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Thursday, 7 June 2012

1992: June 7-13

tvweek_060692Cover: Tom Cruise

Shirl crashes out
When she decided to leave A Country Practice after more than ten years, Gold Logie winner Lorrae Desmond conceded that her character Shirley Gilroy had to be killed off but insisted that the death not be depicted on screen.  “You don’t get divorced in Wandin Valley,” she told TV Week.  “So for me to leave the series, Shirl had to die.  I didn’t want to do a Molly (Anne Tenney) – the long, lingering leukaemia bit, because I hate to upset children.  I like children.  The last thing I wanted them to see was Shirley laughing.”  The last viewers will see of Shirley will be farewelling her husband Frank (Brian Wenzel) from a taxi as she departs for the airport for a light aircraft flight to Brisbane.  Viewers will not see the plane crash that follows, killing all on board. 

Ian keeps an eye out for clues
With his new murder mystery show Cluedo about to debut, and with a second series already given the green light, as well as three sitcom projects in production or development – Let The Blood Run Free, Newlyweds and BinglesIan McFadyen is one of the busiest people in television. “Cluedo is not a quiz show,” he told TV Week. “It’s a game show, but a different kind of game show. It’s not based on how loud you can scream or how much jelly you can tip on each other.” It’s also a busy time for Andrew Daddo, who plays the role of Professor Plum in Cluedo, as he’s also scored a major role in the upcoming $3.7 million children’s series Round The Twist. “It’s been a bit tough to work the production schedules out because there will be some overlap,” Daddo said. “When Round The Twist came up, I jumped at it. But I’m also rapt that Cluedo is going again.”

theshiftingheartReturn engagement!
Neighbours stars Tom Oliver and Anne Charleston are engaged to be married in the long-running series – and it’s not the first time the pair have played a married couple on screen.  Back in 1968 they played husband and wife (pictured) in an ABC drama, The Shifting Heart.  “It was a TV adaptation of a play on the ABC,” Oliver told TV Week.  “It was a marvellous play and it was the first time Anne and I worked together.”  However, the on-screen union in Neighbours could be short lived, as Charleston contemplates the possibility of a life away from Ramsay Street when her contract expires later in the year.  “Seven and a half years is a long time.  But you just never know,” she told TV Week.  “It depends how you’re feeling at the time.”

There could be changes afoot for Network Ten dramas Neighbours and E Street, with network managing director Gary Rice putting the pressure on Neighbours’ producers Grundy Television to improve the show’s falling ratings, and expressing concern about E Street whose future is currently up for negotiation.  TV Week suspects an upheaval for both shows, with Neighbours to be shifted to 7.30pm and E Street re-worked into a half-hour format at 8.00pm, five nights a week.

stephenwhittakerThe cast of Nine’s steamy drama Chances have partied to celebrate the completion of 100 episodes.  Meanwhile, the series has welcomed a new cast member as Steven Whittaker (pictured) plays the part of Sean Becker, a friend of Alex’s (Jeremy Sims) who is set to threaten his corporate position.  Whittaker, who recently starred in mini-series Good Vibrations, contemplated having to tackle Chances’ steamy sex scenes.  “I gave it a great deal of thought but in the end it was some of those elements which were actually attractive,” he told TV Week.  “Would I prefer it to be mundane, dealing with slices of suburban life, or slightly off the wall, verging towards the bizarre?  In the end, that’s what made my mind up.  That’s where I’d rather be.  The potential is there for quite a bit of bed wandering, but at the moment there is more appetite than action!”

maryhardy_0001The life of controversial radio and television personality Mary Hardy (pictured) is being portrayed in a stage production, Mary Lives!, written by her brother, Frank Hardy.  Starring Maryanne Fahey in the lead role, the play also features Bartholomew John and Ron Challinor, both of whom were close friends and former colleagues of Hardy, who died in 1985.  “She was tremendously influential at the time, creating an awareness of me not only on the Penthouse Club, but on her radio program as well,” John told TV Week.  “Mary wasn’t just a female comic,” said Challinor, who was a writer for Penthouse Club in the 1970s.  “She sang, she danced, she told gags and she had great timing.  If she had done in the US what she did here she would have been a huge star.”

SBS is set to mark the 40th anniversary of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with a controversial British documentary, Queen Or Country?  The special, originally screened on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, raises the question of whether the royals abuse their public position for personal gain – looking at 10 cases where the line may have been blurred.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”Taking an old, tried and true board game such as Cluedo and adapting it to television sounds easy.  But obviously it wasn’t that easy at all, even for Crawford Action Time, a partnership between this country’s most prolific drama producer, Crawfords Australia, and British-based game show producers Action Time.  From initial impressions, the television version of Cluedo is a touch unsatisfying, right down to the fact that the smartest guy in the audience isn’t even asked how he reached his conclusion, and nor are we told how long it took him.  And perhaps it’s the “how long” factor that is most important here – not for solving the whodunit, but for the television program itself.  Versions of Cluedo produced by Action Time for other countries run only half an hour, not the full hour (less commercial breaks, of course) the show has been given here.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 7-13):
  Sunday night movies are Betsy’s Wedding (Seven), Robocop 2 (Nine) and Born On The Fourth Of July (Ten).  After the movie, Nine crosses to Paris for the final of the French Open.

Monday:  ABC launches a new afternoon game show, Vidiot, hosted by Eden Gaha.  In A Country Practice (Seven), Wandin Valley residents react when AIDS sufferer Max Blair (Felix Williamson) returns to be with his sister Trish (Linden Wilkinson) before he dies.  Healthy Wealthy And Wise (Ten) takes a tour of scenic Byron Bay.

Tuesday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Frank Gilroy (Brian Wenzel) receives news that his wife Shirley (Lorrae Desmond) has died in a plane crash.  In GP (ABC), William (Michael Craig) is shocked to find that his old friend Geraldine (Jennifer Claire), for whom he has developed a romantic interest, is passively committing suicide.  Beyond 2000 (Seven) presents a special edition from the International Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Wednesday:  The Nine Network presents the first episode of murder mystery game show Cluedo, featuring host Ian McFadyen and guest star Rod Mullinar as the show’s first ‘victim’.  Seven presents a rerun of the British documentary Elizabeth R (originally shown on ABC), documenting a year in the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession to the British throne.

Thursday:  SBS presents early morning (3.00am) coverage of the opening ceremony of the Euro 92 soccer championships, live from Sweden, followed by the first match – Sweden versus France.  SBS’ coverage of Euro 92 continues over 17 days, with live coverage overnight and highlights packages shown the following evening. 

Friday:  Seven crosses to Sydney for live coverage of the Rugby League First Test – Australia versus Great Britain – with commentators Graham Hughes, Pat Welsh, Wally Lewis and Michael O’Connor.

Saturday:  Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) presents a special edition from Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast, as the theme park celebrates its first birthday.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  6 June 1992.  Southdown Press.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Southern NSW and ACT farewell analogue

digitalgetreadyFor around 1.5 million viewers in the southern and central western regions of NSW, including the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, and the Australian Capital Territory, 9.00am today marks the end of analogue television transmission after over 50 years.

The switch-off will affect all local analogue transmissions of ABC1, Prime7 (CBN), WIN, Southern Cross Ten (CTC) and SBS1 in Canberra, Orange/Central Tablelands, Wollongong/Illawarra, Dubbo/Central Western Slopes and Wagga Wagga/South-Western Slopes and Eastern Riverina, and also transmissions of ABC1, WIN (MTN/AMN) and SBS1 in Griffith and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Some small towns and communities in the above areas have already had to switch off analogue transmission in the months leading up to today’s shutdown.

Significantly, the inclusion of Canberra in this shutdown phase marks the first Australian capital city to lose access to analogue television and comes only days after Canberra’s Southern Cross Ten (CTC7) celebrated 50 years of transmission with a reunion of past and present employees.

primetimesEarlier this year, Central Tablelands station CBN8 (now Prime7) and Wollongong’s WIN reached 50 years of broadcasting in their respective areas.  The three regional networks – then Prime, WIN and Capital – made history in 1989 as the first to go through the process of aggregation, providing local viewers with a choice of commercial TV stations for the first time.

ABC had started analogue transmissions in Canberra in December 1962 and progressed through other areas in the Southern NSW area in the following years.  SBS has been broadcasting in Canberra and NSW towns Goulburn and Cooma since October 1983, and Wollongong since June 1985, and was gradually extended to the wider Southern NSW regions.

According to the latest Digital Tracker report, covering the period January to March this year, around 85 per cent of households in the affected areas have already converted to digital, although 97 per cent of households during that time were aware of the pending analogue shutdown. 

Households who have not made arrangements to convert to digital or any alternative platforms – such as the satellite-based VAST – will find their television signals disappear from around 9.00am.

The next phase in the analogue shutdown will be Northern NSW – excluding the NSW Central Coast and the Gold Coast – in November this year.

The markets of Regional Victoria (including Mildura), Regional Queensland and regional South Australia (including Broken Hill, NSW) have already made the transition to digital-only television.

More information on the analogue shutdown, including details on household assistance schemes, can be found at the Australian Government’s Digital Ready website.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

50 years of TV in Canberra

ctc_onair_0002Canberra may be the national capital of Australia and the hub for the country’s political decision makers, but it was the second last capital city in Australia to receive television.

Almost six years after television made its official debut in Sydney and Melbourne, television came to Canberra on 2 June 1962 with the official launch of CTC7.

The channel had been five years in the making – starting in 1957 when The Canberra Times and radio station 2CA agreed to sponsor an application for a commercial television licence in the national capital. 

In 1958, Canberra Television Limited was incorporated with a capital of £300,000.

The company was granted the licence for Canberra’s first, and then only, commercial television channel in November 1960.  The new channel – CTC7 – was to broadcast from studios located on Black Mountain.  Construction of the studio premises and transmission tower was completed in little over six months at a cost of just under £78,000.  The studios were equipped with two state-of-the-art Image Orthicon cameras worth £8000 each.

Test programs were being broadcast from April 1962 with the official opening by Postmaster-General Mr C. W. Davidson on Saturday, 2 June 1962 at 7.00pm. 

CTC7: Saturday 2 June, 1962
6pm Program Preview
6.30 Documentary: Establishment Of CTC7
7pm Official Opening CTC7
7.20 Preview: Future Programs and “On Camera” Personalities
7.40 Queen’s Birthday Procession at Duntroon
8pm The BP Super Show
9pm Michael Shayne
10pm Official Opening CTC7 (Rpt)
10.20 Sunday Program Announcements, Epilogue, Close
Source: The Canberra Times, 2 June 1962.

The new channel launched with a schedule of around 30 hours of programming each week.

CTC7 has had a number of different owners over the years, including Fairfax, Kerry Stokes and Charles Curran.  In 1994 it was bought by Southern Cross Broadcasting – now Southern Cross Austereo.

Just as it had a number of owners, CTC has also had many different identities on-air – including CTCTV, Super 7, Capital 7, Capital Television, Capital 10 TV Australia, Ten Capital and now Southern Cross Ten. Some of the presenters to have appeared from CTC over the years have included Karen Barlin, Frank Jones, Laurie Wilson, John Bok, Geoff Hiscock, Christine Kininmonth, Mal Grieve, Greg Robson, Sonja Allitt, Peter Chapman, Rosemary Church and Mike Larkan.

CTC7_0001 CTC7_0002
ctc7_0006 ctc7_0004

The arrival of aggregation in March 1989 saw Capital align to the Ten Network for programming and expand its signal into the Wollongong/Illawarra and central western regions of NSW, while the Prime and WIN networks from those areas expanded into the Canberra market to represent the Seven and Nine networks.

Capital continued to produce a nightly local and national news bulletin for the Canberra market until owners Southern Cross Broadcasting axed a number of local news services across its wider network at the end of 2001.  The actions of Southern Cross and rival network Prime, which had also axed a number of regional news services at around the same time, led to the then Australian Broadcasting Authority set up an investigation into the adequacy of local news coverage in regional areas.  The outcome was the adoption of a points-based system which obliged regional operators to meet a required quota of local news in individual markets – although networks like Southern Cross and Prime are meeting their obligations in most markets with a scattering of two-minute local news updates throughout the day in individual markets, mostly produced from centralised facilities.

The Canberra studios of Southern Cross Ten, based in the suburb of Watson since the 1970s, now serve as the master control for much of the wider Southern Cross Austereo television network – including Southern Cross Ten in Queensland, New South Wales/ACT, Victoria and South Australia, and Southern Cross Television in Tasmania, Darwin and central Australia – and the regional co-ordination of the networks’ digital multi-channels.



tencapital_0001 southerncrossten

Next week, just days after the 50th anniversary of the launch of CTC7, all local analogue transmissions in Canberra and the Southern NSW market will be switched off.

Source: The Canberra Times, 2 June 1962.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sydney exhibition showcases Rage

rage_0001The commemorate this year’s 25th anniversary of ABC1’s Rage, Sydney’s Carriageworks will be hosting an exhibition as part of the Vivid Sydney festival.

The exhibition will consist of 100 television sets each screening a playlist of the 750 of the best video clips from the Rage archive – a total of around 50 hours of material – as a visual representation of the changes in audio and video technology and to reflect Rage’s influence in music trends over the last 25 years.

Headphones will be made available to enable visitors to hear segments of interest.  Visitors will also be able to choose from an array of footage including highlights from Rage guest hosts such as Nick Cave, You Am I, Blondie, Radiohead, Kylie Minogue, Silverchair, MGMT, Metallica, Sonic Youth, Grandmaster Flash, Michael Hutchence, MIA, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck, Malcolm McLaren and many more.

Rage – Celebrating 25 Years will be on display in the foyer of Carriageworks at 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh NSW, from 6 June to 17 June.  Entry is free.

Source: ABC. Carriageworks. Vivid Sydney

1992: May 31-June 6

tvweek_300592Shaping up for motherhood!
Teenage star Rebekah Elmaloglou (pictured) was determined that her on-screen pregnancy in Home And Away would look as real as possible.  For almost nine months she wore bodysuits of various shapes and sizes as her character Sophie’s pregnancy progressed.  “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” she told TV Week.  “However, I haven’t felt very attractive – just fat and large.  But it was comfortable and looked quite real, so I got into the role with ease.  As Sophie got bigger, I had to make it look as though her situation was very awkward and extremely uncomfortable.” 

michelleferretMichelle ‘fesses up!
Fast Forward’s street-wise couple Michelle (Magda Szubanski) and Ferret (Alan Pentland) give TV Week a few pointers on life on the streets.  “Well, firsta all, if youse lag on someone, ya dob ‘em in, ya become a dog,” Michelle says while the normally mute Ferret nods in agreement.  "And then rollin’ someone is muggin’ em, nod the head is pleadin’ guilty and ‘fess up is confess to the coppers on tape.”  Michelle also says that to look good is important.  “The jeans have to look like you’ve been born in ‘em and the hickeys are a fashion accessory, but more than two is in bad taste,” she says. 

Will Mike stop the clock?
60 Minutes reporter Mike Munro talks to TV Week about his plans to spend more time with the family and less time travelling the globe filing reports for the program.  “Things will definitely come to a head over the next couple of years,” he said.  “I’ve got two priorities in life – my family and 60 Minutes, in that order.  I’m happy at the moment, but eventually I will have to start spending a lot more time with the family.  I could even qualify as a house husband!  I’m pretty domesticated, a good cook, and I clean and iron and do all those sorts of things.”

brucemcavaneyOn their blocks!
When the Seven Network successfully bid $40 million for the Australian television rights for the Barcelona Olympic Games, many high-profile media personalities from other networks fought for a place on Seven’s team.  One of those was Bruce McAvaney (pictured), who was unhappy at the financially-ailing Ten Network and saw the Games as a great reason to change camps.  Fortunately for him Seven agreed, but not everyone was successful in getting a spot on Seven’s team.  “We had calls from some extraordinary people,” Seven’s director of sport Gary Fenton told TV Week.  “I’m talking about technical and on-air people.  A lot wanted to be part of this were not considered good enough to be involved.”  The Seven Network is sending a team of 154 to Barcelona, including commentators and technical personnel – putting together what Seven claims is the largest offshore broadcast in the history of Australian TV.  However, Seven’s investment is minuscule when compared to the US network giant NBC which paid $401 million for the broadcast rights and is sending over a team of 3000.  Seven’s coverage will be fronted by McAvaney and Garry Wilkinson, while specialist commentators will include Ron Casey (boxing), John Bertrand (yachting), John Alexander (tennis), Neil Brooks (swimming) and Lindsay Gaze (basketball).  Seven’s on-air team for the Games also includes Sandy Roberts, Peter Landy, Drew Morphett, Peter Mitchell, Pat Welsh, Cameron Williams, Lisa Curry-Kenny, Dennis Cometti, Max Stevens, Edwina Gatenby, Ian Hyslop, Duncan Armstrong, Alexis Hamilton-Smith, Cathy Freeman, Steve Moneghetti, Andrew Gaze, Lisa Forrest, Peter Meares and Kim Watkins.  The Barcelona Olympic Games launch with the opening ceremony on 25 July.

The hot tip going around the industry is that A Current Affair host, TV Week Gold Logie winner Jana Wendt is keen to step away from the program and spend more time with her young son, Daniel.  She is also believed to be considering returning to university to do extra studies.  Midday host Ray Martin is tipped to take over Wendt’s role on A Current Affair with John Mangos taking over Martin’s spot on Midday.

eddiemcguire_0001Network Ten sports reporter Eddie McGuire (pictured) is confirmed as part of the line-up for new Melbourne radio station 3EE which is due to launch at the end of June.  McGuire will be hosting a Saturday morning show on the new station which fills the gap left by the closure of 3XY in September last year.

Former Home And Away star Julian McMahon has turned down a guest role in E Street. The former model is about to head off to the US, but E Street producers are still keen to pursue him for other roles in the future.

whatscookingWhat’s Cooking co-host Colette Mann says that since the show launched a year ago she’s constantly being approached by the public when shopping.  “People will come up to me and say, ‘Shouldn’t you be somewhere else?’, meaning on TV,” she said.  “You want to scream at them, ‘No, the show’s taped!’.  Or they go, ‘What’s cooking, Colette?’, and they think they’re the first person in the world to think of it.  But I must say I’ve never had a bad reaction from people about the show.”  And when asked about her co-star, French-born chef Gabriel Gate, she says their unlikely on-screen partnership has benefited both of them.  “My cooking has improved a lot and his television has improved a lot!”

letthebloodrunfreeLet The Blood Run Free, the off-beat hospital comedy from the producers of The Comedy Company and featuring Jean Kittson and Peter Rowsthorn (pictured), is coming back for a second series.  Production is to resume at the Network Ten studios in Melbourne, although the network has yet to make a commitment to programming the series.  The first series, produced in 1990, was sold to 12 countries and was a hit in Germany and the Netherlands.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”The American sitcom Cheers has a chequered history in this country.  From memory, it started life here on Network Ten and was pushed around various timeslots until – like other US sitcoms such as Roseanne and Married… With Children – someone at Ten placed it in someone else’s too hard basket.  Since it became Nine Network property two or three years ago, Cheers has enjoyed increased success, while never setting the globe ablaze and while still having to cope with some buffeting around the program schedule.  In the US, of course, it’s been a different story.  The NBC sitcom regularly finishes in the five top-rating shows on the year and the nondescript little bar on Beacon Street in Boston, where the show is set, has become a national landmark.  After making its US debut in 1982 at a lowly number 77 in the ratings, Cheers climbed steadily until – by the time it celebrated its 200th episode about 18 months ago – it was number one.  Better late than never, the Nine Network will screen the special hour-long celebration episode this week.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne: May 31-June 6):
  Seven crosses to Football Park, Adelaide, for live coverage of the afternoon AFL match between Adelaide Crows and North Melbourne.  Sunday night movies are Road House (Seven), I Love You To Death (Nine) and Aliens (Ten).

Monday:  Martin Jacobs, Geraldine Turner and Ben Oxenbould star in That Man’s Father, the final instalment of SBS’ Six Pack drama series.  In A Country Practice (Seven), Sergeant Newman (Jon Concannon) suspects young James Hutton (Ari Mattes) is a victim of incest.

lochiedaddoTuesday:  In All Together Now (Nine), Marcus (Lochie Daddo, pictured) a school friend of Thomas’ (Steven Jacobs) falls for Tracy (Rebecca Gibney).  In Chances (Nine), Sean Becker (Stephen Whittaker), an old friend of Alex’s (Jeremy Sims) arrives at the agency and sets his sights on Angela (Patsy Stephen).

Wednesday:   In Neighbours (Ten), Madge (Anne Charleston) makes a decision about Lou’s (Tom Oliver) marriage proposal.  Nine crosses to the Sydney Football Stadium for live coverage of the Rugby League State Of Origin match between NSW and Queensland.

Thursday:  Seven presents a one-hour special, Barcelona With Steve Vizard, exploring life in Barcelona today and its cultural history in the lead up to the city hosting the Olympic Games.  In Embassy (ABC), Terry Blake (Frankie J. Holden) applies for a promotion to a job in Canberra.

Friday:  Following Andrew Denton: Live And Sweaty, ABC presents the debut of a British game show with a difference – Sticky Moments With Julian Clary.

Saturday:  Network Ten launches a new children’s program, The Shorn Sheep Show, featuring Joy Smithers, a former MTV co-host and actress in the acclaimed mini-series Bangkok Hilton.  SBS current affairs program Dateline presents a special report to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Six-Day War, with Mike Carey reporting from Egypt, Israel and Jordan.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  30 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

1992: May 24-30

tvweek_230592Cover: Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown)

Living in the Seventies
Despite the Seventies being the era of ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’, All Together Now star Jon English confesses that he can look back on that era without too much embarrassment, insisting that he never played up to the image of a high-profile actor-singer during that period.  “I was never into that sex and drugs thing, to tell you the truth,” he told TV Week.  “In the bulk of the Seventies I was appearing in the theatre eight times a week (in Jesus Christ Superstar).  I watched everything in that era from the edge of the stage.”  Meanwhile English’s co-star Rebecca Gibney admits that as a teenager in the that era (“14 trying to be 25”, she said) she was a big fan of the rock performer.  “I wrote to Jon once but he never replied,” she said.  “I loved his music, had his albums and went to his concerts.”  The Nine Network sitcom has adopted a retro theme for this week’s episode as the show’s characters stage a Seventies-style “sit-in” while re-living the Woodstock era.

sofieformicaLong-distance romance?
They might be rivals in children’s television and working in different cities, but Melbourne-based Saturday At Rick’s co-host Lochie Daddo and Brisbane-based Saturday Disney’s Sofie Formica (pictured) are denying reports that they are romantically linked.  “Just good friends,” Daddo told TV Week.  “I ended up doing a pilot for an afternoon show in Brisbane for Ten.  We went out for dinner one night.  It was like a blind date.  The next four or five weeks, for some reason or another, I was up there nearly every weekend for work.  So I saw a lot of Sofie.  We are still very good friends.”  Daddo has recently joined Saturday At Rick’s following his first professional acting role in an episode of All Together Now.  “As a result of All Together Now, I was a guest on Rick’s,” he said.  “Then they said, ‘Do you want to do the show?’.“  Meanwhile, Formica has recently returned from Turkey where she was an Australian delegate at the European Broadcasting Union’s international workshop for children’s television presenters, and has since started a new role as host of Seven’s children’s quiz show Now You See It.

effie_0002The hair of the wog!
Acropolis Now’s self-styled beauty queen Effie (Mary Coustas, pictured near right) and friend Sophie (Sheryl Munks) have decided that the cafe’s resident career woman Suzanna Martin (Nicki Wendt, far right) is in dire need of assistance.  “Suzanna looks like the ‘before’ lady on the shampoo commercial,” Effie told TV Week.  “She’s got very fine hairs.  I want to give her a good root perm, which will stuff up her hairs for five years.”

Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s Daryl Somers has been busy working on two additional projects.  The first is a series of one-hour specials, The Best (And Worst) Of Red Faces, highlighting some of the acts to have appeared on the mock talent quest segment since it started back in the early 1980s.  “It’s been a huge job for everyone involved, endeavouring to find every segment ever done – the oldest piece dates back to 1982,” he told TV Week.  The second project is a movie to star the team from Hey Hey It’s Saturday, to be filmed in Brisbane and Melbourne.

deesmartLate last year, Home And Away star Dee Smart (pictured) described working on the series as being like a prison sentence.  (“It feels like I’ve been there for years,” she said at the time)  Now it seems her desire to be written out of the show will be realised with producer Andrew Howie agreeing to let her go in July.  Her departure could lead to some challenging times for the soap, which recently celebrated 1000 episodes, with co-stars Nicolle Dickson and Bruce Roberts also contemplating leaving.

E Street’s Brooke ‘Mikey’ Anderson has been dumped from the series 10 weeks before her contract was due to expire.  The young star, who had been in the series since it started three years ago, has already starting filming a guest role in rival series A Country Practice.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”It wasn’t until the Seven Network ran Blackadder back-to-back with Fast Forward that the Rowan Atkinson series gained anything more than a cult following in this country.  Unfortunately, the series was long gone before an audience large enough to be commercially viable had starting lamenting it.  The ABC, however, grabbed the rub-off advantage and screened the first series of the more recent Atkinson creation, Mr Bean.  Be warned.  A second Bean series is now set to premiere.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 24-30):
Sunday:  Actor, dancer and choreographer Paul Mercurio and colleague Kim Walker are guests on this week’s Sunday Afternoon With Peter Ross (ABC).  Network Ten presents the second series final on New Faces With Bert Newton, while Nine’s Our World documentary series features Adventure Bound with Alby Mangels.  Anne Phelan is a guest star on comedy series Late For School (Ten).  Sunday night movies are Masquerade (Seven), The Freshman (Nine) and Voices Within: The Lives Of Truddi Chase (Ten).  ABC’s late night series Compass features the story of religious academic John Hull, who documented his experiences as his sight gradually deteriorated from the age of 17 to middle-age when he became completely blind.

Monday:  This week’s Six Pack (SBS) feature is Loulla, a story set in the 1950s of the arrival of an unexpectedly glamorous proxy bride from Greece to a rural backwater in Australia, starring Lenita Vangellis.

abigail_0001Tuesday:  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller tastes the grain that could feed the Third World, while Tracey Curro investigates the treatment that’s forcing cancer to mature.  Seven later presents a delayed telecast of the AFL State Of Origin match between Victoria and Western Australia from the MCG.  In Chances (Nine), Bambi Shute’s (Abigail, pictured) sex show is a hit.  ABC presents the series return of comedy DAAS Kapital, featuring the Doug Anthony All-Stars.

Wednesday:  ABC presents The Comedy Festival Debate: Is Laughter Better Than Sex? – featuring Michael Corton, Brett Jones, Steve Crabb, Jane Clifton, Andrew Denton and H. G. Nelson and chaired by Campbell McComas.  The first of three one-hour specials of The Best (And Worst) Of Red Faces appears on Nine.

Thursday:  In Nine’s new travel series Getaway, Rebecca Harris tours the Blue Mountains on a Harley Davidson, David Reyne goes diving at Dunk Island and guest reporter, former Sale Of The Century hostess Delvene Delaney presents a tour of Byron Bay.

johnwaters_0001Friday:  John Waters (pictured) hosts ABC’s new ten-part series The Bush’s Australian Sheepdog Challenge.  Late night sport includes delayed coverage of the Winfield Rugby League Cup (Nine) and the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge (Ten).

Saturday:  Nine begins its coverage of the French Open tennis, live from Roland Garros Centre, Paris, with commentators John Newcombe, Tony Trabert and Betsy Nagelson.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  23 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ten says Newsnight is old news

hamishmacdonald_0001Only a few days ago Network Ten had all guns blazing about a new-format late night news program to be hosted by journalist Hamish Macdonald (pictured).

The program was to be called Ten Newsnight and debut on Monday, 4 June at 10.30pm.

Now it seems that while the bulletin is still going ahead, the name is not.

Instead, Ten Newsnight will just be the far more traditionally-named Ten Late News, the same title of the late night news bulletin that Ten axed last September.

Ten is reported to have said that the Newsnight name was merely a working title for the purpose of getting news of the show’s launch out to the press, insisting that the last-minute name change was to reflect a simpler, more concise brand for the new program.  One wonders if the network was somehow assuming that the viewing audience would not have the cognitive skills to figure out what a program called Ten Newsnight might specifically entail?

While it is certainly not uncommon for new programs to launch to the public with different titles to those proposed in the development stages, Ten’s media release issued on Monday left no doubt as to what they intended to call this program.

However it has come to light via the online forum Media Spy that Ten’s change of heart may have potentially been prompted in part by the Nine Network trademarking the names “Newsnight” and “9 Newsnight” several years ago – while pay-TV news network Sky News Australia also has an established program called News Night, although such similarities didn’t stop Ten naming its early morning show Breakfast when ABC already had its own ABC News Breakfast.

Despite Ten opting for the pre-loved title for the new program they claim it will be a different news experience compared to its late night predecessor presented for many years by Sandra Sully, with the new program incorporating a mix of news, interviews, entertainment, sport and interaction with social media.

Ten Late News is, at this stage, still set to debut on Monday, 4 June, at 10.30pm and will screen Monday to Thursday nights.

Source: Media Spy, TV Tonight, The Australian

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

50 years of TNT9 Launceston

TNT9_1960sAnother half-century celebration for regional television this week with Launceston-based TNT9 having commenced official transmission on Saturday, 26 May 1962 for viewers across north and north-western Tasmania.  It was Tasmania’s second commercial television station, two years after TVT6 launched in Hobart.

The licence to operate the new channel was granted in 1960 to Northern Television Limited, a company owned by W. R. Rolph and Sons, owners of local newspaper The Examiner and radio station 7EX.

New studio premises were constructed at Watchorn Street, South Launceston that would ultimately house both TNT9 and 7EX, and TNT9’s transmitter was built atop Mount Barrow. 

TNT9_openingTNT9 was officially opened by Governor Lord Rowallan (pictured) on the night of Saturday, 26 May 1962, accompanied by his wife Lady Rowallan, station general manager Arthur Evans and Edmund Rouse, the managing director of W. R. Rolph and Sons.

At the time of TNT9’s official opening the station employed around 30 staff.

TNT9, Saturday, 26 May 1962:

2pm Test Pattern
6pm The Mickey Mouse Club
6.45 TNT News
7pm Official Opening TNT9: Governor Lord Rowallan
7.30 The Flintstones
8pm BP Super Show
9pm The Dave Brubeck Show
9.30 Movie: Two Guys From Milwaukee
11pm News; Close

Source: The Mercury, 26 May 1962

TNT9’s early line-up consisted largely of American imports but did include Australian shows from the mainland, including BP Pick A Box, Bandstand, The Mobil-Limb Show, Sunnyside Up, It Could Be You and Whiplash – while local programs included Hunter’s Tele-Quiz, Sports Club, Children’s Time, Easy Beat, Quiz Quest, Talk Of The Town and At Home With Nine as well as the nightly 15-minute news service produced in association with The Examiner.

Presenters at TNT9 during the 1960s included Rod Thurling, Joy Swain, newsreader Bruce Farrar, sports presenter David McQuestin and a young radio announcer from Victoria – Mal Walden.

TNT9_northernlightsDuring the 1970s local programs included the Logie-winning Saturday Night Show with Jim Cox and Graeme Goodings (now a newsreader for Seven News in Adelaide), talent quest New Faces and the Northern Lights telethon (pictured) which attracted stars from the mainland.  Ray James took over from David McQuestin as the main sports presenter and 7EX radio announcer Paul Murphy became TNT9’s newsreader and later news editor.  Some of Murphy’s successors at the news desk have included Tim Lester (now with Nine News), Diane Massey, Kaye Wilkinson, Steve Titmus, Kim Millar and current news presenter Jo Palmer.

TNT9_1980sThe 1980s were a turbulent time in Tasmanian television, with TNT9’s parent company ENT Limited (formed in the 1960s with the merger of Northern Television Limited and Examiner Newspaper Pty Ltd) successfully taking over Hobart’s TVT6.  The takeover eventually led to TNT9 and TVT6 adopting a single on-air brand – TAS TV – and a uniform program schedule across the state.

By the end of the 1980s aggregation was on the horizon for Tasmania and Edmund Rouse, chairman of ENT Limited, told The Examiner in 1987 that competition would not be in the best interest of Tasmanian viewers:

“I do not necessarily believe that Tasmanian viewers will be better served under the proposed new system.  Firstly, we run 18 of the top 20 TV programs in Australia.  The two we don’t run have no relevance to Tasmania.  Secondly, inevitably the number of repeats will be substantially increased as any visitor to the mainland capitals would know occurs there.”

TasTVNevertheless, ENT complied with the government’s aggregation policy and sold TNT9 to Tricom Corporation for $40 million in 1988 while retaining TVT6 (TAS TV), thus forming the basis for two statewide television networks, one based in Hobart and one in Launceston. 

Tricom (a predecessor to what is now Southern Cross Austereo) also owned Victorian regional stations BCV8 Bendigo and GLV8 Gippsland and in March 1989 branded all three channels as Southern Cross Network.

scnnets1994In April 1994 aggregation was implemented in Tasmania with Southern Cross Network (TNT) and TAS TV (TVT) now broadcasting in competition with each other across the whole of Tasmania.  TAS TV (now a branch of the WIN network) had an affiliation with the Nine Network for the supply of programs, while Southern Cross formed ties with both the Seven and Ten networks for its program schedule – and since 1998 Southern Cross has dominated the ratings across the Tasmanian market.

Digital television had arrived in the early 2000s and on 1 January 2004 Southern Cross and WIN launched a joint venture, a digital-only channel Tasmanian Digital Television (TDT) offering primarily a Network Ten schedule enabling Southern Cross to gradually move towards an exclusive Seven Network line-up.  The channel was the first of its kind in Australia, giving Tasmanian viewers a third commercial channel operated by the owners of the two existing networks – a concept that would later expand to Mildura and Darwin.  The introduction of the digital-only commercial channel led to the Tasmanian market having one of the fastest conversion rates to digital television in Australia.  According to the latest Digital Tracker survey, 86 per cent of Tasmanian households have converted at least their main television set to digital compared to the national average of 82 per cent.

southerncross_2000Southern Cross Television in Tasmania has since expanded into the multi-channel environment with the network relaying the Seven Network’s digital channels 7TWO and 7mate to the Tasmanian market.  But the advent of competition, digital television and multi-channels have largely come at the cost of local production, although Southern Cross does continue to produce its own news service, Southern Cross News, seven nights a week.  Local production also includes a fishing program, Hook Line And Sinker, which is shown across Australia via 7mate, and coverage of the annual Targa Tasmania event.

Southern Cross Television won the 2011 ratings year in Tasmania with a prime-time market share of 39.8 per cent (comprised of 30.3% for Southern Cross, 6.7% for 7TWO and 2.7% for 7mate), well ahead of WIN (23.0%), ABC (18.5%), TDT (13.5%) and SBS (5.2%).

southerncrosstvSource: The Mercury, 26 May 1962.  The Examiner, 26 May 1987. The Rise and Fall of Edmund Rouse, Stephen Tanner.  Regional TAMThe Good Innings, Graeme Goodings.  University Of Tasmania.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Ten launches into Newsnight

hamishmacdonaldThe Ten Network has announced plans to re-enter the late news arena with the launch of a new program to be hosted by journalist Hamish Macdonald.

Ten Newsnight, according to News Director Anthony Flannery, will not be “a traditional news bulletin”:

“It will cover the staples of news bulletins, such as headlines of the day, breaking news, sport, weather and finance.  But Ten Newsnight will also include features such as live interviews, entertainment, and segments that use social media to reveal what people are talking about and what will be the next day’s big stories.”

“It will be contemporary and at times it will be provocative. We will tackle challenging topics and issues. We will give a different perspective to big stories and big issues.”

Starting his career at regional network WIN, Macdonald then went abroad where he worked at Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and at Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera English.  He joined Ten at the end of 2010 primarily for the role of senior foreign correspondent for George Negus’ evening current affairs program but also for other reporting and presenting roles at the network, including guest-hosting The Project and The Circle and compiling the recent Ten News special report Bikie Wars: Here And Now

Earlier this year Macdonald was a nominee for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent at the TV Week Logie Awards.  He has also been nominated for prestigious Walkley and Quill awards.

breakfastGiven Ten’s big-budget news expansion last year failed to pay any dividends and this year’s launch of Breakfast (pictured) is also falling well short of making any inroads against the domination of Sunrise and Today, the launch of Ten Newsnight is a risky proposition but it does fill a gap in the coverage of late news on commercial free-to-air television since the axing of Ten Late News last September.

Ten Newsnight, with Macdonald and sports presenter Brad McEwan, will screen Monday to Thursday nights at 10.30pm from Monday, 4 June.