Obituary: Penny Cook

Penny Cook, best known for her role as Vicky the vet in A Country Practice, has died at the age of 61.

She was surrounded by family when she passed away from cancer on Boxing Day.

Graduating from NIDA in 1978, Cook first came to fame in the series The Restless Years. Three years later she was one of the founding cast members of the Seven Network series A Country Practice.

The role of Vicky Dean made Cook a household name and the 1983 episode which featured the wedding of Vicky and Simon Bowen (Grant Dodwell) was a ratings highlight. For two years running she won the TV Week Logie Award for Most Popular Female Personality In New South Wales.

Cook left the series by the end of 1985.  She returned to television in 1989 as Dr Elly Fielding, the lead character in the new Network Ten series E Street. She played the role of Dr Fielding for over two years. Shortly after leaving E Street, she began an extended guest role in GP.

Other TV credits included Skyways, The Flying Doctors, Naked Under Capricorn, Joh’s Jury, All Saints, Young Lions, Neighbours, Laid, Rake and Pulse.

Cook also hosted the afternoon show Family Circle TV for Network Ten, and the long-running Seven Network lifestyle show The Great Outdoors.

Penny Cook is survived by husband David Lynch and daughter Poppy.

A Country Practice, 1982 (Picture: TV Week)

Source: ABC, IMDB. TV Week, 21 April 1984, 13 October 1984, 4 May 1991.


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A Country Christmas

Television.AU wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas!

This year’s Christmas flashback is from 1983 — with some of the cast of A Country Practice wishing a Merry Christmas to TV Week readers.

By Christmas that year, the series had come to the end of its second year on screen. The show’s big highlight that year had been the wedding of Simon (Grant Dodwell) and Vicky (Penny Cook), the culmination of a two-year courtship.

Earlier in the year the series had collected its first two TV Week Logie Awards — Brian Wenzel for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, and guest star Jeremy Shadlow for Best Juvenile Performance.

Pictured above are Shane Porteous (Terence Elliott), Penny Cook (Vicky Bowen), Grant Dodwell (Simon Bowen), Syd Heylen (“Cookie”), Brian Wenzel (Frank Gilroy), Lorrae Desmond (Shirley Gilroy), Gordon Piper (Bob Hatfield), Anne Tenney (Molly Jones), Emily Nicol (Chloe Jones) and Joyce Jacobs (Esme Watson).

This year it was reported that Fremantle had bought the rights to A Country Practice, 25 years after it went out of production, with a view to producing a modern version of the rural drama. So far no more details have come to light, nor has any network publicly flagged their interest, but if it does eventuate it will surely be well received.

Source: TV Week, 24 December 1983.

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Obituary: Terry McDermott

Actor Terry McDermott, one of the founding cast members of the long-running series Homicide, has died at the age of 91.

He featured in early TV dramas including The Adventures of Long John Silver, Whiplash and Consider Your Verdict.

He appeared in the pilot episode of Crawford Productions‘ proposed series Homicide. A year had passed after the pilot had been filmed and there had been no word of the series being picked up. In a conversation with Hector Crawford, McDermott said that he’d had an offer to do some hosting for ABC. Crawford pleaded with him not to accept the job and consequently reminded HSV7, which was being indecisive about Homicide, that the proposed show was about to lose one of its three leads. The series then got picked up, and McDermott played the part of Det Sgt Bronson for over two years. He also returned to the series several years later in a different guest role.

He went on to appear in The Adventures Of The Seaspray, Skippy The Bush Kangaroo and Barrier Reef. After a 12 month stint in the stage production Man Of La Mancha, in 1968 he began the ongoing role of Max Pearson in the ABC rural soap Bellbird. He also starred and co-produced the series’ spin-off feature film, Country Town.

Later credits included Division 4, Matlock Police, Bluey, Young Ramsay, Cop Shop, Skyways, The Sullivans, Holiday Island, Prisoner, Tanamera: Lion of Singapore, Anzacs and Neighbours.

An appearance in the 1980s production of Mission: Impossible, filmed in Australia, reunited McDermott with American actor Peter Graves, who he had worked with on Whiplash almost 30 years earlier.

McDermott died from Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by wife Nathalie and his family including 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Source: The Age, IMDB, Classic Australian TV.. TV Times, 23 October 1968.

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Karl Stefanovic gone from Today

The Nine Network has unceremoniously dumped Today co-host and former TV Week Gold Logie winner Karl Stefanovic from the long-running breakfast show, announced in a media release on Wednesday:

“Nine and Karl Stefanovic have agreed it is time for him to step off the Today Show. Karl remains on contract with the network and will continue to host This Time Next Year, which records in February.

“For over 14 years Karl has been at the centre of the Today Show bringing his unique personality and perspective to the day’s news and current affairs.

“An announcement on the new line up and format of the Today Show will be made in the coming weeks.”

The announcement comes after ongoing speculation into Stefanovic’s role at the network and intense media coverage into Stefanovic’s private life, most recently the lavish celebrity wedding to Jasmine Yarbrough celebrated over several days in Mexico. His life had become a media circus that was less enthusiastically embraced by Nine executives as their former golden boy was now increasingly tabloid fodder, not helped by the very public separation and some very blunt (alleged) remarks from his former wife of 21 years, Cassandra Thorburn.

Stefanovic’s departure from Today comes literally only a day after his brother, Peter Stefanovic, and Nine had decided to “part ways” after 15 years. The younger Stefanovic was co-host of Weekend Today and seemed likely to eventually succeed Karl on the weekday Today.

Both brothers were caught up in controversy earlier this year when details of a private telephone call made in an Uber was made public by the driver. The phone call is said to included cutting remarks about various network colleagues and the behind the scenes workings at the network.

Meanwhile, Nine has seen Today — which also farewelled co-host Lisa Wilkinson last year when she accepted an offer to join Network Ten — fall to ratings lows not seen for over a decade, with arch rival Sunrise becoming a clear winner in the high-profile breakfast ratings battle.

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10 Boss becomes 10 Bold

Network Ten has ceded the name 10 Boss for its multi-channel formerly known as One, following a legal challenge from Fairfax Media (now part of Nine Entertainment Co) over use of the “Boss” name conflicting with the Australian Financial Review‘s Boss brand.

From tonight, 10 Boss becomes 10 Bold — but nothing else is changing in terms of content.

Ten’s press release of the name change:

“There is so much to love about 10 Boss – the brand, the attitude, the position. 10 Boss does a great job of representing the slate of drama, action, live sport and kickarse programs it airs. We invested heavily in making it great and it looks really really good next to all our new brands – 10, 10 Peach, 10 Play, 10 Daily and 10 All Access.

“Viewers are digging it!”

“But some were not so happy, as so often is the case. And it didn’t take long for Fairfax Media to voice their displeasure at the name. Fairfax and Nine thought we were trying to rip off their BOSS brand. Really!

“Anyone that knows 10, knows we’re no Grinch. So in the spirit of giving and as an early Christmas present to our friends at Nine, we’re flicking the switch to 10 Bold.

“That’s right, from tonight 10 Boss will become 10 Bold. We think it’s better to be bold than bossy.

“We want to start 2019 fresh with a great suite of channels and with brands that work. We want to focus on creating great content for our viewers.

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The 8th AACTA Awards

ABC and Foxtel were the big winners in the television categories of the 8th annual AACTA Awards, held at the The Star Event Centre in Sydney over two events — a non-televised presentation held on Monday afternoon (pictured above), hosted by Kat Stewart and Nazeem Hussain, and the televised ceremony on Wednesday night, hosted by Stephen Curry.

Mystery Road, Riot, The Weekly With Charlie Pickering, Employable Me and The Letdown were among the winners for ABC — with Riot stars Damon Herriman and Kate Box winning Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress respectively.

Foxtel’s winners included Selling Houses Australia, Picnic At Hanging Rock, Sky News and Fox Sports, plus individual awards for Shaynna Blaze, Andrew Winter and Scott Ryan.

Network Ten collected awards for Australian Survivor: Champions Vs Contenders and children’s program The Bureau Of Magical Things.

The SBS series Safe Harbour won two awards.

The Seven Network (which televised the ceremony) and the Nine Network did not pick up any awards.

Among the streamers, Hannah Gadsby was a winner for Netflix and Romper Stomper for Stan.

Actor Bryan Brown was awarded the Longford Lyell Award for his outstanding contribution to Australia’s screen environment and culture. Brown made his film debut in 1975 and has starred in a long list of films and television series. His TV credits include A Town Like Alice (pictured below with Helen Morse), The Shiralee, Against The Wind, The Thorn Birds, Eureka Stockade, Twisted Tales, The Good Wife, Better Man, Old School and the upcoming series Bloom.

In 1989 he was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame.

First awarded in 1968, previous winners of the Longford Lyell Award include Ken G Hall, John Meillon, Peter Weir, Jack Thompson, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, David Stratton, Patricia Edgar, Ray Barrett, Reg Grundy, Patricia Lovell, Jacki Weaver, Andrew Knight and Paul Hogan.

The AACTA Awards began in 2011 as the successor to the AFI Awards, dating back to 1958.

AACTA Award for Best Drama Series
Mystery Road. David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin. ABC / Bunya Productions

AACTA Award for Best Telefeature or Mini Series
Riot. Joanna Werner, Louise Smith. ABC / Werner Film Productions

AACTA Award for Best Comedy Program
The Letdown. Julian Morrow, Sarah Scheller, Alison Bell. ABC / Giant Dwarf

AACTA Award for Best Entertainment Program
The Weekly With Charlie Pickering. Chris Walker, Kevin Whyte, Charlie Pickering, Jo Long. ABC / Thinkative TV

AACTA Award for Best Lifestyle Program
Selling Houses Australia. Geoff Fitzpatrick, Duane Hatherly, Sonia Harding. Foxtel/Lifestyle / Beyond Productions

AACTA Award for Best Reality Series
Australian Survivor: Champions Vs Contenders. Amelia Fisk, Georgina Hinds, Adam Fergusson. Network Ten / Endemol Shine Australia

AACTA Award for Best Children’s Program
The Bureau Of Magical Things. Jonathan M. Shiff, Stuart Wood. Eleven / Jonathan M. Shiff Productions

AACTA Award for Best Documentary or Factual Program
Employable Me. Karina Holden, Sue Clothier, Jenni Wilks. ABC / Northern Pictures

AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama
Damon Herriman. Riot. ABC / Werner Film Productions

AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama
Kate Box. Riot. ABC / Werner Film Productions

AACTA Award for Best Performance in a Television Comedy
Hannah Gadsby. Nanette. Netflix / Guesswork Television

AACTA Award for Best Guest Or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama
Wayne Blair. Mystery Road. ABC / Bunya Productions

AACTA Award for Best Guest Or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama
Deborah Mailman. Mystery Road. ABC / Bunya Productions

AACTA Award for Best Direction in a Television Drama Or Comedy
Safe Harbour – Episode 1. Glendyn Ivin. SBS / Matchbox Pictures

AACTA Award for Best Direction in Nonfiction Television
Hawke: The Larrikin and the Leader – Episode 1: The Apprenticeship. Bruce Permezel. ABC / Southern Pictures

AACTA Award for Best Screenplay in Television
Safe Harbour – Episode 1. Belinda Chayko. SBS / Matchbox Pictures

AACTA Award for Best Cinematography in Television
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Episode 1. Garry Phillips. Foxtel/Showcase / FremantleMedia Australia

AACTA Award for Best Editing in Television
Mystery Road – Episode 5: The Waterhole. Deborah Peart. ABC / Bunya Productions

AACTA Award for Best Sound in Television
Romper Stomper – Episode 3: Poetry. Greg Burgmann, Frank Lipson, Andrew McGrath. Stan / Roadshow Rough Diamond

AACTA Award for Best Original Music Score in Television
Mystery Road – Episode 4: Silence. Antony Partos, Matteo Zingales. ABC / Bunya Productions

AACTA Award for Best Production Design in Television
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Episode 1. Jo Ford. Foxtel/Showcase / FremantleMedia Australia

AACTA Award for Best Costume Design in Television
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Episode 1. Edie Kurzer. Foxtel/Showcase / FremantleMedia Australia

AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best Female Presenter
Shaynna Blaze. Selling Houses Australia. Foxtel/Lifestyle / Beyond Productions

AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best Male Presenter
Andrew Winter. Love It or List It, Selling Houses Australia. Foxtel/Lifestyle / Beyond Productions

AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best New Talent
Scott Ryan. Mr Inbetween. Foxtel/Showcase / Blue-Tongue Films & Jungle Entertainment

AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best Live Event Production
Sky News Leadership Spill. David Speers, Kieran Gilbert, Laura Jayes. Foxtel/Sky News / Sky News

AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best Sports Presentation
Finals Footy on Fox: Richmond V Collingwood. Ben Roberts, Zach Larkins, Leigh Carlson, Michael Neill. Foxtel/Fox Sports / Fox Sports Australia Pty Ltd

Longford Lyell Award
Bryan Brown

Source: AACTA

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Seven wins 2018

For the twelfth year in a row the Seven Network has claimed the ratings year (5 cities, 6pm-12mn).

For the weeks 7 to 48 — covering the period from 11 February to 1 December, and excluding the weeks around Easter and the Commonwealth Games — Seven scored 30.4%, followed by Nine (27.4%), Ten (17.4%), ABC (17.0%) and SBS (7.8%). Seven and SBS were the only two networks to gain on 2017 numbers.

Broken down to individual channels: Seven (20.4%) defeated Nine (19.2%), Ten (12.3%), ABC (12.2%), SBS (5.6%), 7mate (4.1%), 7Two (3.7%), 9GO (3.6%), 10 Boss (formerly One) (2.9%), 9Gem and ABC Kids/Comedy (2.7% each), 7Flix and 10 Peach (formerly Eleven) (2.2% each), 9Life (2.0%), ABC News (1.4%), SBS Viceland (1.2%), SBS Food (0.9%), ABC Me (0.7%) and NITV (0.2%).

The Seven Network also topped 16-39 and 25-54 age groups, but at individual channel level it was Nine’s primary channel that took out those age brackets.

Seven also took out the high-profile battlegrounds of the 6.00pm weeknight timeslot and in breakfast.

(These figures are based on preliminary results and may vary slightly when delayed viewing for the last survey weeks is added)

Seven’s coverage of the AFL Grand Final took out the top two spots for most watched programs of the year, with post-game presentations scoring 2.616 million, and the game itself averaging just a fraction lower on 2.615 million (5 cities). For Nine, the NRL State Of Origin — Match 1 scored 2.347m, followed by the NRL Grand Final (2.141m) and NRL State Of Origin — Match 2 (2.132m).

Nine’s Married At First Sight (1.450m) appears to have won the reality show battle, against My Kitchen Rules (1.227m) and The Block (1.161m), while The Block‘s Winner Announced (2.093m) ranked higher than Married At First Sight‘s (1.9m) and My Kitchen Rules (1.637m)

For Network Ten it was a tough year coming out of receivership and starting a rebuild under the CBS umbrella. MasterChef: The Winner Announced (1.316m) topped their year in overnight figures. I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here started on a high (“Welcome To The Jungle”, 1.111m) but by the time it reached its finale it struggled to hit 900,000. Ten’s press releases talked up increased for regular shows Gogglebox Australia, The Bachelor and Have You Been Paying Attention? 

ABC’s top rating for the year came from Spicks And Specks Reunion (1.113m) and Jack Irish (913,000) and its Wednesday night line-up also scored well with shows like Gruen, Hard Quiz and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell. Other highlights included imports David Attenborough’s Tasmania and Death In Paradise.

For SBS their top numbers for the year came from the FIFA World Cup (Australia v France, 1.667m, and Denmark v Australia, 1.664m).

The 2019 ratings year begins on 10 February and continues through to 30 November, with a two-week break over the Easter period.

Seven wins
2017, 2016201520142013201220112010200920082007

Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM.

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Obituary: Judy McBurney

Judy McBurney, best known for roles in The Young Doctors and Prisoner, has died at the age of 70 after a four-year battle with cancer.

With an early career in modelling, she moved into acting with appearances in Catwalk, Barrier Reef, Seven Little Australians, Behind The Legend, The Box, Homicide, Bluey and Bellbird.

In 1973 she was cast as Marilyn MacDonald in Number 96, though had to leave the series shortly after due to illness. The role ended up getting re-cast to Frances Hargreaves, though McBurney later returned to the series in a guest role.

She also co-starred in a Nine Network pilot for sitcom It Stands To Reason, based on the British series Till Death Us Do Part. The series was not picked up, but McBurney was soon back at Nine in The Young Doctors as Nurse Tania Livingstone.

She played Nurse Livingstone for five years, and her character’s wedding to Dr Tony Garcia (Tony Alvarez) in 1978 was a big event for the soap.

After The Young Doctors ended in 1983, McBurney made a guest appearance in A Country Practice and then joined the cast of Prisoner in the role of inmate Pixie Mason. It was a role that lasted for two years.

Later guest roles included Always Greener and Home And Away as well as appearing in commercials and doing voice over work.

Although she retired from acting, she continued to teach acting and modelling.

Source: Facebook, IMDB. TV Times, 2 February 1974, 11 March 1978.

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Obituary: John Bluthal

Australian and British actor John Bluthal has died at the age of 89.

Showbiz reporter Peter Ford tweeted news of the actor’s passing on Thursday night.

Polish-born Bluthal came to Australia with his family in the late 1930s. He grew up and studied drama in Melbourne.

His worked in the theatre in London before returning to Australia. He starred in variety shows Gaslight Music Hall (ABC) and Bandwagon (HSV7) in the late 1950s and early ’60s before moving to the United Kingdom. His extensive list of credits in the UK included Citizen James, Never Mind The Quality: Feel The Width, Fireball XL5, The Goodies, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Minder, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy, Bergerac, One Foot In The Grave and various productions with Spike Milligan.

Bluthal made occasional visits back to Australia, starring in The Mavis Bramston Show and later appearances in Matlock Police, Bluey, Doctor Down Under, And Here Comes Bucknuckle, Ride On Stranger, Blue Heelers and Spirited.

Many Australian viewers will remember him as Italian taxi driver Enzo Pacelli (pictured) in the ABC comedy series Home Sweet Home that ran for three years, and more recently as Frank Pickle in the long-running British series The Vicar Of Dibley.

Source: Peter Ford, IMDB, Wikipedia. TV Times, 18 December 1959, 1 January 1960.


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