1978: February 4-10

Cover Story: Inside the Game Show business:
TV Times talks to producer Reg Grundy, the radio game show host of the 1950s that went on to head a TV production empire worth around $6 million (in 1978 dollars) turnover a year. Famous for taking US game show formats and franchising them for local audiences, Grundy had launched over 50 game show titles since he launched Wheel Of Fortune in 1959. Despite his longevity in the game show business, his latest venture, the top-rating Blankety Blanks almost never got to air after being offered and refused by the other networks but eventually picked up by the 0-10 Network where it became a huge ratings hit (Cover photo: Noelene Brown and Ugly Dave Gray, two of the resident panellists on Blankety Blanks)

The Year’s New Shows:
TV Times’ preview of new shows for 1978 was already covered in our blog post on New Year’s Day. New shows to launch during the year included drama series Catspaw, Twenty Good Years and Truckies – all on ABC. ABC also promises a new series of Marcia Hines Music and an Australian version of the British quiz Mastermind.

The Seven Network was preparing an Australian version of the British comedy Father Dear Father, and Nine had announced a series of Australian-made telemovies. Heading the 0-10 Network’s new season line-up was the action drama Chopper Squad.

Sammy Davis for Don Lane show:
Entertainer Sammy Davis Jnr is reportedly to be planning a trip to Australia to appear on Nine’s The Don Lane Show. Don Lane is a fan of Davis and had arranged the visit while staying with him at his Nevada property. Meanwhile, The Don Lane Show is about to launch its 1978 season and producer Peter Faiman is promising changes to the show including a $1 million revamp of the show’s studio and as many as 15 international celebrity appearances via satellite over the first few months of the year.

Wind of a new career:
Rock star Jon English is announced as heading the lineup for the upcoming Seven Network/Pegasus Productions mini-series Against The Wind, about to commence production. English is signed up to play convict Jonathon Garrett in the historical drama that has a $1 million budget for 13 episodes. English’s only prior acting experience was as a rock star involved in a murder case in the police drama Homicide.

Price rise:
TV Times announced that “increased production and paper costs have regretably caused us to raise the cover price of TV Times from 30 to 40 cents. It is our first price rise in two-and-a-half years”.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
Blankety Blanks‘ panel spends most of its time sniggering at (Graham Kennedy‘s) lavatory wall innuendos. Most of us ceased to be impressed by this daring wit at the age of 10.” T.Martin, VIC.

“At least five times in the last month, TV Times has printed one thing and a TV station has shown another. If the stations tell TV Times their programs for the week, then they should stick to it and not change it whenever they feel like it.” M.Turnbull, VIC.

“I would like to thank ABC for that brilliant English comedy Are You Being Served? and the repeat of the Rush series. In these days of endless movie repeats, excessive sports broadcasts and mediocre American cop dramas, programs of historical value and entertainment quality such as Rush, Are You Being Served?, Warship, South Riding and The Pallisers have become all too few and far between.” S.Cass, NSW

What’s On (February 4-10):
The Don Lane Show (GTV9) returns for its fourth year, up against ATV0‘s new Monday-to-Thursday night variety show Peter Couchman Tonight.

On Wednesday night ABC launches a new music series The Real Thing hosted by radio identity Ron E Sparx. The first show includes appearances by Little River Band, Radio Birdman, Renee Geyer and Dragon. On the weekend, Countdown is still continuing its review of the top 100 albums of 1977.

After-school TV programming is mostly dominated by imported product with Sesame Street, The Partridge Family, The Flintstones, Get Smart, Nanny And The Professor, Family Affair and My Friend Flicka shown across the networks. The only local content to be found between 4.00pm and 6.00pm is Play School (ABC) and GTV9’s Cartoon Corner which only served to introduce US cartoon series Valley Of The Dinosaurs and Josie And The Pussycats.

Sunday night movies for the week are Trader Horn (HSV7), Charlie’s Angels feature in Angels In Paradise (GTV9) and ATV0 screens The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean. All are TV premieres. Following the movie on ATV0 is the current affairs/interview program Firing Line with Maxwell Grant, Alan Ramsey, Mickie de Stoop and Jeremy Cornford.

Source: TV Times, 4 February 1978 (Melbourne edition) ABC/ACP

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/02/1978-february-4-10.html

ABC logo change sparks national fear!

Well haven’t things got into a spin for our national broadcaster Aunty ABC?

There has been speculation for some time that ABC was planning a visual revamp of its two television channels – the traditional channel known to many simply as ‘Channel 2’ but branded as ABC, and the relatively new digital-only channel ABC2. With analogue transmissions to be phased out over the coming years, it was evident that a more streamlined approach was needed in marketing ABC’s two channels and also any new ones that might be around the corner (such as the oft-talked about children’s channel ABC3).

Then last weekend some snapshots of the new name and logo for the main channel were leaked to some websites (for example TV Tonight, The (Unofficial) ABC Blog, Wikipedia) which showed that the traditional ABC channel was to be re-badged ABC1 but more significantly was to give a reduced (if not non-existent) profile of the iconic ABC corporate logo.

Then the newspaper The Australian ran a story its front page today about the change, and in doing so sparked a national outcry of fear that the iconic ABC logo of more than forty years was going to be discarded in favour of the new ABC1 (and ABC2) identities.

ABC’s TV chief Kim Dalton was quick to respond, saying that the ABC logo is here to stay and will complement the new ABC channels’ identity.

The revamped ABC television logos are expected to be officially launched in time for the new ratings season which commences on 10 February.

YouTube video: Michaelbeckham

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/abc-logo-change-sparks-national-fear.html

1978: January 28-February 3

Cover: How Ken James keeps hopping:
Actor Ken James, formerly from the soap The Box and now in the new series Glenview High, reminisces about his days as the park ranger’s son in the iconic children’s drama Skippy The Bush Kangaroo – including the times when the show’s marsupial star would cut from a scene and head into the wilderness, having to be chased by actors, directors and camera crew to be retrieved. Skippy became one of Australia’s biggest exports, being sold to 130 countries including the USSR.
(Pictured on the TV Times cover are Ken James with Glenview High co-stars Rebecca Gilling, left, and Camilla Rountree)

The word is… Gra-Gra and Ugly Dave to get specials:
TV Times
reported, although nobody at TEN10 will confirm or deny it, that Blankety Blanks host Graham Kennedy and panellist Ugly Dave Gray could be hosting their own series of specials as a spin-off from the popular game show. It seems that the nightly Kennedy-Gray gag session at the close of each episode of Blankety Blanks is so popular with viewers that a spin-off featuring the pair is only logical.

Kalgoorlie killer mine:
Martin Vaughan
, Kate Fitzpatrick and Tom Oliver to star in a one-hour drama, Deep Vein, to be produced by Perth’s STW9. The single-episode drama is being set around a mining disaster in the early 1900s, in which a man is trapped underground for nearly a week. Much of the filming of the program is to be conducted in the remote mining town of Kalgoorlie.

Nothing glum about the TV Glumps:
Producer Lyle McCabe is off to overseas markets to sell The Glumps, a 26-episode series of 10-minute animations featuring small plasticine models with eyes and a mouth. “They have a similar effect to the Muppets. We tested the show on 100 kids and they enjoyed it,” he told TV Times. In the show’s pilot episode, the Glumps re-enact man’s development of weapons from the Stone Age club to more modern ballistics. Locally, the 0-10 Network is said to be interested.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
“Westerns forever! Sydney’s TEN10 at least gives the public Daniel Boone, but it has been repeated so often it is hardly worth watching. Why don’t TV stations repeat westerns such as Wagon Train, Bonanza and Broken Arrow?” V.Hawkin, NSW.

“The last Mike Walsh Show I saw so disgusted me I feel I can’t watch or listen to it ever again. Did Mike Walsh think it was the funny the dreadful way Phillip Brady was treated?” D.Adam, QLD.

“I know I am not alone in my views on the termination of two of the most interesting and also cleanest serials ever on view – Certain Women and Bellbird. Over the years my husband and I have come to love and live with the Bellbird and Certain Women characters as if they were a part of our family, so it is sad to know we will not have them again.” W.Lidden, NSW.

What’s On (January 28-February 3):
The ratings year is still a couple of weeks away, so any decent highlights are still few and far between. On Saturday night, ABC screens Jubilee: A Right Royal Celebration – the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee Year celebrations. A few nights later, ABC screens the official film of the 1977 Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.

On Sunday night, ATV0 presents the outdoor games show Almost Anything Goes, the predecessor to It’s A Knockout which appeared a decade later. Host Tim Evans is joined by comedian Sean Kramer and football identity Ron Barassi.

Sunday night’s movies are all premieres: The Buttercup Chain (HSV7), The Horsemen (GTV9) and Minnie And Moskowitz (ATV0).

Friday night is definitely family viewing night with US series The Waltons (ATV0), Donny And Marie (GTV9) and Eight Is Enough (HSV7) all vying for attention at 7.30pm. ABV2 presents the premiere of The Edge Of The Cold, a series of films on the history and wildlife of Macquarie Island, 1700 km south of Australia.

Later on Friday night, radio 3XY DJ Lee Simon presents two hours of music on Nightmoves on HSV7, featuring Joan Armatrading, George Benson and the Eagles.

Source: TV Times, 28 January 1978 (Melbourne edition). ABC/ACP

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/1978-january-28-february-3.html

Heath Ledger

Australian-born Hollywood actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment this morning, Australian time.

The 28-year-old actor was born and grew up in Perth and began acting at the age of 15.

The teenage actor scored a role in the children’s drama Ship To Shore, and in 1996 appeared as an aspiring Olympic cyclist in the Perth-based teenage drama Sweat (pictured).

Ledger later appeared in the Seven Network soap Home And Away and in the US series Roar which was filmed in Australia. The 20-year-old Ledger gained the attention of Hollywood with a role in the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You which launched his international movie career.

The cause of death is not known though it is suspected may have been linked to some prescription medication found nearby.

IMDB: Heath Ledger

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/heath-ledger.html

What is ABC up to?

ABC viewers would have seen station promotions featuring the phrase “There’s a change ahead”.

So what does this mean?

Teaser campaigns like this are nothing new – last year the Ten Network ran a two-month campaign to promote “a change is coming” to veteran soap Neighbours. And some will remember when Ten also ran a lengthy teaser campaign with the phrase “there’s something going on around here” in anticipation for a complete revamp of the network to 10 TV Australia.

It is understood that ABC may be looking to re-brand its two TV networks in a similar fashion to what overseas broadcasters like BBC or TVNZ have done for decades by branding them in numerical order. For instance, BBC’s channels are branded simply BBC One, BBC2, BBC Three, etc but all have the corporate BBC logo in common.

The digital channel ABC2 has been branded as such since its inception in 2005, but the change of the main ABC channel (available on analogue and standard-definition digital) should it become something like ABC1 is quite significant as it differentiates the channel from its often colloquial reference of “Channel 2” (due to its broadcast frequency in the larger capital cities) and marks a departure from its standard “ABC” identification which it has carried for the last fifty-one years.

The change also leaves the door open for subsequent channels to be branded ABC3 and so on.

ABC is now broadcasting digital TV to 97% of Australia’s population* and the next few years will begin to see analogue transmissions being phased out, so now is a good time to give its channels a facelift – and by changing its TV channel identities to complement each other rather than have them branded independently, as happens now, will ultimately boost the awareness of the pending conversion to digital.

*ABC annual report 2006-07
Pictures: ABC, TVAustralia

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/what-is-abc-up-to.html

ABC remembers Mary Hardy

Mary Hardy was the Queen of Melbourne television and radio in the 1960s and 1970s – through regular appearances on In Melbourne Tonight, co-hosting the long-running variety show The Penthouse Club, and presenting a popular afternoon show on radio 3AW. Her popularity was acknowledged with several TV Week Logie awards for most popular Victorian personality in the 1970s.

With a quick wit and ability to work without a script, she was a trailblazer for female talent in Australia – but like a lot of entertainers, there was sadness behind the scenes as she had her own battles with depression.

Hardy, who died in 1985, is the subject of the first in a three-part documentary series on well-known Australian artists. The documentary explores her life and legacy through the eyes of her peers and successors – including John-Michael Howson, Wendy Harmer, Tania Lacy, Garry Stewart and grand-niece Marieke Hardy.

The program also features recently discovered footage of some of Hardy’s earliest work.

Artscape: IOU Mary Hardy. Tuesday 12 February, 10.00pm. ABC

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/abc-remembers-mary-hardy.html

1978: January 21-27

Cover Story: Marcia – The hard road to the hits:
Queen of Pop Marcia Hines has taken her show on a tour around Australia, with 86 concerts performed in as many towns and cities over fourteen weeks – claiming to be the biggest tour ever undertaken in Australia. In this double-page article, Hines’ manager Peter Rix recalls the highlights of the tour.

Mike Preston for new Grundy game:
Former In Melbourne Tonight and The Celebrity Game host Mike Preston is returning to TV to host a new game show The Better Sex. The new show, to be produced at STW9 Perth by the Grundy Organisation, will also feature former Miss World Ann Sidney. Sydney-based Preston will commute to Perth once a month for taping of the new show. Grundys are also producing another Perth-based game show Family Feud from the studios of TVW7 which has now been sold for screening on GTV9 Melbourne and TCN9 Sydney.

Chopper Squad’s overseas success:
Chopper Squad
, the new big budget series from the Grundy Organisation and the 0-10 Network, has been sold to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines prior to its debut in Australia. The series, set around a rescue team who use a helicopter to rescue people in trouble, is being filmed around Sydney’s northern beaches and is expected to debut on 0-10 in March.

TV’s Success Story: The Soaps:
Since Number 96 began with a bang in 1972, the soap opera has become a viable program format in Australia. Despite Number 96 and its Melbourne counterpart The Box both being axed in 1977, there are signs that the soap genre is going to be around for a long time to come – with four series – Cop Shop, The Restless Years, The Sullivans, The Young Doctors – now in production.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
“Why did ABC ruin December 16, 17 and 18 by putting cricket on all day? Besides the fact that cricket is one of the most boring and slow-moving games known, a whole day’s cricket could easily be put into an hour of highlights.” J.Taylor, NSW

“The memory of Number 96 remains, and with scriptwriters of this standard Australia can hold its own with the rest of the world.” G.Pattended, SA.

“Why are viewers of Sydney Channel 7 subjected to the blabberings of Rex Mossop? Why is he asked to comment on a multitude of sports about which he cannot hope to have had sufficient experience – to appreciate the finer points of, say, cricket or motor racing?” S.Ritchie, NSW

What’s On: January 21-27
Another weekend of cricket with the World Series Cricket (GTV9) and Gillette Cup (ATV0).

Sunday afternoons see a game show All Star Sweepstakes on ATV0 featuring host John Newman and panelists Tim Evans, Ron Blaskett, Gerry Gee and Chelsea Brown. Earlier in the day HSV7‘s This Week Has Seven Days celebrate the 21st anniversary of TV clowns Zig and Zag. Coincidentally(?), Seven’s movie that night is a suspense thriller called Zigzag.

GTV9’s Sunday night movie is They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, ATV0 presents The Nelson Affair and ABC’s Elizabeth R continues. All are re-runs as the new ratings year is still some weeks away.

January 26 is Australia Day, but you’d not know it to see the TV listings for the day. In fact, after the news and current affairs programs are out of the way the only Australian-made programming in the evening consists of a 10-minute Australia Day Message (ABC), Survival With Johnny Farnham (ABC), The Sullivans (GTV9), Blankety Blanks (ATV0) and a late-night documentary series Australians At War (ATV0).

Source: TV Times, 21 January 1978 (Melbourne edition). ABC/ACP

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/1978-january-21-27.html

TelevisionAU Website Update 19-Jan-08



English-born comedian Ugly Dave Gray was a regular on GTV9’s In Melbourne Tonight in the 1960s, and was a host of the program in 1970. He later turned to acting, appearing as nightclub owner Bunny Howard in The Young Doctors in 1976, before taking a position on the celebrity panel of top-rating game show Blankety Blanks in 1977. Gray then hosted his own game show Celebrity Tattletales in 1980, and returned to TV again in 1984 to host the Seven Network’s Play Your Cards Right, pictured left with co-host Kerrie Friend. (Picture: TV Week, 29 September 1984)

Seven’s evening soap, set in the fictional beachside town of Summer Bay, has become an international success story, and now celebrates its 20th anniversary.


Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/televisionau-website-update-19-jan-08.html

More of Mal Walden’s YouTube moments!

Network Ten‘s Melbourne newsreader Mal Walden is becoming something of a YouTube regular with some recent well ad-libbed spots on Ten News:

Plus a vintage clip from the vaults of Channel Seven from the early ’80s:

YouTube videos: Moe, Autopenguin, Upweyguy

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/more-of-mal-waldens-youtube-moments.html

Ten and Foxtel off to the Commonwealth Games

The Ten Network and pay-TV operator Foxtel have announced that they have secured the exclusive Australian rights to televise the 2010 Commonwealth Games from Delhi, India.

The deal gives both Ten and Foxtel access to live coverage of all events. Both Ten and Foxtel will have rights to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies – but only Ten will televise these live.

It is only the second time ever that Ten has televised the Commonwealth Games, with the first being the 1994 Commonwealth Games from Victoria, Canada. In 2006, Foxtel provided a multi-channel coverage of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games – supplementing the Nine Network‘s free-to-air coverage.

The 2010 Games will be the first to be host-broadcast produced in high definition.

Foxtel also holds exclusive new media rights which includes mobile and internet coverage. Ten and Foxtel will also on sell the radio coverage rights.

The announcement of the 2010 Commonwealth Games telecast partners comes after the Nine Network and Foxtel announced a joint venture to televise the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

The Seven Network and SBS will televise this year’s Olympic Games from Beijing, China.

Source: Ten, Foxtel

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2008/01/ten-and-foxtel-off-to-the-commonwealth-games.html