Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Foxtel makes move against Freeview

foxteldigital Foxtel, in one of its biggest ever launches, is firing its next shot in the battle for Australia’s TV viewers.

Foxtel CEO Kim Williams yesterday announced a significant milestone for the company with the launch of 30 additional channels (including 12 specific-themed channels, 10 high-definition channels and 8 timeshift channels) to come this year.  The new channels will bring Foxtel’s total offering to almost 200 channels.

Foxtel will also launch an online service, allowing catch-up downloading of program content, and significant upgrades to its television guide and new customer packages.

The Next Generation package will also provide viewers with a free IQ recorder, enabling multiple viewing options for Foxtel programs – live, On Demand or recorded via IQ.

News channel Sky News Australia will also increase its coverage of local news for the five major capital cities and offer improved weather reporting.

These new additions to the Foxtel platform come as the free-to-air networks (Freeview) have almost exhausted their current bandwidth for additional channels, with ABC3 and Seven’s second channel expected to launch later this year adding to digital channels ABC2, SBS2, GO! and ONEHD and high-definition simulcasts of ABC, SBS, Seven and Nine.

Foxtel Next Generation launches 15 November this year, and the Foxtel Download service launches tomorrow, Thursday 1 October.

Source: Foxtel

Will Masterchef have Daryl for dinner?

hhis Quite possibly the biggest ratings battle for the year kicks off tonight when the long-awaited reunion of Hey Hey It’s Saturday goes up against the long-awaited Celebrity Masterchef.

When the Nine Network announced it was reuniting the team from Hey Hey It’s Saturday for two live-to-air specials, it was anticipated that the shows would be placed on Tuesday nights to try and dent the ratings of Seven’s hit show Packed To The Rafters and remove some of the shine off Ten’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation

Generation has since wound up its current series and, with Celebrity Masterchef headed for Wednesdays, Nine moved Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s reunion to Wednesday starting this week.

masterchef Celebrity Masterchef, featuring eighteen contestants including Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, swimmer Eamon Sullivan, The Biggest Loser’s Michelle Bridges, journalist and TV presenter George Negus, cricketer Simon Katich and comedian Josh Thomas, launches off the back of huge public support for the inaugural Masterchef Australia which was a huge ratings hit for Ten and the final recorded the highest ratings for any non-sports program since OZTAM records started in 2001.

Hey Hey It’s Saturday makes its return ten years after it was cancelled by the Nine Network.  The show’s reunion comes after a swell of support generated by a Facebook campaign and has garnered immense publicity since Nine announced the specials.  Host Daryl Somers will be joined by many of the show’s former team members including John Blackman, Red Symons, Molly Meldrum, Wilbur Wilde, Jo-Beth Taylor, Denise Drysdale, Livinia Nixon, Russell Gilbert and Plukka Duck.

Somers’ long-running offsider Ossie Ostrich will appear in the second reunion special next week.

Jacki MacDonald, part of the Hey Hey team for around ten years, is keeping a lower profile these days and has not been reported to be involved in the reunions.

If Hey Hey It’s Saturday can sustain popular support over its two reunion specials it may trigger negotiations for an ongoing series return.

Both shows have a huge curiosity factor behind them – Hey Hey’s return will be loaded with nostalgic charm and Celebrity Masterchef marks a return of this year’s most successful and most talked-about program format – so it is too hard to make the call as to which will win the battle between the 7.30pm and 8.30pm hour when both shows goes head-to-head.

Celebrity Masterchef.  Starts Wednesday 30 September (Tonight) 7.30pm, Ten/Southern Cross Ten.
Hey Hey It’s Saturday The Reunion.  Wednesday 30 September and 7 October, 7.30pm (and repeated Saturday 3 October and 10 October, 9.30pm), Nine/WIN/NBN.

Australia’s progress on digital changeover

watchtv2 The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has released its second Digital Tracker quarterly summary, keeping an eye on how Australia is converting and adapting to digital television.

According to the survey, covering the period April to June 2009:

  • 93 per cent of Australians are aware of the Government’s plan to migrate television signals over to digital.  This included 85 per cent of households in the Remote and Central Australia region (where the roll-out of digital is limited so far largely to ABC and SBS)  and 96 per cent of Mildura households.
  • 49 per cent are positive towards the transition to digital TV.  15 per cent of respondents are against the digital changeover and 36 per cent are unconcerned.  A fifth of those against the changeover were from households with a total annual income of less than $30,000, while almost as many were from households where the main source of income is government benefits or pension.  Regional Western Australia recorded the highest rate of negativity (19 per cent) while Perth had the lowest (12 per cent).
  • 53 per cent of Australian homes have converted their main television set or tuner to digital.  This varied from 22 per cent in Remote and Central Australia to 75 per cent in Mildura. 
  • 83 per cent of Australian homes intend to convert to digital TV, though 76 per cent said they will not convert until just before the switchover date.  However, less than one per cent of Australian households knew when their area would switchover completely from analogue to digital television.  (The Mildura region, the first region to cutover from analogue to digital next year, recorded a 13 per cent awareness rate)
  • Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of Australian households were aware of what they need to do to migrate to digital television.  This varied between 51 per cent in Remote Central and Eastern Australia and 83 per cent in Mildura.
  • 31 per cent of Australians surveyed nominated better picture quality as the main benefit of digital, followed by additional channels (25 per cent), better reception (16 per cent), better quality overall (5 per cent) and better sound quality (3 per cent).
  • 83 per cent of Australian households that have converted to digital TV are satisfied with digital TV.  This varied from 63 per cent in Remote and Central Australia to 93 per cent in Perth.

tv_antenna More than 9900 interviews were conducted across the 33 identified changeover regions nationwide.

Source: Digital Ready

Sunday, 27 September 2009

1979: September 29-October 5

tvtimes_290979 The long, lonely Lane
Since the collapse of his much-publicised romance with architecture student Carmen van Hoorn, Don Lane (pictured) has kept a much lower profile, keeping largely to himself in his luxury $400,000 bayside home in Melbourne, and is accepting of the fact that he may not find love again:  “I have sort of accepted the fact that I’m not going to find a permanent relationship.  I’m trying to keep a low profile from here on in.  I’m a loner, sure, but I don’t think I’m lonely.  I have a couple of close friends.”  Lane also admits that the demands of The Don Lane Show and other public commitments, such as his more recent theatre concert appearances, leave little room for other pursuits.

Bushie returns to film his near-death ordeal
Ron Ansell
, the star of a documentary made on his real-life survival experience in the Northern Territory wilderness, is ready for criticism of his treatment of animals in the re-enactment of his lonely, near-death saga after a fishing trip down the Victoria River went horribly wrong.  The 90-minute documentary, To Fight The Wild, is a production of Richard Oxenburgh Productions in association with TVW Enterprises and the Australian Film Commission, and is being considered by TV networks in Australia, the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.  But the 26-year-old professional bull-catcher is prepared for criticism over scenes in the re-enactment which show Ansell shooting bulls, slitting them open with his knife and eating the raw meat on the spot:  “Well, I felt very strongly that if the story was going to be told on film, everything would have to be done exactly as it happened.” 

alexanderbunyip A busy ARVO for kids
Peter Cousens
and his young crew of Earthwatch presenters this week will co-host ABC’s special to highlight the International Year of the Child.  The two-and-a-half hour program will also feature ARVO regulars Alexander Bunyip (pictured, with Earthwatch presenter Marianne Howard), Ron Blanchard, Norman Hetherington, Mr Squiggle and Miss Jane (Jane Fennell).  The special presentation will highlight some of the range of programs produced by ABC’s Children’s, Education and Features departments and screened during school hours throughout the year.

A chance for the deaf to ‘hear’ PM
Deaf TV viewers will have their first chance to ‘hear’ Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser when a girl using sign-language will translate his words in a televised address to the nation on 30 September.  Increasing attention is being given to deaf viewers following the formation of the Australian Centre for Visual Television (ACVT).  The company has already produced a weekly five-minute program, Shhh … Don’t Say It, which has been shown during ABC’s children’s program ARVO.  ACVT co-partners Alexandra Hynes and Adam Salzer have been asked to make thirteen more episodes of the show for next year and are also planning to make a half-hour pilot for a new show for ABC.

Prisoner guest star Jeanie Drynan, playing the role of a sophisticated lawyer, is so impressed with her on-screen wardrobe that she plans to buy the clothes for her own use after she has finished in the series.

Jacqui Gordon, the step-daughter of actor Vic Gordon, has changed her mind about becoming a mothercare nurse and is now planning an acting career after she finishes school at the end of the year.  She has already won an award for her 1975 role in Sally Go Round The Moon and appeared in a guest role in Cop Shop earlier this year.

The 0-10 Network’s cameras were fast on the scene when fire engines screeched to a halt outside Sydney’s Sebel Town House Hotel.  Turns out there was no fire, but rather the hotel’s fire alarm had been activated by heat from the lights being used for filming of a story for Simon Townsend’s Wonder World.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I totally disagree with M. Caffery (Viewpoint, 8 September 1979) on homosexuality being shown on Cop Shop.  I cannot see anything disgusting about it – not compared with some of the filth on TV nowadays.  Why on earth should homosexuality be hidden away?  It’s a part of life that should be accepted, and it’s only the narrow-minded who pretend it doesn’t exist, or at least find it unacceptable.”  M. Eeles, VIC.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read M. Caffery’s letter (Viewpoint, 8 September 1979).  I thought that people who viewed gays as morally sick died out in the last century.  M. Caffery and friends should see a doctor.  This is 1979.”  A Happy Gay Couple, VIC.

“We live in the country, so we only get ABC.  There are too many documentaries and sports programs and repeats on this channel.  If we ever get movies we have almost always seen them before.” B. Harvey, A. and L. Osbourne, WA.

“I am 12 and want to see something practical on TV for children my age.  Fat Cat And Friends, Rainbow, Shadows, Porky Pig, Family Affair and Gomer Pyle aren’t very exciting for us.  We want to see programs that interest us – perhaps quiz shows, or maybe serials, but not those sloppy soap operas like Days Of Our Lives.”  G. Aitchison, NSW.

What’s On (September 29-October 5):
Following the Football Marathon from last Friday night, HSV7 goes into Saturday morning with live coverage of the traditional Grand Final Breakfast then follows with documentaries on two of the great names in Australian Rules football, Barry Cable and Peter Hudson.  TV Times has no listing for live coverage of the Grand Final, pending approval of the live telecast from the VFL, but has HSV7 scheduled to screen a replay of the game at 6.30pm.  ABC has a one-hour review of the Grand Final at 6.00pm with a full replay at 9.20pm.

Sunday is dominated by HSV7’s all-day coverage of the 1979 Hardie Ferodo 1000, the legendary motor race held at the Mt Panorama circuit in Bathurst.  Coverage starts at 7.55am and continues through to 5.30pm.

ABC presents its International Year of the Child special telecast on Sunday afternoon.  Featuring the presenters of children’s programs ARVO, Earthwatch and Mr Squiggle And Friends, the special includes four programs made specifically for the International Year of the Child.

In Cop Shop (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), a man is knocked down by a motorcyclist after he gives the police some important information and Georgiou (John Orcsik) has a mysterious visitor at the station.  The Press decide to give Vic Cameron (Terence Donovan) a hard time and his past comes back to haunt him.  In Skyways (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), Pacific International Airport is closed down due to fog.  Peter Fanelli (Bill Stalker) sets a trap for a team of pick-pockets, using George Tippett (Brian James) as a decoy.

jackabsalom Bush artist Jack Absalom (pictured) presents a new series on ABC, Outback.  In the first episode he introduces his theory which suggests that the entire inland of Australia is rapidly becoming a huge claypan where soon nothing will grow.  He looks at the animal that he considers to hold the key to preserving the land – the kangaroo.

On Friday, HSV7 presents live all-day coverage of Australia versus the US in the Davis Cup tennis from White City, Sydney.

Friday night becomes a battle of movie greats with The Wizard Of Oz (HSV7), The King And I (GTV9) and The Greatest Show On Earth (ATV0).

Sunday night movies: The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (HSV7), Rider On The Rain (GTV9), Sherlock Holmes In New York (ATV0).  The Men is the final instalment of the series of A Place In The World on ABC, featuring the reunion of the key characters from the previous instalments.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 29 September 1979.  ABC/ACP

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

1979: September 22-28

tvtimes_220979 Cover: Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy

The Sullivans prepare for peace
As the Nine Network’s The Sullivans moves into its fourth year of production, fans needn’t worry that the end of World War II will mean the end of the show.  “Yes, The Sullivans definitely will go on after the war,” says Crawford Productions chairman Hector Crawford.  “It is a reflection of Australia of that period.  The war has been a vital part of it to date, but the stormy period after will be just as interesting a background when the time comes.  The years just after the war were stormy ones for the economy, politics and everyday life of the country.”  But when asked whether Grace Sullivan (Lorraine Bayly) will return to the series, Crawford could say only that “options remain open.”  Bayly has been travelling overseas for several months but her future plans remain a mystery, even for the cast of the show.  As the show passes its third birthday, two of the key characters from the recent spin-off telemovie Jovan: The John Sullivan Story will be joining the series, secret service agent Captain Meg Fulton (Olivia Hamnett) and John Sullivan’s lover Nadia (Vera Plevnik).

Top film role to Sullivans regular
Sydney actor David Cameron has won a key role in the upcoming 0-10 Network mini-series Water Under The Bridge.  The 27-year-old, who graduated from NIDA in 1968, has appeared in Bellbird, Certain Women, Dynasty, Against The Wind, The Truckies and Power Without Glory.  Cameron’s most recent role has been as Russell Hardwicke in The Sullivans.  In Water Under The Bridge, Cameron plays Neil Atkins, an aspiring actor in love with a newspaper columnist.  Cameron’s appointment to Water Under The Bridge follows the recent announcement that Robyn Nevin will play the lead female role of Shasta.

grahamkennedy_2 Graham Kennedy: The man and the myth – Part Two
More has been written (true and false) about Graham Kennedy (pictured) than any other Australian celebrity, including sports stars and prime ministers.  So what is the truth about some of the Kennedy myths and idiosyncrasies?  MYTH:  He was jealous of other IMT hosts.  Fact:  There are stories to the contrary.  When Father Michael King guest hosted IMT in 1969, he received a telegram from Kennedy:  “Be good but we don’t want any miracles.”  Then when he retired from IMT he personally recommended Ugly Dave Gray as his successor.  MYTH: Kennedy is disinterested in his huge collection of awards and uses them as door stops.  Fact:  He’s said this as a gag.  He keeps every award he has ever won on a silver tray.  MYTH: Kennedy doesn’t like and doesn’t relate to children.  Fact: He’s been a godfather six times, including to the daughter of his friend and manager, Harry M Miller and also to the daughter of former colleague Joy Westmore.  He also sponsored a Vietnamese war orphan through World Vision.  MYTH: Kennedy is colour blind and cannot tell red from green.  Fact: Kennedy said, “it’s true I do have trouble telling the difference between some greys, greens, blues.  I have to watched about the clothes I wear, or I might turn up in a red shirt with a green jacket which I think is blue.”  MYTH: His nickname is Gra-Gra.  Fact:  It’s Gay-Gay, which dates from when Kennedy was about 11 when a neighbour’s small daughter couldn’t say the word Graham.  “My aunt Nancy still calls me Gay-Gay when she calls,” Kennedy said.  Among Kennedy’s idiosyncrasies:  He is a night person that rarely goes to bed before midnight and has been known to leave messages on Harry M Miller’s phone at 2.30am;  During the IMT era everyone on the show noticed he never worked quite as well on the nights he wore a white suit – he became less extroverted; He’s nervous about every performance, whether it’s his own show or guest appearances;  He has a phenomenal memory.  He can recall a tag of a sketch he did 15 years ago and even whether or not someone fluffed up a line.  Producer Peter Faiman recalls that Kennedy will accept that problems will come up and be rectified.  But if that same mistake is made 12 years later, he’ll remind you that you made that same error 12 years before; Kennedy has a fear of crowds and had declined many offers to be the King of Melbourne’s Moomba festival, but finally relented in the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year.  As to commentary on his private life and relationships with women, Kennedy said in a 1976 interview, “I lead a fairly private life.  It’s my business what I do or don’t do when I close my bedroom door.”  Although he did once admit that he’d seriously considered marriage twice in his life, and there was his engagement to singer Lana Cantrell.

Why Tina’s head is in the clouds
Despite working as an actress on TV, stage and film for over ten years, Tina Bursill still finds that people can’t recall her name when they meet her:  “Then I have to patiently explain that I am not Tina Grenville nor a relative of film-maker Tim Burstall.”  The confusion was not helped when Bursill was cast alongside Grenville in the short-lived series The People Next Door, the sequel to The Godfathers.  The 28-year-old actress hopes that the public will have an easier time of recognising her now that she is starring in the new Seven Network series Skyways as ambitious assistant airport manager Louise Carter. “She is developing nicely now, and I hope the public like her as much as I do.”

garrymeadows Briefly…
Garry Meadows
(pictured) was disappointed when his children’s TV show, Meet The Giants, was refused a C classification.  But now the Family Feud producer is re-submitting the show for approval following some modifications to the format.  The pilot, produced earlier this year for the Reg Grundy Organisation, features four schoolchildren aged between 10 and 14 in a panel interview with Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.

Foreign Affairs Minister Andrew Peacock will be one of the presenters at this year’s Sammy awards presentation to be held on 17 October.  The awards, a joint venture between the Seven Network, TV Times and the Variety Club of Australia, will be hosted by Roger Climpson.

The success of Australian programs Prisoner and Against The Wind in Los Angeles is helping efforts to get The Don Lane Show sold to US television.  Meanwhile, Against The Wind has scored a front cover story on the Los Angeles Times’ TV magazine.

Former ABC newsreader Margaret Throsby, who resigned from the broadcaster to have a baby, is returning on a part-time basis.  Throsby’s first appearance following her comeback is co-hosting the presentation of the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design to be held in Perth.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”Congratulations to the Nine Network for showing The John Sullivan Story.  I’m sure a lot of families who don’t watch The Sullivans enjoyed this movie, which was a pleasant change to the usually violent Sunday night movies.”  M. Lewis, NSW.

tonybarberTony Barber (Family Feud, pictured) never fails to irritate me with his idiotic antics and endless drivel, but he really disgusted me when he remarked to a contestant that she was in quite an advanced stage of pregnancy.  It was true, but only a very arrogant man would have deliberately drawn attention to the fact.”  N. Wilson, NSW.

“Why, in an area like the goldfields of Kalgoorlie with its early workers, does VEW8 have Poldark on so late at night – 9.45pm, sometimes later?  Surely it could be put on earlier.”  J. Ware, WA.

What’s On (September 22-28):
On Sunday afternoon, ABC presents the Grand Final of the NSW Rugby League, live from the Sydney Cricket Ground.

This Fabulous Century (HSV7, Sunday) looks at the history of running in Australia, from the Stawell Gift to Sydney’s City to Surf run. 

On Monday night Peter Landy hosts HSV7’s telecast of The Brownlow Medal for 1979, live from the Southern Cross Ballroom in Melbourne.  Then on Wednesday night, HSV7 presents Sensational Seventies, a tribute to the decade in VFL including players Ted Whitten, Kevin Murray, Darryl Baldock and the emergence of Michael Roach, Kevin Templeton and Paul Van Der Haar.

In Skyways (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), MacFarlane (Tony Bonner) and Elaine (Carmen Duncan) examine their rapidly disintegrating family.  Mandy (Gaynor Martin), unable to cope with the sophisticated crowd at Anne’s (Kathryn Dagher) party, creates an unwanted scene.  Meanwhile, in Cop Shop (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), the West Riverside Bank is robbed and Amanda (Lynda Stoner) goes undercover to solve the case.

In the series final of Patrol Boat (ABC, Thursday), an attractive and tough woman journalist is assigned to HMAS Ambush for a day.  Starring Andrew McFarlane, Robert Coleby, Danny Adcock, Rob Baxter and Jacki Weaver.

The final lead-up to HSV7’s coverage of the VFL Grand Final starts on Friday afternoon with the lunchtime Football Procession through Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD, featuring the teams that will be playing in the Grand Final.  Then on Friday night, HSV7’s coverage of the The Commodore Cup Grand Final, live from the St Kilda Football Ground.  Leading the coverage are Peter Landy, Lou Richards, Bob Skilton, Doug Wade and Jack Elliott.  Then after a late news bulletin, HSV7 enters another all-night Football Marathon, with Stephen Phillips presenting highlights of past Grand Finals and interviews with team coaches and football personalities.

Also on Friday night, GTV9 presents the Australian Film Industry Awards, live from the Hoyts Entertainment Centre, Sydney.  Nominations for Best Film are Cathy’s Child, In Search Of Anna, Mad Max and My Brilliant Career.  And on the same night, ABC has the Prince Philip Prize For Australian Design, hosted by Stuart Wagstaff and Margaret Throsby in a direct telecast from the Sheraton Hotel, Perth.

Sunday night movies: High Rolling (HSV7), Bite The Bullet (GTV9), White Lightning (ATV0).  ABC presents Man Of Mateship, the fourth instalment of A Place In The World, starring Kerry Francis and Ian Gilmour.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 22 September 1979.  ABC/ACP

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

1979: September 15-21

tvtimes_150979 Cover: Mike Walsh

Top job for Robyn
Actress Robyn Nevin has scored a major role in the upcoming mini-series Water Under The Bridge.  Nevin will play the role of over-possessive foster mother Shasta in the mini-series based on Sumner Locke Elliott’s novel.  The role will also provide Nevin a more personal challenge – she scored the role of chain-smoking Shasta only days after quitting the habit in real life, “but I plan to stop again once the series has finished.”  The million-dollar production, funded by the Victoria Film Corporation, Australian Film Commission, South Pacific Television (New Zealand) and the 0-10 Network, will be produced in Melbourne even though the story is set in Sydney in the 1930s and 1940s. 

johnjarratt Jarratt tip for TV Kelly
Sydney actor John Jarratt (pictured) is the hot favourite to win the lead role of Ned Kelly in the new Seven Network mini-series now in production.  Ian Jones and Against The Wind producer Bronwyn Binns are now working on locations, scripts and other logistics for a start to production soon.  Jones, however, was reluctant to give away any clues as to who would play the lead role: “It would be dreadful to release a statement about such a thing and then have the actor miss out on the role.”

memory02 Graham Kennedy: The man and the myth
TV Times
presents the first instalment on a series of articles about Graham Kennedy.  Born on 15 February 1934, the young Kennedy lived with his grandmother after his parents had separated.  As a Melbourne schoolboy, he worked at his uncle’s barber shop in Collins Street, in the same building as the newsroom for Radio Australia – he was then offered a job as copy boy for the broadcaster.  But his big radio break came at the age of 17, as the sidekick to Melbourne radio legend Cliff Nicholls “Nicky” Whitta on 3UZ: “Nicky became my mentor.  I was his straight man.  He taught me how to use radio, not just be in it.  He taught me how to send up a commercial and sell it at the same time.”  A guest appearance on a GTV9 telethon in 1957 brought him to the attention of TV producers, looking for a host for the channel’s new tonight show, In Melbourne TonightIMT producer Norm Spencer said of Kennedy, “I think Kennedy is the greatest TV salesman ever.  If he advertised a product, it sold.  He got comedy out of the commercial spots and his unique rubbishing a product made fortunes for manufacturers.  Mind you we often got into trouble with the (then) Control Board because sometimes an ad spot might run for five minutes, but how do you judge where a commercial pitch stops and the comedy starts?”  Writer Hugh Stuckey, who was one of the writers for the early In Melbourne Tonight shows, writing as many as 16 comedy spots a week plus nightly topical gags, remembers Kennedy would sometimes insult his writers on camera, particularly if a gag fell flat:  “Sometimes I had to be physically restrained while watching this at home on TV from driving back to the studio and donging him one!  (But) off-camera he was always pleasant to us and never complained about his material.”  Philip Brady, the butt of many Kennedy jokes, has worked with Kennedy for years but seldom saw him lose his temper.  Though, the 1975 incident where Kennedy’s ‘crow call’ saw him banned from appearing on live TV led to some cutting remarks about the Minister for the Media.  Watching the delayed telecast from his dressing room, he exploded when he saw that his comments had been cut out.  He stormed out of the studio and, according to Brady, “I don’t think he ever came back.” While many took the attitude that the King had lost his crown, he was back on-air in 1977 as the host of a new game show, Blankety Blanks, an adaptation of an American format.  The Kennedy ad lib magic turned the show into one of the biggest hits of the year.  Next Week: Graham Kennedy – Myths, money, movies and women.

The Seven Network has turned down the McCabe-Paradine series Paradise Valley, though they still want to show the pilot as a telemovie.

The Sullivans will be taking production overseas next year, with plans to tape scenes in the Netherlands.  It will be the first time that location filming for the series is to be done outside of Australia – as storylines that featured Changi prison, the Middle East and Europe were all filmed in Australia.

Actor Paul Karo has returned to Australia after a lengthy stay overseas.  The former The Box star has been offered a role in a touring stage production, Flexitime, as well as a guest role in The Sullivans.

tomburlinson Tom Burlinson (pictured) has announced he is leaving The Restless Years, having played the role of Mickey Pratt for over a year:  “I want to work in other areas, such as films and stage.”

Despite his recent return to The Sullivans, Andrew McFarlane is not in any hurry to re-commit to an ongoing role in the series.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I haven’t seen the movie Picnic At Hanging Rock, but I liked the book very much and was wondering when the movie will screen on TV.” D. Findlay, VIC. (TV Times responds: The Seven Network will screen it next year.)

“Congratulations on the new series of The Inventors, but the viewing public are still stuck with the ever-boring Diana Fisher.” R. Nelson, WA.

“I have watched every episode of The Sullivans, The Restless Years, Prisoner and The Young Doctors, and in my opinion the two outstanding actresses are Victoria Nicolls and Susan Hannaford.  Val Lehman, as Bea in Prisoner, is also excellent.  I know that June Salter won a best actress title last year, but she was always June Salter and not really Miss Mackenzie in The Restless Years.  I am over 80 and I always read every word in TV Times.” N. Montagu, NSW.

What’s On (September 15-21):
Ask The Leyland Brothers (GTV9, Saturday) travels to New Zealand to visit Queenstown and take a ride down the Shotover River.  The Leylands also visit South Australia’s Coorong Lagoon and discover some of the unique wildlife it supports.

peitatoppano In Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Monica (Lesley Baker) is worried about her parole.  Bea Smith (Val Lehman) is released from solitary and is a changed woman.  Karen (Peita Toppano, pictured) gets involved in the prison reform group.

GTV9 reruns a one-hour telemovie, Do I Have To Kill My Child?, looking at child abuse, both physical and emotional, its causes and effects.  Starring Jackie Weaver, Brendon Lunney and Willie Fennell.

Jimmy Hannan hosts the 1979 Quest of Quests, a direct telecast from the Albert Hall, Canberra.  (GTV9, Wednesday)  A repeat of The Barry Humphries Show screens the same night on ATV0.

Sunday night movies: The Fourth Wish (HSV7), The Three Musketeers (GTV9), Hannie Calder (ATV0).  ABC screens A Family Man, starring Paul Mason, Jenny McNae, Moya O’Sullivan and Arkie Whiteley, the fourth instalment of the series of plays A Place In The World.  Other movies to appear during the week include: Last Tango In Paris (ATV0), Yours Mine And Ours (HSV7), The Great Escape (ATV0) and Rescue From Gilligan’s Island (GTV9).

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 15 September 1979.  ABC/ACP

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

1979: September 8-14

tvtimes_080979 Emergency edition: Due to an industrial dispute at TV Times’ printers, this issue of the magazine has required a change in its usual format.  All regular features have been maintained as well as our complete program coverage.  We apologise for any inconvenience to your usual reading habits.

High-flying mates
Friendships are rare among actors, who often have to fight for themselves and seldom work long together.  An exception is the friendship of over 13 years between Ken James and Tony Bonner, both stars of Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, The Box and now Skyways.  Bonner recalls that it was in 1966 when he first met James, then 13 or 14 years old and auditioning for a role in Skippy.  Despite their nine year age difference, and a stint overseas by Bonner, the pair often found their paths crossing professionally and personally and their families meet quite frequently.  James recalls Bonner’s enthusiasm for motorbikes and some of the his antics caused producers some anxiety.  He also recalls how the pair also went on strike against the canteen at ATV0 while taping The Box: “We didn’t like the food so we used to bring in our own prawns and avocados and set up the white wine and dine in style.”

garrymcdonald Gunston in the gun!
John Eastway
, producer and director of The Norman Gunston Show, watched horrified as the giant sumo wrestler picked up the pint-sized Norman Gunston (Garry McDonald, pictured).  Despite Eastway carefully explaining through an interpreter what he wanted the wrestler to do, something was lost in translation.  So without so much as a ripple of a muscle, the wrestler threw Gunston a couple of metres and then pounded him onto the ground.  McDonald managed to get to his feet – and cracked a joke.  “Garry took a terrible beating that day.  It took him all afternoon to recover,” Eastway said.  The wrestler incident is just one of many unpredictable moments during four-and-a-half years of producing the show for ABC and now the Seven Network.  Another unplanned moment was when Gunston was interviewing Keith Moon, drummer with the Who rock group, in London in 1976 and Moon poured a bottle of vodka over him.  Although temporarily blinded by the vodka, McDonald carried on as Gunston and the cameras kept rolling.  Both McDonald and Eastway were angry from the incident and Moon’s entourage apologised profusely.  Despite the number of unscripted incidents, only once has Eastway decided against screening an interview – that with British film-maker Ken Russell who didn’t take too kindly to Gunston asking him if he wrote, produced and directed his owns films because he couldn’t afford staff.  Russell became extremely upset, even violent, threatening the crew.  Eastway ushered McDonald from the scene.

judymorris Judy takes the plunge
Actress Judy Morris likes playing many different characters – and it shows in her most recent parts.  Playing a lesbian air hostess in Skyways, Morris is also seen as a photographic model in the feature film In Search Of Anna and this week plays a marine biologist in ABC’s Patrol Boat.  Morris took on the role of air hostess Robyn Davies (pictured) in Skyways because she thought it presented an interesting approach to lesbianism:  “I did the part because I felt like working, the role was different and it only took a few weeks to do.”  At 32, Morris has been an entertainer for twenty years – starting in radio plays for ABC while still at school in Queensland.  But experience hasn’t made her work any easier:  “It’s harder to act now than when I was younger.  When you’re young you can think you can play any part, even an 80-year-old woman with a limp.  As you get older you realise how hard it is to play roles, and you ask much more of yourself.” 

Acclaimed stage actor John Gaden has joined the cast of The Young Doctors for a guest role as a hotel manager.  Also making a guest appearance, in a different storyline in the series, is Pamela Gibbons, who has worked on The Norman Gunston Show and appeared in Number 96 and The Oracle.

petersen After a three-year battle, the controversial Australian film Petersen (pictured) is allowed by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for release to television, on the condition that it is not shown before 9.30pm.  The movie, starring Jack Thompson, was originally scheduled and promoted for screening by HSV7 in 1976 but was withdrawn from the schedule at the last moment by the censors.  Ironically, the version that has been permitted to air on Australian TV is the edited version for American television.  A late programming change by HSV7 will now see Petersen aired this week.

Former The Box actress Monica Maughan returns to TV in an upcoming role in Prisoner as mother Pat O’Connell, a very family-minded inmate at Wentworth Detention Centre.

Although Peter Wherrett has publicly said that he wouldn’t produce another Torque series, the mail and phone calls received since the last series went to air indicates that there is public demand for another series.  The eighth series of the popular motoring program will go into production in December and will air on ABC next year.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I watch Countdown often but when Ian Meldrum’s Humdrum comes on I feel like turning off the TV.  When great pop stars come to the show he wears shirts and jumpers with their names all over them, but as soon as they leave the country he criticises them.” T. Mitchell, QLD.

“When a friend told me that there would be a two-hour episode of Cop Shop, I settled down to enjoy it, but was so disappointed and disgusted that I switched to another channel.  Who except the morally sick would enjoy hearing about lesbians and homosexuals?  I know what the reaction of some readers will be to this letter, but I also happen to know a great number of people who think the same as I do.  Can’t we “make Australia beautiful” by cultivating clean minds.  TV can do so much in that line.” M. Caffery, QLD.

“I’d like to complain about the time Blue Fire Lady was shown on Sydney’s TCN9TV Times programs showed the screening time as 8.30pm to 10.30pm on Friday 27 July, but it was on from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.  Through the fault of TCN9 and TV Times, I missed the first hour of the movie.  I hope the same mistake won’t be made again, as there will be many unhappy viewers.” R. Courts, NSW.  (TV Times responds:  “This program change by TCN9 came too late to catch the publication of the Sydney edition of TV Times.”)

What’s On (September 8-14):
On Saturday afternoon, ATV0 presents the gospel outreach World Literature Crusade, a 5-hour special hosted by Dr Jack McAlistair, President of World Literature Crusade, featuring musical performances and dramatised historical conversations with pioneer missionaries.

Saturday Night Live (HSV7), hosted by Ernie Sigley with Trudy Jaworski, features a music hall theme with guest appearances by Bartholomew John, Ian Turpie, Terry O’Neill, Terry Norris and Vi Greenhalf.

With the VFL finals now in progress, ATV0 presents the Cazaly Awards on Monday night.  Hosted by Michael Williamson, Ted Whitten, Harry Beitzel and Jack Dyer, live from VFL Park.  The Gold Cazaly and $5000 will be awarded to the outstanding footballer of the year.  A further $20,000 in prize money will be awarded to the overall best players in all eighteen game positions.  The awards will also recognise the most popular footballer from each club.

giltucker In Cop Shop (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), a pedestrian is nearly killed as a car spins out of control, the driver of the car claims he was only a passenger.  O’Reilly (Terry Norris) waits for the birth of his grandson, and Vic Cameron (Terence Donovan) is gradually becoming accepted and liked at Riverside.  Constable Roy Baker (Gil Tucker, pictured) decides his love life is wearing a bit thin and joins a computer-dating service.

In Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Vera Bennett (Fiona Spence) has hopes of a new interest in her personal life.  While in Skyways (HSV7, Monday and Thursday), Anne Williamson (Kathryn Dagher) is a new hostess at Pacific International, and David Rankin (Fred Parslow) arrives with news of a 15 per cent pay cut in Pacific’s personnel.

Special guests on The Norman Gunston Show (HSV7, Wednesday) include Elliot Gould, George Segal, Valerie Perrine, Ed Asner and Hal Linden.

Jim Waley presents a one-hour special, The Babymakers (GTV9, Thursday) which unveils some of the facts about infertility in Australia which will surprise many Australians and bring hope to couples who have been unable to conceive.  The special also discusses fertility clinics, artificial insemination centres and the possibility of Australia’s first test tube baby.

On Friday night, GTV9 presents a delayed telecast of the 31st annual Emmy Awards for 1978-79.  The awards presentation took place in California on the previous weekend.

Sunday night movies: A Magnificent Hustle (HSV7), Love’s Savage Fury (GTV9), The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (ATV0).  A Man Of Action is the third instalment of ABC’s A Place In The World, starring Nick Tate, Carmen Duncan and Max Osbiston.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 8 September 1979.  ABC/ACP

Monday, 14 September 2009

Mike Leyland

mikeleyland Mike Leyland, the elder of the Leyland Brothers, has died at the age of 68 from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

A former cameraman for regional television station NBN, Mike and his brother Mal produced a documentary on the Darling River that was sold to the Nine Network and subsequently sold worldwide. The pair later produced the long-running documentary series Ask The Leyland Brothers, which ran on the Nine Network from 1976 to 1984, often touring remote areas of Australia with their respective families.

In 1980 the pair were jointly awarded an MBE in the New Year’s honours list.

The success of the series inspired a theme park in New South Wales though rising interest rates in the early ‘90s saw the brothers go bankrupt in the venture. The older Leyland continued to tour and produce films, including a series of documentaries for the Seven Network, with his wife Margie.

Mike Leyland is survived by Margie, daughters Kerry, Sandy and Dawn, step-daughters Sarah and Alison, and seven grandchildren.

Source: ABC,, Cooper Tyres

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ray Barrett

raybarrett Veteran Australian film and television actor Ray Barrett has died in a Queensland hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage.  He was 82.

Starting his career in Brisbane radio at 16, Barrett moved to Sydney in his early 20s and then took his career abroad.  A ten-month stint in the early British TV series Emergency Ward 10 led to other roles in series including The Troubleshooters, The Avengers, Doctor Who, Z Cars, The Saint and even as a voice artist on The Thunderbirds and Stingray.

Returning to Australia in the 1970s, Barrett became a familiar face with appearances in films including Don’s Party, The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Goodbye Paradise, Hotel Sorrento and the 1995 remake of Dad And Dave: On Our Selection.

Television appearances included Golden Soak, The Timeless Land, Sporting Chance, Five Mile Creek, Waterfront, The Flying Doctors, GP, Medivac, All Saints, White Collar Blue and mini-series After The Deluge.

Barrett also had an ongoing role in the ABC drama series Something In The Air.

His last acting credit was in the film Australia.

Source: The Age, IMDB

Monday, 7 September 2009

Nine invites us home…

9_logo_2009 The Australian today reports that the Nine Network is planning a rebranding exercise for its on-air presentation and news and current affairs programming.

The original date for the relaunch was set to be 09/09/09, but the pending full-scale launch of their digital channel Go has made this impractical.

For thirty years, Nine branded itself as ‘Still The One’, a campaign borrowed from the American ABC network that more than outlived its American predecessor.  For most of those thirty years Nine was the undisputed leader in television, largely due to the passion and drive (and deep pockets) of Kerry Packer.

9smashed Since Packer’s passing in 2005, Nine has seen its on-air image and programming take a battering.  Logos have changed, slogans have come and gone (remember ‘We Heart TV’?), many program formats have been tried and many, many programming changes have been made.  Even though ratings-wise they are still doing OK, in second place behind Seven, the network has lost a lot of its viewers’ respect at a time when it is critical that free-to-air television maintains its relevance in the changing market.

9_logo_2008The new-look campaign will see Nine promote itself as ‘the home of TV’, hoping to inspire a sense of ‘pride and ownership’ with the hope of reviving some of its former status.  The revamp will also include a standard approach to program promotions – similar to the current strategy employed by Seven and Ten where program idents are given standard endblocks with day and time information – expected to save some money in production costs.

A Current Affair is also to get a refreshed presentation – again – while Nine News has recently had a rework in Melbourne to update its image.

The new ‘home of TV’ campaign by Nine, expected to launch over the next couple of months, comes after the Freeview consortium (representing ABC, SBS, the commercial networks and the regionals) launched a campaign to try and shore up public support for free-to-air digital television by reminding us that free-to-air TV has given us many memorable moments.

Of course, to the viewer a campaign like ‘the home of TV’ means little if it isn’t followed up with a sense of direction in programming.  For the last couple of years, Nine has stumbled in this regard with some ratings disasters, titles that should probably have never been given airtime, changes to its news and current affairs strategy and an over-reliance on easy audience pleasers like Two And A Half Men and 20 To 1.  It will be interesting to see if Nine will consequently give audiences a reason to ‘come home’ to their network.

Source: The Australian