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1950-1959

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Bruce Gyngell appeared on TCN9’s opening night

Although experimental television transmissions were conducted in Australia as far back as 1929, it was the 1940s before the government of the day considered the full scale introduction of television — and with a World War currently in progress, any further development was put on hold.  Progress after the war was slow, but the upcoming 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games would ensure that TV would arrive in time for the Opening Ceremony — and it did, only just!

1950:

  • The Menzies Government decides that television services will initially consist of a national service (ABC) in Sydney with expansion to follow into other areas as funding allowed – and a commercial station in each of Sydney and Melbourne and ‘any other capital city where it is felt that the applicant’s capacity to provide a service justifies the issue of a licence’

1953:

  • Following public pressure, the Government appoints a Royal Commission into the introduction of television in Australia.

1954:

  • The Royal Commission reports that television services should be introduced gradually – initially an ABC station and two commercial stations in each of Sydney and Melbourne with other areas to follow.

1955:

  • The Australian Broadcasting Control Board conducts public hearings into the allocation of commercial television licences for Sydney and Melbourne. Consequently, the first commercial television licences issued to Herald and Weekly Times (Melbourne), General Television Corporation (Melbourne), Amalgamated Television Services (Sydney) and Television Corporation (Sydney).

1956:

  • July: Test TV transmissions commence from TCN9 Sydney and HSV7 Melbourne
  • September 16: TCN9 Sydney becomes the first TV station to begin regular transmission. Station announcer John Godson introduces the station on-air at 7.00pm, then Bruce Gyngell introduces the first program, This Is Television.
  • September 27: GTV9 Melbourne conducts its first test transmission with a one-hour broadcast of programs on Thursday 27 September at 4.30pm hosted by Geoff Corke. From Monday 1 October the station commences daily test pattern transmission.
  • October 27: TCN9 is officially opened.
  • November 4: HSV7 Melbourne is officially opened.
  • November 5: Opening night of the ‘national television service’ with the first ABC television station, ABN2 Sydney.
  • November 19: ABC’s second television station, ABV2 Melbourne, is launched
  • ABV2, HSV7 and GTV9 (conducting test transmissions) televise the Melbourne Olympic Games.
  • December 2: ATN7 Sydney is officially opened. The following day, ATN launches Australia’s first current affairs program At Seven On Seven with Howard Craven, and the first ‘tonight’ show, Sydney Tonight with Keith Walshe.
  • 5% of Melbourne households and 1% of Sydney households own a TV set.
1957:

TV Week

  • January 19: Sir Dallas Brooks opens GTV9 Melbourne
  • March 2: Bob Dyer’s Pick-A-Box, a radio quiz since 1948, launches on ATN7/GTV9 and runs until 1971.
  • April 20: The Victorian Football League (VFL) is televised for the first time, with Melbourne channels ABV2, HSV7 and GTV9 permitted to broadcast live coverage of the final quarter of league matches.
  • May 6: GTV9 launches Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, a live variety program that lasted 13 years.
  • TCN9 forms an affiliation with HSV7, and GTV9 lines up with ATN7.
  • December: The first edition of TV Week goes on sale in Melbourne.
1958:
  • June:  ABC launches its own TV magazine, TV News, in Sydney.
  • October 20: ATN7 launches Australia’s first TV ‘breakfast session’, including the first serial drama, Autumn Affair.
  • November: TCN9 launches Brian Henderson’s Bandstand, a variety music program that launched the careers of many Australians. It lasts for 14 years on Nine.
  • TV Week launches its own annual TV awards, initially known as the TV Week Awards but would later be named the TV Week Logie Awards, after television pioneer John Logie Baird, the following year.
1959:

Johnny O’Keefe

  • New TV stations: QTQ9 Brisbane, NWS9 Adelaide, TVW7 Perth, BTQ7 Brisbane, ABQ2 Brisbane, ADS7 Adelaide.
  • January 9: Melbourne and Sydney are linked by microwave for the first time, enabling television programs to be screened simultaneously in both cities.
  • ABC launches Six O’Clock Rock with Johnny O’Keefe
  • August:  ABC’s TV News-Times (formerly TV News) expands circulation with the launch of a Melbourne edition in competition with TV Week.
  • HSV7’s weekly sports program World Of Sport begins on Saturday mornings. It soon moves to Sunday afternoons and continues every week for 28 years.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://televisionau.com/timeline/1950-1959

43 comments

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  1. Peter Stone

    1957 April 20. Was it not the FIRST quarter telecast live, not the last. The VFL were afraid that showing the last quarter would greatly diminih attendance at the games.
    Peter, Yarra, Vic.

    1. Andrew B

      Hi Peter. I double checked and it was the Final Quarter. According to The Age at the time, on Saturday 20 April 1957, all 3 Melbourne channels were to broadcast the final quarter of the Collingwood v Essendon match starting at around 4.00pm. The channels were originally intended to broadcast a different game each but a last minute pay dispute led to them all covering the same game.

      Source: The Age, 20 April 1957 (via Google News Archive)

    2. Jimbo

      Does anybody remember the Teenage hour in the fifties I think it was on at about 2.00pm Saturdays in Melbourne

  2. Peter Stone

    You are absolutely correct Andrew. I see from my diary as a kid that on 31 August 1957 I watched the 4th quarter of the first semi-final with Carlton v Hawthorn. I have a feeling though that sometime later, next season, it was only the first quarter shown because of the concern for ground attendance. I have no record of this however. Great website by the way. Thankyou.
    Peter Stone, Yarram, Vic.

  3. Steve Ellis

    Is there anywhere where I view the cartoon that opened GTV9 each day (guy runningthru the studio turning everything on) and a similar one at the end of transmission?

    Regards
    Steve

    1. Andrew B

      There might be something of that footage on YouTube but I am not aware of any I’m afraid.

    2. lee davidson

      Steve, ive wondered the same question myself.. Ive tried to find that cartoon but to no avail.. If i ever see it, i will be transported back to all those early saturday mornings when id get up to watch it..

      1. Chris Keating

        The cartoon footage was used at the start of the late ’90 Melbourne series “Television: The Way We Were”, and again at the start of a “50 Years Of TV” DVD release via the Herald-Sun in 2006.

  4. Carol

    Does anyone know how long that first show, ‘This is Television’ was? I am trying to find out exactly what was telecast that first evening, 16/9/56, and also where people could watch it in Sydney as there were so few TV sets.

  5. Peter Cox

    In reply to Carol’s question re day one Channel 9 Sydney. The opening program “This is Television” commenced at 1900 and lasted for 30 minutes – it was a mix of 16mm and 35mm film with brief studio bridges. Briefly the evening was as follows:
    19.30 – Johnny O’ Connor Show
    19.45 – Patti Page Show
    20.00 – What’s My Line
    20.30 – Douglas Fairbanks Show
    21.00 – Air Force Show
    21.15 – Accent on Strings
    21.30 – Father Knows Best
    22.00 – I Love Lucy
    22.30 – Robin Hood
    22.50 – Tivoli Show
    23.00 – National Anthem
    Carol you are perfectly correct there were very few receivers, with the result that many people got their first taste of television by crowding around the windows of retail shops – yes they actually did that!

    1. Andrew B

      Peter, many thanks for your fantastic reply :)

  6. laurie

    Hello .I am looking for photos or film of a show called dance party in 1966 in hobart has any one any infomation on this show
    Thankyou Laurie

    1. Roma

      Hi Laurie

      My husband Greg Hill performed in Dance Party. we have tried to get footage through Win TV in Hobart but with no success. If you have info please let us know. Roma Hill ph 0412 600 473

  7. Gabrielle

    Hello,
    I am wondering if there is any footage of GTV9 ‘s program “Thursday at one”
    I think it was the first live afternoon show?
    (I appeared on it !!!)
    Thanks a million…
    Gabrielle

    1. Andrew B

      Hi Gabrielle.

      Unfortunately, as per the Contacts page, there is unlikely to be any surviving footage from shows of that vintage. The ability to archive programs then was limited and even if material was archived we don’t necessarily have compatible technology to be able to retrieve it. Copyright is another issue as well.

      Interesting to hear about you appearing on Thursday At One, though. What was your role in that program? You may have also read recently that host Binny Lum passed away at the age of 97.

      1. Chris Keating

        I have (from a very poor quality kine transfer) about twenty minutes of “Thursday At One” – only people in the segment I’ve got are Bert Newton, Laurel Young, Ernie Bourne, and Shirley Broadway.

  8. michaela

    Hello,
    my dad is trying to find any clips from a show called The Youth Show. It showed in 1958 or 1959 he thinks. With Keith Walsh and Carol Finlayson.
    I hope you can help.

    Cheers
    Michaela

    1. Andrew B

      Hi Michaela,

      Unfortunately, as per the Contacts page, there is unlikely to be any surviving footage from shows of that vintage. The ability to archive programs then was limited and even if material was archived we don’t necessarily have compatible technology to be able to retrieve it. Copyright is another issue as well.

  9. Chris

    I am inquiring on the singer named Bill Mc Cormick, who appeared on early telivision.
    Thank you.

  10. ellie

    Hi
    I am looking for any footage/images or information from the Coles 3,000 question quiz. My father John Carew was one of the first big winners on the show with a specialist subject on boxing Perhaps there are some memories out therel,
    thanks
    Ellie

  11. Glennis

    Hi – Do you know where I could find more information about an Australian TV program called Lady for a Day (not the the Capra movie of the same name)? I think it was screened on HSV 7. Thanks

    1. Chris Keating

      “Lady For A Day” was based upon the US series “Queen For A Day”. It was hosted by Larry K. Nixon, with Graeme Bent, June Lansell, and John D’Arcy also featuring.

      It began in August 1960, and ran on HSV-7 until 1962.

  12. HJeanA

    Just wondering WHY there is no info or photos of Bobo the Clown. I remember watching him as a kid & have searched high & low, for any info & nothing shows up – my search keeps giving me stupid Bozo the clown, obviously American. I worked at Radio Station 5DN from January 68 through to December 69 & the first 12 months I was office junior, which meant going to the Channel 9 canteen to get food for people at 5DN & met quite a few celebrities around that time, including the man who played Bobo the Clown. Would LOVE a really good photo of Bobo, plus info of from when & to when, he was on TV. Thanks :)

    1. Alicia

      Hi my mum was one one of the dancers on the bobo show. Im trying to find anything that may have her in it as I have never seen any footage.

  13. Felicity Giffney

    I’m trying to find the name and footage of a morning show on channel 7 in the late 50’s or early 60’s I was modeling hats on the show but I was very young about 8 or 9 the hats had plates on them would love to show my children and grandchildren.

  14. Margaret

    TV personality Joy Fountain If anyone has some information on this lady I would really appreciated you forwarding it on to me

  15. Matthew Paul Argall

    What is the earliest surviving recording of an Australian television variety series? A possibility is the 11 April 1957 episode of “TV Channell” (with Douglas Channell), which appears to be held by the National Archives of Australia as a 16mm film print (a kinescope recording, to be exact).

    As for the earliest surviving recording of a locally-produced game show, well, National Film and Sound Archive lists the first episode of “Give it a Go” among their holdings (broadcast 25 February 1957). At the very least one of the earliest.

    Earliest surviving example of a locally-produced drama is more difficult. Some of ABC’s 1957 Sydney-produced TV plays were kinescoped so they could be shown in Melbourne, but I can’t determine if any of those kinescopes still exist. One 1958 live play that I know exists as a kinescope is “Murder Story”, set in England, with a cast including John Ewart. National Archives lists it as being from 20 May 1958. Incorrect. According to a newspaper TV listing it was actually broadcast 21 May 1958 in Sydney. The kinescope however wasn’t shown in Melbourne until 15 July 1958. It wasn’t unusual in 1958 for Sydney-produced ABC shows to take weeks before being shown in Melbourne. It worked both ways. A 19 October 1958 Melbourne-produced live play called “Last Call” wasn’t shown in Sydney (as a kinescope recording) until 4 January 1959! No idea if the kinescope still exists.

    Earliest surviving music broadcast? No idea at all. One that I do know of is “William Clauson Recital”, featuring US folk singer, held as a kinescope recording by the National Archives, it was originally broadcast on 19 September 1957. But a 1960s documentary included a very, VERY brief clip of “Campfire Favourites”, which ran during the last two months of 1956. Does the kinescope still exist?

    1. Matthew Paul Argall

      After doing some additional research, it appears that a 1957 ABC live television play called “Shadow of Doubt” (shown live in Sydney on 5 June 1957) may possibly exist as a kinescope recording held by the National Film and Sound Archive. That would certainly make it an early surviving example of Australian television drama, though admittedly it was an adaptation of a 1955 British stage play. Further information can be found on Wikipedia’s article on it.

      I am more interested though as to whether a kinescope still exists of another 1957 ABC television play, called “Ending It”, starring Bruce Beeby, Madi Hedd and Keith Buckley. I know for a fact that it was kinescoped, the question is whether the kinescope still exists. One of the main reasons it interests me is because it was a remake of a 1939 BBC TV one-off play.

      1. Chris Keating

        The very first ABC play, “Twelve-Pound Look” survives, minus sound.

  16. Martin

    there was a rumour going around in the New South Wales Town of West Wallsend the first ever live broadcast of bowls ever broadcast it was claimed it was first for Australia and first in the world

  17. Karen

    I am chasing the origional footage for CINEMA SOUND – it has got a speed boat in the ad…….
    Please help if you can

  18. andrew

    reading in the 1996 edition of TV Week bruce said the the welcome to television introduction clip wasn’t the original it was a remake the original got lost some how

    1. Andrew B

      Yes, I wrote about it here

  19. cheryl alldridge

    I was one of the child dancers in the childrens Saturday morning Show on QTQ9 Brisbane called Coca Cola Bottlers Club with the host Alan Brandt from 4BH in Brisbane. It was around 1959, 1960. I have a photo from the Christmas Show. Does anyone have photos or maybe film from this time???

  20. George

    Does anyone know how to access a news/sport article on hsv featuring the 1961 vfa grand final between Yarraville v Williamstown. This was also shown in 1984 when Yarraville folded. This year Williamstown fc are celebrating 150 years as a club and are having a hall of fame dinner. This footage could be used as part of the Williamstown fc highlights.

    Thanks
    George Paras

    1. Andrew B

      Hi George

      Try contacting HSV Seven Melbourne:

      GPO Box 4477
      Melbourne VIC 3001

      03 96977777

  21. debbie

    I was just curious as to what was the very first ad aired on Australian tv? I have looked around for the info cant seem to find it

    1. Andrew B

      This post might shed some light on the earliest ads

  22. Barry

    in 2016 television celebrates sixty years of broadcasting I be looking forward seeing that

  23. Wade

    Hi was just wondering if anyone knew who the first news reader at GTV-9 was and which year did Eric Pearce take over? As I am sure that Eric Pearce began at HSV-7 first.

    1. Andrew B

      Hi Wade.

      Yes, Eric Pearce was initially at HSV7. I don’t know the timing of his shift to GTV9 I’m afraid but gather it was late 1950s.

      1. Wade

        Well going by this site, I think Eric Pearce may have transferred when GTV was officially opened, and therefore was the first newsreader for both. But I could be wrong.

  24. danny mccarthy

    Hi everyone

    I am looking for episodes of teenbeat i think my sister colleen appeared on one show. Digby richards was also on

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