Saturday, 27 June 2009

1979: June 30-July 6

tvtimes_300679 Countdown – 200 not out!
In less than five years, Countdown has progressed from a hesitant, experimental program to a powerful force in the pop industry.  The program claims a weekly audience of over four million and superstars are scrambling for an invitation to appear.  And, even though the show’s host and talent co-ordinator Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum (pictured) is often mumbling on camera, he is an industry legend.  The ‘Molly’ nickname originated from a regular column that Meldrum wrote for Go-Set magazine that was referred to by Melbourne radio identity Stan Rofe as “Molly’s Piece,” as it could be a bit bitchy.  The ‘Molly’ reference was back again when pop star John Paul Young introduced the host as “boring Molly Meldrum” in the third episode of the show.  The name has stuck ever since.  Producer Michael Shrimpton recalls the development of the show: “When we started we had just five film clips from overseas and we just used them over and over, just to add overseas acts to the show.  Now we get offers from all over the world for first-release material, and whenever stars visit they want to appear on Countdown.  There is no doubt about the respect the show has.”  Shrimpton also credits Countdown as breaking Eurovision Song Contest winners ABBA into the Australian market: “ABBA were nothing in this country, but Countdown picked them up and look what happened.  An album track, Mamma Mia, was released as a single just for Australia.”  Local bands such as AC/DC, Skyhooks, Hush, Sherbet, Dragon and The Angels can also credit Countdown for their big breaks which have led to Australian and international success.  But despite the countless acts that have appeared on the show over its first 200 episodes, its biggest guest star was one Prince Charles – to which Molly casually recalled a recent trip to London: “I saw your Mum in an open carriage in the Mall.”  The Prince frostily replied, “do you mean Her Majesty The Queen?”

Gunston in union row
Norman Gunston is in trouble with Australian journalists following a press conference in Sydney for visiting American evangelist Dr Billy Graham.  In a letter to Actors’ Equity from Barry Porter, president of the NSW branch of the Australian Journalists Association, complaints were made of interference of '”non-AJA members” at the press conference.  Although Gunston is not specifically mentioned in the letter, it is known by Actors’ Equity that he is a target of complaints from the AJA.  John Eastway, producer of The Norman Gunston Show, said that Gunston (played by Garry McDonald) never sought to dominate press conferences: “He usually waits until there is a gap in the questions.  At the Billy Graham press conference, he put his questions 20 minutes after the conference had begun – and when he had finished, the proceedings continued on as before.  I think the whole thing is a joke.” 

joehasham_2 So you want to be a …
The Young Doctors star Joe Hasham (pictured) has been trying out a number of jobs in different fields, but it’s not because he is down on his luck as an actor.  Instead, the job-hopping is all in the name of entertainment as Hasham introduces viewers to a different occupation each month in a segment on The Steve Raymond Show.  As well as introducing the segment he also demonstrates what the job entails.  Previous segments have seen Hasham as a policeman, garbage collector, barman, brewery worker and a shearer.  Apart from his acting interests Hasham would like to move into the area of producing programs such as telemovies: “But, after my family, acting still comes first at the moment.”

ABC presenter Peter Wherrett and newsreader James Dibble are two of the guests to appear on Mr Squiggle’s Birthday Party special to air this week.  The two-hour special commemorates Mr Squiggle’s 20th year on television.

Phones ran hot at ABC recently following a newspaper report that Countdown was expanding to a daily two-hour format as well as the usual Sunday episode.  The truth is that Countdown will continue in its present format.

A documentary which claims to reveal the identity and whereabouts of some of the world’s most wanted war criminals will probably be screened by the Seven Network in August.  The documentary, The Hunter And The Hunted, was made by Sydney film-makers John Oakley and Bill Bemister and was partially financed by Seven.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”I appreciate the efficiency with which Mastermind is organised but I find it too rigid and unfriendly.  Could we have the occasional laugh or just a smile?”" P. Bartok, NSW.

“It was with pleasure and relief I read in TV Times (5 May 1979) of the extended help coming from the Australian Centre for Visual Television (ACVT) to help and benefit the deaf in understanding and enjoying TV.  It will certainly help the deaf feel TV is for them too.” M. King, NSW.

“It amazes me why, on commercial stations, some advertisements aim at degrading children who live in the city.  We all know that hens lay eggs and cows give milk.  Why do some advertising agencies persist in making city children look stupid by saying milk comes from a bottle and eggs come from cartons?” J. Levi, SA.

What’s On (June 30-July 6):
Barry Crocker
presents ABC’s first Saturday Special program with a comedy and variety show featuring Denise Drysdale, Peter Russell-Clarke, Peter Brock and Allison Durbin.

On the afternoon before Countdown presents its 200th episode, ABC’s Sunday Spectrum takes a special look at a week in the life of Countdown’s production unit – with sequences shot in discos, record companies, studios and concerts, as well as glimpses of the producers at work and home.

jackdaveybobdyer This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) recalls the careers of Jack Davey and Bob Dyer (pictured), who both dominated Australia’s radio airwaves.  Their famous catchphrases such as ’Hi Ho Everybody!’ and ‘Happy Lathering Customers’ became the most familiar words on radio.

Starting 11.00pm Wednesday night, GTV9 presents live coverage of Wimbledon 1979.

HSV7’s Friday afternoon children’s program Stax looks at the Jewish religion and talks with 13-year-old Gerard, who has just celebrated his bar mitzvah and is learning Hebrew.

Sunday night movies: Twilight’s Last Gleaming (HSV7), Cabaret (GTV9), The Outlaw Josey Wales (ATV0).  ABC presents the BBC production of Shakespeare’s Richard II, the first of the British broadcaster’s series of 37 Shakespeare plays to be produced and screened over the next six years.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 30 June 1979.  ABC/ACP

Monday, 22 June 2009

Nine’s new channel targets young

9_logo_2008 In committing itself to a five-year deal, worth $500 million, to Warner Bros studios, the Nine Network now feels it has enough programming ammunition to tackle the digital age with a new channel.

The new entertainment-based channel will tackle the younger adult age bracket – who are normally the domain of the Ten Network and, to a lesser extent, Seven – with programming from Warner Bros as well as from Nine’s existing content deals with Sony and Village Roadshow.

Between the new channel targeting youth and its existing channel covering a broader demographic range, Nine is confident of capturing a bigger share of the overall 16-to-65 group, and hopefully the advertisers will follow.

go99 Nine haven’t confirmed or announced the name of the channel just yet – though the name and logo GO!99 (pictured) have reportedly been registered by Nine.

A launch date is also yet to be advised apart from a vague statement from Nine as being ‘later this year’ – and there is also no word on whether the new channel will be made available through regional affiliates WIN and NBN, or what impact it will have on the existing break-out programming schedule (mostly old movies and sitcoms) of 9HD.

Nine’s new digital channel plan follows this year’s launch of Ten’s 24-hour sports channel One, the revamp of SBS’ digital channel as SBS2 and the announcement that ABC’s new children’s channel, ABC3, will launch before the end of the year.

The Seven Network, four months after CEO David Leckie promised an announcement was imminent, has still yet to outline any strategy for its new digital channel.  So far, Seven’s digital output only comprises the simulcast of the analogue channel (as with the other networks) and its high-definition channel 7HD which carries a limited amount of ‘break-out’ programming.

Source: The Australian

Sunday, 21 June 2009

1979: June 23-29

tvtimes_230679Cover: Andrew McFarlane, Robert Coleby (Patrol Boat)

Timeless Land stars are cast
Michael Craig
and Angela Punch will both return to Australia to star in ABC’s new big-budget series The Timeless Land, described as Australia’s own Forsythe Saga.  Production of the eight-part series, set in the 25 years following the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, is to commence in October.

The complete guide to Paul Hogan
Paul Hogan is known to viewers as the ocker Aussie, but on a recent appearance on Parkinson it was a more philosophical Hogan that appeared – giving his insight into Australian versus British class distinction, snobbery, politics and larrikin humour.  Michael Parkinson’s interviewing style impressed Hogan: “Parkinson’s an excellent interviewer.  He’s got a pretty laid-back style.  That helps.  But it’s the way he really listens to your answers and follows through on them.  To some journos you could answer a question about your wife’s health with ‘I killed her last week,’ and their next question would still be from their notes, ‘Yes, and how many children do you have?’.  Hogan also tells TV Times about his dining habits (“Where do we eat out as a family?  Simple.  The kids want to go wherever it costs a lot!”), wines (“I drink white wines mostly”), money (“It means the same thing to me as it’s always meant.  Freedom.  The right to say no.”), travelling (“At Rome airport I found myself surrounded by about 80 Australian Italians and they all introduced me to their mammas as Luigi.”) and the topic of canned laughter (“Nothing makes me angrier than shows like Donny And Marie.  A line that should get a giggle gets a belly laugh, a roar.  That’s not real.  We’ve been accused of using laugh machines.  We don’t, except for editing purposes to bridge or integrate something.  We’ve edited more laughs out than in.”)

donlane Don Lane’s US debut a secret
Viewers of The Don Lane Show in the near future may notice a subtle change in the program as it prepares to be taped for a proposed US TV special.  Producer Peter Faiman said the upcoming special episode will not be significantly different to routine shows but it will be seen to be less parochial.

All grown up!
After more than 15 years playing the parts of schoolgirls and teenagers, former Bellbird and Alvin Purple star Anne Pendlebury has finally been cast as a middle-aged mother in ABC’s Twenty Good Years.   “I’ve been happy the way things have been, but this role is the highlight of my career so far and I’m happy to play an older woman.”

Stuart Wagstaff and Noeline Brown are to play the lead roles in a sitcom being made for the Seven Network by RS Productions (producers of The Naked Vicar Show).   The program has the working title of Two-Up and is expected to go into production next month.

Production of the Seven Network’s Young Ramsay is continuing despite its failure to gain approval for a ‘C’ classification for airing in the 4.00pm-5.00pm timeslot.

judynunn Former The Box actress Judy Nunn (pictured) is returning to the ATV0 studios to appear in an upcoming role in Prisoner.

Three years after joining Young Talent Time, team member Debbie Hancock has decided to leave the show to become a teacher after being offered a job with a modelling agency and school.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”I wonder if any other viewers are as besotted as I am with Doctor Who’s helpmate K9?  I look out for him in every episode.” M. Bennett, NSW.

“I have recently noticed that no horror movies are being screened at all.  I do think many people would appreciate at least one horror movie a week, preferably on a Friday night.” M. McEachern, SA.

“I agree with J. Lewis (Viewpoint, 12 May 1979), and wonder if ATN7 Sydney knows how much CBN8 (Orange) and CWN6 (Dubbo) mutilates the Seven Big League program.  I am fortunate in that I am able to receive the League replay two nights later than Orange and it is 200 per cent better than CBN8’s version.  RVN2 (Wagga Wagga) gives League fans 60 minutes of football compared to CBN8’s 35 minutes.” J. Holland, NSW.  (TV Times responds: “A CBN8 spokesman said he had discussed the question with RVN2 and that both stations used the natural breaks already inserted by ATN7.  They both allot the same time to commercials, not adding to the breaks provided by Sydney.”)

What’s On (June 23-29):
On Saturday night and into early Sunday, ATV0 airs live coverage from the UK of the final of the Prudential Cup cricket.  Also late on Saturday and Sunday nights, GTV9 screens delayed highlights of the US Open golf championships that were shown live on ABC last weekend.

This Week Has Seven Days (HSV7, Saturday) visits DPTV10, a closed-circuit TV station broadcasting to 5000 viewers in the community of Debney Park.

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at the portrayal and role of women in Australia’s history.

HSV7 on Monday night presents a one-hour special, Parlour Games, providing an insight into operation of Melbourne’s massage parlours.

In The Wild With Harry Butler (ABC, Wednesday) goes to Tasmania as Butler shows the impact of man on the Tasmanian wilderness and the animals that inhabit its wild, wet terrain.

ABC presents the debut of drama series Patrol Boat, starring Andrew McFarlane, Robert Coleby, Danny Adcock and Margo Lee

Maurie Fields, Val Jellay and Smacka Fitzgibbon are some of the guests featured this week on Peter Couchman Tonight (ATV0, weeknights).

Sunday night movies: The Wind And The Lion (HSV7), Ten Rillington Place (GTV9), The Eiger Sanction (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 23 June 1979.  ABC/ACP

Saturday, 20 June 2009

1979: June 16-22

tvtimes_160679 Young doctor with water on the brain
Actor Eric Oldfield (pictured, with Kerri Eichhorn and Judy Lynne) knows what he’d do with a million dollars: “What I’d really like to do would be to clean up the ocean.  Get laws passed to stop the pollution of our waters.  Stop councils from pouring sewage into the ocean.  It’s criminal what’s happening to our beaches.”  The 31-year-old avid surfer, who shot to fame in 1971 in the drama series The Godfathers, is extremely aware of the dangers of man’s impact on the environment and his concern affects his beliefs and lifestyle.  Meanwhile, the former Model of the Year and two-time centrefold for Cleo magazine is enjoying his latest role as Dr Ben Fielding in The Young Doctors – and although he has been in a number of TV series since The Godfathers, he is modest about his abilities: “When I’ve had more experience I think I’ll be a good actor.”

Feud takes on the East
In a bid to strengthen its popularity among eastern states viewers, quiz show Family Feud is moving its production from TVW7 in Perth to GTV9 Melbourne.  Producer Gary Meadows has moved to Melbourne to set up the show in its new home, while host Tony Barber will continue to live in Perth and commute to Melbourne for the show’s taping.  Family Feud is shown on GTV9 Melbourne and TCN9 Sydney, but is shown on Seven Network channels in Brisbane and Adelaide as well as the independent TVW7 in Perth.

pauladuncan Detective Danni quits Cop Shop
Cop Shop star Paula Duncan (pictured) was rushed to hospital after suffering a collapse in the studio – just days after she had informed Crawford Productions that she was intending to quit the popular series.  Duncan had cited ill health for her reason to resign and producers are now hoping that she recovers and changes her mind.

Classic Australian novels for TV
The 0-10 Network is to commit over $2 million to two mini-series productions based on classic Australian novels.  The network, in association with the South Australian Film Corporation, has announced plans to adapt Catherine Gaskin’s novel Sara Dane into a ten-hour mini-series.  The 0-10 Network has also committed to a nine-hour mini-series, based on Sumner Locke Elliott’s Water Under The Bridge, to be produced in partnership with the Victorian Film CorporationSara Dane is expected to go into production early in 1980 with a planned airdate of 1981, while Water Under The Bridge goes into production later this year and is expected to be completed by mid-1980.

Spanish-born actor Tony Alvarez is temporarily hosting the 0-10 Network’s A Greek Affair following the resignation of host, former Number 96 star Harry Michaels.

Former Bellbird cast member Ian Smith will be returning to ABC with roles in upcoming plays.

Twelve-year-old Bobby Driessen is the latest recruit for the 0-10 Network’s Young Talent Time.  Driessen and his family have moved from Perth to Melbourne following his appointment to the popular show’s cast.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”Where in the world did they dig up that ancient old lady to do the rice commercials?  She looks to be 100 years old.  They must think we are a lot of morons to believe that rice will give us such youthful energy.” L. Doolan, QLD.

“All praise to the Nine Network.  They have unselfishly taken ownership of that pitiful excuse for a comedy-satire called Soap.  The Nine Network also deserves thanks for removing from the domain of ABC that unwanted intruder, cricket.” J. Neumann, SA.

“What a pity the ABC made another soap opera, Twenty Good Years.  What about another series like Who Pays The Ferryman? or The Lotus Eaters, even if it is located on the Barrier Reef, Cape York or the Great Australian Bight?” M. Sawden, QLD.

What’s On (June 16-22):
ATV0’s evening coverage of the Prudential Cup cricket continues from the United Kingdom, with live coverage on Saturday and Wednesday nights.

Debbie Byrne, Ian Turpie, Geraldine Turner and David Atkins star in Troopship, this week’s episode of TV Follies (ABC, Saturday).

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at disasters that have saddened the nation – including Cyclone Tracy in Darwin, the collapse of the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne and the Granville train disaster in Sydney.

Sydney-based action drama Chopper Squad returns to ATV0 on Sunday night.  In this week’s episode, the rescue team joins in a search for two young boys who ran off with a .22 rifle.

ABC screens live via satellite coverage of the US Open golf championship from Toledo, Ohio.  Coverage starts at 5.30am on Sunday and Monday mornings.

marciahines Marcia Hines (pictured) returns to television with a new series, Marcia’s Music, on ABCGlenn Shorrock and John Farnham are guests in the first episode.

Sunday night movies: A Killing Affair (HSV7), Love Story (GTV9), Uptown Saturday Night (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 16 June 1979.  ABC/ACP

Thursday, 18 June 2009

New digital channel for WA

watchtv2 The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced plans to licence a third commercial TV channel for viewers in regional and remote Western Australia.

The new channel will be available only on digital and its commencement will coincide with a proposed roll-out of digital broadcasting by the existing local commercial networks, WIN and GWN, due to start from 30 June 2010.

GWN, owned by Prime Television, is affiliated to the Seven Network while WIN’s Western Australian line-up is primarily based on the Nine Network schedule with some programming selected from Network Ten.

The licence to operate the new digital-only channel has been allocated to a joint venture between WIN and GWN in a similar arrangement to digital-only channels in Tasmania, Darwin and Mildura which are owned between the existing local commercial operators.

Source: ACMA

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Bruce Paige and Extra to go from Nine

9_logo_2008 Brisbane’s QTQ9 – only months away from celebrating its 50th anniversary – has made two announcements today about two of its long-timers.

The late-afternoon magazine program Extra is being wound up next week after a marathon 18 years on-air.  The program launched back in 1992 when the Nine Network launched ‘Extra’ programs in each capital city as the lead-in to National Nine News.  The Sydney Extra, Melbourne Extra and Adelaide Extra programs were all fairly short lived.  Perth Extra managed to hang on a few years longer, but Brisbane Extra – the name since shortened to just Extra – has continued in the 5.30pm timeslot despite the constant changing of Nine’s 5.30pm programming in the other capital cities.  The axe comes despite Extra maintaining a strong following in Brisbane and out-rating Seven’s Deal Or No Deal.  The final episode of Extra goes to air Friday 26 June on QTQ9.  Replacing Extra in the 5.30pm timeslot will be the quiz show Hot Seat which currently occupies that timeslot in the other capital cities.

brucepaigeheatherfoordMeanwhile, QTQ9’s long-serving newsreader Bruce Paige has announced that he is quitting the Nine News desk, finishing up in the not-too-distant future.  Starting his career in the 1960s at Maryborough radio station 4MB, Paige then went to local TV station SEQ8 before joining ABC in 1971, staying for 14 years.  He then moved to QTQ9 in 1985 before going to TVQ10.  Following a newsreading stint at North Queensland-based QTV (now Southern Cross Ten) in the early ‘90s, Paige returned to Brisbane to QTQ9.

Bruce Paige’s resignation from QTQ9 comes only months after his former Nine News partner Heather Foord (pictured, with Paige) announced that she was leaving the news bulletin to move to the now-axed Extra program.

Source:,, Wikipedia, NineMSN

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

ONE for the country

southerncrossten For digital viewers in regional eastern Australia, the wait is almost over for the new sports channel One HD.

Macquarie Southern Cross Media (MSCM), the owner of Southern Cross Ten, has announced that it will start to relay One through its existing high-definition service on digital channel 50 from 2 July at 7.00pm.

Southern Cross Ten, which operates in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, has bore the brunt of complaints from regional viewers angry that they were left out of the picture when Network Ten launched One, Australia’s first free-to-air dedicated sports channel, back in March.

An announcement is also due soon from Tasmanian Digital Television, a Network Ten affiliate owned jointly between MSCM and WIN Television, but it is expected to also carry One from 2 July.

Even though MSCM operates TV outlets in regional South Australia, Northern Territory and the remote areas of the eastern states, they are not obliged to carry high-definition programming to those areas and at this point are not planned to carry One.

OneHDFor viewers in Darwin, the outlook is still uncertain as the local Ten outlet, Darwin Digital Television (DDT), is yet to settle on carrying One to the Top End capital.  DDT is owned between MSCM and the Nine Network.

Source: The Australian, TV Tonight

Monday, 8 June 2009

1979: June 9-15

tvtimes_090679 Wishing on a star
TV Times
asked six TV stars to nominate the secret role they’d most love to play.  Victoria Nicolls (The Restless Years) said she would love to do musical comedy roles.  “And if they were making The Ann Miller Story, I’d be desperate to play her.”  Michael Beecher (The Young Doctors) nominated the role of King Lear: “but unfortunately I don’t look old enough yet.”  Former Prisoner actress Carol Burns has a yearning to play Sally Bowles, the lead in CabaretBert Newton (pictured) sees Napoleon Bonaparte as his ideal fantasy role.  “Napoleon seems to me to have been a great personality and even today there is a great mystery about it.”  The Norman Gunston Show’s Pamela Gibbons would love to play a Marlene Dietrich-style role: “I’ve always admired Marlene Dietrich’s quality and charisma.  She was courageous in her era, introducing the trans-sexual look, which she virtually created in The Blue Angel.”  And Michael Caton, from The Sullivans, would like to play Fagin from the musical Oliver: “Fagin was an opportunist – a great character to play!”

peterluck Second century for Luck
The Seven Network has commissioned a further seven episodes of the documentary series This Fabulous Century.  This now brings the show’s tally to 37 episodes, starting with the 24 that were originally commissioned by Seven and six that were added later.  Producer David Salter said there will be no problem in filling the additional episodes on order: “There are some episodes we’d done some work on, then put aside in favour of other subjects.  We can move on to developing this material again.”  Also since the series had first gone to air, people had contacted the production company, Peter Luck Productions, offering more film footage from private collections.  Some of this ‘new’ footage has also been added to the national film archive.

Our China series big hit overseas
This week Australian TV networks will be vying to buy The Human Face Of China, the Film Australia documentary series acclaimed by buyers from 23 international territories at the MIPTV market in Cannes in April.  The series of five half-hour programs was researched and filmed in China over five months last year – the first time a non-socialist western film crew was allowed to film in China since 1949.  The program has already been picked up by US broadcaster WNET as well as broadcasters in Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and Denmark.  There are still negotiations taking place with broadcasters in the United Kingdom, Finland, Israel, French Canada, Sweden, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Greece, Italy and France.

kathylloyd Variety’s the spice of Kathy’s life
I’m Looking At The World Through Rose-Coloured Glasses was the first song Kathy Lloyd (pictured) sang after her son was abducted.  She had to – it was already scheduled for her next Sound Of Music TV show.  After she was awarded custody of her son, Perry, her former husband took the boy to the US without her knowledge or consent.  That was eleven years ago and Lloyd hasn’t seen her son since.  Work offers for the singer dried up after news of the divorce and abduction was splashed across the media – though Lloyd is making a TV comeback with a role in the ABC series TV Follies, though it wasn’t without its own problems.  She was bruised when she fell two metres off the set of the show and landed on her back.  She “took five,” had a drink of water and went back to work.  The show must go on, she says, whether it’s after a fall or a personal tragedy.

Children will have the chance to become “earth watchers” when a new ABC series, Earthwatch, goes to air later this year.  The series of 26 half-hour episodes aims to educate on the natural and man-made environments and will incorporate a club which viewers will be able to join.

Debbie Hancock, a cast member of Young Talent Time, was runner-up in the recent Victorian Miss Teenage Quest for 1979 – raising more than $7000 for the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The Survivors, a four-part children’s series telling the story of a group of teenagers who become lost while on a camping expedition, has been produced by ABC in Tasmania.  The series debuts this week in Tasmania and will air in other States later in the year.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”Why must SAS10 Adelaide insist on trying to shove Steve Raymond’s show down our throats?  They deliberately swapped their two very good “soaps,” The Young And The Restless and Another World with Raymond so that Another World, and NWS9’s Days Of Our Lives are in competition with each other.” L. McKenzie, SA.

“Sometimes I am horrified when I hear people say ABC is the worst channel on TV.  An informative, musical, scientific, action-packed, dramatic or professional line-up of night and pre-evening screening is shown every night.  Along with a comprehensive coverage of sport with no advertising, cheap publicity, false images or plastic imitations, it makes me shake my head in bewilderment at the automatic criticising of this down-to-earth station.” W. Stevens, SA.

“Are we so short of things to laugh at that we have to be fed Norman Gunston’s interview with Lee Marvin, prior to the latter entering a court of law.  He reminds me of the boy who passed wind in class and somebody laughed, thus realising an ambition to become a comedian.” L. Barton, QLD.

What’s On (June 9-15):
This Week Has Seven Days (HSV7, Saturday) looks at ten-pin bowling – how to do it and also to see how a bowling alley works.

This week’s TV Follies (ABC, Saturday) tells the passions and human drama of life behind the scenes in Hollywood in the remake of Death At Copacabana.  Starring Kathy Lloyd and Normie Rowe.

On Saturday night and into the early hours of Sunday, ATV0 presents coverage of the 1979 Prudential Cup one-day cricket between Australia and England, live from Lords, England.   Richie Benaud heads the commentary team, with local commentary from Phil Gibbs, Bob Simpson and Tony Greig.  The Prudential Cup continues on Wednesday night with Australia versus Pakistan.

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at the media with a collection of film clips and interviews with the stars of radio and television.

On The Paul Hogan Show (GTV9, Wednesday) the tax man pays Hoges a visit, with hilarious results when Hoges unveils his latest deduction.  Hoges also offers his views about dentists, and the job of a receptionist will never seem the same.

ABC presents the series debut of In The Wild With Harry Butler, this week looking at South Australia as Butler shows the many moods of the desert.

Sunday night movies: Love And Pain And The Whole Damn Thing (HSV7), A Good Thing Going (GTV9), You Only Live Twice (ATV0).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 9 June 1979.  ABC/ACP

TV names in Queen’s Birthday Honours

johnmichaelhowson John Michael Howson (pictured) and actor Joe Hasham are two of the over 550 Australians to be acknowledged in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Howson started his career as a newspaper cadet journalist before becoming a writer for Melbourne’s ATV0 in 1964, contributing to The Ray Taylor Show and co-writer and performer (as Clown) for The Magic Circle Club, and followed the latter when it moved to ABC and became Adventure Island.

He later became a regular presenter on The Mike Walsh Show, Midday With Ray Martin and Good Morning Australia – including 17 years as Hollywood correspondent.  Howson has since returned to writing where he co-wrote stage hits Shout! and Dusty and is a presenter on radio station 3AW.

joehasham Lebanese-born Joe Hasham (pictured) rose to fame in Australia in the early 1970s as gay lawyer Don Finlayson in the controversial soap drama Number 96.  The character of Finlayson was seen as ground-breaking for being the first openly gay character in a TV series, and was one of only three characters to survive the show’s entire six-year run. 

Following the end of Number 96 in 1977, Hasham went on to appear in The Young Doctors and in the early 1980s hosted the variety series Cabaret on Channel 0/28 (now SBS).  Hasham is now based in Malaysia.

This year’s honours list included a posthumous recognition for surgeon and cancer campaigner Prof Chris O’Brien who died only last week.  Prof O’Brien was known to viewers through his appearances on the Nine Network medical series RPA.

Jonathon Welch, creator of the Choir of Hard Knocks which featured on ABC, journalist and former 60 Minutes reporter Ian Leslie and SBS chairwoman Carla Zampatti were also recognised in this year’s honours.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Remembering the Juniors

brianandthejuniors Melbourne’s The Age newspaper reported on Friday that the former child stars of the variety series Brian And The Juniors are gathering for a reunion in Melbourne next week – the first such reunion since the show wound up back in 1970.

The talent quest, one of the first variety programs on Melbourne television, began as Swallow’s Juniors on radio station 3DB in the early-1950s, hosted by the station’s breakfast announcer John Eden

Brian Naylor took over hosting the program shortly before it moved to television, appearing on HSV7 from 1957.  This YouTube clip, taken from a Made In Melbourne special made by HSV to commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2006, includes Naylor’s recollection of the circumstances surrounding his appointment as the show’s host.  The clip also includes some early footage of the program and even some backstage ‘home movie’ footage taken by one of the cast member’s parents during rehearsals.

In 1964, Swallow’s Juniors changed its name to Brian And The Juniors and moved from Saturday to Sunday afternoons.  The program was later also relayed to stations across regional Victoria.  Over the program’s twelve year run on TV it is estimated that as many as 100 ‘Juniors’ appeared on the program, including later household names including Ernie Sigley and Patti Newton (nee McGrath).

Brian And The Juniors ended in 1970 when Naylor was promoted to the role of chief newsreader for HSV7.  However, the concept of a variety program featuring a junior cast was revisited when the 0-10 Network launched Young Talent Time in 1971 – a program that also featured some former Juniors cast members including Debbie Byrne, Jane Scali and Jamie Redfern.

brianandthejuniors2 The reunion of the ‘Juniors’ will sadly not include the host Brian Naylor, who with his wife Moiree was killed in the Kinglake bushfires in February this year.  Tim McKew (pictured, with Naylor), a former Junior and these days a cabaret performer as a Noel Coward impersonator, told The Age: “(The reunion) had been organised before Brian’s sad demise.  He was a charming man, great with us children, never patronising.  We remember him very fondly.”

The Age, 5 June 2009. 
TV Week, 20 December 1969. 
TV Times, 28 January 1970.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Talking Alvin

alvinpurpleIn over 30 years in showbusiness, Graeme Blundell has authored books (including biographies of Graham Kennedy and artist Brett Whiteley) and worked on both sides of the camera and the stage – and despite appearing in countless television and film productions, he is most likely to be best remembered for his role as the ‘70s reluctant sex symbol Alvin Purple.

Alvin Purple, made in 1973, was Australia’s first R-rated movie production after the adults-only classification was first allowed in 1971.  A sequel, Alvin Purple Rides Again, followed in 1974.

In 1976, Alvin Purple returned with a 13-part TV series spin-off on ABC, and later re-run on the Seven Network.  The series featured a supporting cast including Judy Lynne, Jacki Weaver, Liz Harris, Noeline Brown, Chris Haywood, Syd Heylen, Dawn Lake, Chantal Contouri, John Ewart, Belinda Giblin and Judy Morris.

Later this month, Blundell is Peter Thompson’s guest on ABC’s weekly interview program Talking Heads where he discusses just how it feels to not be able to shake off the Alvin Purple persona.

Talking Heads.  Monday 29 June 6.30pm.  ABC1.  Repeated Tuesday 30 June 5.00pm, ABC2.