The next in our occasional series looking at what was on TV on this day in years past. Today we’re going back to Friday, 19 October 1979 in Melbourne, as listed in TV Week (with Mike Walsh on the cover with Jeanne Little and Sue Smith, celebrating 1500 episodes of The Mike Walsh Show)
If you wanted to watch the news with your breakfast you’d better find a radio or a newspaper, because morning television in 1979 is purely for the kids — with Thunderbirds and The Super Flying Fun Show on GTV9, The Early Bird Show on ATV0 (soon to be ATV10) and Sesame Street on ABC.
HSV7 doesn’t make it to air until 10.00am, with Romper Room leading into US variety show Dinah!, featuring Dinah Shore. ATV0’s mid-morning includes Fat Cat And Friends for the pre-schoolers followed by repeats of family dramas The Rovers and Barrier Reef.
Bernard King presents his half-hour of cooking and lifestyle before Roy Hampson and Annette Allison present the Melbourne-based Everyday (which would become Good Morning Melbourne in the early 1980s).
Nine’s soapie line-up begins at 10.00am with All My Children — and apart from The Mike Walsh Show all you’ll see on Nine are soaps right through until 4.00pm.
Midday movies are Tick Tick Tick on Seven and Wind Across The Everglades on 0.
Re-runs dominate the mid-afternoons on both Seven and 0 — with Homicide, The Streets Of San Francisco, The FBI, King Of Kensington and The New Dick Van Dyke Show. It would appear that putting anything more substantial up against Nine’s daily soapie marathon would only be an exercise in futility.
As per usual, ABC’s daytime is dominated by schools programming with a 10-minute news update at 1.00pm.
The after school line-up include ABC’s programming block ARVO, hosted by Ron Blanchard and Alexander The Bunyip, featuring Play School and Sesame Street. Seven has Shirl’s Neighbourhood, Nine has The Curiosity Show and 0 has Simon Townsend’s Wonder World. The afternoon winds up with Andrew Harwood‘s It’s Academic, British series Just William and Out Of Bounds and re-runs of US shows Get Smart, Here’s Lucy and Wonder Woman.
It would seem that a extended strike by television production workers has started to impact on some schedules — and for Nine in particular. Nine’s early evening fixtures Family Feud, The Young Doctors and The Sullivans are nowhere to be seen — instead replaced by US shows My Three Sons, Celebrity Charades and What’s Happening.
Nine had also been forced to cease production of the top-rating The Don Lane Show, which normally aired on Monday and Thursday nights, and replace it with “best of” episodes.
Nine is reported to have even approached the other networks about suspending the ratings surveys while programs are being taken out of circulation, but tough rival Seven had instead taken advantage as it produced fewer live shows and still had more episodes of its regular dramas in the can. The absence of fresh episodes of The Don Lane Show gave Seven an instant boost to its new prime time series Skyways, airing in the same timeslot.
The 0-10 Network’s ratings were so perilous that it had nothing to lose by plugging away in the hope of picking up some disgruntled Nine viewers.
In the lead-up to its 7.00pm news, ABC had a one-hour local magazine program Statewide, hosted by David Johnston — up against I Dream Of Jeannie and Seven National News on Seven, Celebrity Charades and National Nine News on Nine, and ATV0’s Eyewitness News with Bruce Mansfield, Annette Allison, John Waters (presumably not the actor of the same name!) and Rob Gell.
After the news, Seven had current affairs with Willesee At Seven and ATV0 had magazine program Peter Couchman’s Melbourne, including regular contributors Derryn Hinch, Cornelia Frances (pictured), Marie van Maaren, Don Jolly, Tony Porter, Bob Maumill and barrister Frank Galbally.
ABC’s Friday night included the The Two Ronnies, British detective panel game Whodunnit?, soccer, snooker, gardening with Sow What? and a late news bulletin — before signing off for the night at 11.10pm.
Over on the commercial channels it was a battle of the movie epics — with 55 Days At Peking on Seven, The Guns Of Navarone on Nine and The Nun’s Story on 0 — all three hours in length.
Late nights included the late news with Malcolm Gray on Seven followed by music program Nightmoves with Lee Simon, while Nine had a repeat episode of Australian sitcom The Last Of The Australians before a late news bulletin, and ATV0 had two-and-a-half hours of tennis with the Custom Credit Indoor Tennis Championship from the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney.
Nine’s overnight movies are The Best Of Enemies, The Man From The Diner’s Club and The Giant Claw before the regular re-run of Sixties crime drama The Baron.
Source: TV Week, 13 October 1979.