Friday, 26 December 2008

The Year Ahead

60mins Each week during the year 2008 we featured the corresponding week from thirty years ago, 1978, as reported in TV Times magazine.

We will continue the theme into 2009 as we look at events from television from the year 1979, including:

  • The networks' contributions to the International Year Of The Child.
  • The long-awaited launch of the Nine Network's expensive current affairs gamble, 60 Minutes (pictured) and the 0-10 Network's new drama Prisoner.
  • The first glimpse of multicultural television from the Special Broadcasting Service.
  • The Seven Network's new airport drama Skyways, and a new project for the 0-10 Network from the creators of Number 96.
  • A TV comeback for Graham Kennedy?

Also, the year 2009 is going to see some significant developments as well, most notably the launch of Freeview and more digital channels. The year will also mark fifty years of television in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, and twenty years since the first regional market aggregation in eastern Australia.

Happy New Year to you all, and hope that 2009 will be an excellent year.  Thank you for your comments during the year and, of course, any feedback or suggestions are always welcomed.

And a reminder, too, that the blog will continue to be in slow mode for the next couple of weeks.

2008: We Remember...

Some of those that departed us this year:

Andrew Harwood

Bob McGready

Clinton Grybas

Heath Ledger

Jessica Jacobs

Kevin Heinze

Mark Priestley

Malcolm Searle

Michael Pate

Peter Leonard

Reg Lindsay

Rob Guest

Tanya Halesworth

Thursday, 25 December 2008

1978: December 30-January 5

tvtimes_301278 Holden rocks Hollywood
Mark Holden burst onto American TV screens in Hollywood's Diamond Jubilee special. Within days the CBS network's Hollywood offices were deluged with fan mail. But, despite his newfound attention, the Aussie pop star is keeping a low profile on the PR circuit. Besides, he has enough to keep him busy with writing and recording songs for his new album, working with a drama coach, and keeping various business appointments. And the phone doesn't stop ringing. Holden's new American album, to be released in 1979, will feature a new direction for him musically with a stronger focus on rock and roll.

The Dean Report
TV Times columnist Peter Dean looks back on the year 1978, describing it as a year 'remarkable mediocrity, broken by the occasional oasis of quality'. Dean's highlights of the year included imported series I Claudius, Are You Being Served?, The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Who and The Muppet Show. Current affairs program Willesee At Seven was the only Australian program to make his 'best of' list. Even big-ticket mini-series Holocaust, hailed as the TV event of the year, was reviewed by Dean as "a novelettish treatment of indescribable human agony, presented with slicknesss and flair, but failing to move or ignite." Dean lamented the axe falling on current affairs programs This Day Tonight, Monday Conference and A Current Affair, and deemed Blankety Blanks the winner of the Vinegar Award for supremacy in bad taste. Sport had a bumper year with cricket, golf, tennis, racing, World Cup soccer and the Commonwealth Games.

bartholomewjohn Doctor on the glow
Feeling tired after a day at the office? Then go for a jog - that's the advice given by Bartholomew John (pictured) the New Zealand actor appearing in The Young Doctors: "It's the best way to get rid of tiredness. It wakes you up, sharpens your appetite - and puts the fridge out of reach so you don't nibble." He also suggests a quick dip afterwards, even in winter. "I'm certainly no Bondi iceberg but sometimes in winter, instead of going to the heated pool at the gym, I jump into the surf. But go for a run to warm up. It's freezing in - but it is refreshing."

The title of the new 0-10 Network drama series Prisoner has been changed to Women Behind Bars.

The second series of Father Dear Father, made in Australia for the Seven Network, is likely to be seen first in the United Kingdom where it is scheduled for screening in the new year.

Fred Parslow, who played Jarvis in The Sullivans, returns to Crawford Productions to play a guest role as a dodgy businessman in Cop Shop.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"Countdown is a very entertaining show and even my parents watch it sometimes, although they have the volume turned down low." F. Allison, SA.

againstthewind "It is great that overseas networks have bought Against The Wind (pictured) as they now shouldn't be so ignorant as to think that Australians only have koalas living in our backyard gum trees and kangaroos hopping in and out of shopping centres." D. Hewett, VIC.

"Of all the Sunday night shows the various channels offer us, the ABC series Nicholas Nickleby, standards inestimably above the rest. With such perfect casting and brilliant overall production, shows like Nicholas Nickleby put the best of Australia's and America's dramatic offerings to shame." E. Hawksford, NSW.

What's On (December 30-January 6):
New Year's Eve is Sunday, and ABC features British and American specials on the night before a New Year's presentation at 11.59pm and music special Blood Sweat And Tears just after midnight. HSV7 presents New Year's greetings at midnight, followed by a special edition of Nightmoves. GTV9 does little special for the evening with movies running through the night, and ATV0 closes down before midnight.

Sport continues throughout the week with the Australian Open from Melbourne, and Australian Hardcourt Championships from Tasmania, on HSV7, World Series Cricket on GTV9 and continuation of the cricket Third Test on ABC.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 30 December 1978. ABC/ACP

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Beautiful one day, Logies the next?

Logiehand The Queensland Government has reportedly made a bid for the Gold Coast to host the TV Week Logie Awards in an attempt to take the awards away from their traditional home of Melbourne.

Queensland Government representatives made the offer to executives of PBL Media, owners of TV Week and the Nine Network, to pay for the event to be relocated to the Gold Coast. 

For about the last decade, the awards have been hosted at Melbourne's Crown Casino, and while the event is confirmed for Crown next year a relocation in the future has not been ruled out.  James Packer, owner of Crown, now has a reduced holding in PBL Media so that somewhat loosens the ties between the event and the venue that had previously been firmly set.

logiesfirst Since their inception in Melbourne in the late-1950s (pictured), when TV Week was a Melbourne-based publication, the TV Week Logie Awards have only ever been hosted in either Melbourne or, on a few occasions, in Sydney.  Even though TV Week is now a Sydney-based publication, the awards ceremony has kept its historical connection to Melbourne.

The star-studded event is seen as a possible shot in the arm for Queensland's ailing local TV industry, particularly since its largest production, Big Brother, was axed earlier this year.  The only other prime-time national program to come from the state this year has been Nine's Gold Coast-based crime drama The Strip which delivered only average results.

While it is a romantic notion to keep the awards based in Melbourne, the fact is that the industry has changed, and so has the emphasis of the awards and the magazine's demographic.  It would be unfortunate for Melbourne to lose the night, but it has lost favour with a lot of its 'old school' fans over time and the younger viewers that the magazine appeals to now may be more inclined to support a fresher approach to the event, with less of the tradition, and a new home base.  Though critics of the move say this will only serve to give the Logies a 'tacky' image as the Gold Coast doesn't quite share the same glamour or have the heart for showbusiness as Melbourne does.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

1978: December 23-29

tvtimes_231278 Cover: Humphrey B Bear (Here's Humphrey)

Barber's still a big game hunter
Tony Barber has a reputation for stamina, and surviving.  Two years ago, the career of the former radio disc jockey and game show host was at an all-time low with the axing of Great Temptation and Name That Tune and the failure of his variety show for ATN7 Sydney.  To add to his woes, the Nine Network signed him up to host a revival of Great Temptation but it did not eventuate.  Barber then returned to his former home of Perth and there the energetic host bounced back with the national game show Family Feud being produced at TVW7, and now being seen on over 30 stations around Australia. 

thesullivans_christmas When Santa went to war!
Steven Tandy, Richard Morgan and Jamie Higgins (pictured), of The Sullivans, might be indulging in some off-screen Christmas cheer, but things weren't so cheery in the show's early-'40s setting where even Father Christmas was rationed and was banned from appearing in advertising.  Australians were instead encouraged to put their money to more patriotic causes such as war savings loans and bonds.  Sue Cram, researcher for The Sullivans, has been meticulously tracing back just what impact the war had on Australians at Christmas.  There were rations on various items including tea, beer, cigarettes, potatoes, chocolate and nuts, all normally popular items at Christmas.  Australia was also supplying the American forces with food and they got much of the ham that was produced.  On Christmas Eve 1942, the temperature hit 101 degrees Fahrenheit in Melbourne, where even ice was rationed.

Wooley cornered
Former This Day Tonight Hobart reporter Charles Wooley has joined ABC's Four Corners.  The 30-year-old has worked in newspapers and television in Western Australia and Tasmania and joined This Day Tonight in 1974.  Married with "two daughters, a dog and a cat" he sees the move to Four Corners as an advancement in his career.

donlane Shake-up for Lane show
A reshuffle in the production team for Nine's The Don Lane Show has had an impact on plans to take the show out on location in 1979.  Two of the show's comedy writers, Mike McColl-Jones and Tim Evans, already may be missing from the show when it returns in the new year.  McColl-Jones has accepted a position at rival ATV0's Peter Couchman Tonight, and Evans is believed to be in negotiation with HSV7 for the role of producer on the Saturday night Penthouse Club.  Also missing from The Don Lane Show in the new year will be producer Lesley Shaw, to be replaced by producer and former journalist Vince Lovegrove.  And returning to the position of executive producer for the show will be Peter Faiman.

Cop Shop actress Jo-Anne Moore and former This Day Tonight host Sonia Humphrey have been cast for the ABC series Twenty Good Years.  Former The Box actress Helen Hemingway has also been signed up for the series which is currently in production.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I hope we aren't going to be bored to death over the Christmas holidays when all the good shows have a break.  Blankety Blanks saved the day last year but now that's been axed we will be left high and dry." M. Allen, SA.

"Why do we have to have so many repeat programs, and in some cases, repeats of repeats!  There are many programs in Australia which are not screened here in Tasmania.  Is this because we can't afford to have them here? The repeats go on, and even good comedians become stale after a while." J. McRae, TAS.

"Why is it that any decent TV program or movie is programmed for viewing either in the middle of the day or night?  It makes me angry that a top class series like Poldark is screened at 11.00pm, or that the repeat of Upstairs Downstairs is shown at 2.00pm, when working people in 9-5 jobs simply cannot watch." R. Ogilvie, QLD.

What's On (December 23-29):
Saturday brings NSW Open tennis on HSV7, World Series Cricket on GTV9 and Gillette Cup cricket on ATV0.  On Saturday night, Young Talent Time on ATV0 presents a special Christmas edition with an hour of Christmas carols.

Sunday is Christmas Eve, and ABC devotes much of the evening to British Christmas specials.  HSV7 presents a movie, Father Knows Best Reunion, and GTV9's World Series Cricket continues until 10.30pm.  ATV0 continues a Melbourne tradition with Carols By Candlelight from 9.30pm, followed by Christmas Midnight Mass at 11.30pm.  And viewers are offered two versions of the Christmas classic Miracle On 34th Street, with the black-and-white 1947 version airing on HSV7 at 10.00pm, and the more-recent 1973 version on ATV0 earlier in the night at 8.00pm.

Christmas Day on Monday has movies and Christmas specials throughout the day on HSV7 and GTV9, while ATV0 has a late start to the day, commencing transmission at 3.00pm with a repeat of Carols By Candlelight followed by The Early Bird Christmas Day ShowABC's traditional Divine Service appears at 10.00am, then the test pattern takes over until mid-afternoon.  At 3.30pm, the cast of Play School, including Benita Collings, John Hamblin, Alister Smart, Don Spencer, John Waters and Noni Hazelhurst, present a special version of the Christmas story, told in Godspell-style with songs, improvisation and props.

ABC's 7.00pm news is cut to ten minutes for Christmas night, followed by the traditional Queen's Christmas Message.  Like the previous night, ABC has more British fare with Christmas specials throughout the evening.  But over at GTV9, not even Family Feud and The Young Doctors get the night off for Christmas, both screening as usual.

Boxing Day, 26 December, has the Australian Open tennis from Kooyong, Melbourne, live on HSV7ABC has the One Day International live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and GTV9 has two hours coverage of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.  The evening includes HSV7's live coverage of the Australian Derby horse racing from Perth.

Friday includes the first day's play in the cricket Third Test, live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground, on ABC.

memory03 ATV0's weekday afternoon game show lineup, Blankety Blanks, Pyramid Challenge and Perfect Match, quietly comes to an end on Friday.  For Blankety Blanks (pictured) it is an inglorious end for a program that only a year earlier was a prime-time ratings giant before being moved by ATV0 to a midday timeslot earlier in the year following reports of a falling out between the station and the show's host Graham Kennedy.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 23 December 1978.  ABC/ACP

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Barrel girl rings into the High Court

gingerdewinter There are plenty of news reports today that Virginia Bell (pictured) has been appointed as a justice of the High Court of Australia, and only the fourth woman ever to be appointed to the role.

Ms Bell has had a long and distinguished 30-year career in the legal profession, and is experienced in other matters, too.  With theatrical interests at a young age, and as a former ABC journalist and presenter, it was Bell as her alter-ego Ginger de Winter who was also apparently the self-appointed president of the mythical Australian Barrel Girls Association

Claiming to be a former TV barrel girl from the era of In Melbourne Tonight, de Winter would appear as a regular guest on the 1980s nostalgia program The Golden Years Of Television, a program that appeared first on Network Ten before moving with host David Lyle to Nine.

number96_title In between reruns of old black-and-white programs, Ms de Winter, with her fake eyelashes, gaudy earrings and strapless frocks, was one to share all the juicy gossip from some of TV's early icons, whether it be from backstage on In Melbourne Tonight or propping up the bar at Norma's on the night the bomb went off at Number 96

Ms de Winter also claimed to know whose bared breasts on Number 96 were real, and whose were fakes!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

1978: December 16-22


Cover: Marlon Brando (Superman The Movie)

Restless break for June Salter
Actress June Salter will take an extended break from The Restless Years to tour with the theatrical production Crown Matrimonial.  The hit stage play has had an extended season in Sydney and has also played to packed houses in Brisbane and Newcastle, but a national tour was not possible unless Salter could be relieved from her commitments to The Restless YearsCrown Matrimonial starts its three-month national tour in February 1979.

War of the words
Veteran TV scriptwriter Mike McColl-Jones has left the Nine Network's The Don Lane Show to work on ATV0's late-night Peter Couchman program which is headed for a higher profile in the new year, extending to five nights a week.  "I think Peter Couchman has that same attraction that Graham Kennedy had.  Women want to mother him.  That is a particularly good quality for a man in his job to have," he told TV Times.

I'm not just a pretty face!
Actor Tony Bonner is feeling he has been able to shake off the stigma of the young, handsome, heroic type which he earned by playing helicopter pilot Jerry King in the '60s TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.  The Sammy Award-winning actor has had recent roles in Power Without Glory, the telemovie The Alternative and ABC play End Of Summer before taking on an ongoing role in Cop Shop.  Bonner has also directed a series of half-hour documentaries, titled Making It Together, and is preparing to play the role of a blind man in an upcoming Seven Network telemovie Image Of Death.

From bullets to ballots
Millions of viewers know Gregory Ross as Constable Tony Benjamin in Cop Shop, but to his colleagues he is known as the Prime Minister.  Ross is closely associated with the Liberal Party in Victoria and hopes to stand as a candidate in the future.  "I hope to become a full-time politician in the future, maybe three or four years.  I've had the ambition for some time and I am deadly serious about a career in politics," he told TV Times

GTV9's children's series Nine Will Fix It recently featured a story on money being made at the Royal Reserve Treasury in Melbourne.  The crew also had the heart-breaking task of witnessing old money being shovelled into furnaces.  "That was painful!," according to presenter Penny Spence.

The Young Doctors star Marcus Hale, an experienced motorcycle stunt rider, found himself in a real hospital after an accident while riding to work had rendered him unconscious and with deep cuts on his chest, facial abrasions and a lump on the head.  The actor recalls nothing of what caused the accident.

ABC newsman Richard Carleton is currently on a trek through darkest Africa, on his way back to Australia for the new current affairs program Nationwide.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"ABC must be mad screening that rubbish Three's Company after only last year showing us the brilliantly funny Man About The House.  You would think the Americans could come up with something original."  D. Builton, TAS.

"What I want to know is why TCN9 Sydney is screening so many appalling programs in prime time while really superb movies like Medium Cool and Molly And Lawless John are hidden away in late night slots?  And if it's because they're repeats, it won't wash.  None of the channels has any qualms about repeating other programs in prime time." J. Anderson, NSW.

What's On (December 16-22):
Another week, and more tennis on HSV7 with the Ampol Men's Challenge, South Australian Women's Classic and the New South Wales Open filling afternoons during the week.  More cricket, too, with the Second Test on ABC and World Series Cricket on GTV9.

Christmas specials feature throughout the week, with specials from Good Times, Laugh-In, Grizzly Adams, Donny And Marie, Morecambe And Wise and The Black And White Minstrels.  On Thursday night, ATV0 screens Christmas carols from the Sydney University Choir.

Sunday night movies are All The Way To Paris (HSV7), Out Of Season (GTV9) and Operation Petticoat (ATV0).  ABC presents a Royal Heritage special on Queen Victoria.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 16 December 1978, ABC/ACP

Friday, 12 December 2008

1978: December 9-15

tvtimes_091278Cover: Ron Howard (Happy Days)

Where's our wonder woman?
The producers of Nine's upcoming current affairs program 60 Minutes are looking for a female reporter following the unexpected departure of Kate Ballieu from the team due to sickness and personal reasons.  "I think it would be nice in this day and age to have a woman on the reporting team.  But in no way will she be what is actually accepted as a woman reporter.  She will not be doing so-called women's stories," producer Gerald Stone told TV Times.  The big budget program, based on the US program of the same name, is set to premiere early in 1979 with reporters Ray Martin, George Negus and Ian Leslie

bunneybrooke 96 wouldn't know the new-look Flo
Eighteen months after Number 96 ceased production, actress Bunney Brooke (pictured), who played the pragmatic Flo Patterson in the long-running series, has moved onto a promising movie career with roles in recent productions Dawn and Newsfront as well as upcoming titles Alison's Birthday and Welcome Back Stranger and a telemovie A Good Thing Going.  As well as movie roles, Brooke has also been busy with appearances in TV series The Young Doctors, Kirby's Company and Wayzgoose and in ABC plays A Visit To The Uncle and Palace Of Dreams.

Those forthcoming attractions
TV Times
often receive letters from viewers who are sick of on-screen promotions for upcoming programs, but for the networks they are serious business and are here to stay.  Brisbane QTQ9 publicist Dorothea Timms said that the channel spends more than $2 million on station promotions, including labour costs and airtime. "Channel Nine's biggest client is Channel Nine," she said.  ABC promotions manager John Woods said that on-screen promotions have been used to success, one example being shows like British comedy The Goodies recording a ratings boost after an on-screen campaign around the theme 'The Goodies Will Get You'.  The commercial networks have also found that heavily-promoted programs do generally perform better in the ratings with recent examples being Roots (0-10), Against The Wind (Seven) and The Godfather (Nine).

It may become three-way traffic
Australian TV producers the Reg Grundy Organisation and Crawford Productions may have a new player to contend with next year with US company Hanna-Barbera embarking on local productions in Australia, with one science-fiction and two historical dramas being considered for production.  The company will have the assistance of movie producers Hal and Jim McElroy in developing the new programs.

Rumours persist that Graham Kennedy may return to TV in the new year with a Saturday evening show for GTV9, and that former Penthouse '78 co-host Mary Hardy could join him.

Trial By Marriage, a new comedy series written by The Truckies actor Michael Aitken, is to go into production in mid-1979 for ABC.

The dedication of Cop Shop actor George Mallaby was put to the test when he turned up for work with a fever and a temperature of 104 (F) and ignoring medical advice to postpone filming he stayed on set the whole day.

againstthewindViewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"I would like to praise the series Against The Wind (pictured).  This show was so good our family even went without our longtime favourite The Don Lane Show."  B. Hestelow, NSW

"I would like you to know how much myself and friends enjoy The Restless Years.  We like everyone in it, and Miss McKenzie (June Salter) is a lovely person.  June Salter was also in Certain Women and was lovely."  J. Ryan, QLD.

"Why do ABC announcers wear the sort of clothes that interfere with the colour contrast on one's TV set? Last night I was watching Bruce Wakely telling viewers about forthcoming programs on ABC, just before station close-down, when suddenly, his tie started to turn a funny colour.  I have found similar problems with some of James Dibble's suits and Graham Lindon's shirts.  Surely ABC technical staff can do better than this?" G. Wymer, NSW.

What's On (December 9-15)
Australia versus the World features in GTV9's World Series Cricket over the weekend and on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  On Sunday, ATV0 presents live coverage of the Gillette Cup cricket from Brisbane.

There's also more cricket with ABC's telecast of the Sheffield Shield from Sydney on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and the Second Test, live from Perth, starting on Friday.

Seven's tennis coverage continues every day during the week from Sydney and Adelaide, and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, HSV7 presents live coverage of the Adelaide International Tournament.

On Tuesday night, ABC presents a telemovie Shimmering Light, starring John Meillon, Mark Hembrow, Ingrid Mason, Patrick Ward and US actors Beau Bridges and Lloyd Bridges.

On Friday night, HSV7 movie host Ivan Hutchinson presents Ivan's Holiday Movie Guide previewing some of the movies coming to cinemas over the upcoming holiday period, including International Velvet, Battlestar Galactica, The Boys From Brazil and Death On The Nile.

Sunday night movies are He Is My Brother (HSV7), Judith (GTV9) and That Touch Of Mink (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 9 December 1978.  ABC/ACP

Sunday, 7 December 2008

TelevisionAU Update

Due to some personal matters to attend to leading up to Christmas, an upcoming break over Christmas-New Year, and a bit of an IT issue to resolve before then as well (though not as bad as the one pictured!), the blog here will be updated less frequently for the next little while but will hope to be back to normal around mid-January 2009.