Sep 08 2017

Obituary: Peter Luck

Peter Luck, journalist, author, producer and presenter, has passed away at the age of 73.

He died following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease

Luck’s career started in the 1960s, as a reporter for ABC‘s This Day Tonight and later for Four Corners.

In 1979 he co-wrote and hosted the documentary series This Fabulous Century. The series, which was two years in the making and screened over 36 weeks, was billed at the time as the most expensive documentary series ever produced in Australia. Screening on the Seven Network, This Fabulous Century documented the various aspects of Australian life since federation, tapping into the resources of Cinesound, Movietone and the National Film and Sound Archive. It won a TV Week Logie Award in 1980 for Best Documentary Series.

Luck then followed This Fabulous Century with the single documentary Who Are We?, delving into Australia’s multicultural identity. Who Are We? was the first program to go to air on opening night on the network that is now SBS.

Later documentaries included the series The Australians, 50 Fabulous Years and Bicentennial Minutes: A Time To Remember.

Luck was also a frequent presenter on current affairs. He often popped up as a guest host on Hinch At Seven and Today Tonight and also presented the Australian version of Inside Edition for Network Ten. For two years he was executive producer of the Nine Network‘s Sunday.

In the late 1990s he created and hosted Where Are They Now? for the Seven Network and was a columnist for Sydney’s Sun Herald newspaper.

In 2006 he wrote a book, 50 Years Of Australian Television, documenting his own perspective and experiences in the history of television.

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has paid tribute to Luck in a statement: “Peter Luck was a trailblazing journalist who became a role model to generations of reporters and was also loved and respected by audiences. He made a huge contribution to the ABC in his early career and remains forever part of the fabric of the national broadcaster. All ABC staff join me in paying our respects to Peter and passing on our deepest sympathies to his family.”

Source: The Age, SBS, Peter Luck




Permanent link to this article:

Sep 04 2017

Obituary: Alan Cassell

Alan Cassell, actor on Australian stage, film and television, died last week at the age of 85.

Born in the United Kingdom, his acting career began in Western Australia. His work was mainly as a stage actor but he did have a lead role in a locally-produced series, The Drifter — one of the few Australian television dramas to be made in Western Australia.

Later television acting credits included Division 4, Matlock Police, The Newman Shame, Sara Dane, Vietnam and Touch The Sun.

He had leading roles in the Nine Network series Taurus Rising, the Ten Network cop drama Special Squad and Seven‘s The Power The Passion. He later had an ongoing role in the popular ABC series Seachange.

Guest roles included appearances in Neighbours, Mission Impossible, The Flying Doctors, Bony, Janus, Blue Heelers, Halifax fp, Stingers and MDA.

Film credits included Money Movers, Cathy’s Child, Breaker Morant, The Club, Puberty Blues and Squizzy Taylor.

Source: The Age, Wikipedia, IMDB, Screen Space


Permanent link to this article:

Sep 04 2017

TV Week Logie Awards to exit Melbourne

Melbourne is set to lose the TV Week Logie Awards, following the Victorian Government’s decision to withdraw its bid for the city to host the annual event next year.

Herald Sun reports that Tourism and Events Minister John Eren has said “We’re proud to have been home to the Logies for more than 30 years, but it’s time to pass on the baton”.

He added: “No matter where the Logies go next, Victoria will remain the cultural and events capital of Australia.”

Since 1997 the awards have been held at the Crown Casino complex.

The TV Week Logie Awards, first announced in 1958 as simply the TV Week Awards, will celebrate its 60th presentation next year. For all but a handful of its 59 years to date, it has been hosted in Melbourne, which used to be TV Week‘s home base. The magazine has long been published by Bauer Media in Sydney but has maintained the awards’ historical ties to Melbourne.

The last time the awards were held outside of Melbourne — at Sydney’s State Theatre in 1986Hey Hey It’s Saturday‘s Daryl Somers won the Gold Logie, A Country Practice was voted the most popular drama series, Perfect Match was the most popular light entertainment program, and the mini-series Anzacs won three awards.

The Herald Sun indicates that the Logies are likely to head to Queensland. As far back as 2008 the state was hopeful to gain TV’s “night of nights”.

Source: Herald Sun



Permanent link to this article:

Aug 28 2017

US media giant CBS buys Ten

CBS Corporation, owner of the CBS television network in the US, has announced its agreement to buy the business and assets of Ten Network Holdings.

The deal, which includes CBS taking over Ten, Tenplay and supplementary channels One and Eleven, follows a competitive sales process that was also reported to include a rival bid by Lachlan Murdoch and WIN owner Bruce Gordon — both significant shareholders in Ten prior to the network going into receivership.

The CBS transaction is still subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board and of creditors, but CBS has committed to providing immediate financial support to maintain continuity of operations ahead of the upcoming meeting of creditors.

Ten CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement, “CBS and Ten have had a strong relationship for a number of years; we are very excited about further developing that relationship with CBS as an owner and strength that they will provide to the Company at this critical time”.

CBS has been a significant content supplier to Ten and owns a third share of the network’s multi-channel Eleven. It was earlier reported that Ten owed CBS as much as $843 million in programming rights fees.

Armando Nuñez, President and CEO of CBS Studios International, commented, “CBS recognises the significance of Ten in the Australian broadcasting community. We are committed to the efficient, reliable and successful turnaround, operation and development of Ten to support continued growth in Australian media”.

CBS will also launch its subscription video on demand service CBS All Access in Australia.

The Ten-CBS deal promises financial and management stability for the network from one of the world’s strongest media brands and represents a significant new entrant into the Australian media landscape. It will come as a blow to Murdoch, as executive co-chairman of News Corporation he would have seen some synergies in linking properties such as Sky News, Fox Sports and Foxtel to the Ten brand, and Gordon, whose WIN is the Ten affiliate partner through much of regional Australia.

Source: The Age, Korda Mentha (via ASX), The Age



Permanent link to this article:

Aug 28 2017

Back to Bellbird

YouTube: Conniptions886

One of the most successful radio serials in Australia was ABC‘s Blue Hills. The daily 15-minute depiction of life in the fictitious country town of Tanimbla had an incredibly loyal following from the time it debuted in 1949.

With television starting in 1956, it was only a matter of time before a similar concept was to be adopted by the new medium. It was to happen in 1967, when ABC announced plans to produce its first television serial, Bellbird.

It was Australia’s first prime time soap — following some short-lived attempts at daytime serials from the Seven Network.

ABC had hired Sydney author Barbara Vernon (pictured) to write the scripts for the show’s four 15-minute pilot episodes, which went into production in March 1967. “We won’t be emphasising the seamy side of life,” she told TV Times. “But neither will we be frightened of using human situations which always have that element of shock. We have tried not to make Bellbird too sentimental or melodramatic but have continually striven for reality. There has never been a TV series based on a rural Australian town so we were starting from scratch.”

Vernon was later joined by Alan Hopgood, Jeff Underhill and Michael Wright. Hopgood, an accomplished playwright, was to eventually also star in the series.

The series was based around the fictional country town of Bellbird. Early location filming to set the scene for Bellbird was conducted in the real-life town of Daylesford and at Eltham in Melbourne’s outer north, with an old house in the beach side Melbourne suburb of Brighton also used for outdoor filming.

Despite its Victorian backdrop, Bellbird was not intended to depict any particular state. “We chose the name Bellbird because we understood that there was a town called Bellbird in every State in Australia,” Vernon told TV Times. “We were also very conscious about keeping the setting neutral. We made a great effort to keep State references out. For instance, we always referred to “the city”, rather than to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. However, production began in the ABC studios in Melbourne. This was because they happened to be available. Sydney had a full schedule. So when there were cars they had Victorian registration, the trains were obviously Victorian, and it pretty soon became obvious that Bellbird was a Victorian town. This hadn’t been intended.”

Among Bellbird‘s original cast were Bruce Barry (then appearing on stage in the production of Funny Girl and also featuring in a series of cigarette commercials), Elspeth Ballantyne, Robin Ramsay and his American wife Barbara, Brigid Lenihan (who had to withdraw from the series after making the pilot), Lynette Curran, Anne Lucas, Raymond Westwell, Clive Winmill, Sydney Conabere and Joan McArthur.

Bellbird made its debut at 6.40pm on Monday 28 August 1967. The opening episode featured city schoolteacher Michael Foley (Barry) taking up a posting in Bellbird. Foley’s arrival prompts gossip when it becomes known that he is to board with the town librarian, the young and single Lori Chandler (Ballantyne).

Less than two months into Bellbird‘s second season, the character of real estate agent Charles Cousens (Robin Ramsay, pictured) was to be written out. Ramsay had accepted an offer to play Fagin in a Japanese stage production of the musical Oliver!

While news of Cousens’ tragic accident was to be a guarded secret, Ramsay accidentally let it slip when talking to a reporter upon his arrival in Japan — not expecting the news to get back to Australia. Because the news was now out, TV Times ended up running a “spoiler” that Cousens was to meet an untimely end, but gave no indication as to how.

The following week fans watched in horror as Cousens fell to his death from atop a wheat silo. The tragic exit sparked an incredible reaction from viewers — with ABC switchboards inundated with phone calls and letters from upset fans. One Perth viewer threatened to come to Melbourne, where the show is made, to “do something about it”.

Lynette Curran, who played Rhoda in the series, found that a storekeeper refused to offer her service in protest at the shock exit of Cousens.

The death of Charles Cousens was to be the one single storyline that would come to be the show’s most memorable.

YouTube: TelevisionAU

Bellbird continued in its 15-minute episode format for most of its run — although viewers constantly bemoaned the limited airtime. Its unusual timeslot, 6.40pm, made it a difficult sell to capital city viewers, but in the country it was a popular ritual to watch Bellbird leading up to the ABC news at 7.00pm.

By the end of 1975, Bellbird was reported to be on its last legs. Writers had simply run out of storylines for the close knit community, apparently.

Despite the rumours, ABC kept the show going into 1976 but in a new format — one 60-minute episode a week instead of the traditional four 15-minute episodes. This was not well received by fans and by the end of the year ABC decided to expand the series to three half-hour episodes a week.

This expansion to the show’s output was seen as a positive investment in the series by the broadcaster but it was to be short-lived. The radio serial Blue Hills had come to an end in 1976. As past and present cast of Bellbird were celebrating their show’s 10th anniversary in September 1977, they were to learn that ABC had dropped the series. Production was to wind up in November with the last episodes going to air before the end of the year. Cast members who only 12 months earlier had spoken lovingly of Bellbird for providing them a level of job security were suddenly about to be unemployed.

To its credit, at the time no other serial drama in Australia had managed the longevity of Bellbird. Commercial network success stories such as Number 96 and The Box coincidentally were also coming to an end during 1977 after six and four years respectively,.

“Ten years is a good run for a show and I suppose we have got to cop it sweet,” Maurie Fields, who played town nasty John Quinney in the series for much of its run, told TV Times at the time. “They claim it didn’t rate in the city but I’ve just returned from Proserpine, where about 90 percent of people are Bellbird fans and I can say it’s still as strong as ever in the country.”

With Bellbird finished up by the end of 1977, ABC had announced a range of new titles for the year ahead: Twenty Good Years, the story of a Melbourne family spanning two decades from 1956; All The Green Year, based on the novel by author Don Charlwood; a children’s series, Nargun And The Stars; and The Truckies, starring Michael Aitken, John Wood, Colleen Hewett and Michael Carman.

Bellbird remains to this day the ABC’s longest-running drama series, having clocked up almost 1700 episodes over a ten year run. James Davern, a former Bellbird producer who ironically was later part of the ABC management that axed the show, years later went on to develop and produce Australia’s next successful rural-based soap, A Country Practice, that ran for 12 years across the Seven and Ten networks.

Source: TV Times, 1 March 1967, 15 March 1967, 5 April 1967. 5 July 1967, 23 August 1967, 10 February 1968, 30 March 1968, 22 May 1968, 12 June 1968, 22 April 1970, 11 December 1976. 24 September 1977, 1 October 1977. TV Week, 30 August 1969, 14 November 1970, 5 May 1973. Listener In-TV, 11 October 1975.



Permanent link to this article:

Aug 26 2017

Obituary: Drew Morphett

Sports broadcaster Drew Morphett has died suddenly at the age of 69.

He was found by wife Karen at their Pakenham home late Friday night.

Born Andrew Kenneth Morphett in Sydney, he began his media career at ABC radio in 1966. After a stint in Perth he moved to ABC television in Melbourne in the 1970s, hosting a weekly program, Sportsnight.

For ten years he hosted the weekly VFL (AFL) program The Winners and for eight years commentated test cricket for ABC television.

He joined the Seven Network when it regained broadcast rights to VFL in 1988. He commentated and reported on a range of sports, including Olympic Games, for Seven for the next 13 years.

He returned to ABC in 2000, as part of the Grandstand team, and stayed for fourteen years.

In 2014 he received an Order of Australia medal for services to sports broadcasting and later appeared on Fox Footy, hosting The Winners Rebooted.

Morphett had retired from full-time broadcasting last year but recently had been commentating AFL for commercial radio, including for the Macquarie network as recently as last week.

Source: ABC, ABC, Wikipedia, Sydney Morning Herald, 3AW





Permanent link to this article:

Aug 22 2017

Countdown returns to ABC

ABC is bringing Countdown back to our screens — and back to its famous Sunday 6.00pm timeslot.

Thirty years after Molly Meldrum‘s bald-headed reveal at the Countdown Music And Video Awards marked an end to Countdown‘s 13-year run, the show is returning for a 13-week season.

Classic Countdown begins on 17 September, featuring footage that has been remastered and will be accompanied by commentaries by some of the artists to feature in the original performances.

There will be highlights of Meldrum’s Humdrum segment and the return of Countdown‘s long-time announcer Gavin Wood.

Each week will feature a different year in the life of Countdown, taking us back all the colour and music of the ’70s and ’80s.

Classic Countdown will also be accompanied by a CD release.

Classic Countdown. Starts Sunday 17 September, 6.00pm. ABC


Permanent link to this article:

Aug 08 2017

Obituary: Ty Hardin

American actor Ty Hardin has died at the age of 87.

Born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jnr in New York City, Hardin starred in early American series such as Cheyenne, 77 Sunset Strip and Bronco. But the actor was also to have a leading role in Australia.

Hardin was cast in the role of charter boat captain Moss Andrews in the adventure series Riptide. His casting in the series was hoped to increase the show’s value on the international market.

Produced in colour for the Seven Network between 1967 and 1969, Riptide was filmed on location in Sydney and North Queensland. Hardin saw it as an opportunity to settle in Australia after leaving Hollywood and having worked in Europe for four years. “I went to Europe because I felt I would have more freedom to create and continue my acting career,” he told TV Times in 1969. “I have the same feeling in Australia.”

Riptide was a decent performer in the ratings but failed to gain positive critical reviews. Because of its high cost — reported to be $2 million over 26 episodes — and lack of international interest (although it was picked up in Germany, re-titled SOS Charterboot!), it was not renewed for a second series.

Hardin then returned to making movies overseas.

Riptide was barely seen again on Australian television until a relatively recent re-run as daytime filler on Seven’s new channel 7mate.

YouTube: Classic Australian TV

Source: Wikipedia, IMDB, Classic Australian Television. TV Times, 5 February 1969, 12 March 1969.


Permanent link to this article:

Aug 03 2017

Laurie Oakes announces retirement

After more than 50 years in journalism — and most of those covering politics from the Canberra Press Gallery — Nine Network political editor Laurie Oakes has announced his retirement.

The 73-year-old, pinching the tagline from the famous 1972 federal election campaign, says “It’s time”.

His last day with Nine News will be 18 August, just a few days after his 74th birthday. His retirement ends a career that began back in 1965 as a state rounds reporter for the Daily Mirror newspaper in Sydney.

He was only 25 when he was appointed bureau chief in Canberra for Melbourne’s The Sun News-Pictorial newspaper (predecessor to the Herald Sun).

His television career started as a political commentator for Willesee At Seven. In 1979 he joined the Ten Network, where he broke one of his biggest stories — the leaked papers revealing the 1980 Federal Budget days before it was to be tabled in Parliament by then treasurer John Howard.

He left Ten after five years to join the Nine Network, starting there in time for its coverage of the 1984 federal election.

At Nine his weekly political interviews for current affairs program Sunday would lead the agenda for the week ahead.

Oakes’ journalistic accolades include three Walkley Awards and in 2011 he was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame.

Source: 9News, Platinum Speakers




Permanent link to this article:

Aug 03 2017

Prime7 to launch 7Flix

Regional network Prime7 will be launching a local broadcast of the Seven Network‘s 7Flix channel.

The movies and entertainment channel will be broadcast across Prime7 in Northern NSW, Southern NSW, Regional Victoria, ACT and the Gold Coast from Sunday 3 September.

7Flix will be available on Channel 66, broadcasting in MPEG4 format.

The new channel will have no effect on the existing local broadcasts of Prime7, 7Two, 7mate, and iShopTV, although some re-scanning of sets may be required.

7Flix has been in operation on Seven in the capital cities since February last year.

Source: Prime7


Permanent link to this article: