Obituary: John Bluthal

Australian and British actor John Bluthal has died at the age of 89.

Showbiz reporter Peter Ford tweeted news of the actor’s passing on Thursday night.

Polish-born Bluthal came to Australia with his family in the late 1930s. He grew up and studied drama in Melbourne.

His worked in the theatre in London before returning to Australia. He starred in variety shows Gaslight Music Hall (ABC) and Bandwagon (HSV7) in the late 1950s and early ’60s before moving to the United Kingdom. His extensive list of credits in the UK included Citizen James, Never Mind The Quality: Feel The Width, Fireball XL5, The Goodies, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Minder, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy, Bergerac, One Foot In The Grave and various productions with Spike Milligan.

Bluthal made occasional visits back to Australia, starring in The Mavis Bramston Show and later appearances in Matlock Police, Bluey, Doctor Down Under, And Here Comes Bucknuckle, Ride On Stranger, Blue Heelers and Spirited.

Many Australian viewers will remember him as Italian taxi driver Enzo Pacelli (pictured) in the ABC comedy series Home Sweet Home that ran for three years, and more recently as Frank Pickle in the long-running British series The Vicar Of Dibley.

Source: Peter Ford, IMDB, Wikipedia. TV Times, 18 December 1959, 1 January 1960.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/11/obituary-john-bluthal.html

Flashback to ‘The Entertainment Network’

This week’s re-brand of the Ten Network is the first major image revamp for the network since January 1991.

The last time Ten had a major image refresh it was in receivership after two years of falling ratings, staff cutbacks and management and financial instability amid the “recession we had to have”. The viability of even having three commercial networks in a market the size of Australia was being questioned.

Ten chief Gary Rice, appointed by the receivers, had made brutal cuts to the network in November 1990, in particular to the news and current affairs portfolio, in a bid to stem losses of up to $2 million a week. More than 300 staff were sacked as current affairs shows and morning news bulletins were dumped, the Melbourne-based 6.00pm news was cut to half an hour, and Good Morning Australia had its budget trimmed.

Despite some highlights such as Neighbours, which was still a strong performer, and event programming such as Bangkok Hilton, the Melbourne Cup and the TV Week Logie Awards, the 10 TV Australia brand, which had been launched with fanfare barely 18 months earlier, was indelibly tarnished by programming flops, an overdependence on movies, a declining news profile and the stigma of receivership.

While cuts were being made to bring its finances under control, the network was working on a significant shift in branding and programming to pick itself up from financial ruin.

On the night of 13 January 1991, Ten unveiled a new logo and positioning statement, “The Entertainment Network” — a convenient use of the “TEN” letters.


YouTube: Australian TV Fan

With the revamp came a resolve to provide an entertainment brand dedicated to the under-40 age group. As well as local dramas Neighbours and E Street, Ten had scored some canny programming deals that gave it access to the hottest new US shows of the season — Twin Peaks and The Simpsons — the latter being a regular feature for the network until just last year.

The Entertainment Network was a colourful re-brand and re-focus that took Ten out of the doldrums, improving its performance and giving it an air of confidence to viewers and the industry, eventually leading it to it being majority owned by Canadian group CanWest. With a focus on youth-friendly US titles such as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Seinfeld and The X Files, a revamped news service (including the shift of Ten Eyewitness News to become “First At Five”) and Bert Newton‘s The Morning Show (later adopting the Good Morning Australia title), Ten went on to become the most profitable of the three commercial networks even though still rating well below its two major rivals.

Time will tell if Ten’s latest revamp to ’10’ — which also comes after years of management and financial unrest, missteps in past programming and strategy, severe staffing cuts and subsequent receivership — and buyout by CBS will give a similar long term outcome.

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/11/flashback-to-the-entertainment-network.html

Ten becomes ’10’

Network Ten has officially launched its 2019 season and with it comes a new look.

After almost 28 years, the “ten” logo has been replaced by a numeric “10”. The change comes almost a year after Ten was bought out of receivership by US network CBS.

The revamp also flows through to secondary channels One and Eleven which will become 10 Boss and 10 Peach.

Ten Eyewitness News will be known as 10 News First.

The network has also officially announced its premium streaming platform 10 All Access which will sit alongside its current catch up platform 10 Play.

New shows for the network include revivals of some familiar titles: Dancing With The Stars, now with Amanda Keller and Grant Denyer, and Changing Rooms with Natalie Bassingthwaite.

New dramas include My Life Is Murder, The Secret She Keeps and Five Bedrooms and comedy series Mr Black. New entertainment titles include Chris And Julia’s Sunday Night Takeaway and Celebrity Name Game.

Four projects from the network’s recent Pilot Week have been given the go ahead: Trial By Kyle, Kinne Tonight, Bring Back Saturday Night and Taboo.

Returning shows include The Project, The Sunday Project, MasterChef Australia, Survivor Australia, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Studio 10, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Gogglebox Australia, The Living Room, Pointless, Hughesy We Have A Problem and Neighbours.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/ten-becomes-10.html

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.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/bill-collins-steps-down-from-fox-classics.html

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

 

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/sbs-appoints-new-managing-director.html

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

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/nine-in-2019-seachange-returns.html

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

 

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/a-country-practice-headed-for-a-re-boot.html

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

 

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/ian-henderson-signs-off-eventually.html

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

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/ian-henderson-to-depart-abc-news.html

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

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2018/10/obituary-ron-casey.html