Saturday, 28 February 2009

TelevisionAU Update 28-Feb-09


's long-running medical drama GP was never one to shy away from controversial medical and social topics. In 1994 the series tackled the topic of homosexuality when new doctor Martin Dempsey (Damian Rice) is depicted in a relationship with Patrick Walsh, played by Lochie Daddo. Not since the days of Number 96, The Box and Prisoner had the topic of homosexuality been so openly portrayed in TV drama: "I was worried how the public might react," Rice told TV Week. "But I think it's time stories like that were told. I was told when I joined GP that the series would deal with confronting issues, so this is one of them, I guess." Picture: TV Week, 12 March 1994 (Go to for full picture)

1990 (TV Week Logie Awards)

1962 (TV Week Logie Awards)
1965 (TV Spells Magic)
1968 (Motel, Marriage Confidential)
1969 (Division Four)

1993 (Paradise Beach, NSWRL State Of Origin)


South Australia:
1976 (Christmas Day)



Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Frank Gallacher

frankgallacher2 Frank Gallacher, accomplished film, theatre and television actor, has died in Melbourne at the age of 65.

Born in Scotland, Gallacher (prounounced Gal-uck-er) came to Australia as a 19-year-old schoolteacher in 1963.  His teaching career then took him to New Guinea for three years but on his return to Australia decided to quit teaching and became involved in amateur theatre in Brisbane and later at the Queensland Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company.

Despite coming to Australia with a Scottish accent, Gallacher scored many 'dinkim' Aussie roles and credited his adopted Australian accent to his then teacher, comedienne and actress Noeline Brown.

While still involved in the theatre, Gallacher also scored roles in a string of '70s television dramas including Division Four, Matlock Police, Silent Number, The Lost Islands and Bluey.  But a big break was to follow with a leading role in the series Shannon's Mob and later in historical mini-series Rush, Against The Wind and The Last Outlaw.

frankgallacher During a career that also included many film roles and stage productions, both as an actor and director, Gallacher also appeared in numerous other TV dramas including Prisoner, Skyways, Water Under The Bridge, The Shiralee, The Flying Doctors, Janus, State Coroner, Blue Heelers, Two Twisted, Marshall Law and MDA.  He also appeared as Detective Bogong in the Nine Network series Cluedo in the early '90s.  His most recent TV appearance was in the ABC mini-series Curtin.

Frank Gallacher is survived by his wife Belinda, children Conor and Brigid and sister Eileen.

Source: TV Tonight, Aussie Theatre, IMDB, TV Times

Sunday, 22 February 2009

1979: February 24-March 2

tvtimes_240279Cover: Peter Lochran, Diana McLean, Chris Orchard (The Young Doctors) 

Stars of '79
TV Times has approached TV producers to nominate the actors and actresses who they believe will make a big impact in 1979.  Don Battye, producer of The Restless Years, sees a big future for new recruits Jamie Gleeson and Lenore Smith:  "The rapport between Jamie and Lenore was instant, it was as if they'd known each other for ages."  ABC producer Alan Burke believes that John Gregg, to appear in the new series The Oracle, will be the actor of the year in 1979:  "He's a wonderful actor and will be very dominant in our drama output this year."  Alan Coleman, producer for The Young Doctors, believes that newcomer Peter Lochran will be the show's next heart-throb and predicts a big future for Linda Stoner, who has recently left The Young Doctors for a new role in Cop ShopEileen O'Shea, publicist for the Seven Network, said to look out for Bill Stalker, a New Zealand actor who will appear in the upcoming series Skyways, and a greater profile for Joanna Lockwood, one of the founding cast members of Cop Shop.  A spokesman for Melbourne's ATV0 is also predicting big things for English actor Barry Quin, one of the cast members of the new series PrisonerABC light entertainment producer Ric Birch has listed Ric Herbert and David Atkins, two of the stars of the upcoming TV Follies series, as potential big names of the future.

prisoner_1 Warder, warder everywhere!
The studios of Melbourne channel ATV0 have been transformed into a prison, both inside and out.  The transformation is part of the production for the 0-10 Network's long-awaited new drama Prisoner.  Not only have 12 permanent sets - more than usual for a locally-produced series - been constructed within the ATV0 studios in Nunawading, but the exterior of the studio complex has also been adapted to serve as the exterior for the fictional Wentworth Detention Centre.  Fake prison windows adorn the side of the brick building and a prison garden, complete with vegetable patch and BBQ area, have been set up on the lawns beside the building.  Nearby is a large brick wall and security gate and, beside it, a daunting signboard that reads 'Wentworth Detention Centre for Women'.  Pre-production research for the series has been meticulous, including the assistance of real-life prisoners, prison wardens and government agencies.  So impressed is the network that the show's initial run of thirteen episodes has already been extended to 42.  ATV0 public relations director George Wilson told TV Times: "It is a human interest drama which will not only follow the lives of prisoners and staff in the detention centre, but will delve into their lives outside.  Prisoner will not use explicit sex or nudity to give shock or drama."  Produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation, Prisoner premieres this week on TEN10 Sydney and ATV0 Melbourne and later in other states.

darylossie C'mon Ossie C'mon!
Daryl Somers
and Ossie Ostrich (pictured) have returned to the Nine Network after a year which saw them move to the 0-10 Network for the ill-fated The Daryl And Ossie Show.  The pair have already made their on-screen return to Nine with Hey Hey It's Saturday returning after its one-year hiatus.  Bob Phillips, manager for Somers and Ernie Carroll (Ossie's human alter-ego), has announced that their return to Nine will also include plans for a weekly big-budget pop music series later in the year, and possibly even a movie featuring the two. 

Top stars set for telethon
GTV9's annual telethon for the Yooralla Society of Victoria is on this weekend has set a target to raise $1 million.  As well as the all-day telethon, the appeal will also include a three-day carnival, near the GTV9 studios, for the children who collect for the appeal.  Telethon manager John Hart has said that this year's telethon will also feature personalities from all Melbourne radio stations that have been raising funds for the appeal over the last two weeks.  And the telecast will feature a technological first - a computer-operated light display which will flash lights indicating phone room calls.  Guest stars appearing on the telethon will include stars from Nine Network programs The Sullivans, The Don Lane Show, The Young Doctors, plus other local and overseas celebrities.  The telethon will also be relayed through regional stations across Victoria.

journalist Richard Carleton has found that Norman Gunston's fame has quite possibly spread to South Africa!  While touring Africa over the past few months, Carleton found the "Gunston" brand of cigarette was very popular with the South Africans.

The Young Doctors' Chris Orchard says that his main motivation for migrating from England to Australia eight years ago as a 19-year-old was "Sun, surf and sex.  Well, what else do you think about at 19?"

Actress Carol Burns will be rejoining her jazz ballet classes with some trepidation.  She is wondering what will her classmates will think of her when they see her portrayal of a vicious lesbian in the new series Prisoner.

Viewpoint:  Letters to the Editor
"Of all the commercial TV channels in Australia, I think Canberra's CTC7, which calls itself "Super 7," is the most impolite, rude and arrogant.  Whenever a program runs late the station never tells its viewers about it, or apologises."  E. Behr, ACT.

"I am most concerned at the lack of interest by TV stations in the show-jumping potential in this country.  A couple of weeks go the largest show-jumping event was held at Wentworth Park, Sydney - but what TV coverage did it receive?  It was a news item, and TEN10 gave a one-hour program - and that was all.  So how about TV stations waking up and giving the public a chance to watch this most exciting sport?" G. Beaton, NSW.

"We movie buffs applaud ABC for screening old movie classics but, as the viewing audience for them will probably be mainly over the age of 45, the starting time of 10.00pm is usually the time old movie buffs are about to go to bed." C. Wilson, NSW.

What's On (February 24-March 2):
GTV9's annual telethon for the Yooralla Society of Victoria starts on Saturday at 7.00am and continues through 5.00pm, before resuming at 8.30pm and closing at midnight.  The phone number for donations is (03) 42-0221.

peterluck On Sunday night, HSV7 presents the premiere of the million dollar documentary series This Fabulous Century hosted by Peter Luck (pictured).  The new series, including footage from Cinesound, Movietone and the National Film and Sound Archive to illustrate the history of Australia from Federation to the present day, debuts with a one-hour episode up against GTV9's new 60 Minutes.

prisoner_ep1_1 Tuesday night marks the two-hour debut of the 0-10 Network's new drama Prisoner (pictured) with the series continuing on Wednesday.  In the opening episode, Karen Travers (Peita Toppano) is sent to prison after refusing to give evidence when charged with the murder of her husband.  Country girl Lynn Warner (Kerry Armstrong) is admitted to Wentworth for kidnapping and burying alive a young child, though she maintains her innocence.  And inmate Franky Doyle (Carol Burns) tells prison warden Vera Bennett (Fiona Spence) that the inmates have given her a new nickname, "Vinegar Tits".

On Wednesday night, HSV7 screens a delayed telecast of the 1979 Grammy Awards from Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, hosted by John Denver.

The Australian Football Championship Night Series begins on HSV7 on Friday night, promising "the richest football competition Australia has ever seen.  Total prize money will be approximately $370,000."

Special guests appearing during the week on ATV0's Peter Couchman Tonight include Simon Townsend, John Waters, Alison Durbin, Stuart Wagstaff and Derryn Hinch.

Sunday night movies are Survive! (HSV7), Moonshine County Express (GTV9) and Camelot (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 17 February 1979.  ABC/ACP

Friday, 20 February 2009

Ticking away for 30 years

tvtimes_100279 Beginning on 11 February 1979, 60 Minutes marked a new era for current affairs on Australian commercial television.  Before then, current affairs on commercial television was limited to early evening programs, such as Willesee At Seven and the original A Current Affair, or low-profile late night programs that attracted few viewers.  And Sunday night at 7.30pm was most definitely a time for light entertainment as viewers prepared to enter a new working week, so for Nine to slot an expensive new current affairs program into one of the most important timeslots of the week was an extreme gamble.

geraldstone Based on an American program of the same name and assembled by former Nine news reporter and producer Gerald Stone (pictured), Nine's gamble almost didn't pay off as viewers did not attach themselves to the new 60 Minutes which was up against the popular This Is Your Life and the far more camp Adventures Of Wonder Woman.  But, unlike the current day trend of bumping programs after one outing to disappointing ratings, Nine persevered and, by 1980, 60 Minutes was becoming the flagship of Nine's prime-time schedule. 

So much has 60 Minutes gone on to be an unbreakable force in the ratings that it is estimated that over 150 programs have been thrown against it to try and dent its ratings armour.  Some of the programs pitted against it have included Kingswood Country, MASH, This Fabulous Century, The Benny Hill Show, Cheers, ALF, The Comedy Company, Sons And Daughters, The Main Event, Australia's Most Wanted, NSW Rugby League, Beverly Hills 90210, The Comedy Sale, Seachange, Good News Week, Big Brother, Australian Idol, Always Greener, Kath And Kim, All Aussie Adventures and Dancing With The Stars.  Some programs have managed some short-term damage to its ratings, but 60 Minutes has always fought back with flying colours.

And for reporters on 60 Minutes, they become almost as much the story as the subjects they are covering.  The show's initial reporting lineup - Ray Martin, George Negus and Ian Leslie - while they had years of television journalism experience, were far from being household names until they joined 60 Minutes when suddenly they were prime-time celebrities. 

janawendt_1988 Former ATV10 Melbourne newsreader Jana Wendt (pictured) became 60 Minutes' first female reporter in 1982 and set a new benchmark for female journalists who previously might have been tied to covering light news or human interest stories on commercial television.  Wendt went on to become one of television's most valued TV presenters with a career that has also included A Current Affair, Witness, Dateline, Sunday, a number of return visits to 60 Minutes and filing special reports for the American 60 Minutes.

The 60 Minutes lineup has also included many others along the way: Jeff McMullen, Charles Woolley, Jennifer Byrne, Elizabeth Hayes, Tracey Curro, Paul Barry, Ellen Fanning, Peter Overton, Tara Brown, Mike Munro, Liam Bartlett, Peter HarveyABC political reporter Richard Carleton made headlines when he joined 60 Minutes, after many years with the national broadcaster, and himself became a story subject when he allowed 60 Minutes to cover his own heart bypass surgery in 1988.  Tragically, while covering the Beaconsfield mine disaster in 2006, Carleton died from a heart attack.

paulinehanson Of course, the program has had many significant moments: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher giving George Negus an ear-bashing over claims that Britons said she was pig-headed; Ray Martin's award-winning report on Sydney's Chelmsford Hospital;  former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson (pictured), when asked was she xenophobic, famously responds "please explain"; former cult spokeswoman Ma Sheela's calm response - "tough titties!" - when accused of stealing $40 million from the cult; actor Tom Cruise telling Peter Overton to "stick his manners back in!" after questions about former wife Nicole Kidman; and former Nine Network CEO Eddie McGuire presenting a special report on colleague Sam Newman's prostate cancer surgery.

This Sunday night 60 Minutes returns to air for 2009 with a tribute to its first 30 years.  It will be interesting to see what, of the estimated 3500 stories filed for the program in that time, will be featured.

60 Minutes Celebrates 30 Years. Sunday 22 February, 7.30pm.  Nine/WIN/NBN/Imparja

Sunday, 15 February 2009

1979: February 17-23

tvtimes_170279 Good medicine!
The Seven Network's new comedy series Doctors Down Under promises that the only treatment viewers will get from St Barnabas Hospital over the next three months will be a dose of laughs from Doctors Waring (Robin Nedwell) and Stuart-Clark (Geoffrey Davies).  The two actors decided to adapt the long-running English comedy series to an Australian version after touring the country in 1977 with the stage production Doctors In Love.  Joining the medicos for the Australian series will be Frank Wilson, former host of New Faces and actor in numerous Crawford dramas, and Sydney actor John DerumDoctors Down Under is already screening in Sydney and Melbourne and debuts soon in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Nationwide is set to roll
ABC's new current affairs program Nationwide premieres this week.  "Nationwide will meet the growing demand from a substantial section of the public for a quality current affairs program that will get stuck into its topics," says executive producer John Penlington.  The program will run for 40 minutes each night, with the first half containing national stories and the second segment compiled in each state capital to cover local issues.

Countdown back with a bang!
Countdown returns for 1979 this week with French pop star Plastic Bertrand appearing as guest compere.  The singer was a Countdown "discovery" last year and negotiations to have him appear had been going on for some time.  Also a highlight for Countdown this year will be a two-hour celebration for the show's 200th episode later in the year.  Talent co-ordinator Ian 'Molly' Meldrum and producer Grant Rule will be heading overseas in April to line up international acts for the special show which is expected to include a three-way link-up between studios in London, Los Angeles and Melbourne.

peterluck This fabulous century!
A one million dollar documentary series, This Fabulous Century, will give Australians a graphic record of Australia's history from Federation to the present day.  The series of 30 episodes, hosted by journalist Peter Luck (pictured) and produced by Hanna Barbera for the Seven Network, begins this week in Sydney and Brisbane and later in other states.  Luck said that until he started work on the series two years ago, he had no interest in Australian history at all:  "As a current affairs reporter I had an interest and knowledge of contemporary history but in Australia, all we ever learn of the history of this country is about bushrangers and convicts.  But so much has happened this century, and I found it interesting."   Researching archival footage for the series took over a year and a further six months was taken in arranging interviews and securing access to various locations for filming.  With a $1 million budget, This Fabulous Century is the most extensive, and most expensive, documentary series produced in Australia to date.

prisoner Prisoners of love
The budding romance in the new series Prisoner between inmate Karen Travers (Peita Toppano) and prison doctor Greg Miller (Barry Quin) sounds like classic soap opera fare, but pales in comparison to the real-life affair between the two actors (pictured).  The English Quin had discovered Toppano on a visit to Australia and decided to emigrate but had to deal with immigration, Actors Equity and the frustration of an Australian postal strike before he could stay in Australia.  Through Toppano's efforts Quin landed the Prisoner role which meant he could stay in Australia.  The real-life couple will be married in April, while the 0-10 Network is so pleased with the first thirteen episodes of the new series that it has ordered a further 29 even before the series makes its on-air debut.

ABC's new afternoon children's show ARVO isn't just short for "afternoon" but actually stands for Alexander's Recycled Visual Offerings, Alexander being the bunyip who will co-host the program.

ATV0 is working to revamp the magazine segment of its Sunday night news bulletin.  Former radio and TV presenter Paul Jennings, who joined ATV0 as a weather man, is now in charge of the fifteen-minute segment which he hopes to revamp from pre-packaged films to more topical segments and interviews.

Melbourne-born opera singer Jon Weaving and his French wife Monique Brynnel will be the stars of this year's first Music To The People concert to be staged at the Myer Music Bowl.  The second half of the concert will be televised live through HSV7.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"I like live shows, in preference to movies, and when TEN10 put on The Steve Raymond Show, I was most delighted.  Oh boy, was I in for a complete let down.  Steve Raymond is a very, very poor imitation of Mike Walsh, or any other compere." J. Long, NSW.

"I'm no sports fan, but I'd like to congratulate the TV channels for their excellent sports coverages, which many people do enjoy, particularly elderly or incapacitiated persons, who are unable to attend these events." B. Reynolds, VIC.

"Thank heavens the World Series Cricket cricketers are leaving for the West Indies soon.  The Nine Network once had some pretty good programs.  But one has become bored with the same players and the same ads all the time.  Good luck to the well-paid players but can't they just take their circus away from the air-waves and give us a respite from what used to be a dignified game?  I think the commercial over-kill of a once grand game could really slaughter it." F. Howard, NSW.

"Why, oh why, do ABC newsreaders - on both TV and radio - say "following" when they usually mean "after"?  Once I even heard a news item about a man who died "following" a funeral - which gave the impression he was in the cortege at the time." J. Jessup, NSW.

What's On (February 17-23):
On Saturday afternoon, ABC presents live coverage of the 1979 Victorian Open Golf Championship from Kingston Heath Golf Course, while at the same time, HSV7 presents live coverage from the World Of Sport Expo being held at the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings with special guests including Ron Barassi, Mike Willesee, Sir William McMahon, George Mallaby, Michael Pate and Jon English.

annetteallison ATV0's weekday morning line-up gets a revamp with the launch of magazine program Everyday, hosted by Roy Hampson and Annette Allison (pictured).

Monday night sees the debut of ABC's Nationwide current affairs program, while ATV0 starts a re-run, continuing over six nights, of the hit US mini-series Roots in the lead-up to the sequel mini-series, Roots: The Next Generations, to air later in the year.  Later in the evening, HSV7 starts a repeat screening of the former ABC comedy series Alvin Purple.

GTV9's The Don Lane Show returns for another year with the first show highlighted by a satellite interview with Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood.  The first show will also include a direct coverage of a stunt in the GTV9 carpark performed by American stunt star Evel KnievelATV0's Peter Couchman Tonight also returns for another year, screening five nights a week.

Sunday night movies are The Tamarind Seed (HSV7) and Vegas (GTV9).  ATV0 screens the UNICEF Concert: A Gift Of Song, held at the UN General Assembly in New York in January as the launch event for International Year Of The Child.  Hosted by David Frost with Henry Fonda, Gilda Radner and Henry Winkler, the concert includes performances by the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, ABBA, John Denver, Earth Wind And Fire, Andy Gibb, Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson.  ATV0 then follows up the concert with the movie comedy What's Up Doc?

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 17 February 1979.  ABC/ACP

TV icons of the Sunshine State

Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper has obtained a secret list of people, places and events nominated by Queensland politicians as icons of the state.

The list is being prepared as part of Queensland's 150th anniversary celebrations.  From the initial list of 700, a bipartisan panel of MPs will attempt to trim the list to 300 which will then be put to a public vote.  The top 150 will be formally acknowledged during the state's Queensland Week celebrations.

Out of the 700 nominated so far, there are a handful that are TV related:

  • Actress Babette Stephens, who was also a panelist on Brisbane game shows in the 1960s and also starred in Brisbane's first soap opera drama Until Tomorrow in the 1970s.
  • Pop group The Bee Gees, who rose to fame on early variety shows in Brisbane before appearances on national shows such as Bandstand.
  • Actor William McInnes, from TV dramas including Seachange, Blue Heelers, Marshall Law, Curtin, East West 101, The Shark Net and comedy series Kath & Kim.
  • Wally Lewis, former rugby player and now sports presenter for Nine News in Brisbane.
  • Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.
  • Vilma Ward, morals compaigner, media commentator and panelist on daytime TV programs including Bailey And The Birds.
  • Mt Coottha's TV transmission towers.

We can't help but wonder that maybe a few famous Queenslanders have been overlooked for recognition: 

jackimac Jacki MacDonald comes to mind as a glaring omission.  A winner of a swag of TV Week Logies for most popular personality in Queensland and a TV career that has included all three of Brisbane's local commercial channels as well as a national profile through Hey Hey It's Saturday and later Healthy Wealthy And Wise.

Rowena Wallace, who first rose to national fame in the 1960s drama You Can't See Round Corners, followed by The Rovers, Division 4, Number 96, Cop Shop, Outbreak Of Love, Prisoner and, most famously, as vicious 'Pat the Rat' in Sons And Daughters - a role that won her a TV Week Gold Logie in 1985.

kerriannekennerley Kerri-Anne Kennerley (pictured), back when she was Kerri-Anne Wright was a child star of Brisbane television in the 1960s and 1970s before featuring in the soap opera The Restless Years and later becoming co-host of Network Ten's Good Morning Australia, where she stayed for over a decade and went on to further success in daytime TV as host of Midday in the late 1990s and Mornings With Kerri-Anne since 2003.

Sigrid Thornton, from early days in Homicide, Father Dear Father and Prisoner, later becoming famous for her roles in historical dramas such as All The Rivers Run, 1915 and Paradise before taking the lead role in ABC's Seachange in the late 1990s.

reggrundy Reg Grundy (pictured), while not born in Queensland the former radio announcer turned game show host got his big break as a producer of game shows in Brisbane in the 1960s, forming the basis for what became a global empire.

Gerard Kennedy, actor from early crime shows Hunter and Division Four and later in historical dramas Tandarra and Against The Wind.  Most recently seen in the Nine Network series Underbelly.  Winner of two TV Week Gold Logies.

Ray Barrett, accomplished television, stage and film actor with recent roles in Something In The Air and After The Deluge.

donseccombe Don Seccombe (pictured), long-serving newsreader for QTQ9 and host the game show I've Got A Secret which ran for ten years.

Hugh Cornish, one of Brisbane television's earliest on-air personalities as well as general manager at QTQ9.

Newsreader Brian Cahill who read the news for many years at BTQ7, later at QTQ9 and then TVQ0 before moving into politics.

Then there are current-day local TV identities who have long histories in television.  Names such as Kay McGrath, Bruce Paige, Frank Warrick, Heather Foord and Sharyn Ghidella.

Other well-known TV identities to have hailed from the Sunshine State include (in no particular order):

annetteallisonBrian Blain (The Bluestone Boys, Sons And Daughters)
Delvene Delaney (The Paul Hogan Show, Sale Of The Century)
Jo Pearson (Eyewitness News, Live At Five)
Annette Allison (pictured) (Eyewitness News, Good Morning Melbourne)
Shane Porteous (The Box, A Country Practice)
Judy Morris (Skyways, Dirtwater Dynasty, Mother And Son)
Ian Leslie (60 Minutes)
Michael Caton (The Sullivans, Packed To The Rafters)
Tom Richards (Matlock Police, Sons And Daughters)
Paul Bongiorno (Ten News, Meet The Press)

Who do you think is worthy of a mention on Queensland's top 150 list?

Source: Courier Mail
Many of these names from this list have also been sourced from the book On-Air: 25 Years Of TV In Queensland (Christopher Beck, 1984)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

1979: February 10-16

tvtimes_100279 Around the world in 60 Minutes
The wait is over.  This week marks the debut of Nine's new multi-million dollar current affairs gamble 60 Minutes.  The show's reporting team and producers have been around the world gathering stories.  Former ABC New York correspondent Ray Martin has been travelling the United States.  Former A Current Affair and Eyewitness News journalist Ian Leslie has been to Asia, and former A Current Affair and This Day Tonight reporter George Negus has been through Europe.  With executive producer Gerald Stone, the program has been in planning since May last year and is believed to have a budget of $2 million.  Stone is confident that his reporters' personalities will help them connect with viewers, even though they are reluctant to adopt the celebrity tag that may come with the show.  "I can't say I'll be looking forward to that side of it," Leslie told TV Times.  "I loathe the idea of my personal life coming under scrutiny because I become well-known as a TV reporter.  I shall be guarding against that side of the job." 

Ossie battlers hit back
After departing GTV9 in a blaze of publicity a year ago, Daryl Somers and Ossie Ostrich had the disappointment of the ill-fated The Daryl And Ossie Show for the 0-10 Network.  But now the pair could be making a return to the Nine Network in a deal that could include them featuring in a movie later in the year.

The laugh's on them
A new rapid-fire sketch comedy series is about to debut on ABCJokes is to be a four-part series comprising purely of jokes presented as short sketches, some as short as ten seconds.  Starring in the show is Noni Hazelhurst (The Sullivans), Chris Haywood, Robyn Moase and Terry Bader

deniswalter Star seekers - a game of snakes and ladders
Winning a TV talent quest is not a sure-fire way to stardom.  Even though some winners manage to get an extra few bookings or maybe a short-lived record deal, the journey to stardom is still a long hard slog.  For Ray Highcock, since winning Pot Of Gold, he has lost his job, his prize and his agent.  But the 42-year-old is not giving up, "I've got to get this entertainment bug out of my system, so I'll keep giving it a go."  Singer Christine Mullane won a trip for two to the UK from Young Talent Time, but found the prize didn't include accommodation, but did score a record deal that only led to one failed single.  Another singer, Denis Walter (pictured), won a Young Talent Time contest in 1971, and then went on to win on New Faces, but even then his dreams of instant wealth and stardom wasn't to be:  "And that was my first let down.  I think all I got was a $200 prize."  Walter has been one of the lucky ones since then, however, with regular appearances on Young Talent Time, four top-selling albums and performing at a Royal Command Performance in London.

Luigi, the Italian taxi driver featured regularly on Willesee At Seven and The Penthouse Club, is going to be missing from TV screens for the next few months.  Alter ego Colin McEwan is headed to the United Kingdom and Europe, but may film some Luigi segments for the Willesee program.

Radio 3UZ announcer Peter Byrne is going to be the new 'man about town' for HSV7's new Saturday Night Live (formerly The Penthouse Club). 

Former Bellbird star Elspeth Ballantyne is enjoying a career comeback with a role in the movie Blue Fin and an ongoing role in the 0-10 Network's upcoming new series Prisoner.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"I read with interest your recent article on Lorraine Bayly in TV Times, and her identity crisis, but was disgusted to read how much she is being paid each week.  As far as I am concerned, that is none of our business.  Also, this attractive, very talented actress does nothing to get into the public eye and telling us her salary is certainly invasion of privacy." V. Hannaford, WA.

"I have been a regular ABC viewer for 17 years, and have always admired the tremendous personality and style of the various announcers.  Their clean, neat appearance and well-educated accents epitomise Australian manhood at its best.  And I think the most promising of the new faces is Graeme Lyndon.  I congratulate ABC for their good choice, and, of course, I must congratulate Graeme Lyndon for such a consistently high standard of performance." D. Anderson, NSW.

What's On (February 10-16):
donniesutherland HSV7
's Saturday morning music show Sound Unlimited, hosted by Donnie Sutherland (pictured), presents its fifth anniversary show.

GTV9's Sunday night talent quest, New Faces with Bert Newton, returns for another year - followed by the premiere of current affairs program 60 MinutesHSV7 tries to take some of gloss of the new current affairs show by programming a US special, Mickey Mouse's 50th Anniversary, up against it.

On Tuesday night, ATV0 presents the Victorian Sports Star for 1978 from the Southern Cross Hotel, hosted by Tony Charlton with Tracy Wickham.

Sunday night movies are The Ambushers (HSV7) and The Omega Man (ATV0).  US mini-series Washington Behind Closed Doors screens over six consecutive nights on GTV9.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 10 February 1979.  ABC/ACP

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Reg Evans

regevans_2 Actor Reg Evans (right) and his wife Angela are reported to be among the rapidly growing list of fatalities from the bushfires that have destroyed parts of Victoria since the weekend.

The couple were believed to be defending their property in St Andrews, north of Melbourne, from the tragic blaze. 

At the time of writing, the toll from the fires stands at 181 - making it the worst natural disaster ever to hit Australia.

Born in the United Kingdom in 1928, Evans came to Australia in the late-1950s and has featured in a long list of Australian television productions including Consider Your Verdict, Homicide, Division Four, Matlock Police, Number 96, The Sullivans, Prisoner, Skyways, A Country Practice, Women Of The Sun, Seachange, MDA, Something In The Air and most recently Blue Heelers.  He also starred in children's dramas The Rovers and Skippy The Bush Kangaroo and in the Australian adaptation of Are You Being Served?

Movie roles included Mad Max, Stone, Gallipoli, Evil Angels, Heaven Tonight and only recently completed a role with Paul Hogan in Charlie And Boots.

Source: Herald Sun, TV Tonight, IMDB

Help the survivors of Victoria's bushfire disaster, donate to the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal at; telephone 1800 811 700, or to the Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal at; telephone 13SALVOS (137258)

The Nine Network will present Australia Unites, a two-hour Bushfire Appeal telethon on Thursday 12 February.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Brian Naylor

briannaylor Former Melbourne television identity Brian Naylor (pictured) and his wife Moiree have been found dead after the horrific bushfires that have ravaged Victoria over the weekend. 

The couple's bodies were found tonight after they were reported unaccounted for after a blaze tore through the rural town of Kinglake. 

More than eighty have been reported dead from fires burning around the state.

Naylor, 78, started in radio presenting commercials for his then employer, a paper mill in Melbourne, and then landed an announcing role at radio station 3DB

With the advent of television in Melbourne, Naylor made the move from 3DB to its new sister station HSV7 as host of its children's variety program Swallow's Juniors (later Brian And The Juniors). 

briannaylor_7 In 1970, Naylor joined the news team at HSV7 which was then struggling to topple rival GTV9 in the news ratings race.  By the mid-1970s, Seven National News with Naylor at the helm was winning the ratings - at the expense of Nine which had even lured former newsreading legend Eric Pearce out of retirement to try to claw back viewers from Seven.

In 1978, after two decades at Seven, Naylor was subject of one of the biggest coups in television when he accepted an offer to join GTV9, starting early in 1979 and eventually the viewers followed with National Nine News dominating through much of the 1980s and 1990s.

Ironically, it was Brian Naylor who presented an edition of National Nine News live on location from the streets of Cockatoo which had been destroyed in the horrific Ash Wednesday fires of 1983.

For many years, Naylor's signature sign-off from the news was "May your news be good news and goodnight."

Naylor also presented Melbourne's Carols By Candlelight for ten years and in 1988 he was voted Victorian Father of the Year.

At the end of 1998, Naylor retired from television, ending a forty-year career.  A clip of Naylor's final news bulletin is featured at TV Australia.

Last year, Naylor lost son Matthew, 41, in an ultralight plane crash near their Kinglake property.

Source: Sky News, TV Tonight, TV Times
YouTube: aussiebeachut

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Ten plus One in March

OneHD The Ten Network has announced a launch date for its new digital channel OneHD.

The new channel, to be devoted 24 hours a day, seven days a week to sport, will make its debut on 26 March.  The launch of OneHD marks the first true multi-channel from the commercial networks in that it provides, in principle, an alternative schedule to the standard-definition and analogue channel.

The first program to appear on OneHD in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth will be the opening round AFL match between Richmond and Carlton.  (Sydney and Brisbane viewers will get the Swimming Australia SKINS event before getting the AFL game on delay)  Though, perhaps defeating the actual purpose of multi-channeling, the game will be also shown on Ten's main channel at the same time as well as the standard-definition simulcast of One. 

Then over the weekend, OneHD will present around 22 hours of coverage of the ING Formula 1 Grand Prix - expanding on the coverage that will already be provided via Ten's existing channel.

OneHD will also carry overseas sport including NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and golf.  The new channel also promises local programming such as an expanded edition of Sports Tonight.

Ten_HD The one concern that viewers have had, and that Ten seems reluctant to acknowledge or respond to, is that the launch of OneHD marks the end of not only TenHD as a part-time multi-channel but also all non-sporting content in high-definition.   This means that all regular Ten programs such as Rove, Neighbours, House, NCIS, Rush, Australian Idol and Good News Week will no longer be available in high-definition.  It is a curious move to remove all mainstream programming from high-definition in favour of a niche program format - especially given the expense at launching TenHD, as it was, barely a year ago.  It seems to be a counter-productive move when the industry as a whole is trying to entice the wider general public to upgrade their TV to digital or to high-definition.

For regional viewers who were promised TenHD last year through Ten's affiliate broadcaster Southern Cross - but never received it - it is still unclear whether they will get OneHD although it is believed that Southern Cross' Canberra control room is being upgraded to support OneHD.

What might have been a better scenario is to have One primarily as a standard-definition channel (as it is currently intended to be in simulcast with HD anyway) and retain TenHD as a hybrid of simulcast content from both Ten's main channel and One as well as having a provision for some of its own programming.  Depending on how OneHD pans out and how Ten chooses to react to viewers' feedback regarding the loss of HD programming, an alternative strategy to the one they've adopted just might become an option.

And while Ten has at least made some noise, for better or for worse, about its new digital channel, its rivals Seven and Nine have yet to make any indication as to their plans for multi-channeling.

Source: Ten

Sunday, 1 February 2009

1979: February 3-9

tvtimes_030279 Cover: Rod Stewart

The $1m newsman is as hard as nails!
Brian Naylor
, former long-time newsreader for HSV7 in Melbourne, was last year subject of the biggest takeover bid in the business when he was signed up by arch rival GTV9 to front National Nine News.  With more than 20 years at Seven behind him, Naylor is reluctant to confirm exactly how much he was paid to come over to GTV but $1 million has been reported in various circles - and both channels GTV9 and ATV0 have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in previous years to get viewers to switch over from Seven's top-rating news, without much luck.  GTV9's last option was to buy Naylor from Seven.  News director John Sorell had tried once before but Naylor didn't bite.  But then five months ago GTV9 was faced with losing newsreader Eric Pearce to semi-retirement and Sorell knew that Naylor's contract was coming up for renewal at Seven, so Sorell kept his eye on the calendar and when the time was right managed to make a successful offer.

clivehaleNationwide - 'a unique mix'
ABC's new current affairs program, Nationwide, will be "a unique mix of national and local current affairs," according to executive producer John Penlington.  The new program, which replaces the long-running This Day Tonight, begins on ABC on 19 February and will screen Monday to Thursday nights.  Former Adelaide TDT host Clive Hale (pictured) will present Nationwide from Sydney and will be joined by Canberra correspondent Richard Carleton and investigative reporters Paul Griffiths and Andrew Olle.  The program will also have local segments compiled in each state capital to include stories of local interest.

patmcdonaldMany happy returns for Dorrie
Director Peter Williams was a schoolboy when he first saw Pat McDonald (pictured) perform in stage play The Cell in Canberra.  The young Williams went backstage after the show to meet McDonald and the rest of the cast.  Now Williams will be directing McDonald as she takes over from Ruth Cracknell in the stage comedy Bedroom Farce which is about to tour Australia.  Bedroom Farce marks McDonald's return to the stage after six years on TV as dotty pensioner Dorrie Evans in Number 96.  McDonald, whose career started in theatre, told TV Times she loves working on stage but would like to do another TV series if the public would accept her as someone other than Dorrie.

John Bond, winner of ABC's first Mastermind series, is "rather scared" at the prospect of facing Mastermind winners from Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Nigeria in a Mastermind International special to be taped this week at BBC in London.  The program will air in Australia later this month on ABC.

American-born Evie Hayes has returned from her annual trip back to the home country to start her eighth year as an adjudicator on Young Talent Time, and despite reports to the contrary, has no thoughts of moving from  her adopted home of Melbourne.

Rolf Harris has returned to his home town of Perth to appear in a televised concert to commemorate Western Australia's 150th anniversary.  The 49-year-old entertainer, now based in the UK, has also been negotiating with ABC to televise a concert that he is appearing in with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in May.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
"So Pensioner, you think you have it bad in Canberra (Viewpoint, 6 January 1979).  Here in Darwin, TV starts at 5.30pm-6.00pm and finishes at 11.30pm.  And that's on a late night!  At least Canberra TV starts at midday with The Mike Walsh Show.  We don't even get it - or The Sullivans.  One program here is The Cisco Kid made in the 1950s.  It's about time it was put in moth balls.  The movies are third rate." C. Kidd, NT.

"I'm a great fan of horror films and I think there should be one or two scary movies a week, at early times like there used to be on Saturday nights.  And I'm sure my blood thirsty friends would enjoy them as I will when, or if, it happens." T. Amalfigano, NSW.

"To that Canberra pensioner (Viewpoint, 6 January 1979) who wants another commercial channel!  Please point out to her the rubbish we have in Sydney with four channels.  Tennis, cricket, cricket, tennis.  I am a pensioner in bed with one leg in plaster.  I would like to see the people who run these stations spend time in hospital or in an old people's home and look at this trash.  So tell her Canberra is no worse off."  'Pensioner', NSW.

What's On (February 3-9):
Another week of cricket with World Series Cricket on GTV9 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and One Day International on ABC on Saturday and Sunday.  With school going back in various states, ABC's schools programming resumes between 10.00am and 2.30pm weekdays.

Also for kids is This Week Has Seven Days on HSV7 on Saturday afternoon.  This week's show includes David Johnston examining the history and background of the ancient city of Athens and Honor Walters' careers segment features optical mechanics.

thesullivansDaytime show The Mike Walsh Show returns for another year, and GTV9's drama double, The Young Doctors and The Sullivans (pictured), are returned to their normal 6.00pm and 7.00pm timeslots for the 1979 season.  Game show Family Feud is settled back into its 5.00pm timeslot.

The new comedy series Doctor Down Under (based in the British Doctor In The House series) begins on HSV7 on Monday night, and The Naked Vicar Show returns featuring cast members Noeline Brown, Kevin Golsby, Ross Higgins, Colin McEwan, Laurel McGowan and guest stars John Farnham and Linda George.

Sunday night movies are The Mad Bomber (HSV7) and The Fox (ATV0).  GTV9 has World Series Cricket through to 10.30pm.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 3 February 1979.  ABC/ACP

TelevisionAU Update 1-Feb-09

shanebourne FLASHBACK PICTURE #48:
These days Shane Bourne is known for his role in the police drama City Homicide and as host of Thank God You're Here, but over a decade ago the comedian and former Hey Hey It's Saturday contributor was host of the Nine Network's 1996 remake of the 1970s game show Blankety Blanks.  It was the second time the Nine Network had attempted to remake the show that Graham Kennedy made famous in Australia in 1977-78.  The first was in 1985 hosted by Daryl Somers.  Pictured: Shane Bourne and two of the show's panelists, Rhonda Burchmore and Marty Fields.  Picture: TV Week, 30 Nov 1996
(Go to for full picture)

Melbourne: 1978, 1981, 1983
Sydney: 1969, 1974, 1985, 1986
Canberra: 1982
Brisbane: 1978
Western Australia: 1972