Good medicine!
The Seven Network‘s new comedy series Doctors Down Under promises that the only treatment viewers will get from St Barnabas Hospital over the next three months will be a dose of laughs from Doctors Waring (Robin Nedwell) and Stuart-Clark (Geoffrey Davies). The two actors decided to adapt the long-running English comedy series to an Australian version after touring the country in 1977 with the stage production Doctors In Love. Joining the medicos for the Australian series will be Frank Wilson, former host of New Faces and actor in numerous Crawford dramas, and Sydney actor John Derum. Doctors Down Under is already screening in Sydney and Melbourne and debuts this week in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Nationwide is set to roll
ABC‘s new current affairs program Nationwide premieres this week. “Nationwide will meet the growing demand from a substantial section of the public for a quality current affairs program that will get stuck into its topics,” says executive producer John Penlington. The program will run for 40 minutes each night, with the first half containing national stories and the second segment compiled in each state capital to cover local issues.

Countdown back with a bang!
Countdown returns for 1979 this week with French pop star Plastic Bertrand appearing as guest compere. The singer was a Countdown “discovery” last year and negotiations to have him appear had been going on for some time. Also a highlight for Countdown this year will be a two-hour celebration for the show’s 200th episode later in the year. Talent co-ordinator Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and producer Grant Rule will be heading overseas in April to line up international acts for the special show which is expected to include a three-way link-up between studios in London, Los Angeles and Melbourne.

peterluck This fabulous century!
A one million dollar documentary series, This Fabulous Century, will give Australians a graphic record of Australia’s history from Federation to the present day. The series of 30 episodes, hosted by journalist Peter Luck (pictured) and produced by Hanna Barbera for the Seven Network, begins this week in Sydney and Brisbane and later in other states. Luck said that until he started work on the series two years ago, he had no interest in Australian history at all: “As a current affairs reporter I had an interest and knowledge of contemporary history but in Australia, all we ever learn of the history of this country is about bushrangers and convicts. But so much has happened this century, and I found it interesting.”  Researching archival footage for the series took over a year and a further six months was taken in arranging interviews and securing access to various locations for filming. With a $1 million budget, This Fabulous Century is the most extensive, and most expensive, documentary series produced in Australia to date.

prisoner Prisoners of love
The budding romance in the new series Prisoner between inmate Karen Travers (Peita Toppano) and prison doctor Greg Miller (Barry Quin) sounds like classic soap opera fare, but pales in comparison to the real-life affair between the two actors (pictured). The English Quin had discovered Toppano on a visit to Australia and decided to emigrate but had to deal with immigration, Actors Equity and the frustration of an Australian postal strike before he could stay in Australia. Through Toppano’s efforts Quin landed the Prisoner role which meant he could stay in Australia. The real-life couple will be married in April, while the 0-10 Network is so pleased with the first thirteen episodes of the new series that it has ordered a further 29 even before the series makes its on-air debut.

ABC‘s new afternoon children’s show ARVO isn’t just short for “afternoon” but actually stands for Alexander’s Recycled Visual Offerings, Alexander being the bunyip who will co-host the program.

ATV0 is working to revamp the magazine segment of its Sunday night news bulletin. Former radio and TV presenter Paul Jennings, who joined ATV0 as a weather man, is now in charge of the fifteen-minute segment which he hopes to revamp from pre-packaged films to more topical segments and interviews.

Melbourne-born opera singer Jon Weaving and his French wife Monique Brynnel will be the stars of this year’s first Music To The People concert to be staged at the Myer Music Bowl. The second half of the concert will be televised live through HSV7.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
“I like live shows, in preference to movies, and when TEN10 put on The Steve Raymond Show, I was most delighted. Oh boy, was I in for a complete let down. Steve Raymond is a very, very poor imitation of Mike Walsh, or any other compere.” J. Long, NSW.

“I’m no sports fan, but I’d like to congratulate the TV channels for their excellent sports coverages, which many people do enjoy, particularly elderly or incapacitated persons, who are unable to attend these events.” B. Reynolds, VIC.

“Thank heavens the World Series Cricket cricketers are leaving for the West Indies soon. The Nine Network once had some pretty good programs. But one has become bored with the same players and the same ads all the time. Good luck to the well-paid players but can’t they just take their circus away from the air-waves and give us a respite from what used to be a dignified game? I think the commercial over-kill of a once grand game could really slaughter it.” F. Howard, NSW.

“Why, oh why, do ABC newsreaders – on both TV and radio – say “following” when they usually mean “after”?  Once I even heard a news item about a man who died “following” a funeral – which gave the impression he was in the cortege at the time.” J. Jessup, NSW.

What’s On (February 17-23):
On Saturday afternoon, ABC presents live coverage of the 1979 Victorian Open Golf Championship from Kingston Heath Golf Course, while at the same time, HSV7 presents live coverage from the World Of Sport Expo being held at the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings with special guests including Ron Barassi, Mike Willesee, Sir William McMahon, George Mallaby, Michael Pate and Jon English.

annetteallison ATV0‘s weekday morning line-up gets a revamp with the launch of magazine program Everyday, hosted by Roy Hampson and Annette Allison (pictured).

Monday night sees the debut of ABC‘s Nationwide current affairs program, while ATV0 starts a re-run, continuing over six nights, of the hit US mini-series Roots in the lead-up to the sequel mini-series, Roots: The Next Generations, to air later in the year. Later in the evening, HSV7 starts a repeat screening of the former ABC comedy series Alvin Purple.

GTV9‘s The Don Lane Show returns for another year with the first show highlighted by a satellite interview with Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood. The first show will also include a direct coverage of a stunt in the GTV9 carpark performed by American stunt star Evel Knievel. ATV0‘s Peter Couchman Tonight also returns for another year, screening five nights a week.

Sunday night movies are The Tamarind Seed (HSV7) and Vegas (GTV9).  ATV0 screens the UNICEF Concert: A Gift Of Song, held at the UN General Assembly in New York in January as the launch event for International Year Of The Child. Hosted by David Frost with Henry Fonda, Gilda Radner and Henry Winkler, the concert includes performances by the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, ABBA, John Denver, Earth Wind And Fire, Andy Gibb, Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson. ATV0 then follows up the concert with the movie comedy What’s Up Doc?

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 17 February 1979.  ABC/ACP

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