ABC‘s relaunch of its late afternoon line-up in October 1966 mostly relied on familiar titles — reruns of British legal drama Boyd QC, the return of children’s science series Why Is It So? with Professor Julius Sumner Miller, and new episodes of Doctor Who. But there were some new shows in the mix — Crackerjack, a Friday afternoon children’s variety show with Reg Livermore, Judith Roberts and Michael Boddy; a six-part science fiction series, The Interpretaris, starring Ben Gabriel, Kit Taylor and Lorraine Bayly; and a new Monday-to-Thursday series, Be Our Guest.
Be Our Guest was a curious mix of lightweight drama, pop music and “candid” interviews. It was a series set in a motel located adjacent to an airport.
The regular cast of Be Our Guest was Gordon Glenwright, Lorraine Bayly, Sean Scully, Jack Allan and Jacki Weaver. Glenwright played “Grandpa”, a retiree who has taken over running the motel. Scully and Weaver play two cousins who also work at the motel, and Allan played the motel’s chief cook, who conveniently also liked to play the piano.
Bayly, coincidentally also starring in ABC’s other new series The Interpretaris, played an air hostess whose role often entailed introducing celebrity guests to the motel who would have an impromptu chat with the motel staff and then perform “spontaneously” for us during their stay.
Be Our Guest ran four days a week on ABC and ended the year with a Christmas special featuring the regular characters in a party mood, celebrating in fancy dress as their favourite film or television characters, with guest appearances by those who had appeared in the show during its run.
The cast of Be Our Guest and fellow ABC series Crackerjack then appeared together on a Christmas Day special filmed at Sydney’s Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children.
Be Our Guest was not to re-appear in 1967, being replaced in the same 5.30pm timeslot by another series with a remarkable resemblance. Something Else told the story of a family-owned Sydney hotel called The George. Like the motel in Be Our Guest, The George was frequented by pop stars and performers, with the subtle difference that in the new show they were at the hotel under the guise of “auditioning” for a TV production company that had hired a conference room at the hotel.
Something Else starred Lois Ramsey, Benita Collings, Liza Goddard, Stanley Walsh, Barbara Joss and former Be Our Guest star Jack Allan.
As for Be Our Guest, it seemed to then vanish from our collective memories, until David Lyle‘s Golden Years Of Television uncovered this gem of TV kitsch with a rare screening in the late 1980s. It is not believed to have been broadcast since, apart from some clips appearing during Rage‘s retro month in January, and some music performances from the show can be found on YouTube.
The debut of Be Our Guest is among the latest additions to Classic TV Guides:
- Friday 22 March 1963 — VICTORIA
- Friday 22 March 1963 — SYDNEY
- Wednesday 2 June 1965 — VICTORIA Award-winning ABC documentary Birth
- Monday 28 March 1966 — VICTORIA Tom Jones Special. Final edition The Ray Taylor Show
- Monday 3 October 1966 — VICTORIA Be Our Guest
- Sunday 27 March 1983 — VICTORIA
- Wednesday 25 January 1989 — MELBOURNE E Street debuts
- Sunday 12 February 1989 — BRISBANE
- Friday 17 March 1989 — MELBOURNE TV Week Logie Awards
- Wednesday 14 November 1990 — MELBOURNE
- Wednesday 14 November 1990 — BRISBANE
- Tuesday 29 January 1991 — MELBOURNE Chances debuts
Source: TV Times, 28 September 1966, 21 December 1966, 8 February 1967. The Canberra Times, 19 December 1966.