Monday, 29 March 2010

Hey… who would have thought…?

sarahmonahanWhen Hey Dad! finished up production back in 1994, who would have ever imagined that 16 years later the show would become the biggest topic on tabloid current affairs shows, newspapers and all over the internet… and would spark a police investigation?

The Hey Dad! controversy started a couple of weeks ago when Sarah Monahan, then a child star in the series (pictured), spoke to Woman’s Day about her time with the show, and in particular one person who she alleged was acting inappropriately towards her – including gestures such as touching her and exposing himself. Ms Monahan did not name the perpetrator involved in her initial interview – but it wasn’t long before A Current Affair took it that step further.

heydad1993The revelation from ACA prompted a feeding frenzy, in particular between ACA and its Seven Network equivalent Today Tonight. Both shows pursued the issue with great enthusiasm – and were not afraid to use dirty tricks, either. In particular Today Tonight, no doubt miffed at ACA’s scoop, brazenly took footage that ACA had taken of the alleged offender, zoomed in the picture to remove those pesky “ACA” logos splashed all over the image, and then whacked their own “Exclusive” tag onto it.

ACA also scored a coup – an interview with the show’s producer, Gary Reilly. Mr Reilly, who also co-produced other comedies for Seven including Kingswood Country, The Naked Vicar Show and Daily At Dawn, has claimed he was not aware of the incidents that Ms Monahan referred to, but did concede that there had been other complaints made by another cast member.

tvweek_240290 ACA also managed to score interviews with many of the show’s former cast members who gave varying perspectives on the saga – including former cast member Simone Buchanan (pictured), who gave an account of her own experiences behind-the-scenes that weren’t too dissimilar to Ms Monahan’s, and Ben Oxenbould, who claimed to have witnessed an incident between the accused and Monahan.

Another former child star from the series, Angela Keep, who replaced Monahan in the role of Jenny Kelly, has also reportedly sold her own story to Woman’s Day.

The public accusations have now triggered a NSW Police investigation and Monahan has reportedly flown back to Australia, from her home base in the US, to make a statement to police.

Police are also expected to take statements from Buchanan and others involved in the series at the time.

At this stage no charges have been laid.

Hey Dad! debuted on the Seven Network in 1987. The half-hour sitcom, based on the family of a single father, ran for seven years and 293 episodes – making it one of the longest-running sitcoms in the world, out-ranking US sitcom giants like Seinfeld (180 episodes), Happy Days (247 episodes) and MASH (251 episodes).

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