Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Victoria Longley

victorialongleyActress Victoria Longley has died in Sydney at the age of 49 after a battle with breast cancer.

It was her second bout with the illness.

An accomplished actress on stage, film and television, Longley was awarded best actress at the Sydney Theatre Awards in 2006 for her performance in the stage production The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? and last year played the role of Goneril in the South Australian production of Shakespeare’s King Lear and was to appear in the same role in the Bell Shakespeare production of the play this year before falling ill.

Longley also had an extensive career in television, appearing in The Dirtwater Dynasty, GP, Mercury, Murder Call, Seven Deadly Sins, Wildside, Water Rats, Young Lions, Farscape and All Saints.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, IMDB

New channels on Tassie waiting list

tasmania The recent announcements of new digital channels 7mate and 11 have yet to be followed up with confirmation from local affiliates that they will be carried in Tasmania.

Craig Davies, Tasmanian general manager for Southern Cross Media (representing both Southern Cross Television and Tasmanian Digital Television), told The Mercury that neither of the new channels will appear in Tasmania at the same time as they launch on the mainland, but added that an announcement is coming:

"We are not sure of the timeframe because we haven't got an agreement from Seven or Ten to bring these channels into Tasmania and we also do not have the capacity to broadcast these channels into Tasmania (but) it is within our best interests to get them on air as soon as we possibly can.”

Mr Davies added that further extensions to Southern Cross’ network infrastructure, based in Canberra, is needed to bring the new channels to Tasmania.

The delay will mean that Tasmanian viewers may be denied the opportunity to see the high-definition broadcast of the AFL Grand Final, as it will serve as the opening program on Seven’s 7mate channel. The standard-definition broadcast is expected to be relayed via Southern Cross Television as normal.

7mate 11

The delay in bringing Ten’s new youth-focused channel, 11, to Tasmania via TDT may impact on fans of Neighbours and The Simpsons as both shows are set to move exclusively to 11 when it launches in the new year.

Both new channels 7mate and 11 are also expected to carry a significant schedule of exclusive programming not available on the main Seven and Ten channels.

The launch of Seven’s first digital channel, 7TWO, was delayed to Tasmania by one month and Ten’s sports channel, One HD, was delayed by approximately three months. However, Nine’s digital channel GO! was broadcast via Tasmania’s local affiliate, WIN, from the beginning.

The Nine Network is also expected to announce an additional digital channel soon.

Tasmania is a market of around 500,000 viewers – making it one of the smallest populations for a competitive market in Australia – yet in the space of ten years it has gone from two commercial channels (WIN and Southern Cross) to six commercial channels (WIN, Southern Cross, TDT, 7TWO, GO!, One HD) and also receives the full suite of digital channels offered by ABC and SBS.

Meanwhile, Prime Television, the Seven Network affiliate serving the regional markets of New South Wales/ACT and Victoria, have said they will be carrying 7mate from the time it launches on 25 September.

Source: The Mercury, Regional TV Marketing

Sunday, 29 August 2010

WIN rediscovers Homicide

homicide_ad When it debuted in October 1964, Homicide marked a significant milestone in the development of Australian television drama.  There had been earlier attempts at drama series, soap operas, mini-series and televised plays but many struggled to gain a high profile in Australia’s early television landscape.  After all, it was so much cheaper to buy US shows than to invest in local production, but Homicide was the first high-profile drama series to be made by Australians for Australians and its ratings from the very beginning proved that local production could be a viable and popular alternative to imported programs.

The show’s producer, Hector Crawford, had been a successful producer of radio programs since the mid-1940s and television productions since the late 1950s and had modelled Homicide loosely on an earlier radio drama series, D24.

Homicide made its debut on Melbourne’s HSV7 on Tuesday 20 October 1964 at 7.30pm.  The series was soon sold across the network and also later sold overseas.  By 1966, Homicide was ranked as the third most popular show on Australian television, rising to first place the following year and would top the national ratings again for four consecutive years from 1969 to 1972.  In 1973 it was bumped to second place by Number 96

The success of Homicide led to Crawford receiving requests from rival networks to produce police dramas for them as well – and he responded with Division 4 (Nine Network) and Matlock Police (0-10 Network) which were also well received by the public.

Homicide continued for a record breaking 510 episodes with its final episode going to air on HSV7 in January 1977, although production had ceased as far back as 1975.   Homicide’s demise came soon after the axe had also been put to Division 4 and Matlock Police, triggering theories that the networks had colluded to bring down the Crawford empire in response to his high-profile battle to force the networks into an increase in the amount of Australian production on television.

Since its last episode in 1977, repeats of Homicide have been few and far between.  The Seven Network did pay tribute to Homicide on the occasion of the show’s 30th anniversary in 1994 with a one-hour special hosted by Blue Heelers stars John Wood and Lisa McCune, and the network screened a handful of Homicide episodes in an afternoon timeslot.

homicideSeven also paid tribute to Homicide in November 2005 with the screening of the 1973 episode that farewelled long-time cast members Leonard Teale (pictured, far right, with the cast in 1967) and Alwyn Kurts to commemorate the start of HSV7’s fiftieth year of transmission.  And the Nine Network’s 50 Years 50 Shows special, produced in 2005, ranked Homicide as the 12th most significant program to have been made in 50 years of Australian television.

With Crawford Productions now owned by WIN Corporation, its regional television network, WIN, has in recent years been re-playing various series from the Crawford archives in late-night timeslots.  Some of the titles to have featured include Division 4, Matlock Police, Carson’s Law, Skyways and even the ill-fated Holiday Island.  With episodes of most of those titles now exhausted WIN earlier this month started replaying Homicide, starting from the show’s earliest episodes that first went to air in 1964.

WIN broadcasts through regional markets in Southern NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia as well as the Australian Capital Territory.

Homicide.  Monday night/Tuesday morning, 2.00am.  WIN Television (except South Australia)

Source: TV Eye – Classic Australian Television, TelevisionAU

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Ten to launch new channel – Eleven – in 2011

11 The Ten Network has today unveiled two major strategic moves.  The first will be the launch of its new standard-definition channel – 11 – early in 2011.  The new channel continues Ten’s strategy of building independently-focused identities, following the launch last year of One HD, while maintaining the Ten brand on its main channel.

11, which will replace the standard-definition simulcast of One HD, promises to provide a general entertainment format with focus on the 13-29 age bracket, with access to tens of thousands of hours of program material, old and new, from the library of US network CBS

Some of the current programs promised to appear on 11 include The Office, Stargate Atlantis, Top Model UK, Dollhouse, The Cleveland Show, The Late Show With David Letterman, Dexter, Smallville, 90210 and Melrose Place.  The new channel will also have access to CBS’ library of classics including Family Ties, Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, Becker, Get Smart, MacGyver, Hogan’s Heroes, Everybody Loves Raymond, Sex And The City, Roseanne, The Love Boat, Frasier and Star Trek.

neighboursHowever, spearheading the new channel’s prime-time line-up will be two programs that have been early evening staples for Ten for two decades – Neighbours and The Simpsons.

In a bold move, Ten will be moving Neighbours exclusively to 11.  It will be the first time that a commercial network has scheduled an ongoing locally-made drama exclusively on a digital multi-channel.  Ten chief Grant Blackley also announced that 11 will become the new free-to-air home of The Simpsons.  Both The Simpsons and Neighbours are expected to occupy the same weeknight timeslots on 11 as they currently do on Ten.

The shifting of the two programs from the main Ten channel creates an opportunity for Ten’s other strategic development – an increased commitment to news and current affairs.

tennews Ten is planning to bridge the one-hour gap between Ten News and The 7PM Project with a half-hour national news bulletin followed by a half-hour locally-based bulletin in each state.  Ten’s increased news presence will also extend to weekends where state-based bulletins will be reinstated on a regular basis.  Presenters and reporters for the expanded news service have yet to be announced.

With this increase in news and current affairs coverage the network has committed to employing an additional 100 staff and upgrading infrastructure in an investment of up to $20 million per annum.  Network Ten and CBS have also entered into a joint venture, ElevenCo Pty Limited, to ensure content supply for the new channel.  ElevenCo will be two thirds owned by Ten and one third by CBS.

It is unknown at this stage what plans are in place for 11 to be relayed through pay-TV or through Ten’s regional affiliates such as Southern Cross Ten, Tasmanian Digital Television and Darwin Digital Television.

The announcement of 11 comes a week after rival Seven unveiled details of its new high-definition channel, 7mate, and just over a month after ABC launched its new 24-hour channel, ABC News 24.

Source: Network Ten

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Prime welcomes 7mate aboard

7mate Regional broadcaster Prime Television has today announced that it will be carrying the Seven Network’s new high-definition channel, 7mate, starting on the same day as its launch on Seven’s digital platform.

The decision to air 7mate from day one contrasts last year’s situation where 7TWO was broadcast on Seven for almost two months before it launched on Prime.

The Seven Network announced the upcoming launch of 7mate last week – with the channel promising a program line-up targeting males aged 16-49.  The channel is scheduled to launch on 25 September starting with the high-definition simulcast of Seven’s coverage of the AFL Grand Final.

7mate will be broadcast on digital channel 73 on the Seven Network stations, and on digital channel 63 on Prime.

Prime Television broadcasts through the regional markets of New South Wales and Victoria, including the Australian Capital Territory and the Gold Coast.   Prime’s WA outlet, GWN, may be unlikely to carry the channel for some time as the network is still in the early stages of its digital roll-out across WA and existing multi-channels such as 7TWO are yet to appear there.

There is speculation that the surprise announcement of 7mate has prompted the Nine and Ten networks to fast-track their third channels to air – though neither network has given any definite or clear indication of their strategy for the third channel.  Nine is rumoured to be considering anything from a crime-themed channel to movies to classic TV programming, while Ten is considered likely to pursue a general entertainment channel or something with a more defined youth focus to tackle the ratings growth of Nine’s GO!

Source: Freeview

Sunday, 22 August 2010

TV names battle it out in federal election

sarahhendersonLast night’s Federal Election might not have returned a clear result but there were some familiar faces along the way.

Sarah Henderson (pictured), representing the Liberal Party, had contested the Victorian marginal seat of Corangamite, including areas surrounding Geelong.  Henderson will be familiar to television viewers from her work as a newsreader and reporter at Network Ten in Melbourne as well as appearing on ABC programs The Investigators, The 7.30 Report and Holiday.  She has also worked at radio 3AW and has worked in management roles at Network Ten and National Indigenous Television (NITV).  At the time of writing the result for Corangamite was still inconclusive with a narrow margin between Henderson and the ALP’s incumbent, Darren Cheeseman, but ABC has this afternoon predicted a narrow ALP win.

maxinemckew Former ABC journalist and presenter Maxine McKew (pictured), who famously snatched the Sydney seat of Bennelong for the ALP from former prime minister John Howard in 2007, lost out last night against the Liberal Party’s John Alexander, former tennis star and commentator for the Seven Network.  McKew has since lashed out at the ALP, saying the ALP’s campaign lacked clarity and that the recent dismissal of prime minister Kevin Rudd has had to have had an impact on the public vote.

stevetitmus Steve Titmus (pictured), a former newsreader for Southern Cross Television in Tasmania and representing the Liberal Party, was unsuccessful last night in his bid for the northern Tasmanian seat of Bass.

Meanwhile, the campaign for the attention of viewers last night was won by ABC with its marathon coverage headed by Kerry O’Brien returning a rating of 28.0 per cent (combining ABC1 and ABC News 24 which were in simulcast).  Nine came second on 20.3 per cent, followed by Seven (16.8), Ten (10.5) and SBS1 (3.3 per cent).  Viewers also demonstrated a definite appetite for alternative programming, with digital channels 7TWO scoring 8.1 per cent, GO! 6.9 per cent and even SBS2 getting a higher than usual 1.2 per cent.

Source: Geelong Advertiser, Wikipedia, Sydney Morning Herald, The Examiner, ABC, TV Tonight

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Comment sought over GTV9 redevelopment

gtv9_22bendigostreet The company redeveloping the GTV9 studio site at 22 Bendigo Street, Richmond, is seeking community consultation over plans to convert the 102-year-old building into an eight-storey apartment block.

Vivas Lend Lease, which bought the building for an estimated $50 million earlier this year, is planning to build 550 apartments plus low-rise townhouses on the three hectare site.

The external facade of the original building is heritage protected but additional extensions added in recent decades are not – but Vivas Lend Lease says it “will work to capture the history of the site through sensitive and appropriate interpretive methods. This could be by way of an interpretive trail, street naming or interactive media.”

Hey Hey It’s Saturday producer and host Daryl Somers recently suggested that part of the site should be converted into a TV museum to pay tribute to the many programs and personalities that have entertained Australians from the iconic studios.

But not everyone is pleased with the proposed redevelopment.  Cr Stephen Jolly is one who believes local "residents are already majorly p----- off" with the over-development of Richmond:

"I'm not against development, but this is unchecked development. What about the infrastructure?  Developers are just seeing dollars, dollars, dollars, and trying to squeeze as many people in as they can."

Vivas Lend Lease has established a website to make available its ‘Master Plan’ for the site and to seek community feedback and progress reports on the redevelopment.

Feedback will be reported to the City of Yarra when Vivas Lend Lease presents its draft Development Plan in September.

GTV9 plans to vacate the premises and move to new facilities in the Docklands precinct early next year.

Source: Herald Sun, Vivas Lend Lease

Friday, 20 August 2010

1990: August 25-31

tvweek_250890 ‘I could have given them a real pregnancy!’
Now back on the set of Home And Away after her brief honeymoon, Nicolle Dickson (pictured) has a tough workload ahead as Summer Bay’s Bobby Simpson faces death threats, a new romance and a baby on the way.  “I could have given them a real pregnancy,” the newlywed Dickson jokingly told TV Week, but is quick to point out that she and husband James aren’t planning a family.

The littlest star on the street
’s E Street has welcomed a new cast member, and the show’s cast and crew and bending over backwards to make sure she is happy.  The new star is nine-week-old Madison Doyle who will play the part of Rachel Patchett, the new daughter of Megan and Chris (Lisbeth Kennelly and Paul Kelman).  The young Patchett arrives in less than ideal circumstances.  Megan’s cheering at the grand final between the Westside’s Kookas and The Royals turns into contractions and she gives birth in the Kookas’ change-rooms!

celebritywheelfamilyfeud Saturday night fever!
The war is now on as the Seven Network takes a celebrity-laden attack against Nine’s popular Hey Hey It’s Saturday.  Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune and Celebrity Family Feud (with presenters Rob Brough, John Burgess and Adriana Xenides, pictured) are set to debut early in September.  But Hey Hey’s Daryl Somers isn’t too worried about the competition.  “The other networks have put shows up against us in the past but they couldn’t match us,” he told TV Week.  “In times of gloom and doom, people love to laugh – and that’s what Hey Hey does best.”  Somers also diffuses speculation that Jacki MacDonald is set to return to the show following some guest appearances when the show was recently taped in Brisbane.  “It is certainly wonderful to welcome back our beloved Jacki.  But it is just for these two shows.  We have all missed her, and the door is always welcome for her to come back.”

effie Effie’s hair-raising new role!
Acropolis Now’s Nick Giannopoulos and Mary Coustas have signed a deal to pilot a sitcom set in a hairdressing salon.  The pilot, likely to go into production after the current series of Acropolis Now is completed, has the working title Effie.  The project is being funded by Crawford Productions for the Seven Network.  “The idea is that Effie works in a salon called ‘Hairazors’,” Giannopoulos told TV Week.  “The series will take a look at her adventures in the salon and her problems with the other kooky characters who work there.”  At this stage Coustas, who also stars in Seven’s police drama Skirts, is the only definite cast member.

Deafness Awareness Week
A record 14.5 hours of television programs with Supertext subtitles will be broadcast by the Nine Network during Deafness Awareness Week.  The network will be offering Supertext subtitles on Our World, Sale Of The Century, The Flying Doctors, Burke’s Backyard and Graham Kennedy’s Funniest Home Video Show, US series The Cosby Show, Murphy Brown, Growing Pains and Night Court, and selected movies.  ABC’s late night news bulletin will also start carrying Supertext subtitles from this week.

craigmclachlan_0002 Briefly…
Only a year into his three-year contract, TV Week Gold Logie winner Craig McLachlan (pictured) is looking to wind back his role in Seven’s Home And Away in 1991 as the actor is struggling to juggle both acting and singing careers.  McLachlan has been allowed breaks from the series to promote his recording career but Seven is said to be less than pleased with singing taking a higher priority.  The relationship between Seven and McLachlan has also been tested with the star withdrawing from his commitment to co-host Seven’s Sydney telethon for the Royal Alexandra Hospital For Children and the Children’s Medical Research Foundation.

Burke’s Backyard host Don Burke is keen to sell the top-rating Nine Network show overseas.  He has already had interest from Japan in buying the show but with the show’s demanding schedule as well as presenting his own gardening show on Sydney’s 2UE, he admits the time just isn’t there yet to discuss the options.

brianmannix Former Uncanny X-Men lead singer Brian Mannix (pictured) was thrilled when he scored a guest role in the Seven Network’s Skirts – more so when he heard he was playing a drunk!  “I’ve been drunk for years,” he said.   After Skirts, Mannix is set to release his own solo album and will also be making a guest appearance in SBSEnglish At Work series.

John Laws says…
”It’s disappointing to see that Mark Mitchell’s ambitious show, The Big Time, failed to attract significant ratings and be put on hold.  In The Big Time, Mitchell plays himself and it seems that as far as the viewers are concerned they don’t consider this much a humorous ploy.  Anyway, this is not the end of the world for Mark Mitchell, because he has a superb comedy talent.  What he must do is come to terms with the fact that he is always going to be more successful by creating characters such as Con The Fruiterer and his missus and that it’s no failure at all to remain in that form of comedy.”

beyond2000Program Highlights (August 26-31):
Saturday:  ATV10
screens The Wall – Berlin 1990 Concert, a two-hour music spectacular featuring some of the world’s best known rock stars performing with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra in the shadow of the infamous Berlin Wall, now fallen.

Sunday:  HSV7 begins screening the children’s series Round The Twist, originally shown on ABC, starring Tamsin West, Sam Vanderberg, Richard Moir and Bunney Brooke.  ABC’s Sunday morning World Of Worship presents A Mass For The Deaf, from the Ephpheta Centre in Sydney, to commemorate Deafness Awareness Week.  Sunday night movies are The Witches Of Eastwick (GTV9) and Die Hard (ATV10).  HSV7 debuts the two-part US mini-series I Know My First Name Is Steven, based on the real-life story of Steven Staynor who was kidnapped as a seven-year-old in 1972 and was held captive for seven years.

Tuesday:  Beyond 2000 (HSV7) presents a 90-minute special edition, 20th Century Syndrome, looking at some aspects of our modern-day lifestyles and whether they are actually killing us.  This is followed by a 90-minute edition of Tonight Live With Steve VizardHeather Mitchell and Vince Martin guest star in ABC’s GP.

Wednesday:  Kim Beazley is the special guest in this week’s Speaking For Myself on SBS.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  25 August 1990. Southdown Press.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Grand Final to kick start 7mate

7mate The Seven Network earlier today made a surprise announcement of the launch of its new digital channel, 7mate.

The new channel, to broadcast in high-definition on digital channel 73, is designed to target male audiences aged 16-49 – a demographic that advertisers can sometimes find hard to target.

7mate will launch on 25 September with its first program being a HD simulcast of Seven’s coverage of the AFL Grand Final before breaking off from Seven with its own program line-up.

Curiously, the ‘mate’ branding was one of a range of ‘dummy’ trademarks registered by Seven almost a year ago in the lead-up to the launch of digital channel 7TWO.

David Leckie, chief executive officer of the Seven Media Group, welcomed the new channel:

“Seven is Australia’s most-watched network and our suite of multi-channels delivers more viewers than anyone else.  7mate is the next step in building on our leadership in broadcast television. 7mate is going to be great.”

“The launch of 7mate delivers us a tremendous platform of channels targeting specific audience demographics – leveraging our primary channel’s success with women and 7TWO’s targeting of a 25+ adult audience.”

“We’re delighted to be the first commercial network to move to three channels. With 7HD we were first into multi-channelling for the commercial networks and this is another significant step for our television business.”

Some of the programs to appear on 7mate include Family Guy, American Dad, Last Comic Standing, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, That 70s Show, Scrubs and Crank Yankers.

Drama series for 7mate include Caprica, Warehouse 13 and Stargate Atlantis, while reality shows will include Jersey Shore, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, Monster Garage and Pawn Stars.  Factual shows will include Fifth Gear, Life After People, The Boneyard, Ax Men, Mega Movers, Mega Structures, Air Crash Investigations and Shockwave.

The launch of 7mate as a high-definition channel will effectively force the main Seven Network program line-up off the high-definition signal, meaning that signature programs such as Packed To The Rafters, Dancing With The Stars, City Homicide and US shows including Desperate Housewives, Bones and Criminal Minds may no longer be available in high-definition.  This mirrors a similar change made by both ABC and the Ten Network in the launch of their new digital channels ABC News 24 and One HD.

It is unclear at this stage what arrangements have been made to have 7mate carried on regional affiliates Prime and Southern Cross Television.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Eric Walters

ericwalters Ten News has tonight reported the death of former newsreader Eric Walters at the age of 73, after a three-year battle with pulmonary fibrosis.

Starting his career in the 1950s on radio in regional NSW, Walters later went to Perth where he worked in radio and television, including a stint as newsreader at TVW7, before heading overseas.

On his return to Australia, Walters was newsreader of TEN10 Sydney’s Eyewitness News in the 1970s and was again at Network Ten as newsreader of its 10.30pm newscast when it launched in 1991.

In 1977, Walters was co-host of the 0-10 Network special The National Survival Test which won a TV Week Logie Award for most outstanding contribution to community service.

He also served as a newsreader at the Nine Network, presenting morning news bulletins as well as reading the news on Today during the 1980s.  During the ‘90s he worked at the Seven Network on current affairs show Real Life.

Eric Walters is survived by wife Carol, a daughter and two sons.

YouTube: Network Ten
Source: WA TV History

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Prime News signs off from Wagga Wagga

Prime newsreader Doug Hogan last night presented the final edition of Prime News to be produced from the Wagga Wagga studios, ending 46 years of television production what was previously home to local station RVN2.  Since the late 1980s, RVN has been part of the Prime television network.

From Monday, Hogan will present the Wagga Wagga edition of Prime News from more modern facilities in Canberra as part of the centralisation of news bulletin production for various regional NSW markets.

Production of the Prime News bulletin for Orange and the Central Tablelands moved to the Canberra studios last week.

primenewsPrime’s head of news, John Rudd, told ABC that the changes to Prime’s regional news production have not been to save money and the network has said that no jobs have been lost in the centralisation process.  This is despite earlier reports that suggested otherwise.

YouTube: TheChasersFan
Source: ABC Western Plains

Friday, 13 August 2010

1990: August 18-24

tvweek_180890 ‘Whatever happened to old-fashioned romance?’
Being an actress since the age of nine, 16-year-old Rebekah Elmaloglou (pictured) has not had the most normal of childhoods and often yearns to be 'just an average teenager'.  Although while she let go of her childhood earlier than most, she believes young people should not rush to reach adulthood.  “There is no hurry to grow up,” she told TV Week.  “I think that a lot of teenagers miss out on so much.  They go out with each other and on the first night they are doing things that shouldn’t happen until a relationship has developed further.  Whatever happened to old-fashioned romance and innocent friendship?”  Meanwhile, her Home And Away character Sophie is about to embark on a simple 'old-fashioned' romance with Blake (Les Hill) and Elmaloglou hopes her character can be a good role model for teenage viewers.

memory09Number 96 set to re-open its doors!
The Ten Network, battling flagging ratings, has been the subject of many rumours and reports around the television industry – only two weeks ago the network was reported to be seeking an exclusive output deal with Grundy TelevisionTV Week now has it on good authority that Ten is considering a revival of Australia’s most infamous soap, Number 96, thirteen years after it ceased production.  Some network executives have believed that there is room on the network for a strong adult drama, much tougher than its current teen-based soaps Neighbours and E Street.  TV Week is informed that a group of Ten bosses have been viewing old episodes of the series with a plan to produce a 1990s version of the show.  Some of the show’s original cast may be joined by fresh faces in the revival.  When Number 96 debuted in 1972 it was dubbed ‘the night Australian television lost its virginity’ with a cast including sex symbol Abigail (pictured).  The series went on to shock and titillate its audience for the next six years with its popular mix of sex, drama and comedy.  The show won a swag of TV Week Logies, including several for best drama and a Gold Logie for cast member Pat McDonald.

rachelfriend Everyone’s Friend
Former Neighbours star Rachel Friend (pictured) is rapidly becoming one of TV’s hottest properties.  The 19-year-old has a lead role in the Nine Network’s big-budget mini-series, Golden Fiddles, and will soon play a ditzy hairdresser in the Ten Network’s upcoming comedy series Lipstick Dreams.  Then in December, she’s off to England to play the princess in the pantomime Aladdin’s Lamp.  “Neighbours seems a long time ago, and yet it’s not really,” she told TV Week.

The audience response to Seven’s Skirts might be lukewarm but that hasn’t stopped some of the show’s stars attracting the interest of producers of other shows.  Ben Mitchell, who plays Constable Bevan “Beverley” Quinn, is currently being targeted by the producers of Neighbours and has apparently already been offered a role should Seven not renew Skirts for another series.  In the meantime the producers of E Street are keen to sign up co-star Antionette Byron.

grahamkennedy_4The Nine Network has had to revoke plans to move Graham Kennedy's Australia's Funniest Home Video Show to the Wednesday 7.30pm timeslot following an ultimatum from the host.  The new timeslot would have seen the show put up against Seven's comedy Hey Dad! which is produced by a close friend of Kennedy's, Gary Reilly, and the Nine Network host refused to put both shows into a ratings battle.

Former Chantoozies band member and manager David Reyne has decided to move from the music business and concentrate on acting.  The 31-year-old has already completed roles in the Seven Network mini-series Flair, the telemovie Bony, and is to star in the Nine Network mini-series Golden Fiddles.

John Laws says…
”If there’s one thing you don’t get on SBSDateline current affairs program it’s a good laugh.  Dateline has a knack of looking at just about every issue from a worst-case scenario.  There is precious little middle ground as far as its reporters are concerned.  Issues are black and white.  Mostly black.  When Dateline’s hour is over, there’s just one more piece of “news” – the following week, announces host Paul Murphy, Dateline will reveal the shocking story of the plight of poverty-striken Indian peasants in war-wracked Guatemala.  Goodnight Paul.”

Program Highlights (August 18-24):
Sunday:  Mark Mitchell
and newsreaders David Johnston and Tracey Curro present ATV10’s coverage of the 1990 Young Achievers’ Awards from the Hilton Hotel, Melbourne.  Sunday night movies are Starflight One (HSV7), Choices Of The Heart (GTV9) and Blue Collar (ATV10).

Monday:  ATV10 debuts a new Australian series A Waltz Through The Hills, based on the classic children’s novel which tells the story of two children living in a small Western Australian town in 1954.

letthebloodrunfree Tuesday:  The debut of comedy series Let The Blood Run Free (featuring Jean Kittson and Peter Rowsthorn, pictured) on ATV10.  Meanwhile, ABC crosses to Canberra for a one-hour telecast of the 1990 Budget. 

Wednesday:  ABC’s Wednesday night special is Ladies In Line, a 90-minute documentary focusing on the successes and failures of a group of female recruits in the Australian Army. 

Friday:  HSV7 presents a re-run of the 1989 special Oz TV’s Greatest Commercials, taking a look back at some of the commercials that have been imbedded in the minds of Australian audiences.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.           
18 August 1990. Southdown Press.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

ABC News 24 hits a million viewers

abcnews24 ABC’s new high-definition news channel ABC News 24 has clocked up over a million viewers in its first ratings survey.

The channel, which launched on 22 July, only started reporting ratings data from last Sunday.  The first week of the channel’s ratings data shows that 1.3 million viewers in the five capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth) watched ABC News 24 for at least 5 consecutive minutes during the week.

Despite the promising audience numbers ABC News 24 only reported an overall prime-time audience share of 0.5 per cent of free-to-air only households in the five cities.  This is compared to ABC’s other digital channels ABC2 on 1.7 per cent and ABC3 on 0.6 per cent.  So it would appear that ABC News 24 is attracting plenty of browsers but they are not necessarily staying tuned long enough to have a greater impact overall.  But it is only early days for the channel and at the same time it is only available as a high-definition channel, effectively blocking access to any digital viewers with standard-definition tuners.

ABC1 reported an audience share of 14.8 per cent, giving the national broadcaster a total of 17.6 per cent across its four channels.

In a media release from ABC, news director Kate Torney welcomed the results:

“To achieve a reach of 1.3 million for the first week of available audience figures is great news and assures us that people are switching on ABC News 24.  There’s obviously a news focus at the moment with the election campaign, but for a launch of a new channel we are pleased with the results.”

The Seven Network (Seven + 7TWO) won the week with 28.6 per cent, followed by Nine/GO! on 27.7 per cent and Ten/One on 20.8 per cent.  SBS managed an overall total of 5.2 per cent across its two channels.

Breaking the numbers down to individual channels, Seven (24.9 per cent) won ahead of Nine (23.6), Ten (19.1), ABC1 (14.8) and SBS1 (4.6), followed by digital channels GO! (4.2), 7TWO (3.7), ABC2 and One HD (1.7 per cent each), ABC3 and SBS2 (0.6 per cent each) and ABC News 24 (0.5).

Source: TV Tonight

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Ray Martin on Talking Heads

raymartin08 Ray Martin makes a return to the 6.30pm timeslot in a couple of weeks – but it’s not on A Current Affair, the show that he hosted for many years, but rather as a guest on ABC’s Talking Heads.

Martin talks candidly to host Peter Thompson about his early childhood life – a life of poverty and upheaval as he and his mother were on the run from a drunken, violent father.

Although the teenage Martin had dreams of playing cricket for Australia or becoming a history teacher, his life took a different turn when he got a job at the ABC in Western Australia in 1968 and became its New York correspondent in 1969:

“I love history and I devour it now. I just can’t get enough of it but I also want to see history being made rather than report on the way it used to be 200 years ago...  I think journalism allowed me to go to places and see history being made.”

tvtimes_100279 For ten years Martin had a life of relative anonymity as the New York foreign correspondent for the ABC but his profile suddenly became a lot more public when he became one of the founding members of the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes (pictured) when it launched in 1979. 

Six years of travelling the world for 60 Minutes then led to a more stable life when he took over from Mike Walsh as host of Nine’s midday timeslot in 1985.  Midday With Ray Martin was a ratings hit for the normally-quiet lunchtime slot and scored Martin his first TV Week Gold Logie in 1987.  He would go on to win another four Gold Logies during the ‘90s.

In 1994, Martin made the move back to prime-time as host of A Current Affair, a position that he held for five years and then returned in 2003 for a few more.

In almost thirty years of service to the Nine Network, Martin also became the network’s special events host – including Carols By Candlelight, federal and state elections, prime-time interview specials, including the last public interview with legendary cricketer Don Bradman, TV Week Logie Awards presentations and the Australian bi-centennial special, Australia Live.

Martin has been married to wife Dianne for over 40 years and they have two children.

“I can’t believe this fortunate life I’ve had,” he says. 

Talking Heads with guest Ray Martin. Monday 16 August, 6.30pm. ABC1

1990: August 11-17

tvweek_110890 I won’t be back!
The producers of Hey Dad! are about to face a crisis with the departure of one the show’s key cast members.  Simone Buchanan, who plays Debbie Kelly in the Seven Network series, is openly telling friends that she is definitely leaving the popular comedy.  However, show producer Gary Reilly has told TV Week that he is confident that she will stay.  “I have all the confidence in the world,” he says.  “We’re still talking, and, to be honest, it’s not time yet for serious negotiations.”

New ‘super-show’ to take on Hey Hey
The Seven Network is set to combine its two most popular game shows into a ‘super-show’ to take on Nine’s top-rating Hey Hey It’s Saturday.  Seven plans to launch celebrity versions of both Family Feud and Wheel Of Fortune and screen them back-to-back up against Hey Hey It’s Saturday.  “It’s a very exciting project, something very different,” Grundy Entertainment’s Paul Waterhouse told TV Week.  “It’s basically the same shows, but with slight changes to the formats to allow for celebrity involvement.  It will be more dramatic and more exciting.”  The decision to go ahead with the celebrity spin-offs came after the recent ratings success of Sale Of The Century’s week-long celebrity challenge.

margdowney Fast Forward’s lady of many faces reveals it’s time to… EJECT!
Fast Forward’s Marg Downey has admitted that she is pondering a new challenge after two years with the popular sketch comedy show.  “I think Fast Forward will go on but it needs fresh faces to do it,” she told TV Week.  Downey is hopeful for a drama or perhaps another comedy role.  “Something that was half straight and half comedy would be ideal,” she says.   And despite her well-known celebrity impersonations, including Jana Wendt (pictured) and the unnamed “SBS lady”, have earned plenty of applause, Downey admits that some of her impersonations have not been her best work.  “The Golden Girls is one example.  I felt my voice (as Bea Arthur’s character, Dorothy) was ridiculously low.  And I didn’t think I did Jennifer Keyte very well.”  However, Downey recently took the brave step of introducing herself to the real Jana Wendt.  “At the Logies Jana told me she sits at home with her husband (producer Brendan Ward) to analyse how well I’ve done her,” she says. 

pauladuncan_0001 Briefly…
Actress Paula Duncan (pictured, with husband John Orcsik) has been thumbing through the archives of TV Week to piece together a historical portraits of TV soaps and their stars, past and present.  The former Number 96, Cop Shop and Richmond Hill star is organising a TV celebrity dance party to be held at the The Dome in Sydney’s Showgrounds in October.  Some of the stars who are set to appear on the night include Bobby Limb, Lorrae Desmond, Abigail, Bartholomew John, Joanna Lockwood, Maggie Kirkpatrick, Stefan Dennis, Craig McLachlan, Julie McGregor and Wendy Strehlow.

letthebloodrunfree Network Ten is about to launch its new comedy series Let The Blood Run Free, starring Jean Kittson and Peter Rowsthorn (pictured).  The new series, described by Rowsthorn as “a human cartoon”, is set in the fictional St Christopher’s Hospital and also stars Lynda Gibson as Matron Dorothy Conniving-Bitch.  Let The Blood Run Free is a production of Media Arts, the producers of The Comedy Company, and was originally set to appear on the Nine Network until executives decided the show, featuring plenty of blood and slapstick violence, was too “off the wall” and it consequently got sold to Ten.

Wheel Of Fortune hostess Adriana Xenides has told TV Week that with her upcoming role in Nine’s Golden Fiddles she is determined to prove that she is more than a glamour girl.  “I know it’s very hard for people to think of me as anything other than a TV hostess because I’ve been doing it for so long,” she told TV Week.  “It doesn’t worry me if people think of me as an airhead because I know I’m not.” 

naomiwatts Naomi Watts (pictured), the girl who chose a lamb roast dinner over a date with Tom Cruise in a TV commercial, is joining the cast of Hey Dad! as the girlfriend of Simon Kelly (Chris Mayer).

John Laws says…
”Its critics say a news segment is totally out of place in a show (Tonight Live) which often relies for its laughs on the ridicule of world affairs, political figures and, occasionally, even tragedy.  What saves the segment is Jennifer Keyte’s professional ability to maintain credibility in the face of the evening’s fun and games.  She has, to her credit, never allowed herself to become a “fall guy” – or should it be fall person? – for Steve Vizard’s sarcastic wit.”

Program Highlights (August 11-17):
Saturday:  HSV7
crosses live to Carrara, Brisbane, for the AFL game between Brisbane Bears and Geelong.  Sandy Roberts heads the coverage, joined by Ian Robertson, Don Scott and Bill McDonald.

gavinwoodgeoffcox Sunday:  ATV10’s daytime line-up features regular crosses throughout the day to the station’s annual Deafness Appeal Telethon, hosted by TTFM breakfast presenters Geoff Cox and Gavin Wood (pictured).  The telethon is accepting donations until 11.00pm.  ABC presents national coverage of the Sun-Herald City To Surf run in Sydney.  Sunday night movies are Brothers-In-Law (HSV7), Fever (GTV9) and Sharky’s Machine (ATV10).

Monday:  HSV7’s Monday night movie is the 1986 drama Just Us, starring Kim Gyngell, Gina Riley, Scott Burgess and Catherine McClements, focusing on the unusual love between a newspaper journalist and a hardened criminal in prison.  ATV10 begins a re-run of mini-series Tanamera – Lion Of Singapore, starring Gary Sweet, Anne Louise Lambert, Ed Devereaux and Khym Lam.

Tuesday: In A Country Practice (HSV7), Shirley’s (Lorrae Desmond) concerns about a growth on her face are confirmed and Terence (Shane Porteous) recommends surgery.

Wednesday:  ABC presents a one-hour special, Ten Days Of Glory, documenting the return of 60 World War I veterans and widows to Gallipoli earlier this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.

Thursday:  HSV7’s new police drama Skirts has struggled to find an audience in its Sunday night timeslot so it is now moved to Thursdays, following Fast Forward.

Friday:  HSV7 presents live AFL between Sydney Swans and Brisbane Bears at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.           
11 August 1990. Southdown Press.

Friday, 6 August 2010

74% of Australians now watching digital

tvremote Almost three quarters of Australian households have converted at least one television set to digital, according to the latest Digital Tracker survey released by the Federal Government.

The survey, covering the period of April to June this year, found that 74 per cent of households have converted to digital – an increase from 68 per cent in the previous quarter.

This quarter’s survey was significant in that it took into account the last three months of dual analogue and digital transmission in the regional Victorian market of Mildura/Sunraysia.  Over the course of the three month period it was estimated that digital conversion in Mildura escalated from 88 per cent to 99 per cent – leading up to the 30 June shutdown of analogue transmission.  Digital Tracker also took the opportunity to survey Mildura residents on the days immediately following the analogue shutdown – of the 300 households surveyed only two had not converted to digital TV.

Among other markets in Australia digital conversion rates ranged from 49 per cent of households in Remote Central and Eastern Australia and 53 per cent in Regional WA to 80 per cent in Tasmania and 85 per cent in Darwin.

Melbourne and Sydney also reported a rapid take-up of digital over the three month period – with Melbourne reporting an increase from 64 to 77 per cent of households, and Sydney rising from 61 to 71 per cent.

The Regional SA market, the next region scheduled for analogue shutdown, reported a 77 per cent conversion to digital.  Households in the Regional SA market – comprising Riverland, Mount Gambier, Spencer Gulf and Broken Hill – will lose access to analogue television signals on 15 December 2010.

The shutdown of analogue signals is scheduled to be completed across the whole of Australia by December 2013.

Source: Digital Ready

Monday, 2 August 2010

1990: August 4-10

tvweek_040890 Is it goodbye to the Valley?
A Country Practice star John Tarrant (pictured, with co-star Georgie Parker) has flagged the possibility that it may soon be time to move on from the popular drama.  “At the moment I don’t know if I could do another year,” he told TV Week.  “There are a lot of issues. It is not just  me wanting to keep doing the show.  It’s a matter of the producers wanting me.  They might not.  Maybe if it can be arranged, I’d feel like another six months.”  The 26-year-old has plans to pursue a stage acting career as he hasn’t worked in the theatre since leaving drama school.  Looking further ahead, Tarrant has ambitions of working in Hollywood either on screen or behind the camera.

ten1989 No Sale!
Despite the Ten Network’s current financial state, that hasn’t stopped network managing director Steve Cosser trying to pull off a couple of huge television coups.  Industry reports say that Ten had been trying to lure the top-rating Sale Of The Century away from the Nine Network – and it doesn’t stop there.  Mr Cosser is also believed to have tried to secure an output deal with Grundy Television Productions for all of their product – a deal that could have seen Wheel Of Fortune, Sale Of The Century, Family Feud and even the recently-completed Bony telemovie go across to Ten in one fell swoop.  However a spokesperson from Ten insists that the reports circulating the industry are fiction. 

bertnewton_1989 Bert’s British invasion!
TV Week
Gold Logie winner Bert Newton (pictured) is set to return to TV with his own show – but it won’t be in Australia.  Newton received an offer from an English producer who saw him hosting his Seven Network daytime show last year and he is heading over to London in September to tape a pilot.  The show, as yet unnamed, is expected to take on the format similar to the UK’s Aspel And Co show.  “English viewers have no idea who I am or what I’ve done.  I’m a total unknown in their eyes and I think that’s a good thing,” he told TV Week.  Since the demise of The Bert Newton Show late last year, Newton has completed a stint at Cairns radio station 4CA.  “It’s been a great experience.  It’s my first time on radio in two years and my first radio job outside Melbourne.  The audience reaction has been wonderful, so either I’ve fooled them or I’m doing OK!”  But despite the possibility of a future in England, Newton would accept an offer to return to Australian TV.  “Obviously, the situation here at the moment wouldn’t hold too much promise for a show of my own,” he says.  “I’ll just wait for Kerry Packer to fix things at Nine.  When he does, I can imagine the out-of-work TV people from all over the world who’ll be ringing him for a job.  At least he’s a guy you can trust.”

Adam Willits
, one of the original cast members of Home And Away, has decided to leave the series.  “He’s been with the show since the beginning and he wants to explore other avenues in acting,” producer Andrew Howie told TV Week.

thebiggig Jude and Joy, the down-to-earth housewives who love a chat over the fence in ABC’s The Big Gig have spoken to TV Week about their lives and ambitions.  “I’m very ambitious,” Jude (Denise Scott) told TV Week.  “I’ve got a bunny suit that I made myself, and I’ve already worked at the shopping centres… as an Easter bunny, not one of those other bunnies!”  Meanwhile, much of Joy’s (Jean Kittson) energy is spent yelling at the kids or keeping track of her husband, Wal, whose wandering eye has caught sight of local glamour queen Loretta.  “She’s a big worry, that woman,” Joy says.  “She’s so glamorous, I don’t know how she does it.  Leather mini-skirts and all! Jude and I have let ourselves go just a bit – but we do scrub up all right!”  The Big Gig is set to return later this month in a new series.

The Ten Network says that negotiations to film a double episode of the US series The Wonder Years in Australia are well under way.  Should the negotiations between the Queensland Film Commission and the show’s producers, New World Television, be successful then the show’s cast will be touching down in Australia as early as September.

John Laws says…
”(SBS) has been crowing loudly about the new one-hour, once-a-week program Sports Machine as innovative, adult and hugely important – which is all very well and sounds great.  But SBS viewers with sharp memories will recall that last year the station had a similar sports program every night of the week.  A total, then, of 2-and-a-half hours coverage every week.  What do we get now?  One hour, all in one go.  Frankly, I’ve never been able to figure out why SBS axed the previous sports program.  It was a gem of a half-hour and managed to cover a host of different sports, something that rarely happens on ABC or the commercial networks.”

Program Highlights (August 4-10):
Actor Peter Ustinov is Peter Ross’ guest on ABC’s arts program, Sunday AfternoonHSV7 crosses live to the Sydney Cricket Ground for AFL between Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles.  Sunday night movies are Extremities (GTV9) and Bat 21 (ATV10).  HSV7 presents the three-hour Queen Mother’s 90th Birthday Gala.

judymcintosh Tuesday:  New Zealand actress Judy McIntosh (pictured) makes her debut as Dr Nicola Tanner in ABC’s GP.  In Beyond 2000 (HSV7), Amanda Keller examines China’s state policy of one child per family.

Wednesday:  Michelle Fawdon stars in an ABC docu-drama, This Time Next Time, as a crusading journalist assigned to write a feature article on the dangers of alcohol-related brain damage.

Thursday:  In The Flying Doctors (GTV9), Dr Tom Callaghan (Andrew McFarlane) is buried alive when a mine shaft is deliberately collapsed on top of him as he tries to rescue an injured man.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.          
4 August 1990. Southdown Press.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Number 96 stars reunited for birthday

number96_2010 The occasion of Johnny Lockwood’s 90th birthday was as good a reason as any to bring together some of his former Number 96 co-stars and to assemble at the real-life apartment building that posed as Australia’s most famous address in the 1970s.

“It’s so special celebrating my birthday in the original Number 96,” he told Woman’s Day. “This is probably the last time we shall ever get together like this. I was orphaned at 11. When we did the show back in the 1970s, these people were so important to me. Like family.”

number96_1973Lockwood played the character of Hungarian-born delicatessen owner Aldo Godolfus in Number 96, dating back to the show’s beginnings in 1972.  He picked up the role after the show’s producers had spotted him playing the part of a Jewish shopkeeper in an episode of Spyforce.

Starting on Number 96 with a thirteen-week contract, the character lasted for over three years – finally coming to an end in 1975 when Aldo and three other characters were written out of the series as victims of the show’s famous ‘bomb-blast’ episode.

The celebration of Lockwood’s 90th led to a reminisce over the famous neighbourhood and the show’s impact on the viewing public.  “We couldn’t go outside without being mobbed.  Hell, even the hookers went off the streets at 8.30pm so they wouldn’t miss an episode.”

number96_2010_0002Joining Lockwood (pictured, seated) for his birthday are (from left to right) former colleagues Elisabeth Kirkby (Lucy Sutcliffe), James Elliott (Alf Sutcliffe), Jeff Kevin (Arnold Feather), Phillippa Baker (Roma Godolfus), Frances Hargreaves (Marilyn McDonald), Wendy Blacklock (Edie McDonald) and Mike Dorsey (Reg McDonald).  Lockwood’s daughter Joanna, who also starred in Number 96 as well as appearing in later shows Cop Shop and E Street, was also at the celebration.

johnnylockwood Growing up in London, Lockwood’s showbusiness career dates back to 1935 when, at the age of 14, he joined a group called Twelve Dancing Kiddies.  By the late 1940s he was appearing at a Royal Command Performance and came to Australia in 1957 for a ten-week contract to appear in the stage production Tonight At Eight with Bobby Limb.  Australia has been his home ever since.

Various cast members of the groundbreaking series, which ended in 1977, have reunited on numerous occasions over the years – most recently several cast members assembled on the Seven Network’s Where Are They Now? in 2007, while cast members Elisabeth Kirkby and Carol Raye provided audio commentary on the recent DVD release of 32 episodes.

Source: Woman’s Day, TV Times, 17 February 1973 and 8 March 1975.