TV At 60: TV comes to Hobart

The launch of television in Tasmania in 1960 marked the completion of the Government’s second phase in introducing television across Australia — culminating in TV stations operating in each state capital city.

The last of the cities from stage two, Hobart was to be served by national broadcaster ABC and one commercial station. Three bidders were vying for the commercial licence. The successful bid, announced in October 1958, came from Tasmanian Television Ltd, with shareholders including Davies Bros Ltd (newspaper The Mercury) and Commercial Broadcasters Ltd (radio station 7HO).

The new station, assigned call-sign TVT6, was operating from its new studios on New Town Road,

The station’s opening night on Monday 23 May 1960 started with a test pattern at 7.00pm followed by the Official Opening by Tasmanian governor Lord Rowallan (pictured above) at 7.30pm and a news bulletin read by news editor Gordon Leed.

The Mercury documented part of Lord Rowallan’s speech on the night:

“I ask you not to be afraid of this new medium, but use it aright. Do not abuse it, but use it with discrimination and you will find that it will have an interest not only for yourselves in broadening your lives in the Commonwealth and in geography, but it will be productive of a continuous stimulus to your children to learn more and understand more of the great world outside.”

“Good luck to the station. May it have an excellent future from your own point of view as well as the point of view of the people of Tasmania, who are going to enjoy many hours of viewing and listening.”

American programs made up the rest of the opening night’s line-up — Dennis The Menace at 8.00pm, I Love Lucy at 8.30pm, Maverick at 9.00pm, and The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theatre at 10.00pm completed the night’s programs.

The opening night’s proceedings were based at TVT6 in New Town and were viewed by thousands of viewers around Hobart and surrounding areas, often with large groups of people viewing through shop windows on a cold Hobart winter night. More than 350 guests, including prominent Tasmanian government and business identities and representatives of mainland television stations HSV7, GTV9 and NWS9, were in attendance at a special reception at Wrest Point Hotel and viewed the event on TV screens positioned around the hotel’s spacious dining rooms.

In its opening formalities, TVT6 sent out a greeting to its rivals at ABC, which was soon to launch ABT2 and which would be sharing transmission facilities with TVT on Mount Wellington. TVT also acknowledged the assistance of existing television stations on the mainland – in particular Perth television station TVW7 which had commenced transmission only seven months earlier.

TVT6 also received messages of congratulations and best wishes from overseas stars including Lucille Ball, Raymond Burr (who, as Perry Mason, said “I promise never to lose a case in Hobart. Much success in your new endeavour.”) and Perry Como.

The new channel initially had a program line-up of around 30 hours per week, starting each night at 5.45pm with cartoons. The first week’s programming was predominantly imported content from the US, including Huckleberry Hound, 77 Sunset Strip, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Leave It To Beaver, Our Miss Brooks, Father Knows Best, Rin Tin Tin, The Red Skelton Show, The Three Stooges, Perry Mason, I Love Lucy, Maverick and Gunsmoke. Australian content included variety shows The Graham Kennedy Show and Gaslight Music Hall. The channel also produced a 15-minute news summary every Sunday to Friday night, and a 15-minute sports report on Saturday.

The launch of ABT2 came two weeks later — Saturday 4 June 1960. At 7.00pm, the test pattern faded from screen and viewers then saw an image of the ABT2 call-sign with a replica of Mount Wellington and the station’s new transmitter tower on top. This was followed of scenes of Hobart and the construction of ABT2’s studios and transmitter site.

From the newly-constructed studios on Harrington Street, the station was then officially opened by Postmaster General Charles Davidson, watched by an audience of 300 invited guests at the official function being hosted at the Postal Institute building, and by viewers of an estimated 2000 television sets around Hobart and southern Tasmania.

Mr Davidson, who had earlier visited the transmitter site on Mount Wellington, acknowledged the technical challenges in getting the station on the air, in particular installing the transmitter where weather conditions ranged from temperate to icy cold and snowy and prone to high velocity winds, crediting the state government, city council and the Hydro Electric Commission for their co-operation. Despite the topographic and climatic challenges, installing the 91-metre high mast at 1200 metres above sea level ensured the station’s signal had a clear coverage in all directions around Hobart. Reception on opening night was also reported from as far away as Launceston and Devonport in the state’s north.

ABC Chairman Sir Richard Boyer said that since its introduction in Australia only three years earlier, television had forever changed our way of life:

“I think that it is clear to all, now, that the coming of television is itself historic and socially critical. Whether we like it or not it marks a new dimension in civilised life.

“Our homes, our habits, leisure, and our educational, religious and political life cannot fail to be affected by it.

“For us in the ABC, this fitting of the new medium of television into our old responsibilities of sound radio has been exciting and challenging, but it has not been easy.”

Sir Richard also reciprocated the best wishes from TVT6 for its successful launch only weeks earlier:

“We look forward, between our two stations, to providing these complementary services which our Australian dual system is designed to achieve.

“For the ABC, you, as viewers, must be the judge as to whether or not we do well or ill… Viewers must take their television seriously and let their voices be heard in praise of what they think is good, and in condemnation of what they feel is below standard, for ultimately we shall get the television we deserve.”

After the opening formalities came the first news bulletin from ABT2 at 7.15pm, followed by American series Wells Fargo and The Phil Silvers Show. British film The Square Ring was next, followed by Preview and Flashbacks On The News. The latter featuring ABC news film of events around Hobart in the previous two years, filmed for ABC television on the mainland. The night’s program ended with the special Growing Up With Guba, the program which also appeared on ABC’s opening nights in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The new ABC studios on Harrington Street, reported to have cost £120,000, began construction in November 1958 for stage one including the ABT2 studios. The second stage of development included facilities for ABC radio incorporating orchestral and drama studios.

With Hobart completing the roll out of television to all state capital cities, the next stage in the introduction of television in Australia would lead to ABC and commercial stations expand into regional centres in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, and in Canberra.

Source: The Mercury, 23 May 1960, 24 May 1960, 3 June 1960, 6 June 1960.  The 10th Annual Report Of The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, 1957-58. The 11th Annual Report Of The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, 1958-59

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Obituary: Maggi Eckardt

Maggi Eckardt (right) with Abigail

Maggi Eckardt, one of Australia’s first international models and a former daytime television presenter, has died at the age of 82.

Eckardt began modelling in Sydney and was soon “discovered” by the Queen’s dressmaker, Norman Hartnell, visiting Australia on the hunt for models. In the 1960s, she became one of the world’s most sought-after photographic models, modelling for fashion icons Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Cristóbal Balenciaga and gracing the covers of the world’s top fashion magazines. She lived with her then husband, French diplomat Hervé Hutter, in Paris. They later moved to Melbourne where they had a son, Gaetan. The marriage ended in 1971.

Eckardt later returned to Sydney and was married to ad man John Singleton from 1976 to 1981.

For two years she hosted Ten’s Sydney morning show, The Maggi Eckardt Show, from 1976 to 1978. She continued to be involved in the fashion industry until just a few months ago.

Maggi Eckardt is survived by son Gaetan Hutter.

Maggi Eckardt with Graham Kennedy

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, TV Tonight, Sydney Morning Herald. TV Week, 30 July 1977, 13 August 1977




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TV Week cancels 2020 Logie Awards

There will be no glamorous TV Week Logie Awards souvenir issue from TV Week this year —  like this one from 1982.

Bauer Media, publisher of TV Week, has announced that it has cancelled the TV Week Logie Awards for 2020, due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Bauer had previously announced that the glittery presentation scheduled for The Star Gold Coast on 28 June had been cancelled, but was exploring alternative options for presenting the awards ahead of the plan to open public voting for the awards from 24 May.

Fiona Connolly from Bauer has said in a statement: “We have spent the last few weeks discussing with our event partners what the TV Week Logie Awards could look like in 2020 while adhering to Government restrictions and working around the challenges of COVID-19.

“All parties agree the most positive outcome is to not hold the TV Week Logies, including public voting, in 2020, but to stage an even bigger event on the Gold Coast in 2021.”

It is the first time in Logies history that the entire awards process has been cancelled, although in 1963 the Logies presentation was cancelled when its star overseas guest Tony Hancock fell ill at the last minute. With the winners’ names already going to print, TV Week instead held smaller presentations in each city later that year to hand out the awards.

Since the Logies announcement, in response to coronavirus, Bauer has also suspended print publication of various titles, stood down 50 employees and made 70 staff redundant. At this stage the only titles reported to being suspended are Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, OK! and NW.

Bauer is also in the closing stages of securing the purchase of rival publishers Pacific Magazines, whose mastheads include New Idea, That’s Life, Better Homes And Gardens and Who, in a deal worth $40 million.

Source: Now To Love, Sydney Morning Herald


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The Long Arm had a short life

By 1970, after its first five years, Australia’s third commercial network, 0-10, had produced variety and comedy shows, news and current affairs, sports coverage, children’s and pop music programs. Although it had purchased children’s dramas like The Rovers and Barrier Reef, it had yet to tackle adult drama while its older network rivals were well established with hit shows Homicide and Division 4.

The first such series to come from the younger network was police drama The Long Arm, produced by Ansett Television Films, a sister company to the network’s Melbourne channel, ATV0.

The series starred Robert Bruning, Sandy Harbutt, Barbara Mason (pictured right) and Lyndal Moor (pictured below right). The first episode, aired in Melbourne on 13 April 1970 and two weeks later in Sydney, featured an impressive guest cast, including Bill Hunter, Ruth Cracknell, Ken Goodlet, Neva Carr-Glynn, Noeline Brown, Ron Shand, Tony Ward (Hunter), Jeff Kevin and Tim Elliot. The episode was filmed on location in both Melbourne and Sydney.

YouTube: tvaustralia1

The Long Arm was originally commissioned for 13 episodes. ATV0 extended the commission to a further 13 but then had to pull the plug after its Sydney sister station TEN10 withdrew its support. The Long Arm ended up running for only 19 episodes.

The 0-10 Network persisted with the police genre and had better luck the following year with Matlock Police from Crawford Productions.

Source: TV Times, 1 April 1970, 8 April 1970. TV Eye – Classic Australian TV.

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Obituary: Ron Graham

Ron Graham, actor on stage, film and television, has died peacefully at the age of 93.

Born in England, Graham started performing when he joined the circus at the age of 16. After completing National Service, he enrolled in a drama course and then came to Australia. For the next 20 years he worked mainly in the theatre and did some television work, including appearances in Whiplash, Contrabandits and Riptide.

Dynasty: Nick Tate, John Tate, Ron Graham, Kevin Miles

In 1969, he played the part of newspaper baron John Mason in the ABC play Dynasty, which went on to a series in 1970-71.

He then played the part of Alan Stone in the ABC series Certain Women for four years.

YouTube: FrozenDoberman

Other TV credits included Mrs Finnegan, The Spoiler, Spyforce, Matlock Police, Division 4, Homicide, Glenview High, Cop Shop, Waterloo Station, Whose Baby, 1915, A Country Practice, Blue Murder, Heartbreak High, GP and Home And Away.

He is survived by son, actor Marcus Graham.

Source: Daily Telegraph, IMDB. TV Times, 7 October 1970, 14 August 1971.


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Good Friday Appeal cancels telethon


For the first time in 60 years, there will be no all-day telethon for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Appeal has had to cancel its signature event, the traditional Good Friday telethon, as well as other events including Kids Day Out, Run For The Kids and the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt.

Instead of the telethon, host broadcaster Seven in Melbourne will present a one-hour Good Friday Appeal Special, hosted by Peter Mitchell and Jane Bunn, to pay tribute to the work and achievements of the Royal Children’s Hospital, which this year celebrates its 150th year.

Despite the lack of telethon and public events, the Appeal will continue to raise funds via its website:

Source: Good Friday Appeal, Good Friday Appeal

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Pandemic takes out TV Week Logie Awards ceremony

TV Week has announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, this year’s TV Week Logie Awards ceremony on the Gold Coast has been cancelled.

The event was due to take place on 28 June at The Star Gold Coast.

In a statement published on its website today, Fiona Connolly from publisher Bauer Media said: “Given the global COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 TV Week Logie Awards will not proceed as planned on the Gold Coast on Sunday, June 28, nor any of the ancillary public events.

“But we will continue with our nominations announcement and online voting campaign and are working with our partners on a TV broadcast alternative and will advise of those details when we have them.”

The last time a Logies ceremony was cancelled was in 1963, when overseas guest Tony Hancock became ill just days before the event. With the list of winners already going to print in the next issue of TV Week, it was instead decided to hold smaller presentations in each city later in the year.

Sydney’s TV Week Logie Award winners for 1963

Very few industries have not been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In television terms there have been numerous programs halt production, others have adopted alternative production models, while travel bans have also caused widespread disruption to the industry.

Source: TV Week 

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Seven Tasmania names new anchor

Southern Cross Austereo has announced Kim Millar as the new weeknight news anchor for Nightly News Seven Tasmania.

Millar replaces Jo Palmer who resigned from Seven Tasmania last month. Weather presenter Peter Murphy has been temporary newsreader while a replacement for Palmer was being appointed.

Millar’s career began at Southern Cross Network (now Seven Tasmania) thirty years ago and she was weekend newsreader for almost ten years up until 2011. She has also worked as a producer and media trainer as well as MC for corporate and community events.

In a statement issued today, Millar said: “TV studios have always been a big part of my life, so I guess it really is like returning to the family fold. Nightly News on Seven Tasmania has played a significant role in keeping Tasmanians up to date with what’s happening around them. I am eager to maintain that, and alongside a skilled team, continually strive to be the state’s leading and trusted source for local, national and international news.”

Millar starts at Nightly News on 20 April.

Source: Southern Cross Austereo

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Nine launches new channel 9Rush

The Nine Network has announced that it will launch a new channel, 9Rush, at 7.00pm on Sunday 5 April.

The new channel, with a focus on reality and adventure programming from Discovery Inc, will broadcast on channel 96.

9Rush will launch with the premiere of the new series of Top Gear UK. Other programs to feature include Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail, Street Outlaws, Live PD, Kindig Customs, Alaskan Bush People, Running Wild With Bear Grylls and Man v Wild.  Nine bills the programming line-up as new to free-to-air.

Nine’s program director Hamish Turner said in a statement issued today: “Nine are thrilled to partner with Discovery to deliver premium, free to air first content. As a global leader in real-life entertainment, Discovery’s dedication to serving audiences with content which inspires, informs and entertains is second to none.

“The deal will deliver Nine and 9Now thousands of free to air premiere episodes. 9Rush audiences will be spoilt for choice, with an extensive range of high action and adventure programming, available on Australia’s latest channel and available free on 9Now.”

It is not clear if the new channel will be available through Nine’s regional affiliates including Southern Cross, Tasmania Digital Television, Nine West and Imparja.



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Nineties soap gets online re-run

YouTube: southaustraliatv

Of all the vintage soaps to get a new lease on life online, Network Ten‘s Echo Point would have been way down the list of likely candidates. It ranks on the list of some of Australian TV’s most infamous soapie disasters among such titles like Arcade, Holiday Island, Paradise Beach and Family And Friends.

The weeknight soap debuted in June 1995, slotted in at 7.00pm directly up against Seven‘s Home And Away.

In such a competitive timeslot, Echo Point didn’t stand a chance — especially when its first week coincided with Home And Away‘s publicised return of character Bobby Simpson (Nicolle Dickson). Bobby had been killed off two years earlier but was back for some dream and flashback sequences and as a ghostly vision to Ailsa Stewart (Judy Nunn). Also returning to the series were long-lost characters Marilyn (Emily Symons) and Steven (Adam Willits). Seven denied that it had deliberately timed the return of three key characters to hurt its new rival. “The stories are done months before,” Seven executive Des Monaghan told TV Week. “We were just very pleased that Channel Ten decided to launch their show that week.”

Like with any new soap, Echo Point had a cast of familiar and fresh faces to form the series’ base of four families living in a small coastal community that is remarkably not dissimilar to Summer Bay of Home And Away. It marked a TV return for Victoria Nicolls (The Restless Years, Sale Of The Century, Prisoner) and included teen actor Martin Henderson, best known from New Zealand soap Shortland Street, making his Australian TV debut.

Jack Ellis, Tom Long, Martin Henderson, Rose Byrne
(Picture: TV Week)

The cast also included Sean Scully (Sons And Daughters, Sara Dane, Phoenix), John Clayton (Police Rescue), Allan Lovell (The Comedy Company), Kimberley Davenport (Chances) and new stars Tom Long, Rose Byrne, Rebecca Murphy, Jessica Napier, Louise Crawford, Jack Ellis, Diarmid Heidenreich (“Dougie the Pizza Boy” from the Pizza Hut commercials) and Haley Phillips.

As anyone apart from Network Ten programmers could see coming, Echo Point was a ratings dud up against Home And Away and Nine‘s Sale Of The Century. Ten then shifted it to 6.00pm, as a lead-in to veteran soap Neighbours, but viewers were still not forthcoming.

Adding soapie legend Rowena Wallace to the cast did little to improve the series’ fortunes and it was not long until Ten bumped the show to play out its last episodes at 11.30pm and up until now, never to be seen again.

Despite very few of us watching the series during its run, it did sell overseas and it has the rare distinction of being one of the first Australian drama series to have an online fan website at a time when the internet was barely mainstream.

Echo Point is an unlikely addition to Ten’s line-up of Australian dramas on its streaming platform 10Play — with all 130 episodes ready to binge on. Other classic drama titles available on 10Play include Rush, The Secret Life Of Us, Party Tricks, Puberty Blues, Offspring and Foxtel series Love My Way.

Source: 10Play, IMDB, TV Week, TV Week

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