For every show that makes it to TV there is an endless list of pitches, proposals and pilots that never pass those crucial stages.
In the Eighties, one of that endless list was Pretty Petrol, billed as the first comedy to come from Grundy Television, at that time producing hit shows like Prisoner, Sons And Daughters, Sale Of The Century and Wheel Of Fortune.
The premise was that two young females take on employment at an outer suburban petrol station owned by a retired mechanic and his over-officious wife and operated by their son.
Pretty Petrol featured some familiar faces — Victoria Nicolls, (pictured above) already a household name from The Restless Years and two years co-hosting Sale Of The Century, and veteran actors Willie Fennell and Diana Davidson.
Relative newcomers Debbie Newsome, who’d had a bit part in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and comedian and actor Lance Curtis also made up the cast.
The pilot was produced at the studios of TEN10, Sydney, in April 1983, and despite intentions to spin the pilot on to a 13 episode series, it would seem was never heard of again. Although the pilot has recently been put up on YouTube:
YouTube: Cheese and Onion Sandwich
Despite the earlier highs of The Restless Years and Sale Of The Century, Nicolls’ TV career never really returned to the same profile. She later scored ongoing roles in Prisoner and ill-fated soap Echo Point. She continued performing on stage and is soon to appear in Menopause The Musical on tour.
Despite Pretty Petrol not taking off, Grundys was soon to sign up Newsome as co-host of its dating game show, Perfect Match, which became a ratings hit for Network Ten in the mid-1980s.
Fennell also later worked for Grundy again in Sons And Daughters, and Davidson appeared in the short-lived Crawford drama All The Way and continued to work on stage.
Curtis later worked in radio and appeared on Seven Network music shows Sounds and After Dark. He died in an accident in 1985.
Pretty Petrol is reminiscent of a much earlier comedy series, Barley Charlie, that ran for 13 episodes in 1964. Barley Charlie told the story of two sisters who inherit a rundown service station staffed by a no-hoper mechanic.
The series starred Sheila Bradley, Robina Beard and Edward Hepple and was produced at GTV9, Melbourne.