tvweek_280996Cover: Catriona Rowntree (Getaway) and Tania Zaetta (Who Dares Wins)

Tony’s above par
The Seven Network‘s decision to dump John Burgess as host of Wheel Of Fortune after 12 years in the role was met with widespread disapproval. Viewers were unhappy with the signing of Tony Barber to the hosting role as well as other changes being made to the long-running format when production shifted from Adelaide to Sydney. But co-host Adriana Xenides, who was speculated to have been just as devastated by the changes, has defended Barber’s appointment. “Tony is a delight to work with,” she told TV Week. “From our first on-air association I knew I was in a true partnership. I have been privileged that in my 15 years in the television industry I have had the good fortune to work with some of the finest Australian talent. The new environment on Wheel is neither a chore nor a challenge, because I adjust well to new situations.” Barber, a game show veteran with a CV that includes Great Temptation, Name That Tune, Family Feud, Sale Of The Century and Jeopardy, admits he has been hurt by some of the criticism surrounding his appointment but accepts that viewers do take these changes to heart. “I’m not really surprised how bitter some letters have been,” he told TV Week. “TV is a large part of their life. Wheel is their show and they’ve been tuning in for 15 years. They have every right to voice their opinion. I just hope that in the fullness of time viewers give the show a fair go.”

rosshiggins_0001Not the Kingswood!
Ted Bullpitt is coming back to TV. Producers Gary Reilly and Tony Sattler, the creators of Kingswood Country, are set to revive the character played by Ross Higgins (pictured) for a new series titled Bullpitt! “He’s still cranky after all these years,” Reilly told TV Week. “It’s Kingswood Country 20 years on. Ted now lives in a retirement home, and basically that’s it.” Kingswood Country made its debut in January 1980, featuring Higgins, Judi Farr, Peter Fisher, Lex Marinos and Laurel McGowan. “Because the original Kingswood Country has been repeated on Seven, a whole new generation has found the show,” Reilly said. A pilot for Bullpitt is to go into production next month and if successful will go into a series next year.

Persistence pays off for new Saturday Disney host
saturdaydisneyA week of voluntary work experience at Seven Network‘s Brisbane studios has paid off for Shelley Iliff (pictured far right). The 20-year-old has just been announced as a new host on Seven’s Saturday Disney. After her week of work experience, Iliff scored a job as a production assistant at Seven before a vacancy came up at Saturday Disney with Jeniene Mapp leaving the show. “I think they were just looking for a fresh new person who had never done anything, which was me!,” Iliff told TV Week. She now joins Lisa Barry and Marc Buhaj on the long-running program.


  • Tara Brown (A Current Affair), Gina Boon, Jennifer Keyte and Tracy Grimshaw are believed to be among the contenders for the co-hosting role on Nine‘s Today, following the decision by Liz Hayes to join 60 Minutes.
  • Filming has started on the pilot for the new Seven Network drama Trackers. Set in the Australian Customs Service, it stars Aaron Pedersen, Christine Harris, Geoff Paine, Andy Anderson, Sarah Chadwick and newcomers Berynn Schwerdt and Ling-Hsueh Tang.
  • darrinklimekPacific Drive star Darrin Klimek (pictured) made a pilot for a music show four years ago, but when it didn’t go ahead he instead pursued an acting career. However, Foxtel has now signed up the 25-year-old to host The NewMusic, focusing on emerging music talent both from Australia and overseas. The NewMusic is also expected to feature contributions by Molly Meldrum. Despite having the new show, Klimek will continue his commitments with Pacific Drive. “Foxtel has been nice in that they are going to work around Pacific Drive,” he told TV Week.
  • American actor Gary Coleman, recently in Australia to appear on Nine‘s 40 years of television celebrations, apparently had hoped to achieve a private ambition to be a TV cop. The former Diff’rent Strokes star had contacted the producers of Water Rats to ask if they could write in a cameo role for him. Producers met with the actor but diplomatically declined his request.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 8 September 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2284000
2 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1950000
3 This Is Your Life Nine Thu 1908000
4 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 1904000
5 Friends Seven Mon 1869000
6 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1832000
7 Great Aussie Bloopers Seven Wed 1821000
8 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1767000
9 Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show Nine Tue 1753000
10 Who Dares Wins Seven Wed 1733000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, September 28-October 4):
The AFL Grand Final coverage continues from the overnight Football Marathon, with the Grand Final Breakfast (8am, Seven), the VSFL Under 18s Grand Final (9am, Seven), the Reserves Grand Final (11am, Seven) and then the big game — North Melbourne versus Sydney Swans — live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (2pm, Seven). Gladiators (6.30pm, Seven) begins its Ashes competition, featuring Australia versus the UK, hosted by Mike Hammond and UK host Ulrika Jonsson.

Sunday: The Sunday Footy Show (12pm, Nine) presents its last show for the year, followed by the NSW Rugby League Grand Final (1pm, Nine), featuring Manly Sea Eagles versus St George Dragons, live from Sydney Football Stadium. In Talk To The Animals (6.30pm, Seven), Jane Holmes joins whale watchers at Cape Byron, NSW, while Dr Harry Cooper takes to the road with the RSPCA rescue centre. Sunday night movies are The Indecent Favour (Seven), Lightning Jack (Nine) and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (Ten).

Monday: Children’s shows Time Masters (4pm, Seven) and Ship To Shore (4pm, Nine) return with new series. In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Helen (Anne Haddy) returns home, while the rest of Ramsay Street tries to come to terms with the shock of Cheryl’s (Caroline Gillmer) death. Harry Connick Jnr and Chris Isaak host the 10th Annual ARIA Awards (8.30pm, Ten), live from the Sydney Convention Centre. Talking Footy (11.05pm, Seven) presents its last show of the year.

Tuesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Rebecca (Belinda Emmett) disturbs an intruder and finds a knife on the floor. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Vesna (Lenka Krpac) has to deal with a friend’s suicide and questions where her life is heading. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), PJ (Martin Sacks) returns and faces immediate drama when he takes a call from a three-year-old whose mother won’t wake up; and Maggie (Lisa McCune) decides to give up her uni course.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), when a lease problem arises, Angie (Lesley Baker) fears for the coffee shop’s future. In Pacific Drive (11.15pm, Nine), Tim (Darrin Klimek) and Zoe (Libby Tanner) throw a party to announce their engagement.

Thursday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), the actual cause of Cheryl’s (Caroline Gillmer) death is determined and Susan’s (Jackie Woodburne) worst fears are confirmed.

Friday: In Emergency 000 (8pm, Seven), a smoke-filled office building is evacuated and paramedics tackle frustrating peak-hour traffic. In Police Rescue (8.30pm, ABC), Joe (Salvatore Coco) becomes involved with a woman he rescues from the top of a building. In Pacific Drive (10.55pm, Nine), Tim (Darrin Klimek) and Zoe’s (Libby Tanner) marriage plans come under scrutiny from the immigration department.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 28 September 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.


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