Obituary: John Hamblin

John Hamblin, actor and long-time presenter on Play School, has died at the age of 87.

Born in England, Hamblin had made some early acting appearances on British television and was a “ten pound pom” when he came to Australia in the 1960s. His first Australian TV appearance was a guest role in the adventure series Riptide.

He first appeared in Play School in 1970 and went on to appear in 357 episodes over almost 30 years. He returned for the show’s 50th anniversary special in 2016.

In amongst performing for pre-school viewers (and subtlely to their parents), he was also a theatre actor and appeared in various TV series including The Comedy Game, This Love Affair, Number 96, Skyways, The Young Doctors, The Timeless Land and Secret Valley.

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He had a leading role in the Seven Network series Class Of ’74, playing the part of schoolteacher Donald Blair, and played the lead role of defence lawyer John Case in the courtroom drama Case For The Defence.

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YouTube: Australian Television Archive

He had a long-running role in The Restless Years and played Dr James Holt in the short-lived soap Starting Out.

He played the part of Michael Chamberlain in the 1984 telemovie The Disappearance Of Azaria Chamberlain (later re-titled Who Killed Baby Azaria?) and later credits included A Country Practice, Tusitalia, Sons And Daughters, Winners, The Miraculous Mellops, All Saints, Love My Way and Pizza.

In 2008 he told his life story in the book Open Wide, Come Inside, by Peter Richman.

The Restless Years: Jill Forster, John Hamblin, June Salter

In a statement, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist Jennifer Collins said: “John was an unforgettable presenter whose comedic timing and wit helped cement Play School as one of Australia’s most cherished children’s programs. John had a wicked sense of humour and was not afraid of a double-entendre. His presence always managed to keep both our toddler target audience and their parents equally engaged with the show. I would like to extend my condolences to John’s family at this sad time.”

John Hamblin is survived by children Emma and Myles.

Source: IMDB, ABC, The Age

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Nine to launch Tasmania bulletin

The Nine Network has announced that it will launch a Tasmanian-based news bulletin in 2023.

Nine News Tasmania, to air nightly at 6.00pm, will be produced from a new Hobart-based studio and broadcast statewide on Nine’s affiliate broadcaster WIN.

The new bulletin replaces WIN’s current 5.30pm half-hour local news and relay of Nine News from Melbourne, which is in competition with the top-rating Nightly News on Seven Tasmania.

Nine News Director Darren Wicks said: “This flagship bulletin will be produced and presented by Tasmanians, for Tasmanians. As one of Australia’s fastest growing markets, with a diverse industry and expanding sports scene, we couldn’t think of a better time to expand the Nine Network’s news, sport and weather offering, giving the Apple Isle the live and local news they deserve.”

Nine says that as well as the Hobart studios there will be regional bureau offices established in Launceston and on the North West coast.

WIN News Director, Stella Lauri said, “We are committed to providing regional Australia with the best news and we look forward to offering WIN Tasmania viewers a bulletin, seven nights a week, dedicated to their state and their stories.”

The investment by Nine in providing a regional news bulletin outside of its own broadcast markets is similar to the Nine News Regional brand that was produced for its then-affiliate Southern Cross Austereo from 2017 to 2021.

Nine News Tasmania will debut early in 2023.

Nine announced the Tasmanian expansion at its 2023 Upfronts presentation, held on Wednesday in Sydney. Other new programs announced by Nine for 2023 include drama series Human Error, the Shane Warne tribute Warnie, reality competitions The Summit and Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars and factual shows Big Miracles and Australia’s Most Identical.


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TV Week Logie Awards going to Seven

The Seven Network has announced that it has secured the rights to the TV Week Logie Awards in a multi-year agreement with TV Week publisher Are Media.

It will be the first time Seven has hosted the awards since 1995. It had also previously hosted the awards in 1989, with Bert Newton, and 1992.

The new deal brings an end to the Nine Network‘s long run as host broadcaster. Nine had previously televised the awards annually between 1967 and 1980, then alternated between the other networks before becoming the exclusive broadcast partner from 1996 onwards.

In a statement issued earlier, Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton, said: “The TV Week Logie Awards are more than television’s night of nights; they are a treasured Australian institution and a celebration of Australia’s love of television. We are honoured to be partnering with Are Media to bring the Logies to Australia on Channel 7 and 7plus. It’s early days but we have big, exciting plans for the awards in 2023 and beyond.”

Are Media Chief Executive Officer, Jane Huxley, said: “The TV Week Logie Awards has become the most anticipated event of the year for the television industry as we celebrate the most popular stars and shows on our screens. We are delighted to continue our long-standing association with the awards and equally pleased to welcome the Seven Network as the Logies’ Official Broadcast Partner.”

The 63rd annual TV Week Logie Awards are to be held on Sunday 18 June 2023 at a venue to be announced.

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Obituary: Basia Rendall (Bonkowski)

Basia Rendall (née Bonkowski), television producer and former presenter, had died following a battle with lymphoma.

Born in Adelaide, she first became ill with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 17. The diagnosis led to her re-evaluating her interests and changed her studies from law to studying English, Literature and Drama at Flinders University.

Christmas, 1983: Basia Bonkowski with SBS newsreader George Donikian

She became a drama teacher in Adelaide and featured in a short film, Letters From Poland, with Martin Vaughan.

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By 1980 she made the move to Sydney and became one of the first presenters on the new multicultural Channel 0/28 (now SBS), and later became host of pop music shows Rock Around The World and Continental Drift.

She then moved to the Ten Network as a host of Music Video and showbiz reporter for Good Morning Australia. She later reported for the Seven Network‘s Eleven AM before returning to SBS to host The Big Byte.

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Over the last two decades, she has worked as a television writer and producer, with credits including the long-running factual series RBT.

She has also published two books: Jesse’s World, inspired by her experiences as an adoptive parent, and Shimmer, based on her mother’s life.

In 2019 she was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award from Flinders University for her significant contribution to the creative arts as a television producer and presenter, author and movie reviewer.

The lymphona she suffered as a teenager returned last year. She passed away peacefully on the weekend, surrounded by family.

Basia Rendall is survived by her husband, director Kimble Rendall, and children William and Camille.

Source: 9HoneyAustralian Screen

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Classic TV Guides: The Timeless Land

Michael Craig, Nicola Pagett

The success of Australian-produced mini-series in the late 1970s saw the genre continue into the 1980s — with period dramas like The Last Outlaw, Outbreak Of Love, Water Under The Bridge, A Town Like Alice, 1915, Women Of The Sun and Sara Dane clocking up big budgets and, in many cases, overseas sales.

ABC‘s contribution to the genre in 1980 was the eight-part series The Timeless Land, based on the trilogy of novels by Eleanor Dark. The series promised “a realistic and earthy look at the early convict days of our country, when flogging, prostitution, starvation and murder were facts of life”, during the years 1788 to 1810.

Athol Compton, Chris Haywood

The Timeless Land, which debuted nationally on Thursday 4 September 1980, starred English actors Michael Craig (later to star in the long-running ABC series GP) and Nicola Pagett, with local actors including Angela Punch McGregor (pictured right), Patrick Dickson, Peter Cousens, Chris Haywood, Ray Barrett, Robin Stewart, Vince Gil and Peter Collingwood.

The Timeless Land is said to have cost ABC around $1.5 million — a substantial sum for a production in 1980 — but the cost was off-set by an international rights deal with Paramount Pictures worth $1 million.

The premiere of The Timeless Land is among the latest additions to Classic TV Guides:


Source: TV Week, 30 August 1980

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Obituary: Vince Gil

Vince Gil, Australian film and television actor and writer, has died at the age of 83.

Although he is most remembered for his roles in films Mad Max and Stone, he was also a prolific actor on television. His earliest TV appearances included the 1965 play The Swagman — where he played an Australian-born man of Italian parents — and series You Can’t See Round Corners, Riptide, The Rovers, The Long Arm, Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police.

He had a lead role in the Seven Network series The Battlers, playing the part of an Aboriginal boxer — the character loosely inspired by real-life boxing champion Lionel Rose.

Vince Gil, Mark McManus and Carmen Duncan in The Battlers.

In 1972, he played menacing bikie Cliff Stevens, a guest character in early episodes of Number 96.

Later TV credits included Rush, The Box, Bluey, Against The Wind, The Timeless Land, Cop Shop, Prisoner, A Country Practice, Carson’s Law, Secret Valley, The Henderson Kids, Heartbreak High, City Homicide, Conspiracy 365 and The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

He also wrote episodes of Cop Shop, Special Squad, Skirts, The Flying Doctors, Home And Away and Snowy.

Source:, IMDB, Number 96 Home Page. TV Times, 31 March 1965. TV Week, 27 July 1968.

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Obituary: Olivia Newton-John

Dame Olivia Newton-John has died from cancer at the age of 73.

Born in England in 1948, she came to Australia with her family at the age of six. While still a teenager she became a regular performer on Melbourne television, appearing on shows like The Happy Show, Time For Terry and Go!! and formed a double act with Pat Carroll. She also appeared in the film Funny Things Happen Down Under.

After winning a talent contest on Johnny O’Keefe‘s Sing Sing Sing, she used the prize money to go to the United Kingdom, to be joined later by Carroll. The pair performed together until Carroll’s return to Australia, with Newton-John staying in the UK to further her solo career. With popular hits and albums, she became a regular performer on British television and represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.

Her career then took her to the US, where she became a success in country music, and then scored the leading role of Sandy in the movie version of the musical Grease, which elevated her to superstar status. She continued her successful recording career and followed up Grease with lead roles in Xanadu and Two Of A Kind. She also established the Australian-themed retail store Koala Blue in Los Angeles with former singing partner Pat Farrer (née Carroll).

Although based in the US, she continued to make regular visits to Australia, making appearances on shows including Australian Music To The World, The Don Lane Show, TV Week Logie Awards, Australia Live, The Royal Australian Bicentennial Concert and filming an HBO special, Olivia Down Under.

In the 1990s, Newton-John made a cameo appearance in the series Paradise Beach, which starred her then husband Matt Lattanzi. A passionate advocate for the environment, she went on to present her own documentary series, Wildlife With Olivia Newton-John, that ran for two years on the Nine Network.

Later TV appearances in Australia included The Man From Snowy River, Good Morning Australia, Rove Live, Enough Rope With Andrew Denton, Australian Idol, The Project and Australia Unites: The Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

She was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2002, appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2006 and named Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2019. She was awarded a British damehood in 2020.

Her last acting role was in the Australian film The Very Excellent Mr Dundee.

She was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and became an advocate for breast cancer research and later the use of alternative treatments such as medical cannabis. In 2012 she opened the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne. Her cancer returned in 2013 and then again in 2017.

She died peacefully at her ranch in southern California surrounded by family and friends.

Olivia Newton-John is survived by her husband John Easterling, daughter Chloe Lattanzi, sister Sarah Newton-John, brother Toby Newton-John and extended family.

Source: ABC, IMDB.

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Obituary: John Tingle

John Tingle, former journalist and politician, has died at the age of 90.

His daughter, ABC journalist Laura Tingle, paid tribute to her father on social media:

John Tingle was born in Sydney in 1931. His career in broadcasting began at Deniliquin radio station 2QN, before a 17-year stint at ABC.

His career was predominantly in radio but he worked in television, as a presenter on Probe, Police File and Wanted for the Nine Network, Tonight With John Tingle on WIN4, Wollongong, World News Report on SBS, as well as a period as ABC’s director of TV news in Sydney.

In the 1990s, he entered NSW state politics as the founder of the Shooters Party and served as a member of the NSW Legislative Council for 11 years.

John Tingle is survived by his sister Margaret, his three children, Peter, Sally and Laura, and his two grandchildren, Tosca and Kristia


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A post shared by Laura Tingle (@laura.tingle)

Source: ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, Parliament of NSW, The Australian Women’s Weekly

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A Tale of Two Magazines

In 2002 the biggest battle in the TV landscape wasn’t on screen but was based around duelling TV magazines.

For over 20 years, TV Week had a national monopoly on the market, published by Southdown Press (later Pacific Publications) on behalf of a joint venture between it and Australian Consolidated Press (ACP). This arrangement was the outcome the 1980 shake-up of the TV magazine market, where TV Week consumed the two major rival titles TV Times and TV Guide.

But by 2002, ACP felt that TV Week was “languishing” under Pacific’s control. Circulation of the title had peaked in the 800,000s in the mid-1980s but, with increasing competition from freebie TV magazines and inserts in newspapers, had fallen to below 300,000 by 2002. A spokesperson for ACP told The Australian at the time: “The frustration we’ve had is that we haven’t had operational control of the magazine. Which is why we moved to… determine its ownership. We believe we can do a much superior job.”

Pacific Publications’ team from What’s On Weekly: (clockwise from top left) Helen Boothby, Georgie Charlish, Jane Menton and editor Katie Ekberg

Pacific chief executive Ian Meikle said that Pacific was held back from taking risks with the magazine. “You’re somewhat restricted in what you can do because you are constrained always to providing them (ACP) with a dividend cheque, and there is an expectation of the size of that. So it wasn’t ours to take risks with. TV Week’s as much a victim of their (ACP) lack of interest in it as anything else.”

ACP’s concern towards TV Week was also exacerbated when Pacific was purchased by Kerry StokesSeven Network, while ACP had the Nine Network as one of its sister companies.

ACP then decided to exercise a long-standing contractual clause, known as a Savoy clause, which gave it the right to offer to sell its half share of TV Week to Pacific at any time. If its asking price was rejected by Pacific then it was obliged to acquire Pacific’s half share for the same amount. In this instance, ACP offered $60 million to Pacific, which was declined. ACP then had to pay $60 million to buy out Pacific’s half share and effectively take full control of TV Week. The transaction essentially included only the TV Week trademark. The magazine’s editorial staff and associated computer software and templates were kept at Pacific.

The final TV Week from Pacific Publications

Pacific, now down one weekly magazine but with $60 million added to the bank, decided to redeploy its TV Week workforce to form a new magazine — What’s On Weekly (WOW) — to take on TV Week, and it had to do so at barely three week’s notice to coincide with TV Week’s sale to ACP being completed.

ACP, with only the TV Week masthead purchased, also had the task of also essentially creating a new magazine and templates from scratch and having to ensure that TV Week did not have a break in publication. It conceded, however, that it would not be able to offer any significant changes to the familiar TV Week product for the first few months as it established itself.

There were also concerns that having the two magazine titles tied to each of the top-rating networks might slant coverage towards their respective networks. “Sure there will be Nine celebrities in TV Week, but it’s not going to be exclusively a Nine product,” a spokesperson for ACP told The Australian. Meanwhile, Pacific’s Meikle said: “There’s no future for (WOW’s) credibility in being solely a cipher for Seven. It will have a natural interest in, say, Seven’s dramas and their stars, but not at the exclusion of the other networks.”

The sole commercial network left out of the magazine equation, Ten, was also hopeful that its shows and personalities would still be granted coverage in both magazines. “I’d like to think that’s how they’d work,” Ten publicity manager Beverley May told The Australian.

The first TV Week from ACP

The battle began on 29 July 2002 when the debut edition of WOW and the first ACP-led TV Week hit the newsstands. ACP’s first TV Week cover featured Claudia Karvan and Samuel Johnson from Ten’s Secret Life Of Us. Meanwhile, WOW’s debut cover featured Georgie Parker from Seven’s All Saints.

There was not a lot to differentiate the two magazines in terms of content or layout, or anything to offer a genuine point of difference between them other than the price tag — TV Week’s $2.95 to WOW’s $2.75. Both had the usual spread of gossip pages and pictures, previews of the week’s TV shows and soapie storylines, horoscopes and puzzles, computers, music, new cinema and DVD releases and virtually identical TV listings. Although there was some variation in articles, both magazines featured prominent stories around former Blue Heelers star Lisa McCune’s return to TV in an upcoming new Seven series, Marshall Law.

The first What’s On Weekly

The new TV Week launched a competition for readers to win a home entertainment package of a 106cm plasma TV (valued at $13,189), a DVD player and 20 movies. Second prize was a 76cm Panasonic flat-screen TV valued at $3849.

WOW launched with a competition to win a Las Vegas experience, including a five-night stay at the MGM Grand, and $10,000 cash.

Both magazines also happened to run for 88 pages.

But as soon as the public battle started, it appeared that both publishers had overlooked nailing down TV Week’s pride and joy, the Logie Awards, with both ACP and Pacific claiming ownership. Pacific claimed that the sale of the TV Week trademark to ACP did not include the Logie Awards and that they would remain a product linked Pacific and to the WOW masthead. ACP, on the other hand, argued that the Logies were property intrinsincly linked to TV Week and should be included with the purchase of TV Week. It was a battle that headed to court which eventually judged in favour of ACP that the awards were vested to the TV Week brand. But by then it was a moot point, anyway, as WOW had already run its race. With circulation reported to only hit arund 60,000 — well short of the targetted 100,000 — WOW was quietly put to rest by the end of 2002.

TV Week, now part of Are Media — a successor to the former ACP Magazines, is now in its 65th year of publication.

A revamp to What’s On Weekly failed to boost its fortunes

Source: The Age

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Farewell to Neighbours

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 the United Kingdom, created international stars, provided a rite of passage for many in the industry, boosted tourism and migration to Australia and maintained a loyal community of fans, particularly in the UK.

As we farewell the show, here’s a quick look at some of the faces, events, celebrations, shocks and cliffhangers that have graced the covers of magazines over those years.

Neighbours: The Final Episodes. Tonight, 28 July, 7.30pm. Ten,10 Peach, 10 Play.

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