Obituary: Darius Perkins

Darius Perkins, best known as the original actor to play Scott Robinson in Neighbours, died last week from cancer at the age of 54.

Making his TV debut in a commercial, Perkins then made guest appearances in The Sullivans, All The Green Years and Carson’s Law.

His performance in the mini-series All The Rivers Run won him a TV Week Logie Award in 1984 for Best Performance By A Juvenile. He then starred alongside Paul Cronin, Paula Duncan and Nicole Kidman in the telemovie Matthew And Son.

In 1985, Perkins was among the original cast of Neighbours, playing the part of Scott Robinson. Perkins left the show when it made the switch from Seven to the Ten network. The part of Scott Robinson was then re-cast to Jason Donovan.

Perkins later appeared in The Flying Doctors, Home And Away and A Country Practice and worked behind the scenes for various productions.

In 2013 he returned to Neighbours for an extended guest role, playing the part of Marty Kranic.

Source: IMDB, Herald Sun, Perfect Blend. TV Week, 14 April 1984.

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Nine announces new Today line-up

The Nine Network has confirmed its refreshed line-up for its long-running Today show.

Co-host Georgie Gardner continues in the role but replacing her former colleague Karl Stefanovic will be newsreader Deborah Knight.

Nine news reporter Tom Steinfort will become Today‘s news presenter, and Today will also feature Melbourne sports presenter Tony Jones, Nine Finance Editor Ross Greenwood and former ABC journalist and Triple J newsreader Brooke Boney as entertainment reporter.

The new line-up for Today commences Monday 14 January.

Today Extra co-host David Campbell will take over as co-host of Weekend Today with Allison Langdon, Jayne Azzopardi and Clint Stanaway. Campbell replaces Peter Stefanovic, who was recently let go from Nine after 15 years.

Because of the new weekend commitment, Campbell will now be co-hosting the mid-morning Today Extra with Sonia Kruger three mornings a week, with entertainment editor Richard Wilkins taking over for the other two.

Darren Wick, Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, said in a media release issued today: “Georgie Gardner, Deb Knight and Tom Steinfort will spearhead an energised and exciting Today in 2019. We’ve brought together a team from within the Nine family who are already well-known, trusted and liked by Australian viewers.

“Georgie has established herself as one of the most respected presenters on television. Our viewers adore her. What you see is what you get. Authentic, caring and compassionate. Deb Knight is hands-down one of the best interviewers in the country. An incredibly hard-worker, she cuts to the chase with every conversation.

“And Tom Steinfort is among the best of a new breed of reporters. His career has taken him from the Melbourne newsroom to A Current Affair, European correspondent for Nine News and onto 60 Minutes.

Today in 2019 has a new focus. But the show will retain everything that’s made it an institution for four decades. The perfect mix to start your day – news, information you can use and fun.”

Today began as the National Today Show in 1982. Previous hosts include Steve Liebmann, Sue Kellaway, George Negus, Elizabeth Hayes, Patrice Newell, Tracy Grimshaw, Jessica Rowe and Lisa Wilkinson.



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Rage Retro Month: Countdown, GTK

Rage‘s traditional Retro Month is on again.

Every Saturday during January, Rage goes through (what’s left of) the ABC archives and digs out some retro treasures, this week including six Countdown episodes from 1980 through to 1982 and featuring guest hostings by Renee Geyer (pictured), Darryl Cotton and Jon English.

This week’s Retro Month playlist winds up with an episode of GTK from 1974, featuring English in rehearsal for the musical The Bacchoi.

Saturday morning 5 January:
KATE BUSH Babooshka (EMI)
PINK FLOYD Another Brick In The Wall (Sony)
SPLIT ENZ I Got You (Fest/Mush)
THE PRETENDERS Brass In Pocket (Independent)
ADAM & THE ANTS Ant Music (Sony)
THE POLICE Don’t Stand So Close To Me (Polydor)
THE ROMANTICS What I Like About You (Sony)
TALKING HEADS Once In A Lifetime (Warner)

MICHAEL JACKSON Rock With You (Sony)
DIANA ROSS Upside Down (EMI)
THE VAPORS Turning Japanese (Sony)
MEN AT WORK Downunder (Sony)
AIR SUPPLY All Out Of Love (Arista)
DAVID BOWIE Ashes To Ashes (EMI)
QUEEN Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Warner)
KISS Shandi (Universal)

AC/DC You Shook Me All Night Long (Sony)

Saturday night 5 January 2019
COUNTDOWN January 3, 1982 (Molly – Summer Special: New Zealand Invasion) (ABC)
COUNTDOWN May 9, 1982 (327: Martha Davis (The Motels)) (ABC)
COUNTDOWN November 1, 1981 (308: Renee Geyer) (ABC)
COUNTDOWN July 27, 1980 (250: John St Peeters) (ABC)
COUNTDOWN June 28, 1981 (291: Daryl Cotton) (ABC)
COUNTDOWN May 4, 1980 (238: Jon English) (ABC)

JON ENGLISH Rehearsal for ‘The Bacchoi’ (GTK, 1974) (ABC)

Rage Retro Month continues every Saturday in January, ABC.

Source: ABC

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TV At 60: The first TV Week Awards

It was the issue of TV Week dated 1 January 1959 that announced the winners of the first TV Week Awards — what would become the Logie Awards.

During 1958, TV Week had invited Melbourne readers of its magazine to vote for their TV favourites for the year. There was no glamorous ceremony for handing out the shiny statuettes but rather presentations were made on each of the live shows to be handed their awards. Awards going to overseas or non-live programs were presented to the management of the respective TV stations to be passed on.

Not surprisingly, the top awards for “Stars of the Year”, Best Male Personality and Best Female Personality (the predecessors to the Gold Logie) were won by Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner from In Melbourne Tonight. The show itself also won the award for Best Regular Live Program.

Kennedy was then given the honour of giving the awards a name for future years. He chose “Logie”, from the middle name of TV inventor John Logie Baird, as it was ‘short, easy to remember and had a link to the history of television’. Kennedy joked many years later how different the awards might have been if he’d chosen to name them after his own middle name — Cyril.

The award itself, measuring about 16 centimetres in height, was designed by Alec De Lacy and was selected from dozens of submissions. De Lacy had sought to design a figure that was “as modern as television” with clean, sleek lines. It is a design that has stood the test of time, modified only to incorporate the evolution of the TV Week masthead.

Overseas shows The Perry Como Show and Perry Mason were overwhelming favourites among TV Week readers.

William Sterling, a producer for ABC, was awarded for his contribution to the increasing presentation of live plays on television, providing a new outlet for Australian artists.

Ian Jones from HSV7 was recognised for his technical direction and creative imagination in producing The Hit Parade. 

Sunnyside Up host Bill Collins was awarded in recognition of his own versatile talents. Most familiar as a sporting commentator, Collins had provided to be a skilled performer as a singer and in comedy skits on Sunnyside Up.

The HSV7 variety show Swallow’s Juniors, hosted by Brian Naylor, was recognised for its promotion and encouragement of young talent, while GTV9’s The Happy Show was an overwhelming popular favourite for the children’s program category.

ABC was awarded for its outstanding contribution to sports coverage. In an era before the commercial sector had come to dominate sports coverage on television, the national broadcaster was commended for its coverage of a range of sports including Australian Rules, Test cricket, motor racing, rugby league, soccer and tennis.

Best Male Personality: Graham Kennedy
Best Female Personality: Panda Lisner

Best Regular Live Program: In Melbourne Tonight

Most Popular Film Variety Show: The Perry Como Show

Most Popular Film Drama Series: Perry Mason

Best Regular Children’s Show: The Happy Show

Special Award For Outstanding Children’s Show: Swallow’s Juniors

Special Award For Live Drama Production: William Sterling (ABC)

Special Award For Technical Direction: Ian Jones (The Hit Parade)

Special Award For Outstanding Performances: Bill Collins (Sunnyside Up)

Special Award For Outstanding Sports: ABC Sporting Department

Source: TV Week, 1 January 1959

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2018: We remember…

Moya O’Sullivan

Sir Nicholas Shehadie

Nigel Dick

Ron Blaskett

Darrell Eastlake

Cathy Godbold

Charles Slade

Cornelia Frances

Liz Jackson

Harry M Miller

Ron Casey

John Bluthal

Judy McBurney

Terry McDermott

Penny Cook

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2018: Switches, surprises and goodbyes

There were lots of big TV news stories this year, but the news that will have had the biggest impact on viewers comes down to sport. And there has been a lot of movement and dollars splashed around in that department this year.

The swapping of Australia’s two biggest summer sports between networks has brought an end to decades old traditions of both the Seven and Nine networks.

Having had its summers focused on tennis for much of the last 40 years, Seven (and Foxtel) announced a $1.2 billion takeover of the rights to the cricket… bringing an end to the Nine Network’s grip on the game that dates back just as long.

The Seven/Foxtel deal was announced shortly after the Nine Network had taken over the summer tennis tournaments, including the Australian Open, from Seven. The Nine deal was originally to start from the summer of 2019/2020 but has since been negotiated to take over Seven’s last season of tennis this summer.

So the big loser out of this activity was Ten, which had lost the Big Bash League to the Seven/Foxtel arrangement. The BBL has been the foundation of Ten’s summer schedule for some years, having built up the competition from almost nothing. The takeover of the competition by Seven and Foxtel effectively left Ten without any sport  or premium content over the summer months which, while it doesn’t form part of the ‘official’ ratings period, can help secure audiences ahead of the upcoming ratings battle.

Ten did score a minor win, however, by securing back the Melbourne Cup Carnival which it had previously broadcast from 1978 to 2001 and with coverage of the four-day racing carnival commencing on Ten for five years from 2019.

In other TV stories this year, it was a surprise when Seven newsreader Jennifer Keyte was announced as returning to Ten — where her TV career started back in the 1980s — to lead its Melbourne news bulletin. The announcement came after last year’s news that Lisa Wilkinson had skipped from Nine’s Today to Ten’s The Project.

Ten has also since announced that former Seven Sydney newsreader Chris Bath will be fronting its national weekend bulletins in 2019.

There were some notable farewells this year. One that caught us by surprise was Lee Lin Chin stepping down from reading the SBS weekend World News after almost 30 years in the role. Less surprising was the more recent announcement that Karl Stefanovic was being let go from co-hosting Today after 14 years but is still apparently with Nine.  The decision by Nine to let him go from Today came after Stefanovic’s private life was becoming a media and tabloid circus, culminating in a lavish three-day celebrity-filled wedding in Mexico. It also came after Today had experienced ratings lows that it hadn’t seen for many years. Cue lots of speculation as to what direction Nine will be taking Today next year.

ABC newsreader Ian Henderson bid farewell after 26 years at the ABC News desk in Melbourne, though a technical glitch meant that his last bulletin had to be abandoned and he had to return the next night to get a more dignified send off.

Bill Collins, who has presented movies and movie reviews on television for over 50 years, stepped down from his regular Golden Years Of Hollywood commitments on Foxtel.

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid left the broadcaster after seven years, while ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie was controversially shown the door only half way through a five-year contract and is now taking legal action against the broadcaster.

There were some anniversaries acknowledged over the year: Skippy The Bush Kangaroo turned 50, as did ABC’s Behind The News. 60 Minutes turned 40 and it was 25 years since we first gasped in horror at Paradise Beach.

It was also 50 years since the Seven Network’s ambitious daytime series Motel that started with a lot of promise but had only a short life.

There was a 50 year anniversary for Southern Cross GTS-BKN, and 30 years for QSTV in remote Queensland (now part of Southern Cross).

ABC News Breakfast‘s tenth anniversary was celebrated in November.

Some new arrivals came in the form of channels Sky News On WIN, Your Money and 7Food Network channels.

The Neighbours wedding of characters Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) and David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) prompted us to take a look at the journey taken by the depiction of gay characters on Australian television.

Grant Denyer won the Gold Logie at the 60th annual TV Week Logie Awards, and we took a look back at previous Logies from 1968, 1993 and 2008.

We also took a look back at the hit 1970s version of The Price Is Right hosted by Garry Meadows, some vintage new year marketing from Melbourne’s ATV0, dubbed “Australia’s Action Station”, in 1973, and how 40 years ago we were only just seeing female newsreaders entering the mainstream.

Network Ten said farewell to its logo of 27 years and re-named itself “10”. It was an branding overhaul that wasn’t without incident, as its multi-channel re-named 10 Boss had to be quickly changed to 10 Bold following legal action from the rival Nine / Fairfax empire claiming the “Boss” trademark.

During the year we also added 48 classic TV listings to the Classic TV Guides archive.

Next year is set to cover some significant milestones, in particular the 60th anniversary of the introduction of television to Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Happy New Year and best wishes for the year ahead!


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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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