Good Morning, Johnny Farnham

From the late 1960s, teen music star Johnny Farnham (years before he became John) was Australia’s crowned King Of Pop — a title that he won for five consecutive years at the TV Week King Of Pop Awards.

In 1970, the 20-year-old made his television hosting debut. For two weeks during the May school holidays, Farnham hosted Good Morning Melbourne, live from the studios of HSV7. The early morning 90-minute program was a mix of cartoons and studio segments, including Farnham performing a few songs, presenting commercials and even cooking breakfast on camera, using recipes sent in by young viewers — and their mums.

The morning when he announced a competition for viewers to phone-in, the local telephone exchange was inundated and could not handle the rush of calls. The Postmaster-General Department then forbid HSV7 from further running of the phone-in competition, prompting the competition to switch to viewers sending in their entries by post.

During the first week of Good Morning Melbourne, Farnham also happened to be performing a series of night time shows in Perth, meaning an overnight flight from Perth to Melbourne to be at the HSV7 studio in time for the 7.00am start. He would then fly back to Perth later in the morning for some rest ahead of the next night’s show.

So impressed was Seven in Farnham’s performance as host that network boss Bruce Gyngell was in Melbourne to negotiate a deal for Farnham to host a national variety show. The Nine Network was also wooing the pop idol as a potential candidate to join the hosting line-up on In Melbourne Tonight or having his own show.

While Farnham knocked back the big TV projects being offered by Seven and Nine, deciding to focus on his recording career, he did return to HSV7 to host the 10-hour Ideal Fun Day, a once-off Saturday marathon of children’s programs, guest interviews, pop music performances and competitions. He also reprised Good Morning Melbourne for the two-week August school holidays and for an extra week in October as part of Seven’s week-long celebration of its “Seven Revolution” campaign.

He later returned to Seven to host a daily 5-minute pop music segment, Revolution, and for Nine he signed on for a regular performing gig on In Melbourne Tonight.

He continued to dabble in TV in the years to follow, including variety specials, guest appearances in Division 4 and The Last Of The Australians, and starring in telemovie Me & Mr Thorne and sitcom Bobby Dazzler. In 1974 he co-hosted the 0-10 Network‘s national variety show It’s Magic with Colleen Hewett, and in 1975 hosted the first edition of ABC‘s Countdown for the year.

Source: TV Week, 30 May 1970. TV Times, 20 May 1970.

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