Cover: Robin Williams, Pam Dawber (Mork And Mindy)
Bid to help Australia’s deaf fully ‘receive’ TV
A new non-profit organisation, Australian Centre for Visual Television (ACVT), aims to provide television programming to the estimated five per cent of Australians suffering hearing loss. ACVT’s producers, actor Adam Salzer and actress Alexandra Hynes, have been involved with Sydney’s Theatre for the Deaf for four years and will soon visit Europe and the US to learn what is being done there for deaf viewers. The group hopes to have a program pilot developed, produced and sold to a network by 1981 – which, co-incidentally, is to be the International Year of the Disabled Person – and is encouraging Australian networks to follow the US in the captioning of television programs. ACVT has, however, already scored one achievement by persuading a clothing store chain to include sign language in its commercials
The stories, characters and scenarios depicted on the new series Prisoner, although they are fictional, are the result of painstaking research. Peita Letchford, a former high school teacher and graduate of the Australian Film and TV School, was employed by the Reg Grundy Organisation, when it was developing the new series, to research the prison system and just what happens to the inmates from the time they first step off the paddy wagon. Letchford interviewed several former inmates and prison officers and toured a women’s prison to get an insider’s perspective. One vivid experience was when she was being guided through a prison hospital and saw, through an open door, in a small room was an inmate just sitting on a bed, with a dazed look on her face, just staring into space. “And as we walked past the assistant superintendent said she had murdered someone last night and that when someone murders they’re put in these observation cells for three days. It was just incredible that she had murdered the night before. She was very young.”
Life wasn’t meant to be easy when your partner’s an ostrich
Daryl Somers’ professional partnership with Ossie Ostrich has taken on human proportions: “I could never think of Ossie being shoved into a suitcase or left lying around the studio like a prop. He’s very much a character that lives. When I work on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, I always talk to Ossie, I never think of anyone else.” Ossie’s human alter-ego Ernie Carroll agrees: “It’s Daryl and Ossie that have that smart repartee. I know for a fact that I could never compete.” Carroll is fortunate, in that regard, that he can leave Ossie at work: “No one ever sees me on TV so I don’t get stopped in the streets by curious viewers.” For Somers, even when working away from the show, he can’t leave Ossie behind: “I work interstate at a lot in the clubs and cabaret rooms. Most of the people who go to the clubs have children who watch TV and those kids will ask me about Ossie.”
So you want to be in TV?
Television is often seen to be an exciting and lucrative industry to get involved in. The problem is that available positions are rarely advertised and when they are there is an avalanche of applications. For instance, BTQ7 Brisbane recently received 450 responses to a job advertisement for a camera operator. But television does offer a range of jobs for those looking for a break in the industry. A make-up artist, with qualifications in cosmetics and hairdressing, could earn anything from $170 a week. A qualified graphic designer could expect around $250 a week, and trainee lighting technicians start at $81 a week, if under the age of 17. Trainee sound technicians start at around $80 a week and trainee video technicians can expect a starting wage of $100 a week. Wardrobe assistants, film editing assistants, researchers, set builders and designers and camera assistants are also positions that can give newcomers a break into the industry.
Michael Parkinson is rarely lost for words on screen, but a recent studio interview with wildlife expert Harry Butler, who had bought in a python for the segment, did leave Parky rather speechless.
Actors in upcoming episodes of The Sullivans are taking a three-week course in prisoner behaviour before joining the show. They are being taught how genuine prisoners behaved in Singapore’s Changi Prison during World War II, and to talk a smattering of Malay.
Prisoner star Val Lehman is lobbying producers to write a Christmas-time pantomime into the series.
Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I am terribly upset that TCN9 continually allows The Mike Walsh Show to run overtime and then cuts five or ten minutes of Days Of Our Lives to make up! I can prove this because I live in the viewing area for Newcastle as well as Sydney. I am always seeing parts of Days on NBN3 that have been cut out of TCN9. I urge all Days fans to watch their clocks and when The Mike Walsh Show goes overtime get on your phones and jam the Nine switchboard. Maybe then something will be done.” A. Brennan, NSW. (TV Times responds: “TCN9 denies Days Of Our Lives has ever been cut. Nine sends Days Of Our Lives by cable to Newcastle.”)
“In Europe, show-jumping commands a large audience on TV. Last year an Australian rider won the prestigious trophy at Wembley Stadium in London, the King George V Cup, yet nobody saw or heard of it here.” C. O’Brien, NSW.
“Despite the popularity and general acceptance of The Sullivans by a younger generation, I suggest some glaring examples of incorrect detail must be apparent to veterans of World War II.” C. Casten. VIC
What’s On (May 5-11):
The Victorian State Election is held on Saturday – with varying levels of results coverage across all four Melbourne channels. ABC presents a one-hour coverage at 7.30pm with Ralphe Neill and Barrie Cassidy, then returns for another hour at 9.35pm. HSV7 has election updates throughout the evening, hosted by Dan Webb, and a 30-minute wrap-up at 11.00pm. GTV9’s Brian Naylor presents updates through the evening, and ATV0’s Michael Schildberger is joined by ACTU president Bob Hawke and former premier Sir Henry Bolte for a half-hour special report at 7.30pm.
Former TV Week Gold Logie winner Lorrae Desmond and athlete Raelene Boyle are among the guests, appearing between live crosses to harness racing at Moonee Valley and the Tattslotto draw, on HSV7’s Saturday Night Live.
This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at plague and pestilence in Australia’s recent history, such as rabbits, prickly pear, sharks and the blow-fly.
Sigrid Thornton, Michael Long and Mercia Deane-Johns are guest stars in Cop Shop (HSV7, Monday and Thursday).
ABC’s travel series Holiday visits Thevenard, a remote island off north-west Australia, Phillip Island and the Victorian coastal town of Mallacoota.
Sunday night movies: Pete ‘n’ Tillie (HSV7), Gambit (GTV9), Women In Love (ATV0).
Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 5 May 1979. ABC/ACP