Sunday, 29 November 2009

Mother And Son gets a re-run

motherandson Seven’s digital channel 7TWO delivers an Australian comedy classic, Mother And Son, from tomorrow night (Monday).

The popular series stars Ruth Cracknell as Maggie Beare and Garry McDonald as her long-suffering son, Arthur. 

Arthur is in his 40s and, after the collapse of his marriage, he moves back home to take care of his aging mother, Maggie, who is gradually falling into dementia.  But despite his best efforts to keep up with the sometimes-mischievous Maggie, she continues to fawn praise over her elder son Robert (Henri Szeps), who does little to look after her.

The series, written by Geoffrey Atherden, produced 42 episodes between 1984 and 1994.  It was originally produced and aired on ABC, but in the late-‘80s some episodes were repeated on the Ten Network.  The series made a brief appearance earlier this year on Seven.

Mother And Son joins other Australian series Sons And Daughters and Home And Away on the 7TWO channel. 

7TWO will also be screening the short-lived 2005 Australian drama series Headland, starring Libby Tanner and Conrad Coleby, weekday afternoons at 12.00pm starting next Monday 7 December.

7TWO is currently available via Seven’s digital signal in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and regional Queensland.  The channel begins transmission this week, on 1 December, via Southern Cross Television in Darwin and Tasmania.  There is still no official word as to when regional affiliate Prime intends to start carrying the channel to its digital coverage areas in NSW, ACT and Victoria.

Mother And Son.  Starts Monday 30 November, 7.00pm. 7TWO

1979: December 1-7

tvtimes_011279 Two Restless Years old
It is two years ago since newspaper ads appeared about a new series from the 0-10 Network, The Restless Years: “an action-packed story of what happens to today’s school leavers when they go out in the world to try and get jobs.”  TEN10 general manager Ian Kennon described it as “a show about life.”  Two years later, who would have thought that the road to employment was so fraught with danger?  Are real-life teenagers attempting suicide, getting pregnant, having miscarriages, ending up in prison and being raped, bashed, robbed and murdered with the same regularity as the kids in The Restless Years?  And it’s not just the young characters having a rough time – Miss McKenzie (June Salter) and Dr Bruce Russell (Malcolm Thompson) have had their fair share, too.  In fact, in two years the show has been so turbulent that only four of the original cast members – Salter, Thompson, Zoe Bertram and Nick Hedstrom – still remain.
uglydavegray No more blues for Ugly Dave
Bright times are ahead for Ugly Dave Gray (pictured).  He and his new wife, Val, are expecting their first baby next month, and in the new year he will be hosting a new game show, Celebrity Tattletales, for the Seven Network.  The new show, set to run in the 6.00pm timeslot, marks a return to TV for Gray a year after the demise of Blankety Blanks.  But for Gray, it was worth the wait:  “Some people will grab anything to get their head back on TV.  That’s fatal.  I’ve had two offers of my own show but neither was suitable.  Then the Grundy Organisation offered me Celebrity Tattletales.  I think this is it.  I hope people don’t compare it to Blankety Blanks – it’s a different show.  But I’m sure gimmicks and catchphrases will come out of the blue.”
cherylrixon Plumber’s pin-up has million dollar plans!
Cheryl Rixon
(pictured) has come a long way since her first modelling job, posing for the cover of the WA Plumbers’ Annual, paid her a mere $40.  The former star of the sexy soap The Box now lives in Manhattan, models in London and New York, and is looking to buy a beach house in California.  The 25-year-old, who earned $250,000 for posing nude for Penthouse magazine, is well on the way to her first million: “I should reach it in 1980 as it’s going to be a big year for me.  I’ve spent three years in America getting myself established and setting things up, and next year should be the beginning.”  Rixon plans to use some of that million to set up her own production company to make TV variety specials, but in the meantime she has been starring in Stephen Spielberg’s comedy, Used Cars, and is set for a part in the new $30 million epic, Flash Gordon.
alandale The milkman who came in from the cold During his school years in New Zealand, Alan Dale (pictured) had a yearning to get into showbusiness.  He had sung, acted, danced and played musical instruments and, at the age of 18, had tried to get a job as a radio announcer but was told he was too young.  The thought of going overseas to further his showbusiness prospects was daunting, and not affordable.  He instead went into the car industry, starting as a salesman and working up to manager.  A chance meeting with the local milkman later led to him ditching the car business and picking up a milk run:  “I thought, what a way to earn a living, trotting around keeping fit delivering milk for a few hours.”  When Dale heard about a vacancy at a local radio station, Radio Hauraki, he tried to get the job.  He was unsuccessful, but did eventually end up with the midnight-to-dawn shift and later the afternoon show.  The radio announcing job led to an offer to star as a radio manager in a new local TV series, Radio Waves, for TV2.  The series was cancelled after 72 episodes, but  “I didn’t really want to go back to radio so I decided to hell with it.  I’ll go to Australia.  I’d had a taste of acting by then.”  Dale is now well-known to Australians as Dr John Forrest in the popular Nine Network series, The Young Doctors.
Briefly… There will be no expense spared in the production of the 0-10 Network’s new soap Arcade.  Apart from three production teams, a cast of around 30, authentic props and studio scenery, an average of 180 extras will be employed each week.  The new series is set to debut in January.
Former Young Talent Time cast member Jane Scali will be joining the cast of ABC’s The Saturday Show when it returns to air in the new year.  As well as The Saturday Show, Scali is currently in rehearsals for the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Cinderella.
Jonathan Coleman of Simon Townsend’s Wonder World has attempted to break the record for the biggest interview of all time.  The interview, with the 120,000-strong crowd at the recent 2SM Rocktober concert in Sydney, has been submitted to Australian Guinness Bureau of Records.
Comedy writer Mike McColl-Jones, who has worked with the likes of Graham Kennedy, Don Lane and Peter Couchman, has compiled a book, My Funny Friends, featuring anecdotes and photographs from his twenty years of working in television.
Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I am 16, and I feel that a lot more should be done to promote Australian child actors and singers.  Look at America, they have many fine talents like Brooke Shields, Leif Garrett and Tatum O’Neal.  Australia has also got some good talent but it is not put to use.  There should be more shows like Young Talent Time, where children and teenagers can display their talent.” J. P., VIC.
“There is one thing I must beg of NBN3 (Newcastle).  Please, oh please, don’t put Norman Gunston on again.  I really feel embarrassed looking at that zany grin, and all those bits of sticking plaster all over his face.  Please, do me a favour and send him to Hong Kong, or somewhere like that.” D. Dickey, NSW.
“In reply to F. Gregory (Viewpoint, 20 October 1979), Peter Lochran may be one of the best actors on TV, but certainly not the best actor (even though he is gorgeously handsome – is this what you’re going by to pick a good actor?).  The Young Doctors is one of the most popular serials on TV at the moment, for sure.  But why?  Maybe it’s because all those dinner invitations from handsome doctors to the nursing staff keep all the women wrapped up in the show.  I’ll tell you what, it’s certainly not the acting that keeps everyone involved.” J. Stanley, QLD.
mollymeldrum_2 “S. McLaughlan’s letter (Viewpoint, 27 October 1979) is a gross example of generalisation.  Molly Meldrum (pictured) does not “rave on” through the entire show.  In fact, on most shows, he only puts in an appearance for 10 minutes to do his Humdrum segment.” K. Manton, NSW.
What’s On (December 1-7):
’s tennis coverage continues throughout the week with the final days of the Toyota Women’s Classic on Saturday and Sunday, followed by the NSW Women’s Classic from Monday through to Friday.  Commentators include Peter Landy, Allan Stone and Garry Wilkinson.
GTV9 crosses to Brisbane for live coverage of the cricket First Test,  between Australia and the West Indies, on Saturday through to Wednesday.  Coverage starts at 11.50am, with breaks at 2.00pm and 4.40pm, and ending at 7.00pm.
60 Minutes (GTV9, Sunday) presents its final show for the year, and New Faces with Bert Newton moves to Monday nights.
ATV0’s Eyewitness News, now with Michael Schildberger and Peter Hanrahan, is cut to 30 minutes at 6.00pm from Monday, with a new 8.30pm news bulletin launched for the summer period.
ABC’s daytime schools programs finish up for the year on Friday, and the weekly magazine program Statewide At Six, with David Johnston, also presents its final edition. 
ATV0’s morning show Everyday, with Roy Hampson and Annette Allison, finishes up for the year on Friday, as does the 7.00pm magazine show Peter Couchman’s Melbourne.
Sunday night movies: The Deadly Tower (HSV7), Future Cop (GTV9), Midnight Man (ATV0).
Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 1 December 1979.  ABC/ACP

Seven wins ‘09

7_2000s No real surprises here.  The Seven Network has claimed victory for the 2009 season, based on the 40 weeks of prime-time (6.00pm-12.00am) ratings competition.

It is Seven’s third consecutive year at the top – this year managing an audience share of 28.8%, followed by Nine (26.8%), Ten (22.2%), ABC (16.4%) and SBS (5.9%).  Taking the various networks’ digital channels into account, Seven/7TWO wins on 28.1%, followed by Nine/GO (26.6%), Ten/One (22.4%), ABC1/ABC2 (17.0%), SBS1/SBS2 (5.9%).

Seven’s primary chanel won 34 out of the 40 ratings weeks, though when adding primary and digital channels together, the Nine/GO combination brings Seven/7TWO’s total wins down to 29 weeks.

In the more advertiser-friendly demographics, Seven will claim victory in the 18-49 and 25-54 age groups (although adding Nine + GO will see them just edge ahead in 25-54), while Ten will claim victory in the 16-39 age bracket.

Although Seven continued to maintain strong consistency with its early evening line-up – Deal Or No Deal, Seven News, Today Tonight, Home And Away – and continued to score highly with its weekly drama Packed To The Rafters, there was one series that surprised everyone and created the year’s biggest buzz – Ten’s Masterchef Australia

There was a lot of scoffing when Ten announced that it had taken on the Masterchef format to replace Big Brother, but the new show turned around the 7.00pm timeslot for Ten and the grand finale captured a total of 3.726 million viewers (OzTam, 5 cities) – making it the most-watched program for the year, even out-rating the AFL Grand Final (2.878 million), the Melbourne Cup (2.673 million) and the NRL Grand Final (2.528 million).

Ten also managed a surprise hit when it launched Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation in the wake of losing Thank God You’re Here to the Seven Network.  The new Shaun Micallef show returned high figures with an average of 1.601 million viewers over its series, while Thank God You’re Here in its first series on Seven averaged 1.515 million viewers.

The Nine Network had a couple of stand-out hits this year – the second series in the Underbelly franchise (averaging 2.158 million viewers) and two top-rating Hey Hey It’s Saturday reunion specials (2.149 million and 2.213 million).  Nine also scored well with the NRL State Of Origin series (2.121 million average) and the TV Week Logie Awards (1.664 million).

ABC’s best figures came from Midsomer Murders (1.421 million), New Tricks (1.221 million), Spicks And Specks (1.219 million), The Chaser’s War On Everything (1.203 million) and The Gruen Transfer (1.176 million).

The 2010 ratings season starts on Sunday 7 February and continues through to Saturday 27 November, with a two-week break over Easter.  Next year will also mark a significant change in ratings reporting as it will also incorporate time-shift viewing via devices such as VCRs, personal video recorders (PVR) or branded equipment such as Tivo or Foxtel IQ.

It’s Seven in ‘08
Seven wins ‘07

Friday, 27 November 2009

Ian Ross signs off for the last time

Sydney newsreader Ian Ross has tonight presented his last news bulletin, ending a career spanning over 50 years.

Starting his career in radio at Sydney stations 2GB, 2SM and regional station 2MW, Ross made the move to television, to Sydney’s TCN9, in 1965.  He then went to the United Kingdom for two years at news agency UPITN.  Upon returning to Australia in 1974, Ross returned to Nine – and would stay at Nine for the next 38 years.

For many years, “Roscoe”, as he was nicknamed, gained a national profile as the newsreader on Nine’s breakfast show, Today, before going into semi-retirement.

ianross In December 2003, the Seven Network scored a coup by signing up Ross to replace Ross Symonds and Ann Sanders as the chief newsreader for Seven News in Sydney.  Ross’ arrival at Seven came a year after the ever-popular Brian Henderson had retired from rival National Nine News after forty years, and it marked a significant change in Sydney’s news viewing habits, as Seven News, forever the runner-up in Sydney’s fierce TV news battle, had become the city’s top-rating news service.

The dominance of Seven News in Sydney, coupled with the increasing popularity of breakfast program Sunrise, saw the Seven Network finally challenge the Nine Network’s long held standing as Australia’s most popular news source.  Seven News now convincingly wins over Nine News, Sunrise wins over Today, Today Tonight wins over A Current Affair, Weekend Sunrise claimed victory over Nine’s long-running Sunday program last year, and Sunday Night has taken a lot of the shine off 60 Minutes.

In retiring from Seven News, Ian Ross hands over the nightly bulletin to weekend newsreader and Sunday Night co-host Chris Bath.

Source: Seven News, DanNews, Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, 23 November 2009

TelevisionAU Update 23-Nov-09


Looking a lot different to his former persona of the dapper tonight show host is Stuart Wagstaff, pictured here with June Salter as guest stars in The Godfathers - a popular family comedy-drama for the Nine Network in the early 1970s.  Wagstaff had come from hosting the recently-cancelled In Melbourne Tonight and Salter was known to viewers as one of the ensemble cast in the comedy The Mavis Bramston Show.  Picture: TV Week, 30 October 1971

1956 (Opening nights ABV2 and HSV7)
1957 (Premiere In Melbourne Tonight)
1974 (Nine Network-News Limited’s Darwin telethon)
1977 (National Survival Test)
1981 (Royal Wedding Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer)

1961 (Opening night GMV6 and BCV8)
1964 (Opening night ATV0)

1981 (TV Week Logie Awards)

1987 (Final episode Countdown)


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Analogue shutdown starts in 220 days


The countdown is now officially on.

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has set a date for the first shutdown of analogue TV services.

mildura Mildura, in Victoria’s North West, will be the first region in Australia to lose analogue television when its switch-off occurs on 30 June 2010. Mildura is currently served by ABC, SBS and commercial networks WIN and Prime. A digital-only channel, Ten Mildura, is operated jointly between WIN and Prime, and has also promised that it will carry the sports channel One HD from next month. WIN also carries the digital channel GO!, while Prime have so far not given any official indication of its intention to transmit the new Seven Network channel 7TWO.

After Mildura, the shutdown of analogue services will then progress through the rest of Australia, with the whole country completed by 31 December 2013.

The announcement of the Mildura switch-off date comes as the Government releases its third Digital Tracker survey – detailing Australia’s current trends, awareness and attitudes in the conversion to digital television:

91 per cent of Australian households are aware of the Government’s intention to shutdown analogue TV services. This ranges from 95 per cent in Mildura to 88 per cent in regional Queensland.

tv_static Very few households – less than one per cent – know when analogue signals will be switched off in their local region. Mildura had the highest awareness rate (19 per cent, up from 13 per cent last quarter) with most other regions ranging between zero and one per cent.

56 per cent of Australian households have now converted at least their main TV set to digital. This is up from 53 per cent last quarter. Mildura leads the rest of the country, with 79 per cent of households in that region converted to digital – followed by Tasmania (71 per cent), Darwin (70 per cent) and Perth (64 per cent).

50 per cent of Australian households are positive to the digital TV switchover, up slightly from 49 per cent in the previous survey.

Source: Senator Stephen Conroy, Digital Ready

1979: November 24-30

tvtimes_241179 Sisters: For better and worse!
Although Rebecca Gilling and Diana McLean (pictured, with co-star Peter Lochran) are only sisters on-screen, as Nurse Liz Kennedy and Sister Vivienne Jeffries in The Young Doctors, their friendship off-screen has similar characteristics.  “On camera, I have a similar relationship with Diana as with my own sister Tracy, in that we do have our ups and downs, do tend to take each other for granted.  But in a crunch, we stick together!” Gilling told TV Times – though their separate childhoods were quite different.  McLean was essentially brought up as an only child as her older brother had died from Down’s syndrome at the age of 8:  “I grew up in a grown-up world, with few close relatives, except my maternal grandmother.  Like most only children, I was always conscious of wishing I had lots of brothers and sisters.  Then my mother was stricken with cancer and died when I was 13.  During the previous six years she was ill, I was cared for by a maid and my grandmother.  Sounds like a poor little rich girl, doesn’t it?  But it’s true, I had everything I wanted but nothing I really wanted.”  Rebecca Gilling was the youngest of four children.  “My mother has a highly individual approach to rearing children.  Both my parents encouraged us to have very strong personalities and a strong sense of humour.  The four of us were all very close when we were small.  Being the youngest has its perks and its serious drawbacks.  There was always the dichotomy of being one minute too young – and the next being told, why don’t you grow up?  It also meant I wore hand-down clothes which were a bit battered by the time they’d gone through three tomboys.  Then, when I was 12, I retaliated by growing taller than the others.  Then I had to get new clothes.”

lizburch Brush with the law!
Liz Burch (pictured), the girl from the toothpaste commercials, is the new girl in Cop Shop – and it’s given her a ring of confidence.  The 24-year-old joins the series as Vic Cameron’s (Terry Donovan) younger sister, Liz Cameron.  It is her first big break in TV after five years of trying to get into showbusiness, including three rejections from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).  The young actress came from Sydney to Melbourne to audition for a role in Young Ramsay, but was unsuccessful.  Her agent encouraged her to apply for the Cop Shop role, despite the fact that her only TV experience was in commercials.  “My biggest speaking part had been in a toothpaste commercial, telling a bloke he could do his own navigating next time.”

robertmoore Love behind bars!
stations in all states will be involved in a new public affairs program, Line-Up, to screen from December while the usual public affairs programs are on a break for summer.  The new program, to fill the timeslot normally occupied by Four Corners, will be hosted by former Nationwide and This Day Tonight reporter Paul Griffiths.  Executive producer for the program, Richard Watson, said the program will not be unlike the former magazine-style program, Saturday Week, but will have “more in-depth” content:  “It could be likened to a miniature Big Country.  The team will travel a great deal around Australia to make documentary films of varying durations within a flexible format.”  Another new series, Faces Of The Eighties, will be hosted by former Monday Conference compere Robert Moore (pictured), and will go to air on Wednesday nights in the timeslot normally occupied by NationwideFaces Of The Eighties will feature interviews with Australians who are are leaders in their various fields, and who will continue to shape Australian society during the 1980s.  Overseas programs that will fill the Nationwide timeslot on Mondays include Collision Course, a documentary drama about a mid-air crash between two airliners over Yugoslavia in 1976, and Love Behind Bars, a look at a Texas prison where convicts of both sexes are allowed to mix.

Former Young Talent Time cast member Vikki Broughton is heading to Europe to star in a TV series for Italian network Telenova.  Broughton is currently in Sydney recording the soundtrack for the series of five half-hour specials, which will be filmed on location around Lake Como.

ABC’s rural affairs program Countrywide has won an award in the current affairs category at the recent Penguin awards in Melbourne.  Another ABC program, A Big Country, also won awards for Bob Connolly, for best producer and director, and Bob Plato for best script for a documentary or special report.

Former Number 96 star Joseph Furst’s guest appearance in The Young Doctors has so impressed the producers that they have decided to keep the character for future episodes.  Furst plays a mysterious German businessman, Heinrick Smeaton.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”The way Countdown is cut off during the number one song is thoughtless.  This song has been chosen number one by the public and is the one the majority of people want to hear.” S. Milward, VIC.

“While watching QTQ9, Brisbane, I heard the newsreader say: ‘And how that famous Irishman, Mike Walsh.’  I always thought Mike was a true-blue Australian.” F. Bellman, QLD.

“Why does TCN9, Sydney, leave scenes out of the shows they screen?  To date I have noticed entire scenes missing from shows such as Love Boat and Starsky And Hutch.  This practice does tend to leave one somewhat confused, as the missing scenes are frequently referred to in what is left of the show.  Surely the channels should not have the right to indiscriminately cut scenes from their shows whenever they feel like it (apparently for the purpose of screening more commercials – which, according to the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, should be limited to 11 minutes in any case).” N. Lewis, NSW.

“I agree with S. Pye (Viewpoint, 20 October 1979) about the program So You Want To Be A Centrefold.  A friend and I (both females) watched this program, as our boyfriends said they were both going to watch it.  We were both absolutely disgusted, as well as being embarrassed.  I felt these girls must be cheap to pose nude in front of a cameraman, then to be filmed for TV.  It is bad enough that they do this in magazines, let alone display their unclothed bodies on the screen.  Are there no morals left in this world?”  T. Yesberg, QLD.

What’s On (November 24-30):
crosses live to Kooyong Tennis Stadium, Melbourne, for live coverage of the Satellite Circuit Tennis Finals, with commentators Peter Landy, Garry Wilkinson and Allan Stone.  The coverage airs from midday to 6.00pm on both Saturday and Sunday and starts Seven’s daily coverage of tennis action for much of the summer.  From Monday, Seven covers the Toyota Women’s Classic, live from Kooyong each day from 11.00am to 6.00pm.

Starting Monday night, and continuing through summer, GTV9 has a mid-evening news bulletin at 9.30pm in addition to the usual 6.30pm news.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, GTV9 crosses to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup, Australia versus West Indies.  Coverage starts at 2.20pm and, apart from a one-hour break at 6.00pm, continues through to 10.30pm.

prisoner_lizzie In Prisoner’s season finale (ATV0, Wednesday), Lizzie (Sheila Florance, pictured) is a bit under the weather, and Greg (Barry Quin) discovers a theft from the examination room.  Pat (Monica Maughan) finds herself in a predicament, while David (David Letch) makes plans for revenge.

Michael Schildberger and Peter Hanrahan have replaced Bruce Mansfield and Annette Allison at the ATV0 Eyewitness News desk.

On Thursday night, 60 Minutes presents a special one-hour report, Year Zero – The Silent Death Of Cambodia, presenter by award-winning journalist John Pilger, the first western journalist allowed inside Kampuchea.

Sunday night movies: Perfect Gentleman (HSV7), Strange Homecoming (GTV9), The Abdication (ATV0).

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

Today is World Television Day

TV_set The United Nations says so:

In 1996, the General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day, commemorating the date on which, in 1996, the first World Television Forum was held at the United Nations.  States were invited to observe the Day by encouraging global exchanges of television programmes focusing on issues such as peace, security, economic and social development, and the enhancement of cultural exchanges (resolution 51/205 of 17 December).

So what are our TV networks doing for a day in which we celebrate the cultural exchange that television provides?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

1979: November 17-23

tvtimes_171179 Mum’s the word for Skyways’ Kelly
Joanne Samuel
caused a stir when, unmarried, she was written out of the ABC series Certain Women to have a baby.  These days, even with movie roles in Mad Max and Alison’s Birthday and an ongoing role in the Seven Network’s Skyways, Samuel never regrets being a single parent to 4-year-old daughter Emma, though she does have the help of a nanny:  “People may have some strange ideas about me not being married, but that is their business.  My friends and the people I work with don’t think it out of the ordinary.  I believe you should have children when you are young and can fully enjoy being with them.”  Samuel (pictured, with co-star Ken James) looks forward to expanding her movie career as well as television, but at the moment is happy as airport kiosk girl Kelly in Skyways:  “She is a nice and nice girls are hard to play unless you have a deeply written character.  Kelly hasn’t, and I just have to play her straight.  She is not my type of girl.  I reckon she is a bit of a dag, but I’m happy playing her.  As for Simon (Ken James), I wouldn’t take all the foolishness from him.  If he was a friend I might try to help him out, but I certainly wouldn’t take all that from a boyfriend.  I’d give him a boot out the door very quickly!”

Blockbuster TV series planned
The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) is about to embark on two of the most ambitious and expensive TV series ever to be produced in Australia.  The new series will be based on two Australian novels – Sara Dane, by Catherine Gaskin, and The Fortunes Of Richard Mahony, by Henry Handel RichardsonSara Dane, to go into production next year, has a budget of $1.2 million and has received financial assistance from the 0-10 Network and the US-based Metromedia Producers.  The film rights to The Fortunes Of Richard Mahony were bought by MGM as far back as 1946, but with the film never made the SAFC managed to score the rights.  Further production details for The Fortunes Of Richard Mahony have yet to be announced.

Lane man goes
Peter Faiman
, director and producer for GTV9 on shows including The Don Lane Show, will move to Sydney next year but remains associated with the Nine Network.  This is despite reports that Faiman had received a generous offer to join Rupert Murdoch’s TEN10 in Sydney.  Faiman’s move to Sydney will allow him to concentrate on production and to give him a new start after 16 years producing variety shows from Melbourne.

georgemallaby George in the jug!
Actor George Mallaby (pictured), formerly of Homicide, The Box and Cop Shop, is joining the cast of Prisoner.  Mallaby will play a social worker, Paul Reid, in the 0-10 Network series and is currently signed on for thirteen weeks.  “After Cop Shop I didn’t intend signing any long-term contracts in series.  I’ve signed to Prisoner for 13 weeks and if the pressures build up like they have in the past, that will be the end of it.  But if the same pressures aren’t there, I could well make the role an ongoing thing.  I shall also be writing for Prisoner, which is good, because I have always enjoyed scriptwriting and it was something I had to curtail while doing Cop Shop,” he told TV Times.

johnstpeeters The fall and rise of Johnny Lo Piccolo
In the late 1960s, an 11-year-old piano accordion player called Johnny Lo Piccolo was a hit act on the TV variety shows at the time.  And now, as John St Peeters (pictured), he is still a much sought-after TV performer, though the piano accordion was put away long ago.  Since returning to Australia, after some years in Canada where he launched a pop career with 23 singles released, St Peeters has formed a cabaret act, John St Peeters and the Sharelles, and is a regular performer on shows including Countdown.  His songs are currently on the charts in Spain and South Africa, and his latest song, You, You’re The One, will be Australia’s entry in the upcoming Music Expo in Miami.  Also, as a frequent guest host on Countdown, St Peeters is showing potential that could earn him a TV hosting job.  As well as naming Elvis Presley as an inspiration when he was younger, St Peeters was also inspired by Graham Kennedy, particularly as he appeared many times on Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight.  “I still see Graham now and then.  I went to the premiere of his movie The Odd Angry Shot and spoke to him afterwards.  He has given me a lot of encouragement,” he told TV Times.

frankwilson Briefly…
Frank Wilson (pictured), now back in Melbourne for the stage show Travelling North, has spoken out about his sacking four years ago from hosting GTV9’s New Faces talent show:  “In the last few years I wasn’t doing enough.  I was only doing that show and I was going stale.”

The cast of The Sullivans are expected to tour the United States in the new year in a push to sell the show to the big networks there.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”As a fan of the good, old movies, I would like to say how disappointed I was to have missed The Naked Jungle recently because it was put on so late at night.  On this particular night we had: 7.30 Cop Shop, 8.30 Quincy, 9.30 Police Woman, 10.30 The Naked Jungle.  Three cop shows in a row were completely unnecessary, not to mention boring.  Being a working person, I could not wait up any longer and consequently had to miss a great movie.” A. Ribaudo, WA.

“We have just watched the final episode of Starsky And Hutch and would like to thank QTQ9, Brisbane, for screening it over the past four-and-a-half years.  We would also like to thank them for starting repeats again in November.  We are sure a lot of people will appreciate that.  It’s sad to see the end of a great series, but we hope it means we’ll be seeing a lot more of its stars, David Saul and Paul Michael Glaser, as they are very talented actors.” J & L Clifford, QLD.

What’s On (November 17-23):
’s weekend is dominated by the Dunhill Australian Open Golf Championship with live coverage on Saturday from 11.00am to 5.35pm, and Sunday from 11.00am to 6.00pm.  GTV9 presents cricket with the McDonald’s Cup on Sunday and Wednesday.

HSV7 presents a one-hour special, The Best Of Norman Gunston, on Saturday night.

GTV9 crosses to Lake Karinyup Country Club for live coverage of the WA Open Golf Championship, screening Thursday and Friday from 4.30pm to 6.00pm and then from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

The Don Lane Show presents its final episode for 1979.

Sunday night movies: Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (HSV7), The Late Show (ATV0).  No movie on GTV9 due to cricket telecasts up to 10.30pm.  ABC presents Banana Bender, the final in its series of Australian plays, starring Maurie Fields, John Hargreaves and Lyndel Rowe. 

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

Monday, 16 November 2009

1979: November 10-16

tvtimes_101179 ABC’s biggest golf coverage
Players from five continents – Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America – will compete in this year’s Dunhill Australian Open, to be telecast on ABC this week in its largest golf coverage ever undertaken.  More than $8 million of outside broadcast equipment will be used at Melbourne’s Metropolitan Course.  ABC’s coverage will add up to 26 hours over four days, including live telecasts and evening highlights packages.  More than 50 technical personnel from interstate will join the 100-strong Melbourne ABC crew for the event.  ABC’s two Melbourne-based outside broadcast vans will be joined by outside broadcast vans brought in from Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart.  There will also be a team based at ABC’s Ripponlea studios in Melbourne responsible for editing the daily coverage into highlights packages for evening screenings.  ABC’s commentary team will be headed by Graham Dawson joined by Peter Thomson (pictured, a five-time winner of the British Open who will be competing in the Australian Open and joining the commentary team when he’s finished his round), Clive Clark and Peter Alliss.

carolinegillmer Caroline scores Sullivans role
Stage actress Caroline Gillmer (pictured) has scored a TV break with a role in The Sullivans.  Gillmer, recently a star in John Dietrich and John O’May’s productions of Gershwin and The ‘20s And All That Jazz, will play a Dutch woman in a storyline based in Holland.  However, her scenes will all be taped in the studio in Australia despite series regulars Steven Tandy, Norman Yemm and Olivia Hamnett currently taping scenes on location in Holland.  Gillmer’s character will be first seen on screen in the new year.

Looking for a winner
Judges on ABC’s The Inventors have had a tough time deciding on six finalists from the 64 entries featured on the show this year.  Executive producer Beverley Gledhill said that the standard for this year’s series has been the highest in the show’s ten-year run:  “Normally we are scratching around to get the sixth finalist.  But this year I’m afraid some people will miss out, whereas three years ago they would have definitely made the final.”  Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen will present the Inventor of the Year award, including a cheque for $3500, in the show’s series final this week.  The winner will then go on to compete at the International Exhibition of Inventors in Geneva.

vicgordon Being bad has been good for Vic Gordon
Many actors might be concerned at being cast as a “drunk” on successive occasions, but Vic Gordon (pictured) is very grateful for the work that it is bringing in.  The veteran actor has been cast twice in recent times as an amusing drunk in the Seven Network drama Cop Shop, but for Gordon it marks a turning point in his career as he tries to shake off the image of Sgt. Kennedy, the role he played for several years in Matlock Police.  “People don’t realise that before I became a TV copper I worked in every series under the sun, playing all sorts of different people.  Now at last some of them are starting to remember, and I’m getting some beautiful little cameo roles.”  On the home front, Gordon, 69, is about to celebrate five years’ marriage to artists’ agent Jean Lochhead.  The marriage, Gordon’s second after his first wife, Josie, died eight years ago, has also made Gordon the stepfather to rising star, Jean’s daughter Jacqui, who has won awards for her role in the ABC play Sally Go Round The Moon.

’s rural affairs program, Countrywide, will present a special report on Japan’s booming farming industry and its influence on the Australian economy.  Host Neil Inall recent spent a month in Japan to research and put together the special report.

Anne Pendlebury, recently the lead actress in the ABC series Twenty Good Years, has been cast for the upcoming mini-series, Water Under The Bridge, being produced for the 0-10 Network.

Actor Ray Barrett has said he would be delighted to play a leading role in the upcoming ABC series Sporting Chance, being written by friend Peter Yeldham.  “I haven’t seen a script – or been made a firm offer – but from what Peter told me it sounds a wonderful idea.  He told me he had written something for me.  I would say yes right away on the strength of Peter’s writing it,” he told TV Times.   Barrett also has a role coming up in another ABC series, The Timeless Land, and presents a weekly documentary series in Brisbane on TVQ0.

ABC Show Band leader Brian May has just returned from Hollywood where he has been writing the music score for the movie The Blue Lagoon.  May is also to soon start work on a new series of The Saturday Show for ABC.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor
”Congratulations to TVQ0, Brisbane, for showing some of the Kung Fu series, starring David Carradine.  At last a chance to see that kung fu is more mental mastery than an excuse for multiple mayhem.” R. Brown, QLD.

“I would be very interested to know why it is the exception – rather than the rule – in Queensland for a TV program to start on time.  As most networks have national affiliations, and it is rare for this fault to occur interstate, the reason for it is hard to understand.” L. Mackay, QLD.

“Congratulations to ABC for their coverage of the West End (Gawler) horse trials and also the coverage of the Australian evening championships earlier in the year.” V. Reynolds, VIC.]

“I’m fully aware of the furore about not knocking Australia, but let’s be realistic.  The Australian TV industry has gone backwards in the sense of fine quality.  Not many people know, unfortunately, how to distinguish rubbishy Australian shows from the good ones – which only ABC screens.  In the rubbish category are ostentatious programs such as Skyways, The Restless Years and Prisoner, which are pretty pathetic.  The plots are rhetorical, the stories lack realism, the acting, scripts and dialogue are poor.  What puzzles me is that these programs seem to be picking up good ratings – which is probably the only reason they were created.” P. Masci, QLD.

What’s On (November 10-16):
crosses live to Adelaide on Saturday morning for the annual John Martin’s Christmas Pageant, with commentary by Adelaide personalities Pam Tamblyn and Sandy Roberts.

ATV0’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup Carnival concludes on Saturday with George Adams Day, live from Flemington, hosted by Phil Gibbs and Michael Schildberger.

Cricket has started on GTV9 for the summer with South Australia versus Western Australia in the McDonald’s Cup, with all-day coverage on Saturday and Sunday.  Richie Benaud, Fred Trueman and David Colley lead the coverage.

Sunday is Remembrance Day, and ABC and HSV7 both have 2 minutes’ silence scheduled for 11.00am.  ABC also features a one-hour documentary, Armistice And After, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

On Monday night, ATV0 presents a two-hour special, Thanks For The Memory, looking back at the news, people and events that have featured throughout the 1970s.  Hosted by Bruce Mansfield and Peter Hanrahan.

Comedy specials on GTV9 during the week include a repeat of The Paul Hogan Show, featuring the sketch This Is Your Strife with Roger Simpleton, and the second of a series of specials featuring Ronnie Corbett in Australia.

tonybarber GTV9’s Family Feud (with Tony Barber, pictured), The Young Doctors and The Sullivans all come to a close for the year, with The Sullvans ending the year with a special one-hour episode on Friday night.  GTV9’s daytime US soaps All My Children, Days Of Our Lives, The Young And The Restless, Search For Tomorrow and General Hospital also come to a close for the year on Friday.

Queenslander Jodie Day is representing Australia in Miss World 1979, being telecast on GTV9 in a delayed telecast from Royal Albert Hall, London.

ABC’s telecast of the Dunhill Australian Open Golf Championship starts on Thursday afternoon, with five hours live from the Metropolitan Course, Melbourne, with an hour of highlights at 10.45pm.  Coverage continues on Friday with another five hours in the afternoon, and highlights from 10.50pm.

Sunday night movies: Shout At The Devil (HSV7), Shampoo (GTV9) and Mr Majestyk (ATV0).  ABC presents The Rock Pool, the next in the series of Australian plays, starring Ed Deveraux, Lyn James and Bunney Brooke.

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

Rove calls it a day

rovemcmanus In opening last night’s season finale for Rove, host Rove McManus announced that he is winding up the show after ten years on air:

“It was a difficult call to make but after ten years it felt like time to step away from the show and take a break to properly reflect on what I want to do next as a performer.

“The relationship with David Mott (chief programming officer) and the team at Ten has given us the space to make a show that we are extremely proud of over the last ten years. It is more opportunity than most will ever get.  I thank them for their support and hope they have enjoyed the ride as much as I have.”

After hosting a talk show, The Loft, on Melbourne’s Channel 31, McManus made his network television debut in 1999, hosting a late-night comedy show on the Nine Network, Rove, with an ensemble cast of Peter Helliar, Corrine Grant and Dave Callan.  Nine declined to extend the show after its initial ten-week run and almost a year later Network Ten had announced it was taking on the show and moving it into prime time.

The slightly re-titled Rove Live initially appeared on Monday nights before settling into Tuesdays at 9.30pm.  The show filled a void for live light entertainment on TV, a gap noticeable since the demise of Hey Hey It’s Saturday in 1999.

rove Rove Live continued until late-2006, when McManus’ wife Belinda Emmett passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.  McManus then took a six-month break from television, even contemplating whether or not to return.  But in April 2007 he did return the show, back to its original title Rove, and moved to the competitive Sunday 8.30pm timeslot.  Although the timeslot change initially saw an improvement in the show’s ratings, Rove did eventually suffer from an ever-changing start time, often due to the varying end times for shows like Big Brother and Australian Idol.

The success of Rove led to McManus’ company Roving Enterprises producing a number of other programs for Network Ten – Skithouse, Before The Game, Hamish And Andy specials, Real Stories, ARIA Awards, The 7PM Project and an Australian adaptation of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

Rove has picked up three TV Week Gold Logies and has also co-hosted the Logie Awards.  He also appeared as a commentator on The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras, guest hosted Good Morning Australia, co-hosted the 2005 telethon for the Asia Tsunami Relief in a unique joint telecast between networks Seven, Nine and Ten, and co-hosted Network Ten’s 40th anniversary special, Seriously 40, with Bert Newton.

McManus has also presented Rove from the US and also appeared as a guest on NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Network Ten has announced that its relationship with Roving Enterprises will continue into 2010 with The 7PM Project and Before The Game.

Source: The Age, Rove Daily

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

1979: November 3-9

tvtimes_031179 Sammys golden night out
The fourth annual Australian TV and Film Awards, the Sammys, have been presented at Sydney’s Seymour Centre.  Winning the Gold Sammy awards, for excellence in performance during the year, were daytime TV host Mike Walsh and singer and TV presenter Marcia Hines.  For Walsh it is his second Gold Sammy and Hines also won a Sammy for Best Variety Performer.

But the biggest hit of the night was the mini-series Against The Wind, taking out four awards including Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a TV series (Gerard Kennedy) and Best Actress in a TV Series (Kerry McGuire).

sammys 1979 Sammy Awards TV category winners
Gold (male): Mike Walsh
Gold (female): Marcia Hines
Chips Rafferty Memorial Award: Stanley Hawes
Best Actor in a Single TV Performance: John Hargreaves (A Good Thing Going)
Best Actress in a Single TV Performance: Belinda Giblin (Say You Want Me)
Best Actor in a TV Series: Gerard Kennedy (Against The Wind)
Best Actress in a TV Series: Kerry McGuire (Against The Wind)
Best Variety Performer: Marcia Hines
Best Drama Series: Against The Wind
Best Comedy Program: Neutral Ground (Tickled Pink)
Best TV Play: The Plumber
Best Variety Program: Hollywood (TV Follies)
Best Documentary: The Last Tasmanians
Best News Coverage: Pentridge Riot (GTV9 Melbourne)
Best Current Affairs Program: 60 Minutes
Best Sports Coverage: Australian Open Golf (Nine Network)
Best Children’s Series: Top Mates
Best Light Entertainment Series: Parkinson In Australia
Best Art Direction: Quentin Hole (Ride On Stranger)
Best Writer (TV Series): Peter Yeldham (Run From The Morning)
Best Writer (TV Play): Peter Weir (The Plumber)
Best Editing: Michael Balson (Mutiny On The Western Front)
Best Costume Design: Clare Griffin (Against The Wind)

lorrainebayly_2 Trapping Lorraine was a piece of cake!
It was Lorraine Bayly’s sweet tooth that led her into being featured on the Seven Network’s This Is Your LifeTV Times reporter Joanna Parsons and photographer David Murray were asked by the show to invite Bayly (pictured) to an interview while she was in Sydney attending the Sammy Awards.  The interview was to take place in a hotel restaurant where TIYL host Roger Climpson and camera crew would sneak into the restaurant via the kitchen and quietly set up at a table behind Bayly.  The maitre d’hotel would then present Bayly with flowers “sent by the gentleman sitting at the next table.”  Then Bayly would turn around to find Climpson to declare “Lorraine Bayly, This Is Your Life.”  But the plans for the mock interview almost went awry when Bayly suggested the interview be conducted in her hotel room.  It was a quick-thinking Parsons, knowing Bayly’s weakness for chocolate cake, who then responded, “but they have the most wonderful chocolate cake in the restaurant.  Wouldn’t you like to try it?”  Bayly fell for it and the set-up continued as planned.  Bayly then responded, “Do you mean the interview wasn’t really…?”  Parsons assured her that it was still a genuine interview, to be published soon in TV Times.

clemdimsey They’re off!
In the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup, TV Times talks to four of Australia’s top race callers about the ‘race that stops a nation.’  ATV0 race caller Clem Dimsey (pictured) admitted that when he first called the Melbourne Cup for the 0-10 Network last year, he lost a stone in weight due to the tension.  Although Dimsey has called the Melbourne Cup race on a number of prior occasions, last year was the first as part of a nationwide coverage of the race.  Dimsey’s tip for the Melbourne Cup is a New Zealand horse, Kankama.  ABC race caller Joe Brown will notch up a milestone when he calls the Melbourne Cup for the 32nd time, equalling the record set by the late Ken Howard.  “It’s the highlight of the working year,” he says.  Brown has tipped Dulcify for the Melbourne Cup.  Radio 3UZ caller John Russell, who will also call the race for the Macquarie Radio Network and the Nine Network, has called the Melbourne Cup only twice before now but had been the understudy for veteran caller Bert Bryant for 23 years.  Russell is reluctant to give a tip for the big race as he is involved in various phantom race calls involving big prizes, though he does name Dulcify, Kankama and Our Big Gamble as good chances.  The Seven Network and radio 3DB’s Bill Collins will be calling the Melbourne Cup for the 26th time this year, but still admits to getting nerves before the race.  “I still remember the nerves before I called my first cup and the drama still gets to me these days.  The build-up is impossible to resist,” he says.  Collins, nicknamed ‘The Accurate One’, was reluctant to give a cup tip too far in advance but did feel that Dulcify and Double Century should do well.

louisephilip Briefly…
Many of the staff from Riverside were present for the baptism of Cop Shop’s latest addition, Prudence Jane Marion Benjamin, the daughter of Claire (Louise Philip, pictured) and Tony Benjamin (Greg Ross).  Prudence, played by a baby boy named Zigi Barrett, took to the filming calmly with only a small cry of protest towards the end of filming.  The episode airs this week in Sydney and Melbourne, next week in Brisbane and later in Adelaide.

Three former TV cops, George Mallaby, Leonard Teale and Warwick Randall, have recorded safety messages for Melbourne radio station 3MP.

The Seven Network is negotiating to buy the TV rights to the film Cathy’s Child, the film which won three awards at the recent Sammys.  However, it will be some time before the film appears on TV as it has still yet to be released in cinemas in Perth and many country areas.

ATV0 newsreader Bruce Mansfield likes to dress well.  His current favourite tie is a classy number with a rose motif.  Anyone can buy a similar one, if prepared to pay $75.

Actress Penny Ramsey has made a return to work, after seven years as a full-time housewife and mother of two, as the wife of deputy governor Jim Fletcher (Gerard Maguire) in Prisoner.  The daughter of actress Lois Ramsey has had a varied career, including appearing on The Mavis Bramston Show as a teenager in the ‘60s, hosting a children’s show and appearing in the stage musical Hair.

Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”After more than 10 years of journalists using the word “charisma” I have a vague notion of what it means.  Could you ask ABC journalists in Canberra if I have to wait as long to crack on to ‘hiatus’?” W. Murphy, NSW.

“I would like to express my extreme disappointment at the way ABC deprived us of the presentation of the awards at both the State of Origin Australian Rules carnival and the 1979 grand final in Western Australia.  On 6 and 8 October, ABC were good enough to televise the State of Origin matches.  This included something like nine hours of top-class football, and surely, if this was possible an extra half-hour at the conclusion was possible.  When they returned to the studio it was only to show an absolutely pathetic cartoon, The White Seal, or, on the weekend of the WA grand final, a repeat of Countdown.  Remember that country viewers are, unfortunately, stuck with only this one annoying channel.” L. Beaton, WA.

“Lately, I don’t think Prisoner has had its usual quick humour and zest.  This seems to have come about only since the character of Noelene Bourke (Jude Kuring) left the series.  Although she was unpopular, I believe she put the finishing touches to the show.  She and her daughter, Leanne (Tracey-Jo Riley), should be reintroduced.  Having a youngster in the program is a good idea, as it keeps us in contact with the difficulties of the young.” D. Harvey, NSW.

What’s On (November 3-9):
Weekend sport includes the NSW Open Championship Golf, from The Lakes in Sydney, live on ABCATV0’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off on Saturday with Michael Williamson hosting the Derby Day Sportsman’s Breakfast, followed by Phil Gibbs and Clem Dimsey’s preview of the Derby Day races and then ATV0 crosses to Flemington for five hours of live coverage of all the day’s races.

GTV9 presents the first in a series of Australian-made specials featuring Ronnie Corbett, of The Two Ronnies.  The special features guest stars Pamela Gibbons, Chris Kirby and June Bronhill.

ATV0’s Melbourne Cup coverage starts with a half-hour special on Monday night followed by a 90-minute preview on Tuesday morning.  At midday, ATV0 crosses to Flemington for five hours coverage of all the day’s races for Melbourne Cup Day.  Phil Gibbs and Michael Schilberger head the coverage, with Annette Allison providing interviews with special guests during the day.  Clem Dimsey calls the day’s races.

Motoring expert Peter Wherrett, host of popular shows Torque and Marque, returns to TV to present a 40-minute special, Torque About A Crisis, on ABC.  Wherrett examines the Federal Government’s campaign to educate drivers about improving the efficiency of their vehicles with proper treatment and improved driving style.

ATV0 presents a repeat of the documentary, The Last Tasmanian, a recent winner at the Sammy Awards.

GTV9’s Friday night movies is ABBA The Movie, the 1977 production featuring the story of a radio disc jockey (played by Robert Hughes) following the pop group on their Australian tour in order to get an interview with them.  The movie also features Tom Oliver, formerly of Number 96 fame.

Sunday night movies: The Hindenburg (HSV7), Nightmare In Badham County (GTV9), Holocaust 2000 (ATV0).  ABC presents the latest in its series of Australian plays, Money In The Bank, starring Tom Richards (Matlock Police), Barbara Stephens and Max Meldrum.

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

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Community TV gets a ticket to digital!

tvs It has finally happened – the Government has taken some positive action in allowing the Community TV sector a transition to digital!

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy has announced that the Government will make available temporary capacity to allow Community TV channels the chance to broadcast on the digital platform.

The Government will also commit $2.6 million to aid the Community TV broadcasters in the transition. 

This is on the back of various handouts and concessions, including free broadcast spectrum, given to the national and commercial broadcasters since the transition to digital television began almost a decade ago.  It is also following the Government’s promise to assist the community radio sector in its transition to digital broadcasting.

The Senator also took the opportunity to take a political stab at the former Howard Government:

“Unlike the previous government, the Rudd Government greatly values the role of community television. It provides hundreds of hours of truly local content every month, and reaches more than a million viewers each week.”

Despite this it has still taken the Rudd Government two years, a number of promises and a lack of budget and public support for Community TV, coupled with a fairly consistent campaign by the Australian Community Television Alliance (representing TVS Sydney, C31 Melbourne, QCTV Brisbane, C31 Adelaide and a planned channel for Perth), to come to what is really only promised as a temporary solution.

C31_MelbThe relevant channels will be assigned broadcast spectrum previously set aside for data-casting services which have, until now, yet to be utilised.

The Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide channels will now be able to simulcast in both analogue and digital in the lead-up to the switch-off of analogue services, scheduled for completion by 31 December 2013.

The new channel in Perth, which will replace the now-defunct Access 31, will operate from 2010 on a digital-only basis.  In the latest government Digital Tracker survey, Perth is the capital city with the second highest rate of conversion to digital TV, with 60 per cent of households now converted to digital.  (Darwin is the highest with 68 per cent)

Source: DBCDE, TVS

ABC3: The first two days

abc3_LOGO ABC’s new children’s channel ABC3 has issued its first program guide.

The new digital channel starts with a one-hour Countdown To 3 at 5pm on Friday 4 December on ABC1, including performances by Cassie Davis, Short Stack and ABC3’s CJ the DJ and an appearance by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who will launch the new channel.

Then at 6.00pm, ABC3 starts in earnest with a line-up including new Australian-made programs Prank Patrol, CJ The DJ, My Place and Rush TV:

Friday 4: 6pm Prank Patrol, 6.30 CJ The DJ, 6.55 News On 3, 7.05 Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, 7.35 Jeopardy, 8pm My Place, 8.30 Heartbreak High, 9pm Close.

Saturday 5: 6am Clash of The Titans: Chaos 101, 6.20 Dragon Booster, 6.45 Skyland, 7.10 Wolverine And The X Men, 7.35 Countdown To 3 (Rpt), 8.35 Prank Patrol, 9am Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, 9.30 Best Of Rollercoaster, 10.30 Spliced, 10.55 Grossology (2 episodes), 11.45 Jeopardy (5 episodes), 1.55pm Old Tom, 2.10 Flipper And Lopaka, 2.35 Yakkity Yak, 3pm Worst Best Friends, 3.30 Countdown To 3 (Rpt), 4.30 Barney’s Barrier Reef, 5pm Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, 5.30 Super Hero Squad, 5.55 Shaun The Sheep, 6.05 Jibber Jabber, 6.20 CJ The DJ, 6.30 Prank Patrol, 7pm Rush TV, 7.30 Iron Man (4 episodes), 9pm Close.

ABC3 ABC3 will broadcast each day from 6am to 9pm.

From Monday 7 December, News On 3 will air at 4.25pm and 6.55pm weeknights.

Website: ABC3

Monday, 2 November 2009

The race that stopped the station

Viewers will tomorrow (Tuesday) take for granted that many major sporting events, such as the Melbourne Cup, will be televised in some form. 

However, this wasn’t always the case.  Even though television flickered on for the first time in Australia in 1956, it would be another 22 years before Melbourne television viewers could see live-to-air the “race that stops a nation.”

Flashback to fifty years ago, Melbourne Cup Day, 3 November 1959.  Live outside broadcasts were certainly possible but live coverage of events like the Melbourne Cup were kept off local television, presumably not to affect attendances at the venues.  But Melbourne’s GTV9 did not let that deter them and they were determined to bring the result of the big race to viewers as soon as they could.

nine_melbcup TV Times reported that GTV9 used new Polaroid technology to bring viewers a photo of the winning horse crossing the finish line a mere 2 minutes and 54 seconds after it occurred – a far cry from the half-hour it took to achieve the same feat the year before.

GTV9 newsman Peter Maund described the process:

“We filmed the whole race on closed circuit TV, which was being videotaped in the studios, to be shown later.  Cameraman Mike Browning took a picture with the Polaroid camera as the finish appeared on a monitor set.  He mounted it on a card and we interrupted another program to flash it on the screen.”

HSV7 screened film of the Melbourne Cup race at 6.00pm and then, after the news, at 6.45pm screened Melbourne Cup Cavalcade, a documentary showing Cup runners in the mounting enclosure, full running of the race, presentation of the Cup and other highlights.  The 15-minute program was repeated late that night.  ABV2 had a Melbourne Cup special edition of its regular program Sports Page at 8.30pm. 

Later that night a stroke of luck meant that the winning jockey, Pat Glennon, was able to appear in the studio on GTV9’s In Melbourne Tonight to receive the traditional gold-mounted riding whip and then went to the studios of HSV7’s Bandwagon to be presented with a miniature Melbourne Cup.  His original plan was “win or lose” to fly back to Adelaide as soon as the race was over as he’d promised to be home for his son’s eighth birthday.  It was a disappointment for GTV9’s promotions executive Eric Welch who had hoped to have the winning jockey on In Melbourne Tonight that night.

However, against 100-to-1 odds, his horse Macdougal won the race and his wife, thrilled at his second Cup win, had quickly boarded a plan from Adelaide to be with him.  The pilot was able to radio a message to Melbourne to be passed on to Glennon.  “I was just leaving for Essendon (Airport) when the message came through,” he said.  He was then able to do the late-night rounds of the two TV channels.

atv0_melbcup Melbourne viewers would continue to be denied live coverage of the Melbourne Cup race, although interstate viewers would eventually be allowed to watch it live. Even the advent of ATV0 in 1964, and the channel’s owner Reg Ansett having a love of horse racing, was not able to persuade any change despite the new channel pioneering live coverage of weekly race meetings from around Victoria.  On Melbourne Cup Day, 3 November 1964, ATV0 did devote five hours of programming to previews of the day’s event but was still precluded from covering the race itself.

Then in 1978 Ansett finally managed to score live coverage rights to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, incorporating four days of live coverage including Melbourne Cup Day.

ATV0 and its successor ATV10 maintained the annual coverage of the Carnival until 2001.  The Seven Network had taken over the rights to the Melbourne Cup from 2002.

Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 30 October 1959, 13 November 1959.

The 2009 Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup Day.  Tuesday 3 November, 10.00am AEDST.  Seven*

* HSV7 Melbourne.  Other areas/timezones, check local guides

Back to the first day at Summer Bay

haa_bobby The Seven Network’s new digital channel 7TWO has a couple of Aussie soap classics from the archives.

Starting tomorrow morning (Tuesday 3 November) at 9.30am, 7TWO presents the two-hour pilot of Home And Away. Produced during 1987, the pilot provides the background on foster family the Fletchers, their move from the city to the coastal town of Summer Bay and the introduction of the newest member of the family, Bobby Simpson (Nicolle Dickson, pictured). The pilot first screened on Seven on Sunday 17 January 1988 and the regular half-hour episodes started the next night.

sonsanddaughters_2 Then from Wednesday 7TWO kicks off its normal weekday routine with Sons And Daughters (featuring Pat McDonald and Kim Lewis, pictured) at 9.00am and then Home And Away The Early Years at 9.30am.

7TWO is now broadcasting on digital channel 72 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and regional Queensland. The channel will be extended to Darwin and Tasmania via Southern Cross Television from next month. Prime Television, covering regional NSW, Victoria and ACT, has yet to announce a timeframe for launching 7TWO in its coverage areas.

Young Talent Time headed for return?

ytt_1979The wave of nostalgia triggered by the recent return of Hey Hey It’s Saturday and the passing of Don Lane has sparked talk of the return of a family TV favourite.

Johnny Young, the host and producer of Young Talent Time and now back in his former home town of Perth as a breakfast announcer at radio 6IX, is reported to have been in discussion with the Ten Network about reviving YTT, more than two decades after it was taken off our screens.

A pop star and TV presenter in Perth, Young came to Melbourne in the late-‘60s and performed on and hosted local teenage shows such as Go!!  He formed Young Talent Time as a junior talent quest as well as a variety show with an ensemble cast of performers between the ages of 8 and 16.  The format was not entirely dissimilar to an earlier show, Brian And The Juniors, that had finished up in 1970.

ytt_1979a Young Talent Time made its debut on 24 April 1971 on ATV0 in Melbourne, featuring Young as host and a cast of performers including Debra Byrne, Phillip Gould, Jane Scali, Jamie Redfern, Vikki Broughton and Rod Kirkham – some of which were already known to viewers of Brian And The Juniors.

Despite its low budget, the show was an immediate hit and gave the channel some relief from the usual Saturday evening battering by football replays on rival channels.  YTT also got an early ratings boost when Graham Kennedy made a guest appearance on the show shortly after its debut.

1972 saw Young Talent Time win a TV Week Logie award for Best Variety/Music Program.  The show won the same award again in 1974, 1975 and 1976. 

In 1982, after celebrating a decade on air, Young Talent Time won a special Logie award for sustained excellence in television.

ytt Young Talent Time came to an end in 1988, having created a number of household names – including Jamie Redfern (who went on to tour the US after being ‘discovered’ by Liberace), Debra Byrne, Phillip Gould, Jane Scali, Sally Boyden, Karen Knowles, Tina Arena and Dannii Minogue.  The show also inspired a US-based spin-off, The New Generation.

Since its demise, there have been on-again off-again talks about reinventing Young Talent Time for a new generation.  A 2001 special, produced and presented by YTT cast member John Bowles, was well received by viewers and sparked more talk of a revival.

Hey Hey It’s Saturday, a long-time timeslot rival of YTT during the ‘80s, this year got a new lease of life after a Facebook-led campaign sparked two reunion specials on the Nine Network.  The ratings success and apparent public support for an ongoing series has seen negotiations for a possible Hey Hey It’s Saturday return again next year. 

With Young now reportedly heading negotiations for a return to YTT, the show is now also the subject of a Facebook campaign for a return.  The nostalgic appeal of the format plus the public’s leaning towards a return to family entertainment on television could see the show returned in some form.

Reference: Australian Television Information Archive