Emergency edition: Due to an industrial dispute at TV Times’ printers, this issue of the magazine has required a change in its usual format. All regular features have been maintained as well as our complete program coverage. We apologise for any inconvenience to your usual reading habits.
Friendships are rare among actors, who often have to fight for themselves and seldom work long together. An exception is the friendship of over 13 years between Ken James and Tony Bonner, both stars of Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, The Box and now Skyways. Bonner recalls that it was in 1966 when he first met James, then 13 or 14 years old and auditioning for a role in Skippy. Despite their nine year age difference, and a stint overseas by Bonner, the pair often found their paths crossing professionally and personally and their families meet quite frequently. James recalls Bonner’s enthusiasm for motorbikes and some of the his antics caused producers some anxiety. He also recalls how the pair also went on strike against the canteen at ATV0 while taping The Box: “We didn’t like the food so we used to bring in our own prawns and avocados and set up the white wine and dine in style.”
Gunston in the gun!
John Eastway, producer and director of The Norman Gunston Show, watched horrified as the giant sumo wrestler picked up the pint-sized Norman Gunston (Garry McDonald, pictured). Despite Eastway carefully explaining through an interpreter what he wanted the wrestler to do, something was lost in translation. So without so much as a ripple of a muscle, the wrestler threw Gunston a couple of metres and then pounded him onto the ground. McDonald managed to get to his feet – and cracked a joke. “Garry took a terrible beating that day. It took him all afternoon to recover,” Eastway said. The wrestler incident is just one of many unpredictable moments during four-and-a-half years of producing the show for ABC and now the Seven Network. Another unplanned moment was when Gunston was interviewing Keith Moon, drummer with the Who rock group, in London in 1976 and Moon poured a bottle of vodka over him. Although temporarily blinded by the vodka, McDonald carried on as Gunston and the cameras kept rolling. Both McDonald and Eastway were angry from the incident and Moon’s entourage apologised profusely. Despite the number of unscripted incidents, only once has Eastway decided against screening an interview – that with British film-maker Ken Russell who didn’t take too kindly to Gunston asking him if he wrote, produced and directed his owns films because he couldn’t afford staff. Russell became extremely upset, even violent, threatening the crew. Eastway ushered McDonald from the scene.
Judy takes the plunge
Actress Judy Morris likes playing many different characters – and it shows in her most recent parts. Playing a lesbian air hostess in Skyways, Morris is also seen as a photographic model in the feature film In Search Of Anna and this week plays a marine biologist in ABC’s Patrol Boat. Morris took on the role of air hostess Robyn Davies (pictured) in Skyways because she thought it presented an interesting approach to lesbianism: “I did the part because I felt like working, the role was different and it only took a few weeks to do.” At 32, Morris has been an entertainer for twenty years – starting in radio plays for ABC while still at school in Queensland. But experience hasn’t made her work any easier: “It’s harder to act now than when I was younger. When you’re young you can think you can play any part, even an 80-year-old woman with a limp. As you get older you realise how hard it is to play roles, and you ask much more of yourself.”
Acclaimed stage actor John Gaden has joined the cast of The Young Doctors for a guest role as a hotel manager. Also making a guest appearance, in a different storyline in the series, is Pamela Gibbons, who has worked on The Norman Gunston Show and appeared in Number 96 and The Oracle.
After a three-year battle, the controversial Australian film Petersen (pictured) is allowed by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for release to television, on the condition that it is not shown before 9.30pm. The movie, starring Jack Thompson, was originally scheduled and promoted for screening by HSV7 in 1976 but was withdrawn from the schedule at the last moment by the censors. Ironically, the version that has been permitted to air on Australian TV is the edited version for American television. A late programming change by HSV7 will now see Petersen aired this week.
Former The Box actress Monica Maughan returns to TV in an upcoming role in Prisoner as mother Pat O’Connell, a very family-minded inmate at Wentworth Detention Centre.
Although Peter Wherrett has publicly said that he wouldn’t produce another Torque series, the mail and phone calls received since the last series went to air indicates that there is public demand for another series. The eighth series of the popular motoring program will go into production in December and will air on ABC next year.
Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I watch Countdown often but when Ian Meldrum’s Humdrum comes on I feel like turning off the TV. When great pop stars come to the show he wears shirts and jumpers with their names all over them, but as soon as they leave the country he criticises them.” T. Mitchell, QLD.
“When a friend told me that there would be a two-hour episode of Cop Shop, I settled down to enjoy it, but was so disappointed and disgusted that I switched to another channel. Who except the morally sick would enjoy hearing about lesbians and homosexuals? I know what the reaction of some readers will be to this letter, but I also happen to know a great number of people who think the same as I do. Can’t we “make Australia beautiful” by cultivating clean minds. TV can do so much in that line.” M. Caffery, QLD.
“I’d like to complain about the time Blue Fire Lady was shown on Sydney’s TCN9. TV Times programs showed the screening time as 8.30pm to 10.30pm on Friday 27 July, but it was on from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Through the fault of TCN9 and TV Times, I missed the first hour of the movie. I hope the same mistake won’t be made again, as there will be many unhappy viewers.” R. Courts, NSW. (TV Times responds: “This program change by TCN9 came too late to catch the publication of the Sydney edition of TV Times.”)
What’s On (September 8-14):
On Saturday afternoon, ATV0 presents the gospel outreach World Literature Crusade, a 5-hour special hosted by Dr Jack McAlistair, President of World Literature Crusade, featuring musical performances and dramatised historical conversations with pioneer missionaries.
Saturday Night Live (HSV7), hosted by Ernie Sigley with Trudy Jaworski, features a music hall theme with guest appearances by Bartholomew John, Ian Turpie, Terry O’Neill, Terry Norris and Vi Greenhalf.
With the VFL finals now in progress, ATV0 presents the Cazaly Awards on Monday night. Hosted by Michael Williamson, Ted Whitten, Harry Beitzel and Jack Dyer, live from VFL Park. The Gold Cazaly and $5000 will be awarded to the outstanding footballer of the year. A further $20,000 in prize money will be awarded to the overall best players in all eighteen game positions. The awards will also recognise the most popular footballer from each club.
In Cop Shop (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), a pedestrian is nearly killed as a car spins out of control, the driver of the car claims he was only a passenger. O’Reilly (Terry Norris) waits for the birth of his grandson, and Vic Cameron (Terence Donovan) is gradually becoming accepted and liked at Riverside. Constable Roy Baker (Gil Tucker, pictured) decides his love life is wearing a bit thin and joins a computer-dating service.
In Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Vera Bennett (Fiona Spence) has hopes of a new interest in her personal life. While in Skyways (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), Anne Williamson (Kathryn Dagher) is a new hostess at Pacific International, and David Rankin (Fred Parslow) arrives with news of a 15 per cent pay cut in Pacific’s personnel.
Special guests on The Norman Gunston Show (HSV7, Wednesday) include Elliot Gould, George Segal, Valerie Perrine, Ed Asner and Hal Linden.
Jim Waley presents a one-hour special, The Babymakers (GTV9, Thursday) which unveils some of the facts about infertility in Australia which will surprise many Australians and bring hope to couples who have been unable to conceive. The special also discusses fertility clinics, artificial insemination centres and the possibility of Australia’s first test tube baby.
On Friday night, GTV9 presents a delayed telecast of the 31st annual Emmy Awards for 1978-79. The awards presentation took place in California on the previous weekend.
Sunday night movies: A Magnificent Hustle (HSV7), Love’s Savage Fury (GTV9), The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (ATV0). A Man Of Action is the third instalment of ABC’s A Place In The World, starring Nick Tate, Carmen Duncan and Max Osbiston.
Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 8 September 1979. ABC/ACP
I hope R. Courts has managed to catch that first hour of Blue Fire Lady by now…although it's a shocker of a B grade flick!