New Year’s Eve television in Australia is usually a fairly low-rent mix of re-runs or B-grade filler not fit for broadcast during the high-pressure ratings season.
But the global excitement over the year ticking over from 1999 to 2000, twenty years ago, saw some gallant efforts to secure the nation’s viewers on the big night.
ABC was one of the worldwide consortium of 60 broadcasters to partake in 2000 Today, a 28-hour television event covering New Year’s midnight celebrations from around the world and capturing the first dawn breaking for the year 2000. The broadcast kicked off at 8.30pm AEDST, as Tonga, Kiribati and New Zealand were among the first cities to cross the 2000 dateline, and continued through to Samoa’s New Year approximately 24 hours later.
2000 Today was estimated to have reached a global audience of 800 million viewers.
The Nine Network countered 2000 Today with Millennium Live, involving a competing network of international broadcasters and anticipating a global audience of over two billion. Nine hit a snag at the last moment when the host organisation for the broadcast, Millennium Television Network, collapsed just days before the big event — leaving Nine to scramble together access to alternative satellite links to be able to maintain its 20+ hour telecast. Among its local presenters on Millennium Live were Eddie McGuire, Tracy Grimshaw, Rove McManus, Catriona Rowntree, Kim Watkins, Richard Wilkins and Helen Dalley.
Seven in Melbourne devoted New Year’s Eve to a telecast of the special AFL match, Ansett Australia Cup: The Millennium Match, live from the MCG, while Seven in Sydney and Brisbane broadcast the Clive James special A Night Of 1000 Years from the UK. (Melbourne got the Clive James special the following night)
Seven then followed with the special The Turn Of The Century: Rock The Millennium — A Celebration Of Song, then broadcast music videos overnight with AUS: Australia’s Ultimate Songs, counting down the greatest 100 Australian songs of the century.
The Ten Network as usual took a lower-profile approach to festivities, with a music video special Funk The Millennium, hosted by Sami Lukis from 10.30pm through to 3.00am.
SBS ran with its traditional New Year’s Eve screening of the German comedy Dinner For One, followed by documentaries, and the Italian film Allegro Non Troppo going past midnight.
Looking back at 2019, Television.AU remembered the 60th anniversary of the TV Week Awards (which became what we now know as the TV Week Logie Awards), Operation Kangaroo and the launch of television in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
We looked back at the 1965 award-winning ABC special Birth, documenting the birth of the daughter of ABC producer Jim White.
It was 30 years since the Seven Network’s ill-fated daytime ventures The Bert Newton Show and The Power, The Passion. It was also 30 years since the first Media Watch on ABC, and the Ten Network’s drastic relaunch as 10 TV Australia.
It was 20 years since we said goodbye to Eleven AM after 24 years on air.
During the year we added 44 classic TV listings to the Classic TV Guides archive.
Next year marks some significant anniversaries, including 60 years of television in Tasmania and 40 years since the official launch of SBS and the relaunch of the 0-10 Network as Network Ten.
And Television.AU marks its 20th anniversary.
Happy New Year and best wishes for the year ahead!