ABC this week pays tribute to its legendary Ripponlea studios in the documentary The Dream Factory.
The studios, based in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick and named after the historic homestead which is adjacent to it, were officially opened in May 1958, eighteen months after ABC’s Melbourne channel ABV2 began broadcasting. The studios continued to produce programming until this year — not just for ABC but on occasions the facilities were contracted out to commercial television and SBS productions.
Programs of all genres came from Ripponlea: news and current affairs, documentaries, drama, live and scripted comedy, variety, music of all types, sports, schools programs and children’s programs — even opera and Shakespeare in the earlier days of television.
Shows like Bellbird, Adventure Island, Power Without Glory, Rush, Countdown, The Saturday Show (pictured), Twenty Good Years, Australia You’re Standing In it, The Big Gig, Mercury, The D Generation, The Gillies Report, The 7.30 Report, Seachange, Spicks And Specks, The Factory, Countdown Revolution, The Late Show, Correlli, Recovery, The Micallef Program, Something In The Air, Frontline, Phoenix, Dirty Laundry Live, The Einstein Factor, The Marngrook Footy Show, The Weekly With Charlie Pickering, Hard Quiz and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell.
There is a lot to cover — over 60 years of television — in only 30 minutes, but The Dream Factory takes an affectionate and almost emotional look at how Ripponlea helped shaped Australia’s television industry from its very beginning. Presenter Ben Knight is joined by Charlie Pickering, Sigrid Thornton, John Waters, Shaun Micallef, Ian Henderson, Heather Ewart, Deborra-lee Furness, Red Symons, Simon Westaway, David Parer, Elizabeth Parer-Cook and Myf Warhurst plus ABC production crew as they recall their highlights of working at the Ripponlea studios.
ABC’s Melbourne production facilities for both radio and television are now based in the inner suburb of Southbank, on a redevelopment and expansion of the site that ABC has occupied since the 1990s.
The Dream Factory. Thursday 30 November, 8.55pm (Repeated Saturday 2 December, 2.30pm), ABC
Interesting on the old Ripponlea Studios – what a great array of programs went on our screens – Bellbird was a favourite and would love to see reruns today. Television was real entertainment in those days and something to stay home for. Seachange was good family entertainment and also could be re run. We see so many British and USA reruns, time for the Aussie ones including GP and Certain Women, all with our own actors. many sadly, no longer with us. Maybe copyright prevents it but Certain Women was never repeated and had a great cast with June Salter and Queenie Ashton, two of our great entertainers.