Obituary: David Evans

David Evans, former regional television and ABC radio presenter, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 78.

He began his media career at radio station 2VM in Moree, NSW, in the early 1980s.

He moved to television in 1984, as newsreader at NEN9 (now Prime7) in Tamworth in 1984. He stayed in the role until 1999.

He then presented Saturday Breakfast on ABC Local Radio until his retirement in 2014.

In 2007 he was honoured with an Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours, for service to the community, particularly as a contributor to the establishment of the Tamworth Waler Memorial.

David Evans is survived by his former wife Judy, his sisters Joan and Barbara and his brother John.

YouTube: Australian TV Fan

Source: ABC, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

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Obituary: Gaynor Bunning

Gaynor Bunning, one of the early stars of Melbourne television, died last week in Mooloolaba at the age of 82.

She had been suffering from dementia.

Born in Geelong, she began performing at the age of four. By the time she was 11-years-old, she was a member of the radio variety show, Swallow’s Juniors.

When television arrived, she was one of the performers on the request show Teenage Mailbox, appearing with Heather Horwood and Ernie Sigley. The program later became The Teenage Show, airing for an hour on Saturday afternoons. In 1962 she hosted The Gaynor Bunning Show on ABC.

She also appeared on variety shows including On Board The Southern Cross, Fancy Free, Bandwagon, The Bobby Limb Show, In Melbourne Tonight and Penthouse Club.

She then married and moved to Queensland where she ran a business with her husband.

Years later, she reunited with Ernie Sigley and appeared as a guest judge on Pot Luck.

Pot Luck: Gaynor Bunning (seated, right), with Anne Wills (left) and Ernie Sigley (second left)

Gaynor Bunning is survived by husband Graham Whyte, two sons and their families.

Source: TV Tonight, IMDB, History Of Australian Music. TV Times, 28 July 1960, 27 October 1960,  1 August 1962, 7 October 1972. TV Radio Extra, 8 August 1987

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Digital TV turns 20

It is 20 years today since Australian television first entered the digital age with the commencement of digital transmission in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Digital television marked the most significant change in television viewing since the introduction of colour in 1975. With the advent of high definition, widescreen television, there was a lot of information to take in about the technology and the options available. Though for many, the choice was simplified by the pure expense of digital equipment. The cheapest option to access digital TV was by connecting a standard definition set top box to an analogue TV — and that would still set you back around $700.

Viewers wanting to plug in a high definition set top box could be looking at closer to a $1000 price tag, and that box would only serve to downgrade the picture to be displayed on a standard analogue TV.

For the full digital experience, such as a widescreen TV with an integrated high-definition tuner, the price was around $8000.

Government legislation also did its best to make digital TV undesirable by limiting its functionality. Commercial channels were not permitted to start up secondary channels. ABC and SBS could do so but there were strict restrictions on what those channels could actually offer. Although technology was developed to incorporate interactive features such as home shopping, this was not to form part of the digital television platform.

Networks were permitted, however, to offer multi-view channels for sports coverage. This was an option used to some extent in the early days but was not widely adopted. Networks were also not exactly leaping to provide high definition or widescreen coverage of sporting events, even though this genre seemed a perfect fit for a high-definition, widescreen format.

It is probably no wonder that digital TV was not being taken up by the wider population, and the shutdown of analogue television, then intended for 2008, was fast approaching. The government had little option but to lift some of the content restrictions and to allow commercial networks to offer multiple channels to make digital TV more desirable. This allowed a revamp of ABC2 and launch of ABC News 24, and led to the first generation of commercial channels, including 7TWO, GO!, 7mate, Gem, One HD and Eleven. SBS also replaced its World News Channel with SBS Two.

The networks also formed an alliance, Freeview, to promote the benefits of digital television content and technology to encourage a higher uptake.

In markets of smaller populations, such as Tasmania, Darwin and Mildura where there were only two commercial operators, the existing operators were given the option to operate a third digital-only channel as a joint venture. This encouraged a higher take up of digital television in these markets.

The proposed 2008 shutdown of analogue television was then postponed to be between 2010 and 2013, with markets across Australia shutting down analogue signals one by one.

By the end of the first decade of digital, all networks had established high and standard definition secondary channels and community TV was eventually allowed a piece of digital spectrum.

For more on the first decade of digital television in Australia, this post was written in 2011.

In the second decade, networks have used MPEG4 technology to squeeze more channels into their available bandwidth. The Seven Network has now added 7flix, Openshop and, Nine has added 9Rush and shopping channel Extra, and Network Ten has launched 10 Shake and added shopping channels Spree and TVSN. Ten also shifted its long-running drama Neighbours to its Eleven channel (now 10 Peach). The show continues to be one of the channel’s best performers, though it commands a much smaller audience than it did on the main channel.

SBS has expanded to include NITV, SBS Food and SBS World Movies. It has also replaced SBS Two with SBS Viceland and converted it to high-definition. Both ABC and SBS have also added their radio networks to their digital television signals.

There have been casualties along the way. 7Food, picking up the Food Network franchise after SBS let it go, was not to last long. Nine also had only a short run of its new channel yourMoney, a joint venture with Sky News Australia. ABC2 became ABC Comedy in 2017 but it now becomes ABC TV Plus from today. Seven’s shopping and niche content channel TV4ME was also a short-lived venture. Network Ten ditched its sports channel One HD and turned it into a general entertainment channel, now 10 Bold. Experimental transmission in 3D in 2012 were also to be a one-event wonder.

But, in the beginning, to assist viewers in making choices and being informed about digital television, Digital Broadcasting Australia, a conglomerate of broadcasters, manufacturers, retailers and technology providers, released a brochure to help educate viewers:

(Click on the images to enlarge)

The Nine Network also published a brochure to help viewers along:

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Happy New Year from The Sullivans

Happy New Year and a handy 1978 calendar from The Sullivans — Grace (Lorraine Bayly), Dave (Paul Cronin), Harry (Michael Caton) and Rose (Maggie Dence).

Sadly, as well as World War II still playing out, it would not be a happy year at home for the family, with Rose tragically drowning during a New Year’s Eve celebration in an episode airing in May.

On a more positive note, The Sullivans collected five TV Week Logie Awards in March — including Most Popular Australian Drama and individual awards for Cronin, Bayly, Caton and Vivean Gray. In October the series won three Sammy Awards:Bayly for Best Actress In A TV Series, Tony Morphett for Best Writer TV Series, and The Sullivans winning Best Drama Series.

Source: TV Week, 7 January 1978


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2020: We remember…

Tom Long

Grant Goldman

Ron Haddrick

Ronne Arnold

Ron Graham

Maggi Eckhardt

Quentin Fogarty

Ralph Baker

Rob Gaylard

Geraldine Dillon

Paul Murphy

Gerald Stone

Joy Westmore

Jeanne Little

Betty Bobbitt



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ABC’s Sixty-One, Here We Come!

Sixty-One, Here We Come!: Corinne Kerby and Evie Hayes

Sixty years ago, as we were coming to an end to 1960, ABC was planning an ambitious variety special to welcome 1961.

Sixty-One, Here We Come! was a 65-minute program produced at the studios of ABV2, Melbourne, and in a rare technical feat was relayed via microwave links for direct broadcast in Sydney.

American-born actress Evie Hayes, who hosted ABV2’s new year’s special a year before, was again called on for the new year festivities, scheduled to start at 11.00pm and just click over past midnight.

Also appearing in the show were Bob Horsfall, Corinne Kerby, the Tune Twisters, vocalist Billy French, drummer Billy Hyde (pictured, right) and six Victorian Ballet Guild dancers. Musical backing was provided by the ABC Melbourne Dance Band, conducted by Frank Thorn.

ABC presenter Kerby had pre-recorded her singing and comedy segments ahead of the live production as she was preparing for the birth of her and husband (and Sixty-One, Here We Come! producer) Oscar Whitbread‘s second child, due on New Year’s Day (The couple welcomed a daughter, born on 11 January)

The direct relay of Sixty-One, Here We Come! to Sydney came just weeks after ABC had also linked Sydney and Melbourne via microwave for telecast of the Davis Cup tennis.

But ABC was not to have New Year’s Eve all to itself. Even though New Year’s Eve fell on a Saturday, GTV9 produced a special edition of variety show In Melbourne Tonight, with Graham Kennedy. The special served as the show’s sign off before going into recess for a month.

Starting at 10.30pm and scheduled to run through to 12.10am, the special featured Toni Lamond and husband Frank Sheldon, Joff Ellen, Elaine McKenna, Panda Lisner, Geoff Corke, Jack Little, Philip Brady, Bert Newton, Bill McCormack, the GTV9 Ballet and Arthur Young and the GTV9 Orchestra.

Melbourne’s other TV station, HSV7, took an alternative approach to the live-to-air festivities — screening Top Professional Golf at 10.00pm, then Wrestling From Chicago at 11.00pm before the locally-made special The Year In Retrospect at 11.30pm. Brian Naylor hosted New Year’s greetings from 11.56pm, featuring various station personalities, through to 12.10am.

Looking back at 2020, Television.AU celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Some of the TV milestones covered this year:

The pandemic took out the TV Week Logie Awards, but we continued to cover the award presentations of 50, 25 and 10 years ago.

The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal was also impacted by the pandemic, cancelling its telethon for the first time in over 60 years.

There were further cutbacks at Network Ten, impacting news production and Studio 10. Nine’s regional news took an unplanned break when the pandemic hit a peak, but was to return in a reduced capacity. More positively, Nine News restored its Darwin bulletin, albeit hosted from Brisbane.

There were farewells this year to Seven News veterans Melissa Doyle and Brisbane newsreader Kay McGrath, and Seven Tasmania newsreaders Jo Palmer and Rachel Williams.

We also featured Melbourne Cup flashbacks to 1960 and 1990. We said farewell to Nine’s heritage TV studios in Willoughby after 64 years, and paid tribute to the studios of WIN in Mount Gambier on its sale to a local business identity.

During the year we added 67 TV listings to the Classic TV Guides archive.

While 2020 was hardly the year that any of us had planned for, and even though it now appears there might still be challenges with the pandemic in 2021, let’s hope for a Happy New Year and better times ahead!

Source: TV Times, 29 December 1960. The Age, 29 December 1960, 19 January 1961

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Celebrate Christmas like it’s 1999

Television.AU wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas!

This year’s Christmas flashback is from 1999 — with young stars from the Seven and Ten networks and ABC getting into TV Week‘s Christmas spirit.

On the cover was Home And Away‘s Justin Melvey and Kimberley Cooper, and NeighboursBrooke Satchwell and Daniel MacPherson.

Also featured in the Christmas special edition are Kirrily White (All Saints), Lara Cox (Heartbreak High), Sophie Falkiner (Wheel Of Fortune) and Craig McMahon (Totally Wild).

Source: TV Week, 25 December 1999


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WIN Mount Gambier studios sold

The historic studios and offices that have housed WIN in Mount Gambier for over 50 years have been sold.

The 4000-square-metre property, located on John Watson Drive, has been bought by prominent Mount Gambier business operator Peter Gazzard and an undisclosed Melbourne-based partner.

There are tentative ideas for re-development of the site over the longer term, potentially including a mix of residential, tourist and creative arts spaces — though nothing has been planned or committed to at this stage.

Mr Gazzard told ABC that as a child growing up in the region, he fondly remembers the studio’s heyday as home to local channel SES8. He visited the studios as a five-year-old attending the station’s children’s show, and his father advertised his local car yard on SES8’s opening night.

In later years, his wife Carolyn Gazzard was employed as a presenter at the channel, hosting local programs including Woman’s World, Cartoon Connection and Music Express, and presenting news and weather reports.

Mr Gazzard told ABC that while SES8’s successor WIN has vacated the building, it has left behind some of the old equipment and items of local TV memorabilia that he hopes can be included as part of any new development. “We would love to retain the heritage of the SES8 days,” he said.

SES8 was South Australia’s first regional commercial station when  it commenced operation from the John Watson Drive site in March 1966, broadcasting through south east South Australia and across the border into Western Victoria.

SES8 was purchased by WIN Corporation in 1999 and re-branded as WIN. It opened a secondary channel, WIN Ten, in 2004.

WIN continues to be the local commercial TV monopoly in the area and since the advent of digital television has broadcast local relays of all three commercial networks. Most of the networks’ secondary channels are also carried locally by WIN.

WIN has now relocated its local offices to the Mount Gambier CBD, while on-air co-ordination for its multiple channels is now conducted from the MediaHub facility in New South Wales. The TV transmission towers that are located at the John Watson Drive site will remain and are currently under a long-term lease.

YouTube: sirmechie

Source: ABC, Commercial Real Estate, Herbert Commercial

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Shimmering Light took ABC to the surf

Beau Bridges (centre) in Shimmering Light

In the late 1970s, ABC entered into a joint venture with Trans-Atlantic Enterprises in the US to produce six telemovies for broadcast in Australia and for sale overseas.

While the telemovies were filmed in Australia, they would feature American actors in lead roles — a common tactic to attract overseas interest in selling Australian-made productions.

One of the six telemovies was Shimmering Light, the story of an American university graduate whose decision to pursue his love of surfing in Australia put him in conflict with his father, who wants him to take a more traditional career path with a job in his company.

The telemovie, filmed on location in Sydney, had the original working title of Surf, and starred father and son actors Lloyd and Beau Bridges, playing the lead father and son roles. The pair had worked together before, such as on the 1960s adventure series Sea Hunt, when the younger Bridges was a teenager, but this was their first time playing major roles together.

Beau Bridges, Lloyd Bridges

The supporting cast included Australians John Meillon, Ingrid Mason (The Young Doctors, Blankety Blanks), Mark Hembrow (The Young Doctors), Wendy Playfair, Patrick Ward (The Unisexers, Number 96, Cop Shop) and Victoria Shaw. Although the younger Bridges performed some of the surfing scenes himself, the more technical or risky routines were performed by surfing champion Mark Warren as his stunt double.

Ingrid Mason, Beau Bridges

Shimmering Light also included a soundtrack from American band Fever.

The telemovie aired across Australia on ABC on 12 December 1978. According to Wikipedia, it was also sold for broadcast in the United Kingdom and Europe and on cable television in the United States.

Mark Warren (main photo)
(Click to enlarge)

The other telemovies made under the ABC/Trans-Atlantic partnership were Barnaby And Me (featuring actors Sid Caesar and Juliet Mills), Because He’s My Friend (Karen Black), No Room To Run (Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin),  Puzzle (James Franciscus) and She’ll Be Sweet (Tony Lo Bianco and Sally Kellerman).

Source: TV Week, 9 December 1978. TV Times, 9 December 1978. Wikipedia, IMDB


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AACTA Audience Choice Awards Winners

In celebration of the 10th year of the AACTA Awards, AACTA this year supplemented the peer-voted film and television awards with the Audience Choice Awards.

The Audience Choice Awards allowed the public to vote for their favourites from six categories covering the last ten years. Voting from a short list of nominees was held during October.

On Wednesday night, the winners were announced during AACTA’s Best of the Decade: Australia Decides telecast on the Seven Network. Out of the six award categories, Network Ten claimed three — with Offspring winning Favourite Australian TV Drama and its lead actor Asher Keddie winning Favourite TV Actor Of The Decade. Former MasterChef contestant Poh Ling Yeow won Favourite TV Contestant Of The Decade.

Hugh Jackman

Poh Ling Yeow, MasterChef, Network Ten

Celeste Barber

Asher Keddie

Red Dog

Offspring, Network Ten

Mick Fanning Punching a Shark, 2015

AACTA’s Best of the Decade: Australia Decides will be repeated on Foxtel Arts on 6 December at 9.30pm AEDST.

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