Sunday, 29 June 2008

1978: July 1-7

tvtimes_010778 Cover: The Bee Gees

Meldrum's TV hit at heroin
Heroin addiction has claimed the lives of four of his friends, so Ian 'Molly' Meldrum has decided to use his profile as a national TV presenter to do something about it. The Countdown host has been given the go-ahead by ABC to produce a documentary to highlight the dangers of heroin addiction. "This is the most important project in my life at the moment. Four of my friends have died from heroin and I have gone through the hell of living with one of them," he told TV Times.

Things go boom for Willesee
The Willesee At Seven team is thrilled at ratings figures that indicate that the daily current affairs format is far from dying despite the recent axing of A Current Affair on Nine. The program, hosted by Mike Willesee, is winning its timeslot in Sydney, and beaten only by Nine's The Sullivans in Melbourne. Producer Phil Davis has also just announced a new recruit, former TEN10 producer and newsreader Peter Hanrahan, to the reporting team.

arkiewhiteley Colour her ambitious!
Thirteen-year-old Arkie Whiteley (pictured) is aware that her dad, artist Brett Whiteley, is the famous one in her family. But one day, Arkie says, he will be known as her father. The young actress has already been to a drama school in England and made her acting debut in a London Weekend Television series People Like Us. She has already made guest appearances on The Young Doctors and has a role in the upcoming ABC production A Place In The World, but has no aspirations to challenge her father's artistic talent, "An artist? No! Everyone expects me to be like my father, brilliant at art and that sort of thing. I just sit there and do these pathetic little paintings. I can't draw. But then, he can't act!"

saturdayshow Everybody loves Saturday night!
ABC is hoping to liven up Saturday nights with glamour and music as the main ingredients of its new lavish variety series The Saturday Show, beginning this week. Regular performers on the show include Suzanne Steele (pictured, centre), John MacNally, Phillip Gould, Debbie Byrne, dance troupe The Natural Seven, Brian May and the ABC Show Band, and guest performers including Frank Thring, Johnny Lockwood and Bobby Limb.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"What beats me on TV is the incredible number of comperes and others introducing shows, who sign off with the inane remark, "See you next week," or whatever. We can see them but it would be a miracle if they saw us. Don't they realise how stupid they sound?" W. Blackall, WA.

"I would like to commend The Sullivans and The Young Doctors. In my opinion they are of a very high standard and certainly as good as anything to come from Britain or America. However, the producers of Cop Shop obviously tries to emulate some of the cheaper dramas from these countries, in which men wear shirts too small for them and have their collars wide open. This is to let the viewer know that these people are tough. To me they look like slobs in a cheap production." W. Beaton, SA.

"Will someone please explain the following to a poor galah with no brains who is puzzled by some of the mysteries on TV? Why does Norman Gunston cut himself while shaving? Why is it always the husbands who cough, and why don't they administer their own cough mixture instead of their wives having to do it? Why does coffee have to be 43 beans per cup? Why not 40 or 50? And how do they get the lemons to jump back into the packet, and are they real ones or dummies?" W. Bodfish, QLD.

What's On (July 1-7):
HSV7 screens Shirley Bassey - Australia 78, a concert recorded at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion. Songs include Big Spender, Goldfinger, Johnny One Note and The Greatest Performance Of My Life.

The Nine Network presents live via satellite coverage of the final stages of the Wimbledon tennis championships from London. Former Seven commentator Mike Williamson will head Nine's coverage, which will air between 11.00pm and 4.30am from Wednesday through to Sunday and includes men's and women's semi-finals, men's and women's doubles finals, mixed doubles final, women's singles final and men's singles final.

Joining Paul Hogan on Nine's comedy series The Paul Hogan Show this week are regulars John Cornell, Delvene Delaney, Andrew Harwood, and guests Jon English and Ray Burgess.

This week's guest on ABC's Woman In Question is theologian-author Barbara Thiering, discussing women's issues including abortion, sexist attitudes both in the church and the community, and sexual discrimination.

Sunday night movies are The Wrath Of God (HSV7), On The Buses (GTV9) and Shoot Out (ATV0). Later in the evening, GTV9 screens movie classic A Streetcar Named Desire and after midnight runs a marathon of Barbara Stanwyck films - California, The Bride Wore Boots and Trooper Hook.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 1 July 1978, ABC/ACP

Saturday, 28 June 2008

YouTube: Seven hit by Sydney cold-front!

7melbourne_1956Every city is parochial to some extent, but for some reason, Melburnians are just that little more precious about their city - especially if there are seen to be influences from Sydney.

This attitude to all things local was never more evident than the year 1987 - when the media shake-up not only saw all three Melbourne commercial channels change hands, but more horrifying was the thought that 'their' HSV7 had been taken over by a Sydney-based outfit.

Since it was licenced in 1955, HSV7 was owned by the Melbourne-based media giant Herald and Weekly Times (HWT) which published newspapers The Herald and The Sun (hence the call-sign HSV, the "V" stood for Victoria), and owned the once-dominant radio station 3DB.

For its first 30 years of broadcasting, HSV7 maintained a strong local presence in Melbourne. The other commercial channels GTV9 and ATV0/10 did too, but HSV7 would be less influenced by interstate factors and was heavily identified as being very much about Melbourne. Being the major broadcast partner in Australian Rules VFL was a major part of that local identity, but HSV also had strong links to Melbourne with locally-made shows such as World Of Sport, Video Village, The Happy Show, Homicide, Sunnyside Up, The Penthouse Club, the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal and Seven National News which during the '70s was Melbourne's dominant news bulletin.

7melbourne But changes to media laws in the mid-'80s sparked a flurry of activity among the industry. In 1986, Rupert Murdoch had made a successful bid to gain control of HWT, but in doing so had to relinquish the group's radio and television interests. 3DB ultimately ended up owned by the Australian Radio Network who re-labelled the station 3TT - and these days it is known as Mix 101.1.

HSV7 had been sold to the Fairfax group, a Sydney-based media empire that owned ATN7 and newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne's The Age. The fact that HSV had been sold from its traditional newspaper owner to end up with a rival newspaper publisher must have been an indication that a major generational change was about to occur. And it did.

The three things that most closely linked HSV to the city of Melbourne - World Of Sport, Mal Walden and the station's 'Hello Melbourne' station identification - were all dumped mercilessly by the Fairfax management.

And it was no doubt convenient for Fairfax that HSV7, at the end of 1986 under its previous management, had lost the rights to VFL when it was outbid by production company Broadcom.

World Of Sport had launched in 1959 as a Saturday morning program, but later moved to Sundays, and by the time it had been axed in 1987, it was reportedly the longest running sports program on TV in the world. The program was never known for its sophistication or high production values, but it was a weekly habit for generations of Melburnians.

Mal Walden had been with HSV since the early '70s, having come across from 3DB. An early stint as a game show host on Jeopardy was followed by a cadetship in the newsroom which ultimately led to him being appointed chief newsreader in 1978 when longtime newsreader Brian Naylor moved across to GTV9. On the night of Friday 27 March 1987, Walden was told just minutes before going to air on Seven National News that the bulletin would be his last. A tearful Walden informed viewers at the end of the bulletin that he had been sacked.

While Seven National News had been rating behind its rivals National Nine News and Eyewitness News, it was nothing compared to the fallout that was to follow. When Seven National News was re-launched the following month as a one-hour format with newsreader Greg Pearce, recruited from Perth, ratings fell to virtually zero. The bulletin was soundly being beaten by a kids' cartoon series Inspector Gadget on ABC, and even by whatever multi-cultural offerings were being broadcast on SBS. The revamped bulletin also lost the support of the Victorian regional channels which up until that time had all carried Seven's news on relay from Melbourne, and in one fell swoop, all switched their nightly news relay to National Nine News.

When Walden was thrown a life-line by former Seven colleague David Johnston at ATV10, that station's Eyewitness News recorded a massive ratings spike as Walden was given a minor presenting role of a five-minute human interest segment Mal's Melbourne. Walden was later promoted to co-newsreader alongside Johnston and new recruit Tracey Curro in 1988. In 1995, he was appointed Ten's chief Melbourne newsreader when Johnston went back to Seven.

And in an industry where image is everything, the theme 'Hello Melbourne', while adapted from an American jingle, seemed to perfectly sum up HSV7's relationship to Melbourne. Launched by HSV in 1985, it was a catchy theme that struck a chord with viewers. Going into 1987, the theme was updated with a new animated logo sequence (pictured, above). Enter the Fairfax management, and suddenly the signature tune and the new station identifications were gone and the slogan 'Hello Melbourne' was demoted to being a mere caption on a generic Seven Network station identification that sucked out any enthusiasm for the brand. A few months later, even the 'Hello Melbourne' reference was cut from the station identifications.

Melbourne viewers had felt that HSV had simply left town in the wake of all that was happening. World Of Sport was replaced by Sydney's Sportsworld, a program that was no doubt more polished in presentation, but did not have the personality or tradition of World Of Sport, and being from Sydney, did not have the primary focus on Aussie Rules football The local current affairs program Day By Day was replaced by Terry Willesee Tonight fed down the line from Sydney, and the late-night news edition Newsworld was replaced by the Clive Robertson version which was adopted around the network. In the case of Newsworld, that was a change that seemed to bear some fruits as Robertson's laid-back and sarcastic style gave a new perspective in news presentation and would last for some years.

Though obviously relishing the opportunity to kick a rival when it's down, the Nine Network's 60 Minutes featured a story highlighting the mood surrounding the changes at HSV7 with reporter Jana Wendt chatting to apparently-typical Melburnians, as well as Mal Walden, Nine's Brian Naylor, Ten's David Johnston (co-incidentally a former colleague of Wendt's when she was a newsreader at Ten) and even Seven executive Phil Davis and new newsreader Greg Pearce.

The 60 Minutes report though did raise a certain point. Sure, HSV7 was now being run by Sydney interests, but its rivals Nine, Ten, and even 'aunty' ABC were being run and influenced by Sydney-based decision-making for years. And Melbourne's favourite son, Graham Kennedy, also gave a rather blunt assessment that Melbourne has to get with the times - television can not survive as a purely-local medium, it has to rely on a networked format to survive and if that meant losing some local jobs, so be it.

But barely a few months after the Fairfax-led upheaval at HSV, there was a change again, this time from Melbourne-born entrepreneur Christopher Skase buying up the Seven stations HSV7, ATN7 Sydney and BTQ7 Brisbane for $780 million. Skase was seen as the white knight to save HSV7 from its perilous state. Although Skase predicted the station's recovery would take some years, within months of his buying the network, the rights to VFL coverage had come back to Seven, the news was getting a revamp with the signing up of Eyewitness News presenter Jennifer Keyte and returning to its traditional half-hour format, and Melbourne radio broadcaster Derryn Hinch had signed on to present a nightly current affairs program.

Seven was coming back to Melbourne but it would be some time before the scars of the Fairfax era would heal, not helped either by the later Skase controversy that would follow in the early '90s.

YouTube: dtvone, shizermagizer, FrozenDoberman

Sunday, 22 June 2008

1978: June 24-30

tvtimes_240678 Cover: Ugly Dave hits back
Blankety Blanks panelist Ugly Dave Gray (pictured) answers his critics that say his jokes on the popular game show are too smutty. "I'm not saying we're perfect, we do get a bit naughty at times, but it's harmless. We don't try to shock or offend people," he tells TV Times. "I honestly don't think Blankety Blanks is rude. At the most it could be called cheeky. I don't think any kid would be hurt by watching Blankety Blanks, I strongly believe one of the reasons for its season is that has a double appeal - kids enjoy the atmosphere and the fun, which often gets a bit slapstick, and the adults like it because they can relate to the people that work on show." The game show, with host Graham Kennedy, is approaching its 400th episode.

abc_black ABC boosts drama
TV Times reports that ABC is to boost its amount of drama output by 16 hours to exceed 100 hours of TV a year. As well as series such as Catspaw, Truckies and Patrol Boat, the national broadcaster is looking to add more one-off productions and short-run dramas. Two new series, The Oracle and Ride On Stranger, are already in production, and ABC is hoping to add a science-fiction series Locusts And Wild Honey, and a children's drama All The Green Years.

Broadening Horizons
ABC's afternoon rural affairs program Horizon-5 promises to offer an alternative to daytime soaps and variety shows like The Mike Walsh Show. The program is into its third year and as well as covering rural issues, Canberra-based reporter Stewart McLennan says the show is gaining a following in capital cities as well. McLennan and a camera crew have also just completed a trip to Western Australia to film a six-part special report on success stories and farming innovations within the state which he says would be of interest to eastern states audiences.

Now it's the Doctors Down Under
The Seven Network has finalised plans to produce an Australian version of the British Doctor comedies. The thirteen-part series, titled Doctor Down Under, will be taped later in the year at the studios of ATN7 Sydney and will feature Robin Nedwell and Geoffrey Davies from the British original. The network is also in advanced stages of planning a further seven episodes of the Australian version of Father Dear Father, and is also planning a local remake of Love Thy Neighbour.

toothbrush Toothy smiles home at last
In the 1960s, Australian writer Marcia Hatfield had created a cartoon series concept titled The Toothbrush Family - but could not gain any local interest in the proposal. She instead took the idea to America's CBS network which, in 1976, signed up a multi-million-dollar deal to produce a 20-episode cartoon series as well as merchandising of dental-care products and syndicated comic strips. The success of the program, seen in up to 3 million American households, led to Hatfield being invited to be a guest speaker at the World Health Organisation. The series, which aims to educate children on dental care with characters such as Tom and Tess Toothbrush (pictured), Flash Fluoride, Nev Nailbrush and Susie Sponge, has now been sold back to Australia and is to screen as part of the Super Flying Fun Show on the Nine Network.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"I have watched Peter Couchman since he was on This Day Tonight. I used to like him very much, but what has ATV0 done to him lately? He used to have the features of a young male, vital, passionate, enthusiastic, with strong opinions. Now he wears make-up which softens his features. He seems insecure, an old lady's sweetie, and soon will begin to talk like Johnny Young!" F. Ross, VIC.

"May I congratulate the networks for their wisdom in showing American mini-series such as Captains And Kings, Rich Man Poor Man, Roots, 79 Park Avenue and Testimony Of Two Men. The series made compelling viewing, and really brighten up an otherwise dull six to eight hours of viewing." L. McKenzie, SA.

"I wish to voice my disapproval at the way in which Crawford Productions wrote Maggie Dence out of The Sullivans. For Aunty Rose to drown was a tragedy indeed. Surely, her part could have been disposed of in a more acceptable way than to have her die in such a manner? Even John has a chance of returning to the scene at a future date. Why not Rose?" Y. Johnson, QLD.

What's On (June 24-30):
As the World Cup reaches its conclusion, ABC screens a live telecast of the playoff for third place, at 3.45am Sunday morning, and the following morning at 3.15am presents live coverage of the World Cup final from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The final is replayed on Monday evening.

HSV7 presents the premiere of the landmark US mini-series Holocaust, reliving the nightmare of the Nazi regime which claimed more than six million lives. The series, which included a cast of 150 actors and 1000 extras, avoided employing Hollywood actors but rather chose performers from stage backgrounds such as Meryl Streep, Rosemary Harris and George Rose. Starting with a three-hour premiere on Monday night, the mini-series continued in two-hour episodes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and a two-and-a-half-hour final chapter on Thursday.

The premiere episode of the Seven Network's Father Dear Father In Australia airs on HSV7 - featuring Patrick Cargill from the British original, and Australian actors Bill Kerr, Sally Conabere and Sigrid Thornton.

Sunday night's movies are The Oregon Trail (HSV7), The Fortune (GTV9) and Burn (ATV0). GTV9 follows its movie with coverage of the US Open Golf Championships.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 24 June 1978. ABC/ACP

Sunday, 15 June 2008

YouTube: The party of the millennium

A few new additions to our YouTube channel, this time from two significant days - 31 December 1999 and 1 January 2000 - that threatened to end all civilisation as we knew it with the possibility of the Y2K bug coming to bite computer systems all around the world.

First, from the Nine Network, a promo for the program Millennium Live which aired for over 24 hours with live coverage of New Year's Eve celebrations around the world as the calendar changed from 1999 to 2000. The promo is followed by Nine's station identification with the tagline "new millennium television" that was used through both 1999 and 2000.

Then from the Ten Network was a station identification - one of a series of promos that was used over Summer 1999/2000 - followed by the opener of the New Year's Eve edition of Melbourne's Ten News with Darren Lunny and Mary Gearin sitting in for regular newsreaders Mal Walden and Jennifer Hansen.

Finally, from the Seven Network on the evening of 1 January 2000, a promo and station identification showing the network's new logo which had launched that day - catching many by surprise including, seemingly, the news department who still had their opening titles and studio set for Seven Nightly News decorated with the now-former 7 logo.

YouTube: TelevisionAU

Saturday, 14 June 2008

1978: June 17-23

tvtimes_170678 Cover: Cop Shop's real-life rebel
In playing troubled teenager Gayle Taylor in the Seven Network series Cop Shop, actress Jo-Anne Moore (pictured, with co-stars Rowena Wallace and George Mallaby) can see similarities between that of her character and her own teen years. "I had a period when I was very rebellious. If I saw something I wanted to do, I did it. Not getting into trouble really, just wanting to get out to see what life was about. I used to get into a lot of arguments with my parents then, but we are good friends now," she told TV Times. The Cop Shop role is the 19-year-old's first major TV role following guest appearances in Bluey, The Sullivans, Homicide and Bellbird, and the movie The Getting Of Wisdom.

sonnyblake The Years fly south
In an attempt to boost The Restless Years' profile in Melbourne, the normally Sydney-based soap spent two days' location filming in Melbourne. Filming had taken place mostly at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Shrine Of Remembrance. June Salter, who plays schoolmistress Miss MacKenzie, enjoyed the trip to the southern capital: "It's a lovely city, perfect for outside shots. The weather was quite amazing for the two days we spent here." Joining Salter for the Melbourne-based plot were co-stars Zoe Bertram and Sonny Blake (pictured).

annsidney To Sidney with love!
Ann Sidney (pictured) had plenty of admirers when she was Miss World. Now the co-host of Perth STW9's The Better Sex is once again being inundated with letters. More than 15,000 entries have been received at STW9 for a competition being run by the game show, offering daily prizes such as a hairdryer or a radio, and the major prize of a trip to Singapore or Hong Kong. The Grundy-produced game show, hosted by Mike Preston, has also just received news that it has been sold for screening interstate.

Discomania is coming!
The growing disco phenomenon, inspired by the movie Saturday Night Fever, has seen plans for a weekly series Disco Connexion, promising as many as 200 enthusiastic amateurs in choreographed disco routines. A pilot episode for the program, featuring Sydney disco personality Angelo "Angie" Naxam, has already been taped and subsequent episodes are planned to have live via-satellite crosses to major overseas venues such as Studio 54 in the US. The program is being developed by McCabe Paradine Productions for the 0-10 Network.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I have endured the ever-declining standard of Countdown until I have come to the stage I can take no more. Ian Meldrum is so juvenile I am embarrassed to have him remain as compere of Countdown. The only reason I still watch the program is because it is the only pop program on at a decent time." A. Rankins, TAS.

"All the yakking about which country produces the best comedy shows is quite unnecessary. Everyone knows that no other country in the world can outclass the British for comedy." E. Williams, QLD.

"The 0-10 Network must be proud of Young Talent Time and The Restless Years - I don't like to be out in case I miss any part of them. Same goes for Nine's The Sullivans, The Young Doctors and Little House On The Prairie." R. White, NSW.

What's On (June 17-23):
On Monday, Exploring The Psychic Mind, a 90-minute special, airs on ATV0, hosted by John Laws with Carol Raye and Patrick Tennyson.

The following night, HSV7 presents Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Law... But Couldn't Afford To Ask, hosted by David Johnston and news reporter Pamela Graham. The 90-minute special covers the type of legal matters that affect everyday Australians - neighbourhood disputes, trespassing and road accidents are among the subjects re-enacted and discussed.

Comedienne and actress Gloria Dawn is the subject of the second episode of ABC's Woman In Question, in a program taped just before her death.

This week's guests on The Peter Couchman Show include Maria Venuti, Julie McKenna and Wendy Stapleton.

Sunday night movies are Killer Force (HSV7), Nobody Is Back ... Prepare Your Grave (GTV9) and Billy Two Hats (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 17 June 1978. ABC/ACP

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

TV's newest endangered species

access31 The dire predicament that Perth community TV station Access 31 (pictured) has found itself in should serve as a warning to other community TV stations and the government whose inaction in protecting the sector in the wake of digital conversion continues to make it even more vulnerable.

Access 31, which began transmission in 1999, is facing a $5 million funding shortfall and has called on the Federal Government for assistance.  If it fails to gain extra funding, the station will be forced to close at the end of this month.

Access 31 chief Andrew Brine said the lack of funding support is linked to declining audiences due to the community TV stations not being allowed to broadcast in digital: "digital take up in Australia is now at 42 per cent and we've been basically shut out of the digital spectrum."

Andrew Carroll, manager of the Brisbane-based 31, said that the situation for other community stations is not going to improve unless the Government steps in, "we are operating comfortably at the present time, but if we continue to lose audience share because of government decision making, well then it's going to be very difficult for us to survive."

Community TV stations are willing - and in most cases, already technically able - to move to digital transmission.  However, the previous and current governments have made little effort to assist the community TV stations in migrating to digital, most notably the resistance to offer digital spectrum, while commercial operators are given concessions such as rebates and free digital spectrum to allow long-term simulcast on both analogue and digital platforms. 

The Government's continuing denial to allow community TV access to digital transmission and leaving them to find their own path to digital via other media only continues to threaten the stations' relevance in the communities which they are licenced to serve.

More @ ABC News, ABC News, PerthNow, Televised Revolution, TV Tonight,

Monday, 9 June 2008

Reg Grundy in Queen's Birthday honours

reggrundy He might not have been crowned the King of Australian Television, but Reg Grundy (pictured) has today received Queen's Birthday honours for his contribution to the entertainment industry.

Grundy, now 84, started in television hosting the original Wheel Of Fortune for Sydney's TCN9 in the 1950s, though the program originally began on memory10radio.  He then went on to create his own television production empire, and went on to produce TV icons such as Neighbours, Sale Of The Century, Blankety Blanks, Prisoner (pictured), The Young Doctors and a remake of Wheel Of Fortune which ran for 25 years.  Other titles from the Grundy stable included Class Of '74/'75, The Restless Years, Moneymakers, Perfect Match, Sons And Daughters, The Price Is Right, Secret Valley and Chopper Squad.

Grundy also successfully grew the business by franchising program formats overseas - including selling US versions of Sale Of The Century and Prisoner to American television in the '80s, and re-making some of its Australian soap dramas for European markets.

The company that Grundy started in the late '50s was sold to the English-based Pearson Television in 1995, and is now part of the global Fremantle Media group.  In more recent years, Grundy has embarked on photography, with a book The Wildlife Of Reg Grundy published in 2005.  He is married to former Queensland TV personality Joy Chambers who was a regular on game shows including I've Got A Secret and The Celebrity Game, as well as guest appearances in Neighbours.

paulclitheroe Also receiving Queen's Birthday honours today was TV mogul Kerry Stokes, currently chairman of the Seven Network, and former TV presenter Paul Clitheroe (pictured) who presented the popular Money program for the Nine Network and received honours for his services to the finance industry.

Sources: Museum of Broadcast Communications, The Age, Business Spectator

Sunday, 8 June 2008

YouTube: We've been YouTube'd!

Not content with just sharing YouTube clips from other members, we've now taken the next step ourselves and launched our own YouTube channel.

Thanks to the wonders of cheap DVD recorders, we can now bring you some select moments of TV's past - hopefully some of which are new to YouTube.

The first YouTube video comes from the 20th anniversary program of multicultural broadcaster SBS. 20/20 Vision aired on Sunday 10 December 2000, curiously about six weeks after the station actually had its 20th birthday. The program goes for around 90 minutes but to start us off here is a very brief glimpse at SBS' first test transmission which went to air in April 1979, and also some background from the station's first Chief Executive Bruce Gyngell, as well as Peter Barnett, who was involved in the initial stages of SBS, and former 60 Minutes producer Gerald Stone who later served on the board at SBS.

Also, this being our first video posted to YouTube, any comments or feedback are welcome. The quality of the video is fairly basic but hopefully subsequent additions will be improved.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

1978: June 10-16

tvtimes_100678 Cover Story: Norman's Conquests
Prior to the new series of The Norman Gunston Show on the Seven Network, actor Garry McDonald tells TV Times about the perils of the celebrity interviews of his alter ego - but the actor says that only one interviewee became really annoyed: film director Ken Russell. As McDonald recalls, "I asked him why he produced, directed and wrote the films. 'Can't you afford staff?' I asked. He unhooked the mike, went over the other side of the studio and shouted 'bleep' off. So I 'bleeped' off." Other interviewees were more wised up on the Gunston gag, including Phil Silvers and Dean Jones, but while Terry Savalas' publicist had figured out the gag, the actor himself didn't catch on.

The end of the Affair
The cancellation of the long-running A Current Affair doesn't appear to have slowed down the show's former host Mike Schildberger who is still working 12-hour days with his own company Schil Productions. The TV veteran also recalled to TV Times his childhood, including his family fleeing Hitler's Germany to Australia when he was 16 months old, and his musical achievements - or confessed, his lack thereof - while a student at Melbourne Grammar School.

SWAT swatted!
A Melbourne-based lobby group has launched a campaign against violence on TV following the American police series SWAT screening on the Nine Network. The Australian Children's Television Action Committee had written to companies whose products were advertised during the program to point out their responsibility to viewers and suggesting a possible boycott of such programs. But advertising and television executives felt that the industry was acting responsibly and that parents should be more active in controlling what their children see on television rather than dictating to networks and advertisers.

memory03 Blankety Blanks under fire
The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal has written to TV stations after receiving complaints about the popular 0-10 Network game show Blankety Blanks (pictured). The Tribunal had expressed concern about the often-risque program screening on some stations in afternoon timeslots usually reserved for children's programming. Complaints about the program have seen it taken off the air by various regional stations including BTV6 Ballarat, CTC7 Canberra and CBN8 Orange, and the program being moved to late-night timeslots on Victorian stations BCV8 Bendigo, GLV10 Gippsland, STV8 Mildura and GMV6 Shepparton. A representative from producers Grundy Productions said that problems had only arisen where stations had slotted the program in before 6.00pm.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I don't expect my letter will do much good, but I must say how disappointed I was that A Current Affair had been scrapped." E. Cole, QLD.

"What is ABC doing to Dr Who and his followers? In recent months we have picked up where Tom Baker left off, only to have "the robot" story thrown in, to have Jon Pertwee change to Tom Baker after we had seen Baker for some weeks. Why?" L. Jack, NSW.

"When a channel (ATN7 Sydney) promotes a special such as the 2 1/2 hour Nutcracker Suite, by the Bolshoi Ballet, surely it's reasonable to expect that commercials should be cut in with some thought? I have up watching Nutcracker after 30 minutes after several beautiful movements had been butchered to accommodate commercials." M. Bennett, NSW.

What's On (June 10-16):
presents the first in the interview series Woman In Question which aims to examine the philosophies, beliefs and ethics of influential women. This week's episode features magazine editor Ita Buttrose.

ATV0 presents a one-hour special Roots: One Year Later, a tribute to the US mini-series that received record viewing figures - including interviews with cast members and producers of the mini-series.

Enzo Pantano and Trevor White are among the guests on ATV0's Peter Couchman Tonight this week, while Bartholomew John and Cop Shop's Joanna Lockwood are two of this week's guests on HSV7's Penthouse '78.

Sunday night movies are I Will, I Will For Now (HSV7), On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (GTV9) and The Mackintosh Man (ATV0). ABC presents an Australian-US co-produced telemovie Because He's My Friend, filmed in Sydney and featuring Jack Thompson, Tom Oliver (Number 96, Bellbird), June Salter (The Restless Years) and American actress Karen Black.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 10 June 1978 ABC/ACP

Thursday, 5 June 2008

YouTube: ABC News, October 1970

Some rare news footage of Melbourne's ABC News on a day where tragedy struck in Melbourne.

On the morning of 15 October 1970, a span of the West Gate Bridge collapsed while still under construction.  The tragedy claimed the lives of 35 workers and was Victoria's worst ever industrial accident.  A royal commission that followed the collapse found that aspects of both the bridge's design and construction method were to be blamed for the accident. 

Construction of the bridge resumed in 1972 and was completed in 1978 - providing a link from Melbourne's western suburbs to the central business district.

This clip provides a rare glimpse at television news coverage of that era - including ABC's iconic Magestic Fanfare which would symbolise ABC News on television for decades, and continues to do so on ABC's radio outlets.

Newsreader for the bulletin was Bob Willcox and at the scene of the collapse is reporter Martin Goddard.

The clip is posted to YouTube by member telerecordings who has also provided many rare moments from television's past including footage from regional television stations MTN9 Griffith and GMV6 Shepparton.

Source: Disaster at West Gate
YouTube: telerecordings

Sunday, 1 June 2008

1978: June 3-9

tvtimes_030678Sonny's rocky road to stardom
Sonny Blake (pictured, with Zoe Bertram) was on the verge of becoming a professional boxer until a change in direction saw the 19-year-old cast in the 0-10 Network series The Restless Years. A self-confessed film buff, Blake boasts a collection of classic films on videotape and a large part of his record collection is made up of movie soundtracks. He is saving up to go to the US for acting lessons: "What I see myself doing in 10 years time is coming home to my room at the YMCA in New York and pulling out a script and sitting down to spend the evening how I'm going to handle the role."

kenjames Catspaw set to pounce
In air force jargon a catspaw is a "bunny" - someone left holding the bag. In ABC's new adventure series The Catspaw, it's up to viewers to work out who should be carrying the blame. The seven-part series, featuring familiar names such as Ken James (pictured), Rowena Wallace, Peter Sumner, John Diedrich and John Stanton, revolves around the disappearance of an RAF officer Tim Keppel (Warwick Sims).

Naked Vicar seeks new pastures
The team behind the popular sketch comedy series The Naked Vicar Show is expanding into other areas of showbusiness. RS Productions' Gary Reilly told TV Times, "We're starting to find it hard to write just sketches. We want to start doing something a little more expanded, still comedy but with a bit more length and involvement." The company is producing a new series of radio plays for ABC called RS Playhouse. Meanwhile, The Naked Vicar Show is enjoying massive popularity - particularly in Melbourne and Brisbane and to a lesser extent in Sydney - and has been sold to regional markets.

gwenplumb Gwen Plumb's in a new kind of cast
Hosting a party at her beachside home had dangerous consequences for actress Gwen Plumb. Taking guests to a rock pool near her house at Sydney's Whale Beach saw Plumb knocked over by a big wave but it was when she saw her dog Selina potentially stranded, she was carried out by the undertow when trying to retrieve the pet. Plumb ended up with a leg in a plaster cast, and scriptwriters for The Young Doctors have had to re-write episodes. As for the dog? "The little b---- didn't even get wet!"

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"During a recent Blankety Blanks, Ugly Dave Gray popped up with another one of his 'gems', on the subject of rape. Considering the thousands of children that watch this show, rape is a very unsuitable and tasteless topic to joke about." J. Johnson, NSW.

"I thought the Marcia Hines series on ABC was magnificent. Not only was her singing great, but her clothes and settings were fantastic." Name and address supplied, NSW.

"I am writing in support of Glenview High. I love the show, especially Grigor Taylor, who is a tribute to Australian talent." J. Janson, SA.

What's On (June 3-9):
GTV9 crossed live on Sunday to Oran Park raceway in NSW for six-hour telecast of The Rothmans 500.

ABC's coverage of the soccer World Cup continues with highlights packages at 6.00pm and full match replays at 10.00pm.

Crawford Productions' cop shows get a re-run with GTV9 screening late-night repeats of Division 4, and ATV0 showing Matlock Police on weekday afternoons. HSV7 screens new episodes of Cop Shop on Monday and Thursday nights.

Sunday night movies are Escape Of The Birdmen (HSV7), Time For Loving (GTV9) and Night Moves (ATV0). The final episode of The Duchess Of Duke Street screens on ABC.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 3 June 1978. ABC/ACP