Bill Collins steps down from Fox Classics

Bill Collins this weekend presented his last Golden Years Of Hollywood for Fox Classics, handing over the reins to actor, writer and TV critic Graeme Blundell.

Making his TV debut as a film reviewer for ABC program Roundabout in 1963, Collins went on to become presenter and movie reviewer for TCN9 in Sydney, later moving to ATN7. He took on a national profile when he moved across to the Ten network, presenting Golden Years Of Hollywood on Saturday nights as well as matinee movie screenings. He also wrote movie reviews for TV Times magazine and later for TV Week. He joined Foxtel when it launched in 1995.

He received an Order of Australia Medal in 1987, was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and won the inaugural ASTRA Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013.

“To all my fans, I want to say thank you for your support of the Golden Years of Hollywood. Thank you so much, you’ve brought me so much pleasure,” Collins said in a press release.

Blundell, who will present Saturday Night At The Movies, paid tribute to Collins: “It’s a great honour to continue the tradition of Bill’s foundation work on Fox Classics. There’s no doubt Bill is one of Australia’s best known and most loved movie presenters ever to appear on television, and it’s likely that he’s been adored by not only your parents but your grandparents too. His unique style, insight and passion for movies of the Golden Years of Hollywood has straddled many generations. Indeed the films from this era owe him a huge debt for keeping these wonderful classics alive over many decades.”

Bill Collins’ Golden Years Of Hollywood will continue to be available on Foxtel On Demand.



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SBS appoints new Managing Director

James Taylor has been appointed as the new managing director of SBS.

He has been acting in the role since 2 October, following the departure of Michael Ebeid, and will be formally appointed effective 22 October for a five-year term.

SBS chairman Dr Bulent Hass Dellal AO said:  “The Board has great confidence in James’ skill and ability to be an inspiring leader of SBS, building on recent developments and successes to date, and empowering the organisation and its people to take SBS forward into the future.”

“Not only does James have a comprehensive and innate knowledge of SBS and its operations, he has developed a significant level of trust and rapport with its board, the executive team and employees throughout the organisation over the years. He has been a driving force and key collaborator across a range of projects which have seen SBS transform into the modern, innovative and efficient multiplatform broadcaster it is today.”

Prior to acting in the managing director role, Taylor was chief financial officer at SBS for five years.

Previous experience includes executive roles at Deloitte, British Telecom and ABC.

Source: SBS, SBS


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Nine in 2019: SeaChange returns

The Nine Network has unveiled its programming slate for the upcoming 2019 season at a launch held in Sydney.

Leading the network’s programming announcements was news that the former ABC drama SeaChange is returning to TV after almost 20 years — with Sigrid Thornton reprising the lead role of lawyer Laura Gibson, and John Howard as councillor Bob Jelly.

Debuting in 1998 and screening on Sunday nights for three seasons, SeaChange was a huge success for ABC, earning ratings that the national broadcaster had not achieved for a drama series in almost a decade.  As well as Thornton and Howard the original series cast included David Wenham, William McInnes, Kerry Armstrong, Jill Forster, Alan Cassell, Kevin Harrington, Kate Atkinson, Tom Long and Fiona Corke.

The series won numerous awards, including three TV Week Logies for Most Outstanding Drama and AFI awards for Armstrong and Forster.

The revived SeaChange will be produced by ITV Studios Australia, a successor to Artist Services that produced the original series.

In 2019, Nine will also launch new drama Bad Mothers, game show Lego Masters and comedy Hamish And Andy’s “Perfect” Holiday. There will be series returns of The Voice, The Block, Marriage At First Sight, Love Island, Doctor Doctor, Australian Ninja Warrior, Family Food Fight, Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, Travel Guides, RBT, Paramedics, Millionaire Hot Seat, Talking Married and Getaway.

Sports coverage includes Nine’s pick up of summer tennis including the Australian Open, Sydney International, Brisbane International and Hopman Cup.

Nine’s sports portfolio includes the National Rugby League including State Of Origin, 2019 Cricket World Cup, Suncorp Super Netball, The Ashes, Constellation Cup and the National Basketball League and regular programs Sports Sunday, Footy Classified, The Footy Show (AFL) and The Sunday Footy Show (NRL).

Source: IMDB, Australian Television Information Archive

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A Country Practice headed for a re-boot?

Media gossip today suggesting that the classic 80s and 90s soap A Country Practice could be coming back.

Reports indicate that production company Fremantle has bought the rights to the series that ran for over a decade on the Seven Network and also had a brief reprisal on Ten.

Fremantle has of course had success in adapting the classic series Prisoner for a new generation as the Foxtel drama Wentworth.

A Country Practice was a huge hit when it launched over the summer of 1981/82. Produced in Sydney and on location at nearby Pitt Town it ran for 12 years on the Seven Network before Ten took over the series and shifted production to Melbourne for one year. The original cast included Shane Porteous, Grant Dodwell, Penny Cook, Lorrae Desmond, Anne Tenney, Brian Wenzel, Shane Withington and Helen Scott — while Fatso the wombat and Doris the pig became favourites.

Other cast members to feature over the show’s 1000+ episode run included Joyce Jacobs, Joan Sydney, Gordon Piper, Syd Heylen, Georgie Parker, Maureen Edwards, Mary Regan, John Tarrant, Wendy Strehlow, Josephine Mitchell, Kate Raison, Nick Bufalo, Andrew Blackman, Judith McGrath, Kym Wilson, Diane Smith, Matt Day, Michelle Pettigrove, Paul Gleeson, Vince Colosimo, Jane Hall and Claudia Black.

While A Country Practice dealt with all manner of medical stories, it also covered topical social issues such as nuclear war, domestic and sexual abuse, drug addiction and suicide, and the fictional Wandin Valley also copped its share of natural disasters such as bushfires — with the series’ final two-hour episode on Seven depicting the Wandin Valley Hospital, the focal point for many of its storylines, being destroyed by fire.

But the show’s most definitive storyline was the death of fan favourite Molly Jones (played by Anne Tenney) in 1985.


When Network Ten picked up the show at the end of 1993, it shifted production to Melbourne and the fictional Wandin Valley, previously deemed to be somewhere in New South Wales, was now suddenly in Melbourne’s Dandenongs and with a revamped cast line-up. The Network Ten run of the series struggled and it played out most of its episodes on Saturday afternoons.

A Country Practice sold well overseas, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany, Zimbabwe and on the PBS network in the United States. It became one of Australia’s most awarded dramas, with 29 TV Week Logie Awards to its credit and series creator James Davern was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 1991.

The Seven Network episodes enjoyed a repeat run and the series was released on DVD from 2006.

With so many US dramas and comedies on the comeback trail and the success of Wentworth, it was only a matter of time before another Aussie series was given a reboot although it is to be seen if this one eventuates. Earlier proposals to bring back Return To Eden and The Young Doctors failed to come to fruition.

Source: Daily MailWandin Valley Bush Nursing Hospital


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Ian Henderson signs off… eventually!

ABC Melbourne newsreader Ian Henderson was intended to present his last bulletin on Thursday night.

However, an attack of the gremlins came at the most inopportune moment. Just minutes into the 7.00pm bulletin, vision froze before ABC was forced to abruptly switch Victorian viewers to the Sydney-based bulletin read by Juanita Phillips with no acknowledgement given to viewers of what was going on.

YouTube: BradF89

Whatever the matter was, it couldn’t be resolved in time for Henderson to give a farewell after 26 years at the ABC news desk, leaving Victorian viewers to receive the rest of the Sydney news, sport and weather reports before handing over to 7.30.

It was an extraordinary technical stuff up, leaving executive editor Craig McMurtrie copping a grilling from ABC radio host Jon Faine the next morning. “All I can do is say I am embarrassed by what happened, and I apologise to all of our 7:00pm viewers, because it is certainly not what we wanted last night,” he told Faine and listeners.

So on Friday night, Henderson was back and given a second chance to read one final news bulletin and receive a dignified send off with a package of highlights from a 38 year career with ABC before giving a fond farewell to viewers. (The ABC video below shows Henderson speaking towards the wrong camera at the end of the bulletin. This is different to what actually went to air)

YouTube: ABC News (Australia)

Tamara Oudyn will replace Henderson on Sunday to Thursday nights, with Mary Gearin taking on Friday and Saturday nights.

Source: ABC


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Ian Henderson to depart ABC News

Melbourne ABC newsreader Ian Henderson has announced that he is retiring from reading the 7.00pm ABC News.

Henderson, who has been with ABC for almost 40 years, has been the chief newsreader for the Victorian bulletin since 1992 (pictured).

In a statement issued by ABC, Henderson said: “After a long and rewarding career at the ABC, the time has come for me to explore some new directions. It hasn’t been an easy decision, but I’m convinced it’s the right one.

“I have some thanks to pass on: to the ABC for the wonderful opportunities it’s given me over the past 38 years; to my many colleagues for their support, good humour and camaraderie over the years; and to our loyal audience for welcoming me into their homes on a nightly basis! It’s been a rare privilege. I have a real sense of a bond with ABC viewers, and it’s a connection I’ll long cherish.

“As Australia’s media landscape contracts, ABC journalism has never been more important. And, importantly, it’s never been stronger.

“I leave you in very good hands.”

Henderson also pointed out on Twitter that his imminent departure has nothing to do with recent upheavals at the national broadcaster but rather is the culmination of long held plans for retirement.

Henderson joined ABC in 1980 as a reporter, working in Australia and was also Europe correspondent for four years. He covered the fall of the Berlin wall and the release of Nelson Mandela.

In 1992 Henderson took over from Mary Delahunty as ABC’s chief newsreader in Melbourne. He has also hosted the local current affairs program Stateline as well as state election and Anzac Day coverage. He is also a former President of the Melbourne Press Club.

Henderson will present his last bulletin on 11 October.

YouTube: robertfranklin

Source: ABC, Ian Henderson

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Obituary: Ron Casey

Controversial Sydney broadcaster Ron Casey has died at the age of 89.

Starting in radio at Sydney station 2KY in the 1940s and was a regular on Sydney radio until the 2000s, with stints also at 2SM and 2GB.

When television began in the 1950s, Casey starting working freelance for TCN9 in Sydney.  In the late 1960s he joined Nine full time as a presenter and sports producer. He also co-hosted the weekly program World Of Sport (not to be confused with the Melbourne-based sports broadcaster Ron Casey who coincidentally also hosted a program called World Of Sport) and was a commentator for coverage of the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal.

YouTube: rugbyleaguevideos

Casey was later a sports presenter for Ten in Sydney but often attracted outrage over his radio broadcasts which saw him taken off air or sacked on numerous occasions for comments usually of a racist nature.

His controversial nature sensationally made its way to television, including a heated discussion with Jana Wendt about Asian immigration on A Current Affair which saw him walk off the set.

Some years later on Nine’s Midday he was involved in an infamous on-screen scuffle with Normie Rowe during a debate over Australia becoming a republic.

The pair were known to have patched things up in later years and also appeared together in a television commercial for Bushell’s tea.

YouTube: classicclips19902000

Speaking on Studio 10, Rowe paid tribute to Casey, stating that he didn’t want the on-air brawl to be the one thing Casey is remembered for: “His beautiful wife… she must be suffering terribly at the moment and I think what we need to do is push all of those negative things aside and think about the things that perhaps Ron did that were worthwhile.”

In 1988, Casey was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to Australian television and sport.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, SBS

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The 1970s Price Is Right

In the history of Australian television very few game shows have generated as much enthusiasm from contestants and studio audiences as The Price Is Right.

The Price Is Right was not a new format to Australia in the 1970s. There had been earlier versions in the 1950s and 1960s, but the 1973 revision marked a shift to a modernised format adopted from the American show of the same name that had launched only a few months earlier.

In September 1973, TV Guide magazine made a visit to the studios of ATV0 in Melbourne to witness a taping of the popular game show:

“A crowd at a football match could not make more noise. In the main studio of Channel 0, the people went wild. They leapt to their feet shouting, fists clenched and dismayed when there was a wrong decision, shrieks of joy when a player scored.”

The Price Is Right, more than any other game show, seems remarkably successful in whipping up enthusiasm. One would never have imagined a dining setting and an air conditioner could create such excitement.”

The host who was tasked with keeping contestants and studio audiences under control was host Garry Meadows. Meadows was from Western Australia, where he had a successful radio and television career. Some of the TV shows he hosted included Teenbeat, Spellbound, Perth’s New Faces, In Perth Tonight and Telethon.

Meadows described the atmosphere generated by The Price Is Right as traditional theatre. “It’s only a twist on the old-time music hall where you used to hiss the villain and cheer the goodie. I think what makes the show stick out like a sore thumb is that there are very few other audience participation shows.”

Jacqueline Merton, Jenny Hoyle, Garry Meadows, Anne Davidson (Picture: TV Week, 1973)

YouTube: Lee Meadows

The Price Is Right began in February 1973 as a daytime one-hour program for the 0-10 Network. It was so popular that ATV0 soon started producing an additional prime time edition as well, screening at 7.00pm, initially only in Melbourne but later extended to other cities.

Despite starting on a high, The Price Is Right was to be relatively short-lived. The show continued with both daytime and prime time editions into 1974 but changes at the network saw the 7.00pm edition dropped at the end of June to make way for a new nightly current affairs show, 24 Hours. The afternoon edition seemed to disappear suddenly by September.

Meadows then hosted another game show, High Rollers, with Delvene Delaney for the Seven Network. He later starred in the sitcom The Bluestone Boys for the 0-10 Network and played a guest role in drama series Prisoner. He also worked as a producer for Nine‘s Sale Of The Century in 1980. In July 1982, Meadows joined Melbourne radio station 3DB as its evening presenter. Less than a week after starting at 3DB, Meadows collapsed outside the studios on his way to work and passed away after attempts by ambulance crews to revive him failed.The Price Is Right is one of a few formats that has been tried across all three Australian commercial networks. After the 1973-74 series, the format made a return as The New Price Is Right in 1981, with Ian Turpie as host for the Seven Network. The show lasted four years and Turpie was again host when Network Ten made a brief attempt to revive The Price Is Right as a Saturday night format in 1989.

The Nine Network had two runs with the show, from 1993 to 1998 and then again from 2003 to 2005, both with Larry Emdur as host. Emdur was the host again when Seven brought the show back in 2012. Audience anticipation for the most recent revival was high but the enthusiasm was short lived when it became apparent that the show had become essentially a cross promotion for a budget variety store and the aspirational prizes of earlier versions were now a bit more mundane. The Seven Network cancelled the show less than a year later.

Source: TV Week, 24 February 1973, 8 September 1973, 15 December 1973. TV Guide, 15 September 1973, 22 September 1973. WA TV History



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Michelle Guthrie threatens to sue ABC

Sacked ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has threatened to sue the national broadcaster after the ABC board dismissed her only two years into a five-year term.

Guthrie has publicly responded to her dismissal with a statement: “I am devastated by the board’s decision to terminate my employment despite no claim of wrongdoing on my part.  When I joined ABC in 2016, I knew I had an enormous challenge in front of me to break down some of the internal barriers to progress as well as continuing to deliver quality programming for all Australians. As the first female Managing Director of the ABC, I felt a tremendous responsibility and unique privilege to lead Australia’s most important cultural institution.”

“While my contract permits the board to terminate my employment without cause and with immediate effect, I believe there is no justification for the Board to trigger the termination clause. I am considering my legal options.”

In ABC’s statement to announce Guthrie’s departure, Chairman Justin Milne said the Board believed that new leadership would benefit the organisation, its dedicated employees, and the ABC’s audiences:

“In resolving to seek fresh leadership, the Board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week. This decision has been driven by our commitment to deliver the best possible outcomes for our loyal audiences and the best possible experience for our own people.

“We understand that transitions can be disruptive in the short-term. However, the ABC is fortunate to have an experienced and capable executive team that will provide continuity in the months ahead.

“The board wishes to thank Michelle for her contribution to the ABC. We are very grateful for all her hard work.”

ABC executive David Anderson has been appointed Acting Managing Director. Anderson has almost 30 years experience in television and the broadcast industry.

Guthrie’s departure has sparked some rather blunt reactions from those within the broadcaster. Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour tweeted “Excellent decision”, while Melbourne radio host Jon Faine slammed Guthrie’s tenure as an “astonishing fail”.

Media Watch host Paul Barry said, “Are the staff going to mourn her passing? I think the answer’s ‘no’…  Are we losing a passionate advocate for public broadcasting? Again the answer’s ‘no’, I think.”

Sydney-born Guthrie came to the ABC role after executive positions at News Corporation, including as CEO of Asian broadcaster Star TV, and Google. It was this background that led to many to criticise her for being a “Murdoch plant” at the broadcaster, while at the same time others criticised her emphasis on diversity within the organisation and for not aggressively advocating for the broadcaster at the federal government level.

Source: ABC, SBS, The Age


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Classic TV Guides: The winner is… Sydney!

It is 25 years since the Monte Carlo announcement of Sydney as the host city of the 2000 Olympic Games.

Sydney won the vote of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members against competing bids by Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul and Manchester. Speeches by the Prime Minister Paul Keating and his wife Annita, New South Wales Premier John Fahey, Olympic champion Kieren Perkins and bid chief Rod McKeogh were overshadowed by that of 11-year-old schoolgirl Tanya Blencowe, who won the crowd over with her impassioned plea for the world to come to Sydney in the year 2000.

YouTube: jmoul59

The day was also the beginning of a long-running TV tradition. Sydney’s The Footy Show, a Sunday afternoon program, was presenting a Grand Final eve special edition in prime time.  Like the Melbourne show of the same name, The Footy Show would go on to become a regular prime time fixture from 1994 onwards.

The TV guide for the day is among the latest additions to Classic TV Guides:


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