Having already produced successful dramas Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police based around the Victorian police force, Crawford Productions took a different path with its 1973 action drama, Ryan. Instead of focusing on the police …
In 2013, Television.AU and TV Tonight collaborated to chronicle the longest-running shows still on-air in Australia. Now, ten years to the day, we’re revisiting that list, adding new entries and acknowledging those which have since …
In 2013, Television.AU and TV Tonight collaborated to chronicle the longest-running shows still on-air in Australia. Now, ten years on, we’re revisiting that list, adding new entries and acknowledging those which have since taken their …
The screening of the mini-series The Dismissal — forty years ago this week — marked a significant landmark for both its host network, Ten, and in Australian television’s growing interest in mini-series production. Australia’s commercial …
The question around the ongoing viability of three commercial networks has been raised, on and off, for many years. It was a question asked right back to when the federal government first permitted a third …
Fifty years ago, ABC‘s Certain Women marked a shift in putting the primary focus in Australian television drama on women. Up until then, Australian television drama was largely male-dominated. Indeed, it was not until 1972 …
Despite the big finale that aired three months ago, Neighbours is set to return in 2023. In a surprise move, Fremantle Australia has secured Amazon Freevee and Prime Video as the show’s international partner, while …
In the 1960s, Bobby Limb was one of Australia’s most popular entertainers and TV personalities, winning the TV Week Gold Logie in 1964. His variety show The Mobil-Limb Show was one of Australia’s first “national” …
Tonight marks the end of an era — after 37 years and 8903 episodes, Neighbours comes to an end. The longest running Australian television drama series. It survived changes of broadcasters in both Australia and …
It is 30 years since ABC‘s The Late Show made late Saturday night TV worth watching with its mix of live and pre-recorded sketches as it mocked politics, TV, films, advertising, sport, pop culture and …
This week, ABC celebrates its 90th anniversary. Sure enough, 40 years ago was ABC’s 50th anniversary. Like it is this week, in 1982 the national broadcaster had a number of special projects to mark the …
These program listings are only as published prior to the air dates — they do not account for last minute schedule changes made before going to air VICTORIA Sunday 4 November 1956 – MELBOURNE Official Opening …
Having already produced successful dramas Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police based around the Victorian police force, Crawford Productions took a different path with its 1973 action drama, Ryan. Instead of focusing on the police force, the central character, Michael Ryan (Rod Mullinar) is a private investigator. The only other regular characters are Ryan’s secretary Julie King (Pamela Stephenson), his assistant Tony Angellini (Luigi Villani) and Detective Cullen (Colin McEwan).
Ryan, comprising 39 episodes with a budget of around $1 million, was regarded at the time as one of the most expensive Australian television dramas to date. It was produced on film and, with an eye on overseas sales, in colour even though Australian television at the time was still airing in black and white.
It was a gruelling production for lead actor Mullinar, working 50 to 80 hour weeks to churn out each episode within around six days, and doing most of his own stunts. It was also a physically tough role for Stephenson, whose character Julie also presented some demanding undercover and fight scenes.
Ryan was an ambitious project with the typical high production values of Crawford dramas, but was not to be a ratings success and failed to sell overseas. In Melbourne, where it was made, it was a victim of HSV7 giving it the prime timeslot of Sunday 7.30pm against UK shows The Rolf Harris Show and The Benny Hill Show, with rival GTV9 putting a replay of the Elvis Presley concert special Aloha From Hawaii up against the first episode. GTV9 also aggressively reacted by putting first-run episodes of its popular Division 4 up against it in the following weeks. Ryan was not renewed beyond its series of 39 episodes.
Ray Wilkie, former meterologist and Network Ten weather presenter, has died at age 98.
Brisbane 4BC radio presenter Spencer Howson reported the news from Wilkie’s son on Saturday night.
Wilkie’s interest in meteorology was sparked during his days with the RAAF in England and Europe during World War II. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Queensland, he then spent a year in Melbourne studying meterology. He went on to work with the Bureau of Meteorology for 35 years, including as Regional Director in Brisbane and in Darwin.
In his 1988 book, Ray Wilkie’s Australian Weather, he recalled the events of Christmas Eve 1974, as Cyclone Tracy had changed direction and headed straight towards Darwin, and being on duty at the bureau’s Darwin offices as the cyclone went over the city in the early hours of Christmas morning. He recalled continuing to phone reports through to ABC as late as 2.30am as rain and wind belted through the smashed windows of the 7th floor offices.
He was involved in the development of the Tropical Cyclone Warning Service for northern Australia and wrote many papers for local and international publication. In 1984 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for meteorological services to the community.
From 1985, he became a weather presenter for Eyewitness News in Brisbane. It was a role that continued into the 1990s and he also gained a national profile when his forecasts featured in the national late night news.
He was also the brother of former Sydney meteorologist and TV weather presenter Alan Wilkie.
Former TV weather presenter Ray Wilkie’s son Rob has just confirmed to me that Ray died on Thursday night. “He was 98, and his time had come”.
Mary Fitzgerald, one of the first TV presenters on Melbourne television, has died in hospital in Melbourne after a short illness, surrounded by family.
Born Mary Parker in England, she grew up in Melbourne after her family relocated to Australia. One of her brothers was Michael Parker, who went on to be private secretary for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and who was depicted in the Netflix series The Crown. In 2018, she defended her late brother, publicly criticising The Crown for presenting a complete fabrication of his role with the royal family.
Although she grew up in Melbourne, she was soon back in England performing on London’s West End, in films and on BBC television, where as well as acting she also hosted her own show, Saturday Night Date.
Her experience in working on live television at the BBC put her in good stead in securing the first female presenting role on Melbourne television at the new station HSV7 — with the channel billing her as “an international personality”. She described her presenting technique as an informal, intimate style. “I made a very natural approach to viewers. If you come into the lounge after dinner it is nicer to have a chat with someone than listen to a formal exposition. I tried to think of a particular family I knew and would speak to them — not eight million people. Each family got the intimate effect that the program was just for them,” she told The Listener In-TV.
Mary Parker, Eric Pearce, Bernadette Russell, Danny Webb and Judy Jack. (Picture: Listener In-TV)
Before starting at HSV7, she visited TV stations in New York and Cleveland to study commercial television techniques there, noting that despite her BBC background it was expected that Australian television would likely adopt a more American style.
She appeared on HSV7’s opening night, on 4 November 1956, as the weather presenter alongside newsreader Eric Pearce. Listener In-TV described her role as “making the weather the topic of conversation with viewers. She will explain the weather map and, using diagrams, will give forecasts from the weather bureau.” TV listings at the time noted that Parker would present weather segments twice each night.
In a 2018 interview on 3AW, she recalled that each day she had to drive to the weather bureau offices to collect the maps, charts and diagrams and be briefed on all the weather terminology and details, before driving back to the HSV7 studios to put the script together for the night’s weather segments.
Also during HSV7’s first week on-air, she debuted as co-host of the chat show Eric And Mary with Pearce, and hosted her own interview show, Guest Of The Week.
In 1957, she married portrait artist Paul Fitzgerald. Their wedding featured in The Australian Women’s Weekly. They had seven children and with her husband’s work taking him overseas, where he would paint subjects including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Pope John XXIII and Vivien Leigh, she devoted her life to their family. Though this limited opportunities for her to resume her career, in her later years she appeared on television dramas including a guest role on Blue Heelers.
Her son-in-law Tim Lee is an ABC journalist and has published a tribute to Mary Fitzgerald on the ABC website.
Jock Zonfrillo, MasterChef Australia co-host and judge, has died at the age of 46.
It was reported that he was found by police who had attended a Brunswick address for a welfare check. His death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner.
Born in Scotland in 1976, he began his career as a kitchen-hand at age 12, and commenced his apprenticeship at 15. By the time he was 22 he was a head chef.
After a successful career overseas, he was head chef at Sydney’s Restaurant 41 before opening Restaurant Orana and Street ADL in Adelaide in 2013.
In late 2019, he was appointed one of the new panel of judges on Network Ten‘s MasterChef Australia, alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen. The new line-up, replacing the series’ founding judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston, was first seen in air in 2020, also hosting Junior MasterChefAustralia and Celebrity MasterChef Australia.
His other TV credits included The Cook Up With Adam Liaw, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Restaurant Revolution and Would I Lie To You?
In 2021 he published his memoir, Last Shot, which chronicled his rise in the hospitality industry and his battle with heroin addiction. He admitted that writing the book was a painful reminder of his past. “You drag up a lot of stuff you’re still ashamed of, and you’re vulnerable. It was an emotionally difficult time,” he told TV Week in a recent interview. “I’m one in a million when it comes to coming out the other side of that [addiction] and having some semblance of a life, let alone a successful one. It’s not normal and that’s the point. But the impact it’s had on people struggling with addiction has been incredible.”
The 2023 season of MasterChef Australia was due to debut tonight. Network Ten has postponed the show’s broadcast, replacing it with the free-to-air premiere of another reality series, The Bridge, that was due to air later in the week.
Jock Zonfrillo is survived by his wife Lauren Fried, their two children, and his two children from previous marriages.
A Statement From The Zonfrillo Family:
“With completely shattered hearts and without knowing how we can possibly move through life without him, we are devastated to share that Jock passed away yesterday.
“So many words can describe him, so many stories can be told, but at this time we’re too overwhelmed to put them into words. For those who crossed his path, became his mate, or were lucky enough to be his family, keep this proud Scot in your hearts when you have your next whisky.
“We implore you to please let us grieve privately as we find a way to navigate through this and find space on the other side to celebrate our irreplaceable husband, father, brother, son and friend.”
A Statement From Network Ten and Endemol Shine Australia:
“Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family. Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday.
“Jock was known to Australians as a chef, best-selling author, philanthropist and MasterChef judge but he will be best remembered as a loving father, husband, brother and son.
“Determined and talented and with plenty of grit, Jock was born in Glasgow to an Italian father and a Scottish mother, which meant his formative years were heavily influenced by two strong cultures and it was his obsession with food and desire for a new pushbike that at just 12 years old fuelled Jock to knock on kitchen doors looking for a job.
“Jock’s love and passion for food saw him become one of the youngest culinary students to do an apprenticeship at The Turnberry Hotel at just 15 years of age. From that point onwards there was no holding him back and by 17 he was working alongside Marco Pierre White at his eponymous Restaurant Marco Pierre White.
“Throughout his career he worked with world famous chefs and in restaurants all over the world. His talent saw him shine in the world’s most formidable kitchens and he opened Bistro Blackwood and Restaurant Orana in Adelaide after moving to Australia.
“Jock’s Restaurant Orana was recognised with the coveted distinction of three hats in both 2019 and 2020 and he also received global accolades, accepting the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018.
“In 2019, Jock was named as a judge on MasterChef Australia in which he took great pride in challenging and coaching the contestants and of course inspiring a nation of home cooks.
“Jock’s charisma, wicked sense of humour, generosity, passion and love for food and his family cannot be measured. He will be greatly missed.”
A Statement From Beverley McGarvey, Executive Vice President, Paramount ANZ:
“This is a terribly sad day for Jock’s family and friends, his Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia colleagues and for MasterChef fans around Australia and the world.
“Jock was an extraordinary man. He was a wonderful colleague and friend, and we feel very privileged to have had him play such an important and impactful role in MasterChef. Despite all his notable professional milestones, nothing brought him more joy or happiness than his family. Our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.”
A Statement From Peter Newman, Chief Executive Officer, Endemol Shine Australia:
“We are shocked and extremely saddened by the news of Jock’s passing. Jock was an incredible talent, not just as a renowned chef, but as someone who could bring joy into the homes of people in Australia and around the world in his role as judge on MasterChef Australia.
“On set he was loved by the team and his passion for food and the show was infectious. He was also a brilliant champion for the contestants on MasterChef, always wanting the very best for them. He will be deeply missed by the entire MasterChef team. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Network 10 and Endemol Shine Australia are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Jock Zonfrillo, a beloved member of the MasterChef Australia family. Jock passed away in Melbourne yesterday.
MasterChef Australia will not air this week. pic.twitter.com/cmtDuJr19P
AB: Since its debut in 1996, Australian Story has covered the often-unique stories of a diverse range of Australians from their own perspective. Some of the people to feature on Australian Story have been household names, others less so but with stories just as captivating. The program has been widely acclaimed with a number of Walkley and industry-voted Logie awards to its credit. Former 7.30 host Leigh Sales has taken on the hosting role held for many years by the late Caroline Jones.
AB: There have been various versions of Postcards in production across Australia, but the Victorian version, first launched in 1999, continues to air on Sunday afternoons, covering tourist and retail attractions from across the state. The show’s initial host Geoff Cox was eventually poached by rival Seven for a similar series, Coxy’s Big Break. Current presenters Livinia Nixon, Kris Smith, Lauren Phillips, Todd Woodbridge, Brodie Harper, Shane Delia and Madeline Spark.
Creek to Coast, Seven
DK: Seven’s Queensland travel show loves the outdoors, whether cruising offshore from the Gold Coast, touring a fourby across Cape York, strapping into a rally car, or jumping aboard a helicopter in the Kimberley. It was briefly axed in 2019 as part of network cost-cutting but along with Sydney Weekender won a reprieve. It is currently hosted by Scotty Hillier.
Eurovision Song Contest, SBS
DK: SBS has actually broadcast the world’s biggest song contest since 1983, as our fascination with the melodic & kooky led to viewing parties across the land. But it was 2001 when Effie (Mary Coustas) hosted a studio-hosted broadcast with 23 celebrity jurors, each representing a competing nation. But the audience gave it the thumbs down with SBS returning briefly to UK commentary from Terry Wogan before Des Mangan in 2003. By 2008, Julia Zemiro became a natural fit to introduce the event, joined on the ground with Sam Pang for Moscow 2009. After a guest appearance by Jessica Mauboy, the EBU allowed Australia to compete from 2015 with Guy Sebastian. Joel Creasey & Myf Warhurst became SBS hosts from 2017, including for Eurovision: Australia Decides events. The question remains, can anyone go one better than Dami Im‘s 2016 second placed Sound of Silence — and what will happen when we do?
DK: Barrie Cassidy was host of the ABC political panel for 18 years, warming up sleepy Sunday mornings with fireside discussions on all things politics. Often quotes from guest pollies would become break-out news in 6pm bulletins or Monday newspapers, while the serious talk has been complemented by Huw Parkinson‘s viral-busting video mash-ups (will anything ever top Christopher Pyne fixing Star Wars?) and Talking Pictures. David Speers assumed hosting duties from 2020, after Fran Kelly & Annabel Crabb stints.
AB: Beginning as a replacement to ABC‘s Quantum, Catalyst provided a weekly insight into the world of science, with stories from Australia and overseas, as it impacts the various aspects of modern life. A couple of editorial missteps in the mid-2010s triggered widespread criticism, leading ABC to launch an investigation and to re-assess the show’s entire structure. It was re-formatted from a weekly series to that of occasional specials.
On The Couch, Fox Footy
DK: Originally hosted by Robert Walls, Mike Sheahan (13 years) and Gerard Healy (19 years), Fox Footy‘s analysis show is currently hosted by Garry Lyon, Nathan Buckley and Jonathan Brown dissecting a weekend of games in an informal ‘lounge room’ set.
AB: The Sunrise name had been used by Seven for various morning news formats since the early 1990s. It eventually became the brand for Seven’s competitor to Nine‘s Today, initially hosted by Melissa Doyle and Chris Reason. A cancer scare for Reason saw him take leave, replaced with finance journalist David Koch, and suddenly “Mel and Kochie” became Sunrise‘s most valueable trademark. The folksy emphasis (cue the Cash Cow) was soon to challenge Today‘s long-held dominance and the two shows have been battling it out ever since.
Living Black, SBS
DK: For two decades Karla Grant has hosted Australia’s longest running Indigenous current affairs show, a program she created after 6 years of ICAM (Indigenous Cultural Affairs Magazine). When it launched the show ambitiously spanned sports, arts, culture, interviews, features and news before shifting to an interview / investigative format, hearing stories from individuals around the country and winning the trust of her community. With guests such as Adam Goodes, Cathy Freeman, Leah Purcell, Christine Anu, Ken Wyatt, Dean Widders, Aaron Fa’Aoso and Noel Pearson, there are few that Grant is yet to interview.
The Block, Nine
DK: Although Nine’s renovation series only ran for two hit seasons under host Jamie Durie, it was cleverly revived in 2010 to become one of the network’s biggest success stories. Original producers recast with Scott Cam, Shelley Craft, Shaynna Blaze, Neale Whittaker and Darren Palmer, attracting blockbuster ratings, gossip headlines and extravagant profits of properties famously branded “Our biggest Block ever!” No Block story would be complete without acknowledging its perpetual product placement and contestant claims of “a bad edit,” none of which seem to impede its enduring popularity.
Border Security: Australia’s Front Line, Seven
DK: Following the work of the Department of Home Affairs, Australian Border Force, and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, this half hour show has been a blockbuster hit for Seven in an era of contentious immigration debates and a post 9/11 security conscious world. Narrated by actor Grant Bowler, it has also come in for criticism for targetting tourists with poor English skills. Nevertheless, the show screens in multiple countries around the world.
AB: Offsiders began as an adjacent off-shoot to the politics-heavy Insiders, with the same host Barrie Cassidy. The Sunday morning panel discussion of sport is now hosted by Kelli Underwood.
Bondi Rescue, Ten
AB: Billed as Australia’s ‘real life Baywatch‘, Bondi Rescue gives us a close up view on one of Australia’s busiest and most iconic beaches and the professional lifeguards that are charged with keeping it a safe and trouble-free environment. The show, which plays well with the international image of Australia as the land of long summers on the beach, has sold well overseas and won a number of Logie Awards at home.
The Morning Show, Seven
DK: Adam Boland‘s success with Sunrise saw him entrusted with taking on Nine‘s Mornings with Kerri Anne and Ten‘s 9AM with David & Kim. Hosts Larry Emdur & Kylie Gillies defeated both from Day 1 and it took nine years before it ever lost a week. In 2014 the show was also live on air when the adjacent Martin Place Siege broke out, until the building was all but evacuated. Seven’s show is a winner thanks to the chemistry bouncing between two hosts each morning in between the all-important advertorials.
Who Do You Think You Are?, SBS
AB: An Australian franchise of the popular BBC format, Who Do You Think You Are? has taken some famous Australians — actors, politicians, comedians, journalists, cultural elders, musicians and athletes — on a journey to discover their ancestral roots. The latest series of the show is set to open with what inadvertently has become the last screen credit, and perhaps a fitting tribute, for the late Barry Humphries.
Selling Houses Australia, LifeStyle
DK: A perennial viewers’ favourite at the now-defunct ASTRA Awards, Foxtel‘s property show has been hosted by natural storyteller Andrew Winter (who even drew a Gold Logie nomination in 2018), joined by interior designer Shaynna Blaze (subsequently borrowed by Nine‘s The Block) and landscaper Charlie Albone. From 2022, Winter welcomed Dennis Scott and Wendy Moore. While Free to Air has floated other property shows, none touch the longevity of Foxtel’s.
AB: What began as The Gruen Transfer, an insight into advertising and consumer behaviour, has sparked a number of spin-offs, including Gruen Nation (politics and federal elections), Gruen Sweat (the 2012 Olympic Games) and Gruen Planet (broader analysis of brand management and public relations). The pairing of advertising identities Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft — both TV newbies — on the panel has been the show’s unlikely master stroke, with both carving out their own media profiles as a result.
DK: A pioneer of TV embracing Twitter, ABC‘s forum show is modelled on a ‘Town Hall’ concept where the ordinary folk get access to decision makers, igntiing national conversations. Tony Jones hosted until 2019 before Hamish MacDonald, Virginia Trioli, David Speers and current host Stan Grant. In between important discussions, largely driven by federal politics, it has also seen a shoe thrown, a student protest and former terrorist suspect allowed to ask a question — the latter led to an ABC investigation. Since abandoning — then re-embracing — its Monday night slot, the show has never been able to recapture its must-see magic and is now a lightning rod for claims of broadcaster bias, if often in the eye of the beholder.
News Breakfast, ABC
AB: Following some earlier attempts at breakfast news and current affairs with First Edition and Business Breakfast, News Breakfast had an off-Broadway start to a miniscule audience on ABC2. Gradually the new show found its feet and developed its own chemistry as an alternative player in the breakfast TV battle. The show made the move to ABC’s news channel in 2010 and to the main ABC channel in 2011, and has on occasion nipped at the heels of its commercial competitors in the ratings. A weekend edition was added to the line-up in 2012.
Bondi Vet, Ten, Nine
DK: Dr Chris Brown became a star with his warm-hearted animal series, joined by Lisa Chimes, for 7 seasons on Network Ten. Attending dogs, cats and birds and even cattle and zoo animals, the series even sold to CBS under the title Dr Chris: Pet Vet. By 2017 the show rebranded as Bondi Vet: Coast to Coast without Brown but with an expanded cast, screening on Nine from 2019.
Hot Seat, Nine
DK: A spin-off from Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the Eddie McGuire afternoon show ran for 8 years before expanding to an hour of quizing fun, Surpassing 2500 episodes and outlasting all its competition from Seven, it has posed over 50,000 questions to 15,000 contestants. In that time just two people have won the million dollars, 34 contestants have won $250,000, and the show has given away more than $60 million.
MasterChef Australia, Ten
AB: When MasterChef was announced as the big ticket reality show to take over from Big Brother, nobody was all that convinced. Who would watch a cooking show, six nights a week? What sort of drama or human emotion can be dragged out over a hot stove over thirteen weeks? The critics were soon silenced as MasterChef became one of the biggest TV hits since the turn of the century. Australia’s adaptation has gone on to become the template for franchising the format worldwide. The show has won Logie and AACTA awards, been a glowing example of diverse representation, and directed numerous contestants into successful culinary and media careers.
The (7pm) Project, Ten
AB: It’s a delicate balance to get news and comedy to work together, but The Project emerged to perfectly typify the Network Ten brand of youth and provides an alternative to traditional news and current affairs. It will make laughs of the news but also explore more serious social topics. Two of the show’s hosts, Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly, have won TV Week Gold Logies. The show and its ratings have taken a hit in recent times — as a frequent target of clickbait and with three key on-air personnel leaving within a matter of months — but is settling in with a refreshed line-up.
Highway Patrol, Seven
DK: Crashes, smashes, road rage, high speed chases and worst drivers, Seven‘s observational series rides shotgun with Victoria Police, as bad behaviour becomes, well, car-crash TV. Produced by NZ’s Greenstone TV, the show has sold to multiple territories including Norway, Denmark and the UK.
Farewelled since 2013:
The Golden Years of Hollywood The Movie Show / At the Movies Saturday Disney Lateline Australia’s Funniest Home Videos Totally Wild Meet The Press The Footy Show Today Tonight Hi-5
Methodology: Australian TV shows (excluding news / sport) prior to 2010 still in production, or which remain with same producers / network.
Now, ten years to the day, we’re revisiting that list, adding new entries and acknowledging those which have since taken their leave.
DK: David Knox, TV Tonight
AB: Andrew Bayley, Television.AU
* indicates shows inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame.
Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, Seven
DK: What began in 1931 by the Herald and Weekly Times was first broadcast in 1957 in conjunction with Radio 3DB. It expanded to its first full-day telethon in 1960 and has since become a Victorian tradition, with year-long fundraising events across the state. Seven Network personalities from around the country devote their annual Good Friday to this cause, frequently giving rise to spontaneous live television moments that only telethons can deliver. COVID and cutbacks may have pulled back on its marathon broadcast but in its 66th year another record was broken at $23m+ raised for Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital with $428,774,440 raised across six decades of broadcasting.
TV Week Logie Awards, Various
DK: First seen as 8 awards during a 1959 episode of In Melbourne Tonight with Googie Withers as host, it was Graham Kennedy who was awarded “Star of the Year.” The first telecast was in 1961 from the Chevron-Hilton in Sydney on the ABC. Since then it has become known as TV’s “Night of Nights” when industry gather to recognise their achievements, but not without frocking up and imbibing first. The unscripted moments are numerous and the international guests have featured everyone from John Wayne to Joan Rivers (“It’s the ugliest award I’ve ever seen!”). Mr. Logies himself, the late Bert Newton, hosted solo more than any other, 19 times -a legacy now honoured with the Bert Newton Award for Most Popular Presenter. From 1996 – 2022 Nine was host broadcaster but in 2023 Seven takes over with a Sydney event. Love them or hate them, and it’s seemingly an Aussie tradition to do the latter, they remain the nation’s #1 awards night.
Four Corners, ABC *
DK: Officially Australia’s longest running single program, ABC’s public affairs show has put stories on the national agenda for more than 60 years. From social issues, politics, crime, environment, war, immigration, whistle-blowing and major investigations, Four Corners has done them all. In 1961 cameras took us to Box Ridge Aboriginal Reserve near Casino, NSW; a report on Queensland police corruption in 1987 led to the Fitzgerald Inquiry; in 2009 it detailed a culture of footballers & sex, and in 2011 we learned of the treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs. More recent stories have detailed abuse of Indigenous children at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, live baiting in the greyhound racing industry, allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan and sexism and inappropriate behaviour inside the Canberra bubble. A ‘Who’s Who’ of journalists and producers has worked on Four Corners including John Penlington, Mike Willesee, Caroline Jones, Andrew Olle, Kerry O’Brien, Paul Lyneham, Jonathan Holmes, Bruce Belsham, Sarah Ferguson and Louise Milligan.
Play School, ABC *
AB: Generations of Australian pre-schoolers, and their parents, have spent their mornings and afternoons with the various presenters and characters of Play School. For any actor the role of presenter on Play School is a much-sought after addition to their CV with the list of presenters over the last 57 years including some of Australia’s most successful and popular actors. Depending on how old you are, you might recall presenters like Patsy King, Anne Haddy, Lorraine Bayly, John Waters, Benita Collings, Jan Kingsbury, John Hamblin, Noni Hazlehurst, Don Spencer and Alister Smart, or later names like Trisha Goddard, Monica Trapaga, George Spartels, Justine Clarke, Alex Papps, Deborah Mailman, Andrew MacFarlane, Rachael Coopes and Hunter Page-Lochard.
Telethon, Seven (WA)
AB: Since its inception in 1968, the Perth-based Telethon has raised over $500 million for children’s charities and medical research in Western Australia. As well as attracting celebrities from across the Seven Network, the annual weekend event has also attracted international guest stars such as Sammy Davis Jnr, Stevie Wonder, Julian Lennon, Celine Dion, Elton John, the Harlem Globetrotters and Harry Connick Jnr. In the mid-1980s, when TVW7 owner Robert Holmes à Court sold Michael Jackson the rights to the Beatles‘ catalogue for $48 million, part of the deal was for Jackson to come to Perth just to appear at Telethon.
AB: It was long thought that Behind The News began in 1969, until ABC itself realised that it actually began under a different title, Current Affairs, in June 1968. Bringing education and news together, Behind The News gave generations of school kids (and some of their parents) context to news and current affairs in terms that they could understand without being condescending. Budget cuts saw Behind The News axed in 2004 but it was soon to be reinstated.
Carols By Candlelight, 0-10 / Nine
AB: Melbourne radio identity Norman Banks created the first Carols By Candlelight in 1938. Since then the annual event has become a tradition followed by Australians all over the country in celebrating Christmas and acting as a fundraiser for Vision Australia. The event was first televised in 1956 as part of GTV9’s pre-launch test transmissions but did not become an annual television event until 1969, initially on the 0-10 Network. The Nine Network has been the Carols broadcaster since 1979, hosted for ten years by Brian Naylor, then for almost 20 years by Ray Martin. Other hosts since then have included Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson, David Campbell, Allison Langdon, Eddie McGuire, Livinia Nixon and Brooke Boney.
Mass For You At Home, Ten
AB: Television in the 1970s wasn’t all about Number 96, Abigail or Alvin Purple, it also created Mass For You At Home, giving isolated or house-bound viewers an opportunity to participate in Catholic Mass every Sunday. In 2021, after almost 50 years based in Melbourne, it shifted to a new production model based at the Diocese of Wollongong. The show continues to air each week on Network Ten and pay-TV channel Aurora, and is streamed on YouTube.
A Current Affair, Nine
AB: In 1971, Mike Willesee‘s A Current Affair was a game changer for current affairs on commercial television and ran for seven years on the Nine Network. After an absence of ten years, Nine revived the A Current Affair brand in 1988 with former 60 Minutes reporter Jana Wendt at the helm. The program cemented Wendt’s reputation and popularity with the viewers, leading to her winning the Gold Logie in 1992. Among her successors are Ray Martin, Mike Willesee, Mike Munro, Leila McKinnon and veteran host Tracy Grimshaw, who recently stepped down after 17 years. Allison Langdon now hosts the program during the week, with Deborah Knight hosting the Saturday edition. Although the program now leans towards a merry-go-round of reports of dodgy tradespeople, neighbours behaving badly, and harsh bureaucracy, it does occasionally rise to the challenge of serious reporting.
60 Minutes, Nine *
AB: The Nine Network‘s expensive foray into prime time international current affairs was almost a ratings lemon when it launched in 1979. Persistence with the program eventually paid off and 60 Minutes was soon the flagship of Nine’s news and current affairs portfolio and a ratings leader, fending off any number of challengers thrown at it by other networks. Some of the stories to have featured on 60 Minutes have become part of TV legend — including George Negus’ famous interview with then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Tracey Curro’s interview with controversial politician Pauline Hanson, whose “please explain” response has become part of the national language; Ray Martin’s award-winning report on Sydney’s Chelmsford Hospital; and former cult spokeswoman Ma Sheela’s calm response — “tough titties” — when accused of stealing $40 million from the Orange People cult. In 2016, reporter Tara Brown and three colleagues were arrested on allegations of child abduction in Beirut when taking part in a botched child recovery operation. Those charges were later dropped.
AB: Nine launched The National Today Show in 1982 to further extend its commitment to news and current affairs coverage across the day. The National Today Show, initially hosted by Steve Liebmann and Sue Kellaway, fought it out with Ten’s Good Morning Australia for over a decade. In the early 2000s the show that had woken up Australian viewers for twenty years got a wake-up call of its own in the shape of Seven’s Sunrise. In 2006, the program recruited Network Ten newsreader Jessica Rowe to replace Tracy Grimshaw, but, through no fault of her own, Rowe’s legacy from her stint at Today was the addition of the term “boning” into TV jargon — as Nine boss Eddie McGuire is said to have wanted her “boned” (sacked) from the program. It is a phrase he has denied using but the word stuck. Today has since expanded to a weekend edition and the mid-morning Today Extra. Other presenters to have appeared on Today over the years include George Negus, Patrice Newell, Elizabeth Hayes, Brian Bury, Eric Walters, Ian Ross, Monte Dwyer, Joan McInnes, Sharyn Ghidella, Lisa Wilkinson, Steve Jacobs, Georgie Gardner, Richard Wilkins, Deborah Knight, Allison Langdon, Ben Fordham and current hosts Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo.
Carols in the Domain, ABC, Seven
DK: Started by a Qantas employee in 1983 who was an only child and wanted a Sydney event to celebrate Christmas, this event partnered with the Salvation Army, winning a TV broadcast first on ABC. It first screened on Seven in 1988 where it has run annually. Early acts included Normie Rowe, Jackie Love, The Fabulous Singlettes, Don Spencer, Ian Turpie, Sydney Conservatorium Orchestra and Chorale and Young Sydney Singers and more recently, Sunrise hosts, The Wiggles, Mark Anthony, Samantha Jade and Paulini.
AB: Former ABC journalist Paul Murphy headed SBS’ international current affairs program Dateline when it launched as Dateline World in October 1984. The program has been through a number of format and timeslot changes over the years but now embraces video journalism, allowing unique access to covering international situations. Although Dateline no longer has a host up front, past hosts have included Pria Viswalingham, Jane Hutcheon, Jana Wendt, George Negus, Yalda Hakim, Mark Davis and Anjali Rao.
Neighbours, Seven, Ten, Prime Video *
DK: One of Australia’s most famous TV exports, this Grundy-produced serial had a short run on the Seven Network, being axed after only six months. But its domestic location in Vermont South, just happened to be around the corner from Network Ten in Nunawading, which swooped on the soap and was forced to rebuild internal sets after Seven destroyed the originals. Life on sunny Ramsay Street blossomed on Australian and British screens, with its mix of teen romance and cul-de-sac conflict. It launched the careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce, Craig McLachlan, Natalie Imbruglia, Holly Valance and made a household name of one ‘Harold Bishop.’ In 2022 the axe fell a second time after UK broadcaster Channel 5 chose to focus on home made dramas. Despite a grand farewell with homecoming cameos, fan tears and a sentimental epilogue by Jackie Woodburne, a later reprieve via Prime Video has led to a third chapter for 2023, again allowing for its magnificent training of crew and young talent. As they so often say, everybody working in Australian television has had a gig on Neighbours.
7.30 / The 7.30 Report, ABC
AB: Launched from the ashes of the failed The National experiment of 1985, The 7.30 Report (now 7.30) has continued to present serious nightly current affairs when commercial TV efforts moved towards sensationalist, consumer-driven stories. A state-based program for its first decade, it was then hosted by Kerry O’Brien as a national format. Although it appeared a bit wobbly in the post-O’Brien era, it soon settled with Leigh Sales as host for 12 years, with Sarah Ferguson recently taking the lead.
DK: Who hasn’t chilled out on the couch to a session of rrrrrrage? Friday and Saturday nights on ABC has been home to the music video art form, kicking off any time from 11pm until the morning. For over 25 years ABC has embraced genres from pop to metal, R&B to rap, giving airtime to new artists as long as their clip was good enough. rage has hosted hundreds of guest programmers: musicians, comedians and even politicians invited to share their favourite music clips and explain why they mean so much to them. There have been themed nights, Wild Cards, summer Countdown specials, memorial tributes and, contentiously, a Top 50 that was dropped in 2006 triggering a rage amongst viewers all of its own. As music video shows teeter in an era of digital music and YouTube, ABC’s real wild child continues to outstay them all.
Home And Away, Seven *
DK: Buoyed by the success of Neighbours on Ten, Seven launched a new primetime drama about a foster family running a caravan park in the fictional town of Summer Bay. The Seven-produced concept worked, with viewers in Australia and the UK falling for soapie storylines against the backdrop of a surf beach, school and local diner. Summer Bay has featured a parade of Aussie stars including Melissa George, Kate Ritchie, Julian McMahon, Dannii Minogue, Ryan Kwanten, Simon Baker, Guy Pearce, Craig McLachlan, Chris Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Ada Nicodemou, Lynne McGranger, Georgie Parker, Emily Symons, Shane Withington and more. ‘Flamin’ Ray Meagher remains the longest-serving actor in a continuous role on Australian TV with a Gold Logie to show for it. Although it is Australia’s longest-running uninterrupted drama, Seven is sometimes torn over acknowledging the show’s age, but it remains competitive in its 7pm slot and is a huge drawcard for 7plus.
AB: Starting as a studio-based interview and discussion program, ABC’s Compass has explored matters relating to religion, faith, ethics and spirituality. Initially hosted by Angela Pearman on Sunday afternoons, the program later developed into a primetime documentary format. Christina Koutsoukos took over as host in 1989, then veteran journalist Geraldine Doogue. With new host Indira Naidoo appointed this year, Compass has taken on a broader remit to include newer forms of spirituality and a focus on social justice.
Media Watch, ABC
DK: Stuff-ups, beat-ups and barneys, the ABC’s long-running commentary show has become the nation’s media watchdog. A string of hosts, including Stuart Littlemore, Paul Barry (twice), David Marr, Monica Attard and Jonathan Holmes, have sought to keep the bastards honest, whether they be print, radio, television, online or even the ABC itself (including when controversial ABC general manager Jonathon Shier “rested” the show in 2000). Along the way there have been stories on Cash for Comment, ACA’s Paxton kids saga, Today Tonight’s ‘Chase for Skase’, fake Pauline Hanson photos, product placement, plagiarism, re-used archival vision and almost anything involving Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt or the Illawarra Mercury. Recently criticised for not seeking a right of reply, it is also the bane of editors across the country, who still watch it just to ensure they are not on it.
Gardening Australia, ABC
DK: Amiable host Peter Cundallhosted this gardening show from 1989, answering “how to” viewer questions before finally signing off with his trademark “that’s your bloomin’ lot” in 2008. Briefly succeeded by Stephen Ryan it took the inimitable Costa Georgiadis to drive the show to a new audience in 2012, winning a surprise Silver Logie in 2019 as Most Popular Presenter. Amongst some of the show’s long-running presenters have been Jane Edmanson, Colin Campbell, John Patrick, Angus Stewart, Tino Carnevale, Jerry Coleby-Williams, Sophie Thomson and Josh Byrne.
DK: Perfectly fulfilling the ABC Charter to cover rural stories, this show brilliantly explains the bush to the city, with stories on agriculture, economics , business and product innovation, animal and crop science, regional infrastructure, climate and lifestyle with host Pip Courtney (previous presenters include Deborah Knight, Ticky Fullerton, Anne Kruger and Sally Sara). ABC still draws a consistent audience for this show that frequently pushes it into Sunday ratings.
Foreign Correspondent, ABC
AB: Former 60 Minutes reporter and Today host George Negus went back to ABC, where his TV career started, to host Foreign Correspondent, providing serious international current affairs. initially on Saturday night. The program has been widely recognised both in Australia and overseas for its coverage and documentary reporting of international affairs.
AB: Australia’s longest-running travel series was hosted by Jeff Watson, David Reyne, Anna McMahon and Rebecca Harris when it debuted in 1992. For over 30 years the program has taken viewers to a wide range of local and international travel destinations. It now appears on Saturday afternoons. Reyne is still with the show more than 30 years later, and Catriona Rowntree has been with Getaway since 1996.
The Sunday Footy Show, Nine
AB: The Sunday Footy Show, with separate AFL and NRL editions, revived the age old format of putting a bunch of footy players and commentators together to discuss the round in progress. The AFL version featured the legendary Lou Richardsfor many years and continues to host a handball competition named in his honour. The success of the Sunday show in both AFL and NRL markets led to the top-rating Thursday night Footy Shows launching for each code on Grand Final Eve, 1993, but the Sunday show has even managed to outlive its prime time spin-offs.
Sydney Weekender, Seven
DK: For 27 years Mike Whitney criss-crossed the state of New South Wales visiting travel spots and telling us about weekenders in Seven’s long running travel and leisure show. After endless B&Bs, caravan parks, restaurants and adventure activities, he was succeeded by Matt Shirvington in 2022, then Sam Mac in 2023. Seven attempted to cull the show in 2020 as part of cost-cutting measures but a backlash from sponsors ensured it resumed in 2021 continuing to explore the Premier state.
Better Homes and Gardens, Seven
AB: Noni Hazlehurst and John Jarratt initially hosted the TV spin-off of magazine Better Homes And Gardens, presenting a cheerful mix of stories relating to home improvements, gardening, pets, home maintenance and cooking. The program has since moved from Tuesday nights to Fridays where its viewer popularity survives despite some awkward channel shuffling to get around AFL coverage.
The Back Page, Foxtel
AB: One of the pioneer shows of Australian pay-TV. Initially hosted by Peter FitzSimons and John Casey, then revamped with Mike Gibson in 1997, The Back Page is Fox Sports‘ longest-running program. Now hosted by Tony Squires with a panel of athletes, journalists and special guests each week, The Back Page promises lighthearted and diverse discussion on the world of sport. Former ironwoman Candice Warner is a recent addition as a regular panellist
DK: Hosted initially by Vivian Schenker (pictured), then Gael Jennings, Insight was first paired with Dateline as a way of looking at Australian current affairs. But with host Jenny Brockie from 2001 it moved to a studio forum discussion, offering first-person stories on modern Australian experiences. Hosted by Kumi Taguchi since 2020, the series always offers up fascinating array of topics around moral dilemmas, parenting, honesty, adoption, anxiety, dating, gaming, consent and more.
Methodology: Australian TV shows (excluding news / sport) prior to 2010 still in production, or which remain with same producers / network.
Barry Humphries, the comedian who gave us iconic characters like Dame Edna Everage, has died at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital at the age of 89.
He died after suffering complications from a recent hip surgery.
Born in Melbourne in 1934, Humphries first appeared at Melbourne University student revues in the mid-1950s. One of his earliest creations, Mrs Norm Everage, first appeared on stage in 1955 and went on to become his most famous caricature — with the Moonee Ponds housewife later granted a damehood and international fame as Dame Edna Everage.
He appeared on HSV7‘s opening night variety special in November 1956 and starred in early TV variety shows including an ABC special, Wild Life And Christmas Belles.
Humphries went on to the United Kingdom where he performed on the West End, made his movie debut in Bedazzled and starred in BBC‘s The Late Show. He also co-wrote a comic strip character, Barry McKenzie, which led to the movie The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie, starring Barry Crocker in the title role and Humphries as his aunt Edna Everage.
The Getting Of Wisdom
Humphries continued to alternate between the UK and Australia. Among his many credits, he appeared with his daughters Emily and Tessa in the Australian movie The Getting Of Wisdom in 1977 and, as Dame Edna, featured in commercials for a brand of whitegoods.
There were guest appearances in various variety and chat shows, usually as Dame Edna or her polar opposite, Sir Les Patterson. He appeared numerous times as Dame Edna at the TV Week Logie Awards and, in 1986, hosted An Aussie Audience With Dame Edna.
His career also took him to the US, where he appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show and Ally McBeal.
In 1999, he hosted the ABC documentary series Barry Humphries’Flashbacks, including commentary both as himself and as various alter egos including Dame Edna, Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone.
In 2005, he starred in the telemovie Da Kath And Kim Code and later in the movie Kath And Kimderella.
He continued working and touring right up until recently and had plans to go on tour again later in the year.
His family has issued a statement on his passing:
“He was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit.
“With over 70 years on the stage, he was an entertainer to his core, touring up until the last year of his life and planning more shows that will sadly never be.
“His audiences were precious to him, and he never took them for granted. Although he may be best remembered for his work in theatre, he was a painter, author, poet, and a collector and lover of art in all its forms.
“He was also a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and a friend and confidant to many. His passing leaves a void in so many lives.
“The characters he created, which brought laughter to millions, will live on.”
Among his numerous honours and accolades, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1982 and awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001.
Barry Humphries is survived by wife Lizzie Spender, sons Rupert and Oscar, daughters Emily and Tessa, and 10 grandchildren.
Source: IMDB, The Age. Listener In-TV, 3 November 1956. TV Week, 26 February 1977.
Maxine Klibingaitis, actor from series including Prisoner, Neighbours and Family And Friends, has died at the age of 58.
The cause of death has not been given.
She was a teenager when she was cast in the ABC series Home in 1983. Her big break came later that year when she debuted as punky and rebellious inmate Bobbie Mitchell (pictured) in Prisoner. She stayed with the popular series for two years.
She played a guest role in Special Squad before joining Neighbours as Max Ramsay’s (Francis Bell) apprentice plumber, Terry Inglis. The character went on to become the first of Paul Robinson’s (Stefan Dennis) many ex-wives, with her going to prison after attempting to kill him in dramatic scenes as the series was approaching the end of its brief run on the Seven Network.
Later credits included dramas The Flying Doctors, Home And Away, Fields Of Fire, Marshall Law, Blue Heelers and MDA, children’s series Round The Twist, sitcoms Col’n Carpenter, All Together Now and Hampton Court, and the Nine Network‘s short-lived soap Family And Friends.
She maintained a connection to the loyal Prisoner fan base, appearing at reunion and tribute events for the show.
Maxine Klibingaitis is survived by husband Andrew Friedman and son Zane.
Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has axed its South Australian regional news service, Nightly News 7 Spencer Gulf, effective yesterday.
The half-hour news bulletin, which aired on the local relay of 7TWO, was the only remaining regional TV news service in South Australia, following WIN‘s axing of its local news in 2013.
SCA is said to be discussing redeployment opportunities for affected personnel.
Seven Spencer Gulf, which covers Port Pirie, Whyalla, Port Augusta and Broken Hill, has had local news services since its predecessors, GTS4 and BKN7, commenced operation in the late 1960s.
SCA has a commercial monopoly on free-to-air viewers in the Spencer Gulf/Broken Hill region, providing local relays of all three commercial networks and a selection of secondary channels to a potential audience of around 130,000.
SCA continues to produce a Tasmanian news service, Nightly News 7 Tasmania, and presents news updates for its other regional markets.
Swami Sarasvati, the yoga expert and instructor who pioneered yoga on Australian television, has died.
Her son, Sanjay, posted a tribute on Facebook last week:
I am writing to share the incredible legacy left by my mother, Swami Sarasvati, who passed away on Monday. While we mourn her loss, we are also filled with an immense gratitude for all that she achieved during her time with us.
A beloved Yogi, and one of the first to bring Yoga to Australia, she inspired and guided so many of us, and she will continue to live on through her students, her teachings, and the many lives she touched.
The positive seeds that my mother planted through her teachings have grown into a beautiful forest of strong and resilient Yoga trees, each one bearing the fruits of a healthy, balanced, and joyful life and are spreading their seeds too.
My mother had a unique talent for making Yoga simple and accessible to all. ‘So long as you can breathe, you can do Yoga.’ Further, her philosophy is that Yoga is not about the poses, but rather it is a way of life. Her teachings helped the lives of countless individuals, and we are forever grateful for the way she brought the transformative practice of Yoga into our lives.
While we will miss her deeply, we take comfort in the knowledge that her spirit will always be with us.
Coming to Australia in the late 1960s, and years before Australian television had embraced multicultural diversity, she made an appearance to demonstrate yoga on In Sydney Tonight in 1968.
From January 1969, her self-titled show began on Sydney’s TEN10 and later extended to other stations in the 0-10 Network. Swami Sarasvati continued through most of the 1970s before appearing on SBS nationally in the mid-1980s.
She established Swami’s Yoga Retreat in Kenthurst, north west of Sydney, in 1983 and which continues to operate today.