‘Don’t call me Betty!’
While Hey Dad! star Julie McGregor (pictured, centre, with co-star Rachael Beck) loves playing the role of ditzy secretary Betty Wilson in the long-running sitcom (“I’m not sure that there is anything around that would be as rewarding to do,” she says) don’t ask her to “do a Betty” when she’s not working. When McGregor leaves the studio after a taping, she leaves Betty behind in the prop cupboard. “You just shut off, put the toys away, and you come home,” she told TV Week. “Of course, every now and then you say something and you think, ‘Oh gosh, that sounded like Betty’.” In the series’ return to air this week, Betty’s old boyfriend Stan (Bill Young) is looking for work, but his potential new employer sparks a brawl when he makes some less than polite remarks about Betty. The punch-up is not shown on screen, but it’s the talk of the Hey Dad! household.
Gay murder rocks GP
ABC’s medical drama GP makes a controversial return to screens this week with scenes depicting graphic violence and a storyline surrounding a gay bashing and murder. Simon Radley (Felix Nobis) joins the Ross Street practice as a locum and possible replacement for Dr Nicola Tanner (Judy McIntosh) – but after work hours he frequents gay bars looking for sex, while his partner David Robinson (Scott Burgess) is keeping the home fires burning. A vicious assault on Dr Radley is witnessed by Dr William Sharp (Michael Craig), who identifies one of the culprits in a police line-up. A second attack on Dr Radley leaves him beaten to death. “It’s pretty heavy stuff,” Burgess told TV Week. “Simon and David share a house, but while Simon is driven by his urges to seek clandestine sex, David is settled and stable. The story is as much about their private dilemma as it is about the prejudice that gay people who live in the city have to face – being supposedly different from everybody else.”
When will the killings stop?
Has E Street’s serial killer storyline gone too far? While insiders at the Ten Network claims that the ongoing storyline has boosted ratings, what effect does having a sustained storyline based on murder and having a deranged killer as the focal point have on the viewer – and is it appropriate for a 7.30pm timeslot? Although the actor who plays the character of serial killer Steven Richardson, Vince Martin (pictured), is concerned that “there was perhaps too much killing… and I still feel this is the case because there are more deaths to go to air”, the show’s producer Forrest Redlich defends the storyline as “just storytelling”. “I’ve got the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal’s code on violence,” he says. “We have to stick to the letter of the law and we are doing that. When you look at how the story is presented, it isn’t a violent storyline. You don’t see a lot of violence in it when the murders are taking place. I just think it’s basically about storytelling and working within the tribunal guidelines.” Pat Manser of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal has expressed concern over the material being depicted but stresses that viewers do not have to just accept what is presented to them. “The best method of attack is to go straight to the station, because the stations are quite sensitive to public criticism,” she says. “If they get more criticism than pats on the back, they will do something about it.”
Jacki MacDonald (pictured) has described her new Network Ten show Healthy Wealthy And Wise as “a show that’s not really like anything else” and, after a decade as the funny girl on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and a year as host of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, is excited at the prospect at doing “something serious” for a change. “In this show I’m not zany, silly or crazy,” she said. “We all enjoy ourselves, laugh and have a good time – but it’s not a format for outrageous antics.” Healthy Wealthy And Wise, which also features Ronnie Burns as co-host, is produced by former Hey Hey It’s Saturday co-producer Gavan Disney. Although the show has only just debuted on Network Ten, it has already been sold for screening in New Zealand, Singapore and Papua New Guinea.
After six years of reading the news for ABC in Victoria, Mary Delahunty (pictured) is returning to current affairs television as she takes over as host of the Victorian edition of The 7.30 Report – replacing John Jost who has left the ABC to join the Nine Network as host of its new Melbourne Extra current affairs program. Ian Henderson, a former European correspondent for the ABC, has taken over as newsreader for the 7.00pm ABC News in Victoria.
Mike Hammond, the former host of Ten’s Star Search and now the sole host of Good Morning Australia, is enthusiastic about the breakfast show’s new format. “It has a totally new look, and a new format which is a world first. Breakfast television has never before recognised the fact that daily routines don’t allow you extended periods of time to sit in front of the box watching long interviews. Our new program informs you while you get ready to start your day. If you want to compare us to Today, we still offer more news and weather, more financial news, more politics and sport, and more relevant stories. And in what is probably a television first, there is up-to-the-minute traffic information as well.”
Former Quantum reporter Andrew Waterworth (pictured) has moved to the Seven Network as a reporter for Beyond 2000. “I was with Quantum for five years and I put a lot into the show,” he told TV Week. “But you get to a point in your life where you feel you would like a change.”
John Laws says…
”Whether Seven’s Real Life is going to offer any serious long-term problems to Jana Wendt’s A Current Affair on Nine is yet to be assessed, though the early signs are that ACA will be the toughest of nuts to crack. Real Life’s problem may be that it has hyped itself up as being completely different to the current affairs shows we have become accustomed to – and this, as any viewer will tell (producer) Gerald Stone, is a load of old cobblers. Real Life is a mixture of everything – a sort of mini-version of 60 Minutes, with shades of ACA and The 7.30 Report thrown in for good measure. It really can’t be anything else.”
Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 8-14):
Saturday: Nine presents a two-hour preview of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, hosted by Ken Sutcliffe, taking a look at the behind-the-scenes preparations and focusing on the Games venues and competitions as well as the Australian team. On Seven, AFL is back for the new year with its pre-season competition, the Foster’s Cup, live from AFL Park, Waverley.
Sunday: The first day of ratings for 1992 – and Nine’s current affairs line-up of Business Sunday, Sunday and the evening 60 Minutes are back for another year. Seven crosses to Darwin for live coverage of the afternoon match between Collingwood and the West Coast Eagles for the AFL Foster’s Cup. Sunday night movies are Air America (Seven) and The ‘Burbs (Ten), while Nine presents live coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games from Albertville, France.
Monday: Nine’s regular daytime line-up is back for the new year – with In Melbourne Today, What’s Cooking and Midday With Ray Martin all returning. At 5.00pm, Nine launches its new game show Supermarket Sweep, hosted by Ian Turpie, followed by the debut of Melbourne Extra, with John Jost (pictured) presenting local current affairs as the lead-in to National Nine News. Sale Of The Century (Nine) returns for another year at 7.00pm, while ABC launches a new series of comedy Mother And Son at 8.00pm. Stuart Littlemore’s Media Watch is also back for the new year, at 9.15pm on ABC. Nine starts its routine coverage of the Winter Olympic Games, hosted by Ken Sutcliffe, with over four hours of coverage each night from 8.30pm.
Tuesday: The return of ABC’s medical drama GP focuses on the gay bashing of the new doctor at the Ross Street surgery.
Wednesday: Seven presents live coverage of the AFL Foster’s Cup match between Geelong and St Kilda from AFL Park, Waverley. In E Street (Ten), Alice (Marianne Howard) and Penny (Josephine Mitchell) try to cope with their new business venture – meanwhile someone else in the neighbourhood receives a surprise visit from Steven Richardson (Vince Martin).
Thursday: Seven begins four days of coverage of the Australian Masters golf, live from Huntingdale, Melbourne. In the evening, sitcom Acropolis Now (Seven) returns, while ABC presents a movie-length debut of its new police drama Phoenix, starring Paul Sonkkila, Simon Westaway, Nell Feeney, Sean Scully and Andy Anderson.
Friday: Burke’s Backyard (Nine) is back for another year, hosted by Don Burke with presenters Peter Harris, Dr Harry Cooper and Densey Clyne.
Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 8 February 1992. Southdown Press