

Although ABC was the Australian host broadcaster, given the technical significance of the event the program was also simulcast through the commercial networks, who all broadcast the program commercial-free. In Melbourne, HSV7 supplemented its coverage with a 15-minute preview before the ABC’s introduction, and GTV9 also added a half-hour program, It’s A Big Wide Wonderful World, which documented the history and previous efforts at bringing long distance television to our screens.

Expo 67 was shown live across the eastern states, stretching from Cairns down to Hobart, and across to Adelaide and Port Pirie in South Australia. With no direct link to Western Australia, viewers in that state were to see a videotaped version of the program a few days later.

TV Times critic Frank Doherty, while marvelling at the technical achievement in bringing pictures and sound from Canada to Australia within a fraction of a second, was left underwhelmed by the show that was presented: “Once you got over the slight excitement of knowing that what you were watching and hearing was taking place that very second in Canada the whole thing was as flat as a Sydney beer left standing for five minutes.”

The history making Expo 67 broadcast was to serve as a prelude to a much larger television event. Later in the same month, more than 500 million viewers around the world were expected to witness the two-hour global television event, Our World. Australia was one of 14 countries to contribute to that program.

Source: National Museum Of Australia. TV Times, 31 May 1967, 21 June 1967. TV Week, 17 June 1967,



Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/06/expo-67-satellite-tv-makes-history.html

Jun 04 2017

Obituary: John K Watts

Perth sporting and media identity John K Watts has died at the age of 80.

Watts had been diagnosed with a form of bone cancer in 2011, after previously having prostate cancer.

Watts’ son Jon posted a tribute to his father on Facebook: “I am in absolute shock by it all as he was more than just a regular dad, he was my confidant, friend, accomplice, drinking buddy, singing partner, comedian, and so much more.

“Words cannot express my deep sadness and I am sincerely at a loss as to what to do. Sleep well mate – and thanks for all the memories. I love you so very much and I have no idea really how to go on from here.”

Watts played 166 games for East Perth between 1954 and 1962 before playing for Geelong from 1963 to 1965.

After retiring from football in 1968, Watts began a successful media career in Perth across both radio and television.

He was a sports presenter for many years at TVW7, previewing upcoming football games and hosting a local footy talk show.

John K Watts is survived by wife Lorraine, sons Jon and Luke and daughters Joanna, Donna and Vanessa.

Source: WA TV History, WA Today, The West


Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/06/obituary-john-k-watts.html

Jun 01 2017

Obituary: Lyn James

Lyn James, best known to Australians as hospital secretary Helen Gordon in The Young Doctors, has died at the age of 87.

Born in Wales, James made her professional debut in 1949 as Marilyn James, working as a theatre actor in the UK, and then moving onto television roles. Some of her television credits included Nicholas Nickleby, medical drama Emergency Ward 10 and its spin-off, Call Oxbridge 2000.

She married fellow actor Eric Tayler and with their two young children came to Australia in the mid 1960s, when Tayler was offered a contract with ABC.

James scored guest roles in various Australian dramas including Contrabandits, Hunter, Homicide (pictured with co-star Kenric Hudson), Dynasty, Catwalk, Matlock Police, Division 4, Ryan, The Evil Touch, Silent Number and Case For The Defence.

In 1976, she scored the role of secretary Helen Gordon in the Nine Network‘s new series The Young Doctors.

At the time of the show’s debut, James (pictured with co-stars Michael Beecher and Alfred Sandor) described Helen as “a straightforward lady and even though she has the best intentions she tends to interfere a bit. It’s an interesting role and it does give me the chance to smile again. When I’ve done parts for Crawfords I always seem to be playing a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

The series was a hit in Australia and also gained a following in the United Kingdom.

James was one of only a handful of cast members to stay with The Young Doctors for its entire six-year duration.

Later TV credits included telemovies The Rock Pool and Olive, children’s series Coral Island and police dramas Bony and Young Lions.

Lyn James is survived by her two children, Nicholas and Sally, and grandchildren. Husband Eric died in 1997.

Source: Daily Telegraph, ATV Today, IMDB. TV Week, 5 September 1970. TV Times, 4 December 1976. TV Times, 18 November 1978.




Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/06/obituary-lyn-james.html

May 11 2017

Obituary: Mark Colvin

Mark Colvin, ABC journalist across radio and television, has died in a Sydney hospital at the age of 65.

English-born Colvin came to Australia as a 21-year-old and joined ABC as a cadet journalist in 1974.

His work was mostly in radio, including the early years of 2JJ (now Triple J) and current affairs programs The World Today and, for many years, PM.

In 1979 he moved to television as one of the founding reporters for current affairs program Nationwide.

He later served as a reporter for Four Corners for four years and then was appointed London current affairs correspondent, reporting for programs including The 7.30 Report, Lateline and Foreign Correspondent.

In a statement issued earlier today, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie paid tribute to Colvin: “For many Australians, Mark’s steady and measured voice as host of PM brought them the essential news of the day and kept them informed about events of national and international importance.

“We will miss him enormously, and extend our thoughts to his family and friends.”

ABC Director, News Gaven Morris said: “Mark was one of Australia’s finest journalists. He leaves an unfillable void as a journalist, a colleague and a friend.

“He was an important part of the ABC community as a mentor and teacher to young reporters and as a voice of wisdom and experience to many older ones. Our reporters and producers felt strengthened by his presence in the newsroom and emboldened by the sound of his voice on our airwaves.”

Tributes for Colvin came from many across the wider journalism community and from politics — including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield,

Mark Colvin is survived by his mother, Anne, his wife Michelle and his two sons, Nicolas and William.

Nationwide‘s Mark Colvin (left) with Bill Nicol, Paul Griffiths, Clive Hale, Paul Murphy and Richard Carleton. Source: TV Times, 24 March 1979

Source: ABC, ABC, Sydney Morning Herald



Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/05/obituary-mark-colvin.html

May 08 2017

Obituary: Lou Richards

Lou Richards, Collingwood premiership captain and longtime sports media personality, has died peacefully at the age of 94.

Born in Collingwood, Richards’ joining the Collingwood Football Club followed that of his grandfather, Charlie H Pannam, and two uncles.

He played 250 games for Collingwood and captained the team to a premiership in 1953.

With his thorough knowledge of the game and a cheeky wit, he became a popular commentator for the game — one of the first footballers to really gain a high profile in the media. He wrote newspaper columns for over 20 years, earning the nickname ‘Louie the Lip’, and commentated on radio 3XY and then 3DB. When TV began in Melbourne, Richards joined HSV7 and stayed for almost 30 years.

As well as a commentator of VFL matches, he was part of the regular team on the long-running World Of Sport, which ran every weekend for 27 years. He was also one of the three panellists, alongside Jack Dyer and Bob Davis, on the VFL preview League Teams that developed a cult following late on Thursday nights.

After Seven lost the rights to the VFL (now AFL) in 1987, Richards joined GTV9 as a presenter on National Nine News, Wide World Of Sports and later on The Footy Show.

He retired from television in 2008 but continued to make guest appearances on The Footy Show. The show’s handball competition and prize was named in his honour.

Richards was inducted into the Australian Football League’s Hall of Fame in 1996, and named in the inaugural class of inductees to the Collingwood Football Club’s Hall of Fame in 2004.

Lou Richards is survived by two daughters. Wife Edna, whom he married in 1948, died in 2008.

Source: Nine News, Collingwood Football Club, Wikipedia. TV Week, 25 September 1982. From Wireless To Radio: The 3DB Story, 1984.


Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/05/obituary-lou-richards.html

May 06 2017

Obituary: Val Jellay

Val Jellay, veteran showbiz performer and wife of the late Maurie Fields, has died at the age of 89.

Son Marty Fields tweeted the sad news earlier today: “My mum, Val, passed away today of pneumonia. She lived an amazing life. She’s back with her beloved Maurie now. I will miss her very much.”

Born in Sydney, Jellay started performing as a four-year-old in the 1930s during the Depression. She later joined the vaudeville circuit where she met fellow performer Maurie Fields.

They married in 1960 and subsequently often worked as a double act. When television arrived in 1956 one of the first variety shows in Melbourne was Sunnyside Up, in which they appeared together.

Jellay made the transition from sketch comedy on TV to acting, with early roles in The Long Arm, Matlock Police, Division 4 and Homicide.

She and Fields worked together again as publicans Vic and Nancy Buckley in the long-running series The Flying Doctors and its spin-off, RFDS.

Other television credits included Prisoner, Carson’s Law, Neighbours, Blue Heelers and The Librarians. She also appeared on music quiz show Spicks And Specks, presented movie reviews on Good Morning Australia and accepted Maurie Fields’ posthumous entry into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 1996.



Maurie Fields, Val Jellay and son Marty Fields. Picture: TV Week, 1975

Source: Marty FieldsABC, IMDB, TV Week



Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/05/obituary-val-jellay.html

May 06 2017

TV At 60: In Melbourne Tonight

In Melbourne Tonight, one of the most significant shows in Australia’s early TV history, started 60 years ago today.

The program was the brainchild of Norman Spencer, program manager at Melbourne’s new channel GTV9. He had produced a popular variety show, The Happy Gang, on radio for a number of years. He was keen to adapt the format, a mix of spontaneous humour, musical performances and lighthearted commercials, to the new medium of television.

Spencer knew that to mount such a program would be a costly exercise, so significant sponsorship was needed, Luckily a major electronics manufacturer was ready to come on board, but with a condition that their choice of radio announcer hosted the new program. Spencer had already tried unsuccessfully to get The Happy Gang host Dick Cranbourne to come across and was not sold on the sponsor’s choice — another radio announcer, John McMahon.

Spencer happened to see a young radio sidekick called Graham Kennedy make his TV debut in an appearance on an early GTV9 telethon for Red Cross. Kennedy, then 23 years old, made his second TV appearance in a soup commercial wearing a long pair of floppy rabbit ears. As brief as they were, these TV appearances were enough to convince Spencer that Kennedy was the man to host the new show and he managed to get the station management and sponsor onside.

Although In Melbourne Tonight was initially planned to be a loose adaptation of The Happy Gang, it also took influence from the fledgling ‘tonight’ show formats developing elsewhere — such as The Tonight Show from NBC in the United States, which had a format heavy in interviews. Kennedy was also sent to Sydney to get an insight into how things worked up there on Sydney Tonight, hosted by Keith Walshe on ATN7.

In Melbourne Tonight — soon abbreviated by viewers as simply IMT — made its debut as a 45-minute program on Monday 6 May 1957. Kennedy, who had been the junior sidekick to radio funnyman Clifford Nicholls “Nicky” Whitta, soon found that he was no interviewer and worked best with the ad-lib style he had picked up on radio. Comedy skits, studio stunts and music performances became the emphasis, along with Kennedy ruthlessly mocking the show’s sponsors in presenting commercials live to air. The show became a huge success for Nine for over 13 years and elevated Kennedy (pictured with ‘barrel girl’ Panda Lisner in 1959) to the point that he became dubbed ‘The King’.

Over IMT‘s 3000-plus run, more than 50 hosts presented from the show’s desk set, either as one-off guest hosts or regular weekly presenters such as Bert Newton, Toni Lamond, Noel Ferrier and Tommy Hanlon Jnr— and there was a cast of regular performers to feature — but it was always Kennedy that was the show’s star. IMT had its own orchestra and ballet, and by 1964 it had outgrown GTV9’s modest Studio One to move into a lavish new Studio 9 — a state-of-the-art production studio able to handle the large scale production numbers that were becoming commonplace for the show.

Kennedy presented his last In Melbourne Tonight on 23 December 1969. The show continued in 1970 with a different host for each of four nights a week — Stuart Wagstaff, Ugly Dave Gray, Jimmy Hannan and Bert Newton — but it had failed to maintain the momentum of its earlier days. By the end of the year the IMT name was gone and only Tonight With Stuart Wagstaff and The Ugly Dave Gray Show remained. Both shows were abruptly axed by GTV9 in March of 1971. Rising production costs, falling ratings and a new local quota system that only counted programs airing before 10.00pm were the final nails in the coffin.

But the legacy of IMT continued at Nine for decades to follow. Kennedy was lured back to Nine in 1972 for The Graham Kennedy Show, which continued until 1975 — and GTV9 became the hub of television variety shows right up until 2010, when Nine finally shut down its heritage Bendigo Street studios in the suburb of Richmond.

Source: The Graham Kennedy Story, Southdown Press, 1958. From Wireless To Radio: The 3DB Story, 1984. King: The Life And Comedy Of Graham Kennedy, 2003. 



Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/05/tv-at-60-in-melbourne-tonight.html

Apr 27 2017

Obituary: Chris Bearde

Chris Bearde, the English-born writer who grew up in Australia and became a success in the US, died earlier this week at the age of 80.

After working in radio, Bearde’s made the move to TV just as it was starting in Australia. He was host of a children’s program, Smalltime, and doubled as a booth announcer at Sydney’s ATN7.

He was also a scriptwriter for the station’s other children’s program Captain Fortune and for the top-rating variety show Revue ’61.

The Revue series was sold to Canada’s CTV network and Bearde himself ended up in Canada as a writer for local comedy shows Nightcap and Network before going to Hollywood to join the writing team for the hit show Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In and to produce shows including The Andy Williams Show.

Bearde returned to Australia on a few occasions. In 1965 he took a break over the Canadian summer to come to Melbourne to guest host In Melbourne Tonight with his sister, Robina Beard — herself a successful actress, TV presenter and performer.

In the late 1960s he returned to Australia again to produce a comedy special Ready When You Are, CB. The Nine Network production was loosely modelled on the same format of quick-fire comedy sketches as Laugh-In.

He went back to the US where among other things he created the mock talent quest The Gong Show in 1976. The show had a minor run on Australian television.

Bearde is reported to have died of a heart attack.

Chris Bearde is survived by his wife Carolyn, six children and six grandchildren.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, IMDB. TV Times, 28 July 1965. Forty Years Of Television: The Story Of ATN7, 1996.




Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/2017/04/obituary-chris-bearde.html

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