Monday, 30 March 2009

SBS adds to digital offering

sbs_2008 The managing director of SBS, Shaun Brown, has announced plans to relaunch the network’s digital channel currently known as SBS World News Channel.

Speaking at the Get Ready for Digital conference in Sydney, Mr Brown announced that the new channel, SBS2, will replace the World News Channel on 1 June.

SBS2 will feature a mix of programming content including time-shifted programming from the main SBS channel, more foreign movies, sports and documentaries.  From the outset it appears that it could be an SBS version of ABC2.

Signature sporting events such as the Ashes and the Tour de France could get greater coverage on SBS2 although the Ashes will continue to be shown on the SBS1 channel.

In announcing the new channel, Mr Brown said that some initiatives within the broadcaster had been put on hold in order to allow SBS2 to get up and running prior to getting full Government funding support.  The broadcaster has asked the Government for $70 million a year for the next triennial funding period to support expansion of digital services which could also include further channels SBS3 and SBS4.

OneHD The announcement of the launch of SBS2 comes just days after Network Ten launched its high-definition sports channel One, and Ten chief Grant Blackley has today also flagged the possibility of launching an additional digital channel to sit between Ten and One.

Last week, Nine’s David Gyngell made vague noises about a new digital channel. And the Seven Network is still to lay its cards on the table as to its digital strategy despite chief David Leckie announcing over a month ago that an announcement would be imminent – and despite Seven being historically the only of the commercial networks to embrace the concept of multi-channelling.

And wishful thinking brings hope that today’s conference might shed some light on community television gaining access to the digital spectrum.  So far, only indigenous broadcaster NITV has been given access to broadcast on digital free-to-air, via trial service Digital 44 in Sydney.  The other community broadcasters – TVS Sydney, C31 Melbourne, QCTV Brisbane and C31 Adelaide – are still left wanting for access to digital.

Source: The Australian, The Australian

Related articles:
The wait is over for ONE
Nine comes to the digital party
NITV goes to Sydney
Stop the digital TV discrimination
Free lovin’ among the networks
TenHD becomes OneHD

TV’s gold rush begins early

LogiehandWho was the most popular personality on Australian television in 2008?

The list of nominees for the major award for this year’s TV Week Logie Awards has found itself inadvertently promoted in advance of the awards’ launch party scheduled for today.

The Nine Network yesterday (Sunday) ran advertisements for the special edition of TV Week, due out today, promoting the list of nominees.  The ad was pulled after a couple of screenings but the cat was already out of the bag.

adamhillsSo, in no particular order, these are the nominees for the TV Week Gold Logie:

Rebecca Gibney (Packed To The Rafters)
Kate Ritchie (Home And Away)
Simmone Jade MacKinnon (McLeod’s Daughters)
Ian Smith (Neighbours)
Adam Hills (pictured. Spicks And Specks)
Andrew Denton (Enough Rope With Andrew Denton)
Natalie Bassingthwaighte (So You Think You Can Dance)
Rove McManus (Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, Rove)

The list contains a couple of curious names – particularly Kate Ritchie, whose only TV appearances last year were restricted to a couple of months in soapie Home And Away, and Simmone Jade MacKinnon, a barely familiar name from a series that the Nine Network barely ran last year before hiding the episodes away in an obscure timeslot over summer.  It could be easy to say that nominees such as these add fuel to the long-running speculation that the popular-voted categories are steered by over-zealous network publicity agents.  Though, why would Seven want to push Kate Ritchie’s profile from Home And Away when this year she’s been more famous for Nine’s Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities?  And why would Nine push for MacKinnon given the network’s lack lustre treatment of McLeod’s Daughters last year, which has been cancelled anyway.

Ian Smith is an obviously sentimental nomination from the public given his recent departure from Neighbours after over twenty years although his appearances in the show during 2008 were staggered as he actually left the program as a full-time cast member during 2007.

andrewdenton Adam Hills and Andrew Denton (pictured) presided over two of ABC’s most popular shows of last year.  Both were also nominated for the gold last year.

Former Neighbours star and member of the Rogue Traders, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, is host of So You Think You Can Dance which returned huge ratings for the Ten Network for its debut series last year.

Rove McManus has already won the Gold Logie three times now.  His Sunday night show had mixed but decent ratings results last year.

Rebecca Gibney, as one of the principle cast members of the ratings hit Packed To The Rafters and a long-running favourite with viewers over the years, must be a favourite to take the award this year.

Nominees for the other publicly-voted award categories will be announced at today’s launch function and will appear in this week’s TV Week.

The TV Week Logie Awards will be held in Melbourne on 3 May, hosted by Gretel Killeen and telecast across the Nine Network.

Source: Herald Sun

Sunday, 29 March 2009

1979: March 31-April 6

tvtimes_310379 TV’s Yorkshire terrier
British TV host Michael Parkinson (pictured) has conducted more than 500 interviews with some of the world’s most famous people and created many memorable moments – he once got stuck into Hollywood actor John Wayne over his political persuasions, almost got a thumping by an outraged Muhammed Ali, and had his belly-button tickled by Shirley MacLaine.  Now the famed TV interviewer is coming to Australia to host a series of seven shows for ABC.  Some of Parkinson’s guests set to appear over the coming weeks include Ita Buttrose, Mike Willesee, Don Lane, Bob Hawke, Mary Hardy, Phillip Adams and Kerry Packer

Julie’s back with a song in her heart
Just weeks ago, singer Julie Anthony was yet to know if a recurring throat problem would end her singing career for good.  A trip to Germany to visit throat specialist Dr Oscar Kleinasser resulted in micro-surgery using lasers.  Although Anthony could speak after the operation, she was told not to sing for several weeks.  However when she and her husband and manager, Eddie Natt, were travelling in a cable car up the tallest mountain in Germany, with a misty view of the Alps, Anthony was so awestruck by the view that she spontaneously burst into singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  It was music to her husband’s ears as it was the first time she’d sung since the operation.  The performer is now back in Australia and taking voice exercises in preparation for a TV special to begin production in just over a month.

gwenplumb Flower power
TV Times asked five TV celebrities about their gardens and for their personal gardening tips.  Bernard King’s advice: “The secret of growing plants in pots is to have some empathy with the plants.  You need to think of the places in the world where the plants grow naturally and try to provide them with as near as possible to those conditions.”  Actress Gwen Plumb’s (pictured) garden is a semi-tropical retreat overlooking Sydney’s northern beaches and, she says, “I talk to my plants, apologise to them if I have to prune them, and encourage them to grow.”  Fellow The Young Doctors actor Michael Beecher says that plants take care of themselves: “Apart from watering, you shouldn’t have to spend more than an hour a week in a garden.  That’s plenty of time.”  ABC gardening expert, Sow What host Kevin Heinze, says that the most simple, cheapest and most effective way to add to your stock of plants is to grow from cuttings.  And Cop Shop actor George Mallaby, a keen vegetable grower, is in the process of renovating his new Melbourne home and is working on rejuvenating its very neglected backyard. 

The Sullivans’ actress Susan Hannaford has been busy working on plans for the launch of her new winter fashion collection.  Already a Melbourne boutique has expressed plans to stock her designs for the upcoming season.

Popular British poet Pam Ayres is about to begin her second Australian tour and ABC is expected to screen a new series What’s On Next?, which features Ayres, next month.

Muhammad Ali, in Australia for the TV Week Logie Awards, has recently spent a day reciting poems for a series of commercials for a new throat lozenge.  It is not known how much he was paid for the commercials though it is known that his minimum price for any job or appearance is $100,000.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”I was watching Family Feud and one of the questions was ‘how many animals can be identified to have cloven feet?’  The answer ‘horse’ drew the highest score.  A horse has not got cloven feet – it is a foot or a hoof – not divided into two parts as ox, sheep, etc.  It’s rather hard on the contestants when the answers are wrong.” A. Hannon, NSW.

“I have just been watching The Mike Walsh Show and it has only increased my belief that there is no comparison between him and Steve Raymond.  Raymond may be a good interviewer, but that is where it stops – he asks only the questions to get the answers that he wants to hear, or thinks the viewers want to hear.” L. Skinner, QLD.

“I agree with G. Beaton (TV Times, 24 February 1979) on the lack of show-jumping coverage.  Show-jumping is a popular sport in Australia and it certainly is a difference after having to watch the same old cricket and tennis.” C. Erpel, NSW.

What’s On (March 31-April 6):
Weekend sport includes athletics from Olympic Park, Melbourne, live on ABC, followed by Sydney Rugby League’s Match Of The Day.

HSV7’s Saturday night football replays return for 1979 as the Victorian Football League makes a premature return with a game between Essendon and Carlton, originally scheduled for Round 3, played a week before Round 1 due to conflicts with regards to playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  Meanwhile, Richmond and Geelong compete on Tuesday night’s Australian Football Championships, live from VFL Park.

mikewillesee The first episode of Parkinson In Australia (ABC, Saturday) features Ita Buttrose, Mike Willesee (pictured) and Sir Robert Helpmann.  Guest stars on HSV7’s Saturday Night Live include Ron Barassi, Shirley Strachan, Joan McInnes and Ronnie Burns.

Neil Inall hosts the premiere edition of ABC’s rural affairs program Countrywide, screening on Sunday afternoon, followed by a re-run of the previous week’s Sow What? with Kevin Heinze.

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at crimes of the century, including the Pyjama Girl murder mystery and the kidnapping of Graeme Thorne, the son of a couple who had just won the Opera House Lottery.  The program also looks at the life of Melbourne’s 1920s gangster Squizzy Taylor.

HSV7’s afternoon children’s program Shirl’s Neighbourhood, hosted by Shirley Strachan, makes its debut.

colettemann In The Restless Years (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Tim (Jamie Gleeson) makes a shock announcement regarding his future.  While in Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Franky (Carol Burns) talks Lizzie (Sheila Florance) and Doreen (Colette Mann, pictured) into attempting an escape.

Sunday night movies: Rogue Male (HSV7), The Glass House (GTV9) and Mame (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 31 March 1979.  ABC/ACP

Aggregation: Regional TV’s bold new era

tv_antenna Given a lot of recent discussion about the advent of the digital multi-channelling environment and the implications that it has for viewers, particularly outside the major metropolitan areas, it is interesting to see that two decades ago regional television was facing an earlier journey into a new era.

In the 1980s the Federal Government devised a scheme that would give viewers in regional areas of the populated eastern states the same level of choice as their city counterparts.  Up until then most regional areas in those states were served only by one local commercial channel and ABC while those in the capital cities were receiving ABC, SBS and three commercial channels.

By the mid-‘80s there was a plan drawn up by the Government to give these regional markets access to three commercial channels instead of one.  The plan was known as equalisation, achieved by the aggregation of multiple regional markets into one larger market.  The scheme would also see the rollout of the second national broadcaster, SBS, into regional areas.  At the time it was billed as the biggest change to Australian television since the introduction of colour.

primetimesThis expansion of regional operators into neighbouring markets posed a massive engineering and financial task as new studios, sales offices, news facilities and transmitter sites had to be installed and linked across the expanded market, and additional staff employed.  Studio infrastructure also had to be upgraded to allow the playout of program and advertising content to multiple regions and to allow each region to insert their own content such as local news and advertising.

Sales seminars were held to educate advertisers on the new competitive environment and promotional campaigns were setup to educate viewers on the new channels coming to their areas and how to tune in.

aggregation The first grouping of regional markets to enter into aggregation was in Southern New South Wales and Canberra - twenty years ago this month - where on 31 March 1989, Wollongong-based WIN expanded into Canberra.  While Canberra’s Capital Television reciprocated and expanded into Wollongong.  Prime Television, comprising of local channels in Orange, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, commenced transmission in both Wollongong and Canberra markets. 

The aggregation of the local markets was completed on 30 December 1989 when WIN and Capital expanded into the Orange, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga markets previously served only by Prime.

With this new competitive environment between WIN, Prime and Capital each of them were required to enter into an affiliate agreement with a metropolitan network for the supply of programs.  Prime had established ties with the Seven Network prior to aggregation, while WIN had aligned to the Nine Network.  Capital Television had a direct link to the Ten Network as it was owned by businessman Kerry Stokes who also owned NEW10 Perth and ADS10 Adelaide.

This new competitive situation also saw the regional stations expand their local news services.  Capital Television expanded its one-hour Canberra-based news service to include Wollongong, while WIN and Prime set up Canberra news services.  However the financial realities of these expansions eventually hit home and stations found themselves having to review or wind back some of their expansions. 

capital_wollongongThe implementation of aggregation saw viewers in these local areas maintain some loyalty to their former ‘solus’ broadcaster even though this was at odds with network ratings in the capital cities.  For instance, Capital Television maintained a strong ratings presence in Canberra in the period following aggregation even though its parent network, Ten, was rating a distant third in the metropolitan markets.  This loyalty was also due in part to the ‘solus’ broadcaster usually staying on the traditional VHF band while the new stations were utilising the newer UHF band which required some upgrading of television antennas and receivers.  Although in Wollongong there was an exception as the local incumbent, WIN, and national broadcaster ABC were forced to vacate their local broadcast frequencies of channels 4 and 5A respectively, and move to the UHF band.  This was due to the phasing out of television services from VHF Band II to make room for the growth of FM radio services which would use the same frequency range.

win_1989 But as time went on viewers’ habits gradually began to fall into line with general trends in the capital cities although when the first ratings survey of the Southern NSW/ACT aggregated market was released in early 1990, Prime was the leader followed by WIN and Capital.  This was in contrast to the metropolitan markets where Nine dominated ahead of Seven.

More on aggregation at TelevisionAU

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The wait is over tonight for ONE

onehd_howtowatch Network Ten’s new 24-hour all-sports digital channel OneHD launches tonight (Thursday 26 March) at 7.00pm in Melbourne and 7.30pm in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

After the Welcome To One special, the first event to be broadcast on OneHD in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth will be tonight’s opening round AFL clash between Richmond and Carlton from the MCG. The sell-out game has prompted Ten to re-schedule the Melbourne broadcast to commence live-to-air at 7.30pm instead of delayed at 8.00pm. The Swimming Australia SKINS event will be the first event aired on OneHD in Sydney and Brisbane from 8.00pm.

OneHD can be found on channel 1 on high-definition tuners in those cities. The channel is also simulcast in standard-definition on digital channel 12.

Viewers in regional areas and smaller capital cities Hobart, Darwin and Canberra will unfortunately have to wait for the channel to be made available through local affiliates such as Southern Cross Ten, Tasmanian Digital Television and Darwin Digital Television. Apparently negotiations are still in progress for these outlets to carry OneHD.

OneHD will also be available via Foxtel in both high-definition and standard-definition formats.
Picture: OneHD

WIN’s ten years out west

winwa_launch It is now ten years since regional network WIN spread to Western Australia.  The station was originally due to launch on Friday 26 March 1999 but at the last minute decided to begin broadcasting a day earlier to broadcast news bulletins with particular attention to Cyclone Vance that had swept across the state just days before.

WIN paid around $36 million for the licence to operate a statewide television service in competition with long-time incumbent Golden West Network (GWN), followed by around $14 million in setup costs – compared to the $70 million that Prime Television paid to gain control of GWN from Kerry Stokes.

Despite some confusion over possible network affiliations in the early days of planning, WIN did launch with affiliation to both Nine and Ten networks.  So while WA viewers could see programs such as Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Friends, The Footy Show, Getaway, Water Rats, Sunday, A Current Affair, Today and 60 Minutes from the Nine Network on WIN, they could also see Neighbours and imported programs such as The X Files, Melrose Place, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Simpsons, NYPD Blue and The Nanny from Network Ten.

WIN’s West Australian Opening Night schedule: 26 March 1999:
(not taking into account the last minute change to broadcast some programming the previous day) 5.30pm Ten News, 6.30 A Current Affair, 7pm WIN Television Western Australia Official Launch, 7.30 Friends, 8pm The Nanny, 8.30 Movie: Casino, 11.40 Nightline, 12.10 Swimming: Australian Championship, 1.40am Rugby: Melbourne Storm vs Canterbury, 3.50 The Late Show, 4.50 Outer Bounds, 5am Wild West Cowboys Of Moo Mesa, 5.30 Zorro.
Source: The West Australian, 26 March 1999.

WIN launched in Western Australia with coverage of approximately 85 per cent of the state’s regional population through terrestrial transmitters, on both VHF and UHF, as well as satellite transmission via the Optus B3 satellite.

The dual affiliation status of WIN was not unique in Australia but it did lead to some bold moves both on and off screen.  First, WIN set up its WA headquarters at the studios of Perth’s NEW10 apparently as a snub towards the company’s traditional affiliate partner the Nine Network.  The move was rumoured to be in response to some hostilities between WIN owner Bruce Gordon and Sunraysia Television, owner of STW9 Perth. 

winwa_news At the time of its launch, WIN also elected to relay Perth’s Ten News across Western Australia as at the time it was Perth’s second-highest rating news service behind Seven Nightly News.  WIN also chose Ten News because it featured former GWN presenter Christine Morrissey (pictured, with Ten News colleague Greg Pearce), which WIN hoped would give it some advantage in the regional market.  WIN decided to screen Ten News on delay at 5.30pm, leading into A Current Affair from Nine at 6.30pm.  GWN, meanwhile, had cancelled its one-hour Bunbury-based news hour and replaced it with Golden West News at 5.30pm followed by a relay of Seven Nightly News and Today Tonight from Perth. 

In 2007, WIN Corporation finally gained control of STW9 Perth after a lengthy battle with Sunraysia.  Following the takeover, WIN then moved its regional WA operations from NEW10’s studios to STW9, and replaced the relay of Ten News with National Nine News from Perth.  WIN has also since launched a regional news service, with reporters based around the state, to compete with incumbent GWN News.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Peter Wherrett

peterwherrett Former ABC television presenter Peter Wherrett (pictured) has died at the age of 72.

Born in 1936 and raised in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, Wherrett later revealed in the biography Desirelines, written with his brother Richard, that he had a troubled childhood with an alcoholic father.

A motoring enthusiast from a young age, Wherrett went on to run a successful driving school, compete in the famous Bathurst 1000 motor race, and branched into the media as a technical editor for Racing Car News as well as motoring journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald and reviewer for Wheels magazine.

In the early ‘70s Wherrett was the frontman for the popular ABC motoring series, Torque, that ran for eight years.  He then followed that up in 1978 with Marque, a top-selling book release and a ten-part series for ABC that extensively explored the history of the motor industry over the previous 100 years.

A later series, Balance Of Power produced in association with Andy Lloyd James in the 1980s, explored the future of the industry and possible alternative energy sources as the world was beginning to consider the effects of prolonged environmental damage.

Leaving ABC in the ‘80s, Wherrett’s life took a downturn after a drink driving offence led to losing his driving licence and later his job at the Nine Network and at radio 2GB.  A second offence led to him leaving Sydney, moving to North Queensland,  where he ended up producing television commercials.

After his third marriage ended in 2006, Wherrett moved to Lake Macquarie in New South Wales.

Peter Wherrett is survived by two children from his first marriage - son Stephen and daughter Jane - and six grandchildren.

Source: ABC, Wikipedia

Nine comes to the digital party

davidgyngellSince 2006, the commercial networks have all known that from 1 January 2009 they would be allowed to open an additional channel on the digital platform. 

Despite the three-year advance notice, Nine Network chief David Gyngell has only now made a statement, of sorts, that they will be launching a digital-only channel to complement its existing standard and high-definition channels.

Speaking to The Australian newspaper, Gyngell would only say that Nine’s additional channel would comprise ‘general entertainment’ and would not be a time-shift channel as had earlier been speculated.

Industry speculation indicates that the new channel may be a cross between pay-TV channels TV1, which comprises largely retro programming, and the more contemporary FOX8

9_logo_2008 The network is also negotiating the renewal of its programming ties to the Warner Bros studios in the United States which currently supplies hit programs to the network such as Two And A Half Men, Without A Trace and Cold Case, which could also indicate the tone of the new channel.  Though it is also suggested that the Seven Network may also be mounting a counter bid for the Warner contract.

Although the Gyngell claims about a new channel are promising and long overdue, they don’t really deliver anything of substance.  There is no announcement of a name for the channel, a possible launch date – apart from “the second half of the year” – or more specific programming details other than “general entertainment.”  In fact, Gyngell’s comments seem remarkably as vague as those of rival Seven chief David Leckie who, barely a month ago, made statements that Seven was well on the way to planning additional digital channels – just not well enough to unveil a name for the channel, any sort of programming strategy or a launch date, even now a month later.

OneHDMeanwhile, Ten has avoided playing smoke-and-mirrors and making grand statements with little substance, and has actually got on with the job of delivering additional digital content - being just days away from launching their new 24-hour high-definition all-sports channel, OneHD, in the major capital cities this Thursday.

Source: The Australian, NineMSN
Picture: SMH

Sunday, 22 March 2009

More episodes of Number 96 to DVD

number96_dorrieherb The blog Have Phaser Will Travel, authored by Number 96 fan and historian Ian McLean, tells us that there will be a third DVD release of the 1970s hit series.

Like the show’s second DVD release from last year, the new release will feature 32 episodes in all their ‘70s colourful glory – picking up from where the second DVD left off at episode 680, where the apartment block was recovering from the ‘Pantyhose Strangler’ murders that had the apartment building’s residents on edge for weeks before the culprit later came to a sticky end.

Expect to see Number 96’s usual inhabitants, including Dorrie and Herb Evans (Pat McDonald and Ron Shand, pictured), and a few faces not seen in the last batch of episodes such as Amanda von Pappenburg (Carol Raye), Trixie O’Toole (Jan Adele) and Maggie Cameron (Bettina Welch).

number96_title The episodes to feature now originally aired on the 0-10 Network between January and March 1975.  All were produced in colour but not all were originally broadcast in colour as Australian TV was still largely in black and white, with only selected programs allowed to appear in colour during the testing phase leading up to ‘C-Day’ (1 March 1975) when all TV stations were allowed full-scale colour transmission.

No news yet as to when the new DVD, from Umbrella Entertainment, will hit the stores.

Source: Have Phaser Will Travel

Saturday, 21 March 2009

1979: March 24-30

tvtimes_240379Cover: Tom Baker (Doctor Who) 

Who will play Dame Nellie?
Several Australian actresses are hoping for the lead role in the Grundy Organisation’s proposed eight-part mini-series on the life of Australia’s first great opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.  The mini-series, to be made on location in Australia, United States, United Kingdom and Europe, will be directed by Bruce Beresford.  With a budget of $2 million for eight episodes, it is set to become Australia’s most expensive TV drama to date.

Two more stars to quit
Following the announcement that Lorraine Bayly is planning to leave The Sullivans, two more TV actresses have also quit their respective roles.  Cop Shop’s Rowena Wallace is due to finish up in the series in the next four months but will continue to be seen on screen until the end of the year.  Carol Burns, who plays lesbian bikie Franky Doyle in the new hit series Prisoner, will appear in the series until around August.  While Bayly is leaving her role to travel overseas, the other two are leaving to avoid typecasting.  “It’s up to the actress to extend her horizons,” Burns told TV Times.

ytt_1979 Having a wonderful time
Before Young Talent Time returned to screens earlier this year, host Johnny Young and the team were busy taping an outdoor special for the 0-10 Network.  The one-off special features the Young Talent Team performing songs on location at various tourist spots around Melbourne including St Kilda Beach, Royal Melbourne Zoo, Captain Cook’s Cottage and the Yarra River.  Following the Melbourne-based special, the team hope to do similar programs based in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Hobart and Perth.

The cast of the stage play Bedroom Farce – including Belinda Giblin, Pat McDonald, Willie Fennell and Barry Creyton – have agreed to appear on HSV7’s upcoming Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Former Division Four actor Ted Hamilton is now a restaurateur with an establishment in Los Angeles that is becoming popular with the stars.

Singer Judy Jacques, a long-time favourite on TV in shows including In Melbourne Tonight, Dig We Must and Sounds Like Us, has returned to television after six years with a guest appearance on ATV0’s Peter Couchman Tonight, and more appearances are planned.

darylossieViewpoint: Letters to the Editor
“It’s great to see good entertainment back on TV with Hey Hey It’s Saturday. Daryl Somers and Ossie Ostrich (pictured) are a wonderful comedy team and they are funny with adults and children.  I wish they did not have what few cartoons they have on their three-hour show and have time filled with their beaut comedy.” G. Barnard, NSW

”Regarding ABC’s classic movies.  Cheers!  It’s high time we had something worth watching.  But not at the ridiculous time of 10pm and later – 8.30 or 9pm is quite late enough to start.” M Swan and G Slade, NSW.

“What a wonderful program The Curiosity Show is.   My friend and I (16 and 15 respectively) never fail to watch, as there is always at least one segment which appeals to all ages.  On the whole it’s far better, to my mind, than This Week Has Seven Days, What In The World or similar shows.” G. Coleman, TAS.

TCN9 Sydney should bring back Bobby Limb’s Sound Of Music.  When Bobby had his Sound Of Music at St George League’s Club in Sydney it was the most successful season that club had had for a long time.  People are still talking about the show.” B. Denniss.  NSW.

What’s On (March 24-30):
Weekend sport includes Australia versus Pakistan in the cricket Second Test, live from Perth on ABCATV0 has highlights of the Grand Master’s Tennis Championship from Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion.  And HSV7 on Sunday afternoon has Claremont versus Melbourne in the Australian Football Championships.

HSV7’s Penthouse is now Saturday Night Live with Ernie Sigley and new co-host Belinda Leigh.  This week’s guests include Betty Cuthbert, Bob Maumill and Sid Paterson.  Also direct coverage of harness racing from Moonee Valley and Tattslotto draw 340.

Maggie Millar and Peter Finlay are guest stars in Cop Shop (HSV7, Monday and Thursday) where a receptionist pleads confusion in an attempt to cover-up a $37,000 theft.  While Valerie (Joanna Lockwood) finds that getting a permanent job involves a lot more than she had expected.

The Paul Hogan Show (GTV9, Thursday) investigates the strange Australian ritual of BYO barbeques, while Paul Hogan takes a look at World Series Bowls.  Guest stars include the Little River Band, Karen Pini and Sue McIntosh.

Friday night sees GTV9 cross to Perth for live coverage of the 1979 Australian Pacing Derby, hosted by Garry Carvolth.

Sunday night movies: No Sex Please, We’re British (HSV7), The Legend Of Hell House (GTV9).  ATV0 presents the mini-series The Pirate on Sunday and Monday nights.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 24 March 1979.  ABC/ACP

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Queensland's 50 years of news

qtq9_1959 The year 2009 marks a number of significant anniversaries for Australian television.  One of them is the fiftieth anniversary of TV in Queensland - as Brisbane channels QTQ9, BTQ7 and ABQ2 all begun transmission during the second half of 1959.

QTQ9 was the first station to air in the Sunshine State, opening on 16 August 1959 and broadcasting from studios on top of Brisbane's Mount Coot-tha, which would become home to the city's three commercial TV stations. 

qtq9_1960sThe first person to appear on screen on QTQ was Hugh Cornish, who went on to become a presenter and newsreader for the new station, later moving on to become the general manager.

Later newsreaders at QTQ9 included former ABC newsreader Don Seccombe - who would lead QTQ9's news through the '60s, '70s and early '80s - Brian Cahill, Paul Griffin, Mike London, Rob Readings and Bruce PaigeMelody Iliffe was possibly Australia's first female television newsreader, working alongside Seccombe for several years in the mid-1960s before female newsreaders became the norm on television, and led the way for others including Robin Parkin, Jillian Whiting, Heather Foord and Melissa Downes.

Throughout the 1970s to early-‘80s, QTQ9’s news was the only commercial television bulletin from Brisbane to be relayed through regional Queensland’s various local broadcasters*.  And since aggregation arrived in regional Queensland in 1990, QTQ9's news has again been beamed statewide through affiliate broadcaster WIN.  As well as the major 6.00pm bulletin QTQ9 also produces the only local news service for the Gold Coast and in Brisbane presents the long-running news magazine program Extra, which began back in 1992.

9_1980s This Saturday night, as well as covering the Queensland election, QTQ9 will present a tribute to 50 years of television news - highlighting some of Queensland's people and events that have made headlines locally and around the world: bushfires, floods, cyclones, murders, Royal tours, the Fitzgerald inquiry, the controversial Joh Bjelke-Petersen, former fish-and-chip shop owner Pauline Hanson, beauty student Schapelle Corby, and many more...

50 Years Of Nine For News.  Saturday 21 March, 6.30pm.  QTQ9 Brisbane/WIN Queensland.

YouTube: aussiebeachut

* Acknowledgement to aussiebeachut for clarification on QTQ9’s news being relayed to regional Queensland.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Hitting the G-Code spot!

gcode Since the advent of the home video cassette recorder it had been a running joke that it was a mammoth, if not perplexing, task for anyone - or at least, anyone over the age of puberty - to attempt to pre-program the VCR to tape programs in advance.  No two VCR models were the same and while many had no problems, there were just as many who either gave up in frustration or were constantly presented with programs that were not the ones they had hoped to record.  (Hands up anyone who has stumbled in setting "AM" instead of "PM" when setting the VCR, or had problems converting to 24-hour time?)

But a VCR revolution was coming to solve all our problems in the form of G-Codes.  An invention of the Gemstar Corporation, then publishers of America's TV Guide magazine, the G-Code was a numerical code assigned to every listed television program which, when entered into a G-Code device, would instruct the VCR to record the program at its scheduled time.

The G-Code had been adopted in TV listings in the United States (where it was known as VCR Plus), Asia, Europe and New Zealand and, fifteen years ago this week, it made its debut in Australia.

tvweek_gcode TV Week was the first Australian publication to promote the G-Code system and incorporate the numerical codes into their listings.  It was not the first time the magazine had tried to publish a VCR coding system.  Some years earlier the magazine had published barcodes that could be read by certain VCR remote controls to pre-program the recorder.  However, the number of programs that were featured with barcodes in the magazine were extremely limited and only a certain brand of VCR was compatible - whereas G-Code was in-built into a range of VCR models and even those that didn't have the feature could use G-Code by purchasing a handheld unit (pictured, above) that would communicate the codes to the VCR.

So now the problem of programming the VCR was, according to G-Code, a thing of the past.  And while the G-Codes continue to be published in TV Week and virtually every other major TV listing in the country, the problem now appears to be our TV networks and their undying inability to be able to stick to what is published in the TV guides!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

1979: March 17-23

tvtimes_170379 Julie Anthony's singing the blues away
This week, the Seven Network will screen The Julie Anthony Special, a one-hour production taped late last year on the Gold Coast.  But since the special was taped, the former South Australian farm girl who grew up to charm London audiences in the stage production of Irene, has lost her voice and been ordered by doctors not to sing at all until the problem has been properly diagnosed and, hopefully, cured.  Anthony, and her husband and manager Eddie Natt, have since travelled to Germany to consult a throat specialist with the hope that laser surgery can cure the recurring voice problems that also caused her to drop out of Irene ahead of schedule in 1977.  In the operation is a success then Anthony hopes to be able to do another TV special.

therestlessyrs The Restless Years together
It's the marriage that fans of The Restless Years have waited over a year for.  Dr Bruce Russell (Malcolm Thompson) has married Alison Clark (Julieanne Newbould) in a formal church wedding followed by a reception attended by around 40 guests.  The on-screen wedding was performed by a real-life Anglican priest, Reverend R W Long, at his church of St Martin's in the Sydney suburb of Killara. 

davidjohnston David switches channels in comeback bid
Two years after "retiring" from the newsroom at Melbourne's HSV7, David Johnston (pictured)  is making a comeback to journalism as the host of ABC's new Victorian-based current affairs program, Statewide.  Although Johnston has continued to co-host HSV7's children's magazine program This Week Has Seven Days, in the two years since leaving Seven National News, Johnston has been made various offers to join rival channels but rejected them as "I wasn't that interested.  I wanted a complete change."  The offer to present Statewide came several months ago, but at the time Johnston was reluctant to sever all ties with HSV7:  "Then I learnt This Week Has Seven Days was about to fold, so I accepted the ABC offer."  Since announcing his new role as host of Statewide, HSV7 has given a reprieve to This Week Has Seven Days and it will continue with Johnston's former co-host Honor Walters.

Exit Lorraine, enter Ilona
Former English and New Zealand actress Ilona Rodgers has joined the cast of The Sullivans and, despite denials from producer Hector Crawford, it is suggested that her role of Kate Meredith will ultimately replace that of Grace Sullivan (Lorraine Bayly) as the show's central character.   Bayly is set to leave the series in the next few weeks but will continue to be seen on screen until late in the year.  Hector Crawford told TV Times: "Ilona has a very important role.  She is an enormously competent actress.  We don't know how far the role will go until we knew whether... when... Grace will return."  Having built up a huge following as Grace Sullivan, Bayly is said to be keen to pursue acting opportunities overseas.

A friendly tennis match between the cast of Prisoner and members of the news team at rival HSV7 took an unfortunate turn when actress Kerry Armstrong (pictured) fell and tore two tendons in her leg.  The former TV weathergirl, who plays inmate Lyn Warner in the new 0-10 Network series, is now on crutches which appears timely given that a script for an upcoming episode has Warner suffer an accident that also leaves her on crutches.

Diane Craig, actress wife of Garry McDonald (Norman Gunston), is currently appearing on the Nine Network's The Sullivans but is about to change camps to an ongoing role in Seven's Cop Shop.

John Proper, producer of GTV9's New Faces, has just faced the cameras in a guest role as a drunken Irishman, Paddy Stevenson, for Cop Shop.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"I am writing to complain that these days there are no horror movies on TV." N. Kinghorne, NSW.

"I was extremely thrilled to learn of the return of Doctor Who, after a long-awaited and promised return.  But why at 6.30pm? Again, ABC has committed Doctor Who to this timeslot.  As before, we will be unable to view the so-called "A"-rated versions because of this timeslot.  The past Doctor Who adventures have all been enjoyable, but I am sick and tired of having stories shown cut, and in "bits and pieces" or just not having them at all." M. Kavazos, NSW.

"On the day John Dease died, Sydney TCN9 newsreader Brian Henderson solemnly informed viewers that later in the news there would be tributes to this great broadcaster and actor.  I sat there waiting, expecting that we would hear from personalities that knew him as a friend and professional colleague.  But had Nine gone to the trouble of gathering tributes from these people?  No, they took the el cheapo way out and ran a bit of the movie Newsfront, in which Dease appeared.  And I'd seen the movie anyway." M. Cook, NSW.

What's On (March 17-23):
Saturday afternoon sport includes ATV0's coverage of Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day, live from Flemington and hosted by Peter Hanrahan with race caller Clem DimseyHSV7 has tennis with the 1979 Simpson Satellite Circuit from Kooyong in Melbourne.  While ABC has a repeat of the highlights of the 1978 Coca-Cola Swimming Championships.

In This Week Has Seven Days (HSV7, Saturday afternoon), snake expert Frits Maaten is in the studio with poisonous Tiger, Copper, Adder and Black snakes.  He also shows harmless varieties and how to correctly apply a tourniquet.

Children's programs on weekday afternoons are dominated by overseas titles, including Land Of The Lost, Battle Of The Planets, Scooby Doo, Flipper, Catweazle and Sesame Street, though ABC has the perennial Play School and GTV9 has Rory O'Donohue hosting a children's game show, Razzle Dazzle.

denisedrysdale This week's guests on Peter Couchman Tonight (ATV0, weeknights) include Denise Drysdale (pictured), Eddie Charlton, Helen Noonan, Matt Flinders, Pamela Gibbons and Jimmy Hannan.

Friday night sees the debut of Statewide, a local current affairs program hosted by David Johnston, as the lead-in to ABC's 7pm news.

This week's Australian Football Championships matches (HSV7) are Footscray versus Tasmania, and South Melbourne versus South Fremantle.

Sunday night movies: Killer On Board (HSV7), Steptoe And Son Ride Again (GTV9), McQ (ATV0).

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

Louie the footy TV legend

lourichards Despite retiring from the game of Australian rules in the 1950s, former Collingwood premiership captain Lou Richards (pictured) has become, unofficially at least, a legend of the game.

Last week, Richards' former football club put out a call to the AFL Commission to have his legend status officially recognised in the league's Hall of Fame despite the fact that statistically he is ineligible.

But today, 15 March, is Richards' 86th birthday and The Age's Real Footy website today pays tribute to a larger-than-life character of the game who has continued to entertain fans in covering the game for newspapers, radio and television since the 1950s.

As a columnist for The Sun newspaper he was nicknamed 'Louie the Lip' and he went on to cover the then Victorian Football League for radio 3XY, followed by 3DB and then on television at HSV7.  Richards' association with Seven would last almost thirty years through his football commentary as well as his colourful contributions to the long-running World Of Sport (1959-87) and the late-night favourite League Teams.  Richards, and his on-air sparring partner Jack Dyer, also appeared in a comic cameo on drama series Skyways.  When HSV7 lost the rights to cover VFL at the end of the 1986 season, and the station was taken over by Sydney interests in 1987, Richards' media career took an unexpected turn when he later turned up at rival channel GTV9, even though the channel had no broadcast rights to the VFL.

Nine put Richards to work presenting a football segment on National Nine News as well as co-hosting the Sunday edition of Wide World Of Sports with Max Walker, and later the Sunday edition of The Footy Show which was seen as a throwback to the halcyon days of World Of Sport with frank discussion of Australian rules and studio segments including the handball competition.

Recent years have seen Richards' health deteriorate and, as a result, his involvement in The Footy Show being cut back to cameo appearances, although he continued to present the handball competition as a pre-recorded segment.  But Nine has decided that it is time for "Louie The Lip" to formally retire from the program but, should he be able to, will be welcome to make guest appearances.  And in a legacy to "Louie", the program will continue to name the handball competition in his honour and the program's player of the year will still be awarded the Lou Richards Medal.

Source: Real Footy
Main picture: The Age

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Neighbours star quit fame for family

anniejones The previous blog entry highlighted some of the pressures faced by young stars going into soap operas and the sudden fame it brings.

Some of these actors do indeed go onto bigger things - names like Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce, Jason Donovan, Craig McLachlan and Natalie Imbruglia all got their big break in soaps before international stardom called.  But while those names went on with their careers, one of their colleagues made a decision to take a step back from acting to focus on family.

Annie Jones (pictured) started in Neighbours as the studious Jane Harris - or as she was nicknamed 'Plain Jane Superbrain' - a role which she continued for three years at the height of Neighbours' popularity in the '80s and won a TV Week Logie for most popular actress in 1989.  After leaving the soap, Jones went on to appear in the sitcom Newlyweds, mini-series Jackaroo and dramas Snowy, Bony, Embassy and even Chances.  It seemed inevitable that Jones would follow her former Neighbours cast-mates overseas.

But in 1994 the 27-year-old actress got the heart-breaking news that her mother was suffering Alzheimer's and made the decision that family was more important than fame:

"I couldn’t move because I had to be able to see Mum.  I have no regrets about turning down work during that time. Mum and Dad were more important.

"This journey with Mum has definitely changed me. A lot of things seem to be very shallow to me these days.  I’ve realised empathy is the key to everything.  If we could all put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, just for a little while, I think we’d all look after each other a lot more."

Jones, now 42, is now a campaigner for Alzheimer's Australia Victoria, an organisation providing support and raising funds to help people living with the disease and their families.

Source: Digital Spy 
Picture: TV Week, 31 December 1988

1979: March 10-16

tvtimes_100379Instant stardom, and how they handle it
With TV soap operas turning young, unknown actors into national celebrities overnight, it is easy for these young stars to let their newfound fame get to their head.   But some of these young actors - including The Restless Years' Victoria Nicolls, Julieanne Newbould and Michael Smith (pictured) - do manage to get through the heady period of stardom to emerge as proven talents.  Nicolls acknowledged the support and guidance of experienced performers such as colleague June Salter: "If you ask her something, she's so helpful.  She made me aware of camera techniques.  Helped with scenes, comedy - she has such wonderful comic timing."  Even though she grew up in showbusiness, Newbould still found the sudden overnight fame to be a shock: "For five years I'd done things like Matlock Police and Division Four.  People would say 'Oh, I saw you on TV last night,' but nothing like this.  People come up and cuddle me.  Big Italian mamas pinch my cheeks.  Some want you to come home and marry their sons."  Smith said that family and friends helped keep him down to earth: "They'd say 'Aw, shut up, we don't want to hear about The Restless Years anymore!'  Smith has also had the discipline of learning music from his mother, a piano teacher, and studying acting at Sydney's Ensemble Theatre under Hayes Gordon.  Producer of The Restless Years, Don Battye, said with established actors on the series such as June Salter, John Hamblin and Noel Trevarthen, they do offer help to the younger stars but, "of course with some kids you can't give them advice.  The only way they're going to learn is to get into trouble and learn from experience."

peterwherrett On your Marque!
Peter Wherrett's documentary series, Marque: 100 Years Of Motoring, has taken over eighteen months and visits to eight countries to complete.  The new series, beginning this week on ABC, looks at the development of the motor car as well as the industry's future.  "I'm quite confident that cars as we know them will be around until well into the next century," Wherrett (pictured) told TV Times.  "The industry is already planning the cars we will be driving then." 

karenpini Nude pin-up star on Hogan show
Former Miss World finalist and magazine centrefold Karen Pini (pictured) is one of the girls chosen for the first Paul Hogan show for 1979.  Pini, who is also soon to appear in The Young Doctors, is a replacement for Delvene Delaney who has left the show as she and husband, producer John Cornell, are expecting their first baby. 

It doesn't 'ad' up for Johnny
Johnny Farnham isn't too happy that he keeps hearing what sounds like himself doing commercials that he doesn't remember doing.  Farnham's producer Danny Finley said: "The situation is very embarrassing.  We have done a commercial for a bank.  We tried to make it very selective by doing only one.  Now we start hearing other commercials which sound like John and I suppose they sound that way to other people."  When asked if he thought the situation might be deliberate, Finley replied: "It is some coincidence!"

Mike McCarthy, host of ATV0's Early Bird Show, and his wife Caroline have just welcomed the arrival of twins, Ryan and Bridie.  The couple already have three other children, twins Damien and Emily, 8, and Benjamin, 6.

Production has started on a new ABC drama series, based on Kylie Tennant's novel, Ride On Stranger.  The series features Liddy Clark, Warwick Sims (Against The Wind), Michael Aitkens (The Truckies) and Noni Hazelhurst (The Sullivans). 

British actor Harry Corbett is to star in the new ABC children's series Earth Patrol.  The new series, being produced as part of the International Year Of The Child, will also star actor Gus Mercurio.  Meanwhile, producers are on the hunt for a 16 to 18-year-old boy to feature in the series.  Already cast in the series are 11-year-old twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeney and Darren Ormsby, 12.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"All you people harping on the recent preponderance of sport on our TV - has it ever occurred to you that you don't have to watch it?  Can't you make your own entertainment?  Go for a walk instead of sitting passively in front of a TV set and waiting to be entertained."  M. Ryan, NSW.

"Three cheers for TEN10 Sydney for the new mini-series they have just screened on Friday nights.  I am talking about Sugartime, produced in the US and starring Barbi Benton and Didi Carr.  It is a refreshing change from the glamour drivel of Charlie's Angels, where all the pretty faces can do is hurtle 16-stone gangsters across rooms and run down Lincoln Continentals with nothing but their tricycles."  D. Ehrlich, NSW.

"Come on all you sports lovers, get up on your hind legs and be counted, otherwise the vocal minority may succeed by catching TV channel policymakers' ears and curtailing some of our precious sports telecasts."  A. Hartwig, QLD.

What's On (March 10-16):
Saturday afternoon sport includes Australia versus Pakistan in First Test cricket on ABC, live from Melbourne.  HSV7 has the Moomba Masters International Waterski Tournament from the Yarra River.  ATV0 goes to the races at Flemington with Newmarket Stakes Day, hosted by Michael Schildberger and racecaller Clem Dimsey.

Sunday afternoon on HSV7 includes a one-hour live telecast of Music For The People from the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.  Hosted by Dan Webb, the telecast includes the Australian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hector Crawford.

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at Australian humour from the early days of Dad and Dave, Roy Rene and George Wallace through to current-day performers Paul Hogan, Barry Humphries, Garry McDonald and Ron Shand.

johngregg ABC starts its new 7.30pm line-up this week with new series of Are You Being Served? and George And Mildred, magazine program Holiday With Bill Peach, documentary series Marque: 100 Years Of Motoring, and on Friday night, The Two Ronnies.  ABC also launches new drama at 8.30pm with The Oracle on Monday night, starring John Gregg (pictured), Pamela Gibbons, Julie Hamilton and Danny Adcock, and Golden Soak on Tuesday, with Ray Barrett, Ruth Cracknell and Bill Hunter.

Friday night is highlighted by GTV9's presentation of the 1979 TV Week Logie Awards, hosted by Bert Newton and telecast live from the Hilton Hotel in Melbourne.  Special overseas guests include Robin Williams (Mork And Mindy), Susan Seaforth and Bill Hayes (Days Of Our Lives), Lauren Tewes (The Love Boat), Yootha Joyce and Brian Murphy (George And Mildred) and championship boxer Muhammad Ali.  Meanwhile, HSV7 has St Kilda versus Fremantle in the Australian Football Championships.

Sunday night movies are Mad Dog Morgan (HSV7), The Users (GTV9) and Funny Lady (ATV0).

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

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Sgt. Gilroy on bedroom patrol

acp_1982 As Sargeant Frank Gilroy in A Country Practice, Brian Wenzel (pictured, centre) was the face of law and order in the quiet town of Wandin Valley for over a decade.

Now, fifteen years later, 80-year-old Wenzel is back on TV but as a cop of a different kind - as "bedroom police chief" in a new commercial for sexual dysfunction clinic Advanced Medical Institute.

The bedroom chief arrives to save the day when a newlywed wife complains of her husband "speeding in the sack."

What would Esme Watson (Joyce Jacobs) have thought??


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Amazing trivia!

philkeoghan New Zealander Phil Keoghan was a TV presenter in his home country before heading to the United States where he has since fronted thirteen series of award-winning reality show The Amazing Race (a fourteenth series is now in progress).  But it seems that Keoghan (pictured) made his own pit-stop on Australian TV as a reporter on technology program The Big Byte in 1994.

The Big Byte, a joint production between SBS, New Zealand's TVNZ and Asian Star TV, was hosted by Basia Bonkowski, a familiar face at SBS since the early '80s.  Keoghan (pictured) and SBS' Meave O'Meara filed reports for the program focusing on the Asia-Pacific and North American regions.  Former Beyond 2000 reporter Simon Nasht reported from Europe and the United Kingdom.  Producer for The Big Byte was former Beyond 2000 producer Phil Gerlach.

According to The Big Byte's publicity blurb:

The 26-part series will be fun, fast moving and accessible family television, designed to guide the novice and update the enthusiast on the uses and misuses of personal computers, fax machines, cellular telephones and the dizzying array of hardware and software in the context of the worldwide shift to digital information.

The Big Byte aired on SBS between March and October 1994.

1979: March 3-9

tvtimes_030379 Tickling the Peter!
Cop Shop's Peter Adams hasn't always been cast in the macho roles he has become familiar for.  In fact, he made his acting debut playing a chubby woman in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta at age 10.  But in his adult career, mostly in the theatre, New Zealand-born Adams (pictured, with co-star Joanna Lockwood) has also had a variety of roles - including playing an owl in a panto production of Robin Hood.  Before scoring the role of "JJ" Johnson in Cop Shop, Adams' only regular TV roles were in ABC's Australia A To Z and as a newspaper reporter in Number 96.  Although a guest appearance in Division Four with Judy Morris in 1970 apparently has the unusual distinction of being the first nude bedroom scene on Australian TV.

billstalker The Kiwi Invasion
Australian television is about to be invaded by New Zealand actors.  Bill Stalker (pictured), one of New Zealand's most versatile stage and TV actors, is coming to Australia for a role in the new Seven Network series Skyways.  The actor had a popular following in New Zealand playing a mechanic in the long-running local soap Close To Home.  Fellow Kiwi actor Sam Neill has already had roles in two Australian films, My Brilliant Career and The Journalist, and will be starting work soon on The Sullivans, appearing on screen around mid-year.

victorianicolls 'Sorry about that, love!'
A TV Times photo shoot featuring tennis star John Newcombe and 0-10 Network personalities Victoria Nicolls (pictured), Lenore Smith and Steve Raymond turned sour.  Nicolls, "only a social tennis player", took a fall when trying to return a hit from Smith.  Instead of returning to the set of The Restless Years for taping a wedding episode, the actress was taken to the local hospital.  No broken bones were found but she did have to keep her arm in a sling and managed to get to the postponed taping of the wedding episode later that day.

Actors John Ewart and Serge Lazareff are to join the cast of The Young Doctors, and there are plans for the Australian World Series Cricket team to also make a guest appearance next year.  Executive producer Alan Coleman is keen to have players such as Dennis Lillee come in to the hospital for treatment and end the guest stint with an appearance by the entire Australian team.

Former Young Talent Time regular Debbie Byrne and husband Dave Dudley are expecting their first child in July.  Byrne, who appeared in ABC's The Saturday Show last year, is also to feature in ABC's upcoming variety series Follies later in the year.

It has taken two years of planning, but Days Of Our Lives stars Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth are coming to Australia for a series of club appearances starting in Brisbane and touring to other capital cities.  The actors will be temporarily written out of the popular US drama to allow them the Australian tour.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
"Rowena Wallace, who plays Pamela Taylor in Cop Shop, should wear a wig, because she looks very old with grey hair.  A black or red wig would suit her very well.  She has a very young face."  C. Leoni, QLD.

"Monty Python's Flying Circus brings a touch of ABC sophistication to the otherwise tepid material usually screened on ATN7 Sydney.  But as usual we have to suffer for good TV on a commercial station - a fine, fast-moving show like Monty Python gets absolutely butchered by all the silly ads."  N. Wainwright, NSW.

"I wonder how many viewers know of the series Three's Company let alone watch it regularly?  I needed only one look to realise that it is yet another example of blatant American poaching of British ideas.  Man About The House was a far superior series.  ABC must have bought the series for a very low price, because it falls way below the standard I have come to expect from them."  K. Davidson, VIC.

What's On (March 3-9):
ABC presents live coverage of the Australian Masters' Golf tournament from Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Saturday is Blue Diamond Stakes Day at Caulfield racecourse.  ATV0's Phil Gibbs and Clem Dimsey present a two-hour morning preview, then from midday Michael Schildberger heads the afternoon's live coverage.

Melbourne's Moomba festival is on again and ATV0 crosses live to the Yarra River embankment on Sunday afternoon for the 1979 Birdman Rally and Bathtub Regatta.

peterluck The second episode of HSV7's This Fabulous Century (presenter Peter Luck, pictured) is titled 'Institutions', looking at the Miss Australia tradition, Bondi Beach and the Holden motor car.

The winner of last year's Mastermind, John Bond, will represent Australia in Mastermind International which debuts on ABC on Wednesday night.  The series, taped in London, features Mastermind winners from around the world including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada and the Republic of Ireland.

In ATV0's Prisoner there has been a murder at Wentworth Detention Centre and both the authorities and the inmates have their own methods of finding the culprit.  The new drama screens on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The Australian Football Championships, a national night football competition, continues on HSV7 with Richmond versus West Australian team Subiaco.

This week's guests on Peter Couchman Tonight include Ian Meldrum, Bob Rogers, Normie Rowe, Stan Rofe, Debbie Byrne, Brian Davies, Gus Mercurio, Peita Toppano, The God Squad, Ross D. Wyllie, Jane Scali and Michael Cormick

Sunday night movies are Eliza Fraser (HSV7), The Steel Cowboy (GTV9) and Flood (ATV0). 

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