Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ken Austin

kenaustin Ken Austin, well known radio and television identity in Shepparton, has died at the age of 86.

He started his radio career as a teenager at Warragul-based radio station 3UL in 1941 and after serving with the army returned to the station.  In 1949, he was promoted to the position of chief announcer at sister station 3SR in Shepparton.  Four years later he moved to 2GZ, Orange, before returning to 3SR in 1955.

In 1968 Austin made the full-time move into television, to local station GMV6 (now a branch of the WIN television network).  For the next 20 years Austin maintained a number of roles at the station.  “I did everything, but cut the lawns I think,'' he once told the Shepparton News.  “I compered shows, read news, chaired live commercials in the studio and spent my last few years there as the community affairs director.”

Austin retired from the station in 1988 but maintained a profile in the local community, through charity work and, for 17 years, presenting a radio program on community station ONE FM.  He was also named an Honorary Life Governor of Melbourne’s Royal Children's Hospital as recognition of his work at GMV6.

Ken Austin is survived by three children Brian, Vivienne and Wendy, seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.  Wife Peg died in 2002.

Source: Radio News, Shepparton News

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Number 96: Aftermath Of Murder DVD

1896_Number96(aftermath) copy 13 March 1972 was the night that Australian TV ‘lost its virginity’ with the Sydney debut of Number 96.  (Melbourne followed the next night)

And on 13 March 2010 – 38 years later – the third DVD of the hit ‘70s series is to be released, a year after it was first announced.

The 4-disc set, Number 96: Aftermath Of Murder, will include 32 episodes from the first half of 1975, picking up from where the last DVD left off when the identity of the mysterious Pantyhose Strangler was revealed.

This compilation features many of Number 96’s favourite residents, joined this time by former showgirl Trixie O’Toole (Jan Adele), landlord Maggie Cameron (Bettina Welch), Don Finlayson’s(Joe Hasham) zany aunt Amanda von Pappenburg (Carol Raye), town clerk Mr Buchanan (Brian Moll) and Norma Whittaker’s (Sheila Kennelly) snooty mother, Mrs Florentine (Aileen Britton).

Andrew Mercado has a preview of the upcoming DVD release and Number 96 historian Ian McLean’s blog, Have Phaser Will Travel, has the list of episodes to feature on the DVD.

Number 96: Aftermath Of Murder is being released by Umbrella Entertainment.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

1990: January 27-February 2

tvweek_270190 Cover: Cher

Steve lays down the law
When Fast Forward’s Steve Vizard threw in a lucrative legal career to go into television comedy, everyone told him he was an idiot.  “And I am an idiot,” he says.  “You can see what a fundamentally good decision it was to leave a great job in law to join Qintex at this particular time.”  Vizard’s company, United Film Completion, is busy preparing comedy and variety program ideas for the Seven Network.  In 1989, the network had a hit with sketch comedy program Fast Forward, and Vizard’s new venture, Tonight Live, launches this week.  Vizard also says that there are “three or four other projects in the pipeline.”  In the lead-up to Tonight Live’s debut, Vizard and Seven are in negotiation for the network’s Melbourne newsreader, Jennifer Keyte, to read news on the program.

Glamour in three easy steps
Actress Anne Phelan, famous for playing rough inmate Myra Desmond in Prisoner and the frumpy Mama in Harp In The South and Poor Man’s Orange, is taking a somewhat more upmarket tone in her new role as cafe owner Dawn Dickson in the Nine Network’s new series, Family And Friends.  “With Family And Friends, I’m actually going to look like myself, only a bit tarted up – and to be truthful I’m not looking forward to all that.  I would rather be disguised,” she commented.  The new series follows the lives of two families, the Chandlers and the Rossis, divided by hatred over three generations.

rowenamohr Rowena shares a secret
Former Neighbours star Rowena Mohr (pictured) has decided to pursue an acting career in the UK, but is leaving behind her most treasured fan, her younger sister, Judy, who has an intellectual disability.  “Judy’s biggest thrill was when I joined Neighbours.  She thought it was wonderful and told all her friends about it.  I even had to get her special photographs and sweatshirts signed by the cast,” Mohr says.  “She’s the only one who writes to me regularly.”  Since settling in the UK, Mohr has had to cope with the English press.  In one interview, she jokingly told a reporter she would have to find an English husband – and was then inundated with offers.

Briefly…
Singer Tina Turner has just departed Australia after filming a series of commercials for the NSW Rugby League.  The $2 million ad campaign, featuring Turner’s hit The Best, was filmed around Sydney and the Gold Coast.

maryregan Actress Mary Regan (pictured) is to replace Joan Sydney as matron of Wandin Valley Hospital in A Country Practice.  The new matron could well be a romantic interest for either of the hospital’s doctors, Chris Kouros (Michael Muntz) or Terence Elliot (Shane Porteous).  Sydney has already finished taping for A Country Practice and is now preparing for her next role in the stage play Mrs Klein, co-starring Helen Morse and Michelle Fawdon.

TV funnyman Jonathan Coleman has married his long-time girlfriend, Margot Fitzpatrick, at a ceremony at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.  The newlywed couple are honeymooning in Thailand, followed by London and Paris.  Coleman in interested in working in the US and Europe, but is not about to cut ties with Australia – he has been in talks with Steve Vizard over a possible involvement in new show Tonight Live.  Coleman has also taped a pilot for an Australian version of Entertainment This Week.

bertnewton_1989 Bert Newton (pictured), whose last radio gig was at 3DB, has said that he would like to get back into radio and has confirmed that there have been some offers.  “I’d have to be in the right shift,” he says.  “I proved to myself at 3DB that I’m not a breakfast man.  I don’t think my conversational style is right for the corn flakes.  Lately I’ve been listening to quite a bit of radio and I’ve found that what is good is very good and what is bad is terrible.”

On The Grapevine…
An out-of-work soapie actress has taken to playing the didgeridoo in the pedestrian tunnel at Sydney’s Central Station in order to bring home the bacon.

Who was the popular young Sydney actor, well acquainted with playing the role of a car thief, who found himself on the receiving end recently?  A shopping spree to Bondi cost him a lot more than he expected when he returned to the car park to find his chariot missing.  Even more tragic, the car wasn’t insured.

brianhenderson John Laws says…
”The demise of female newsreaders in Sydney doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.  Perhaps 1990 will be remembered as the year of living gentlemanly.  The past few years have seen women move into a wide area of high-profile TV jobs.  Some were competent – such as Jana Wendt – but others lacked the necessary “zing” that captures huge ratings and all-round public approval.  Woman after woman was thrown up against TCN9’s Brian Henderson (pictured) to try to break his iron grip on the news ratings in Sydney – and all failed.  Now we have a male line-up confronting him, including former 60 Minutes heavyweight Ian Leslie on Ten.  It’s desperate stuff.  Ten’s one-hour format – I’m assuming here it’s going to remain – is also a problem.  By the time it’s waddled halfway through its bulletin, Nine and Seven have wrapped up and have moved on.  The result is that Ten gets the image of being a slowcoach, even though it presents a fuller news service.”

Lawrie Masterson’s Sound Off
”From initial impressions anyway, the first new Australian soap of the Nineties certainly looks handsome.  Family And Friends blends some fresh new faces with a few who are tried and true.  My tip?  This one will work.  Nine at last has a soap with a potentially long and healthy life.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne):
Saturday:  HSV7
debuts two new Saturday morning programs, Saturday Disney and Video Smash Hits, the latter hosted by Michael Horrocks (Cartoon Connection) and Emily Symons (Richmond Hill, Home And Away).  That night, HSV7 crosses to Tamworth for the Australasian Country Music AwardsSBS interrupts its Saturday evening programming for a live, ten-minute cross to Moonee Valley, Melbourne for the Victoria Cup harness racing.

Sunday:  The Men’s Singles Final of the Australian Open is telecast live on HSV7 in the afternoon, up against GTV9’s continued daily coverage of the Commonwealth Games from Auckland, New Zealand.  Sunday night movies are Hoodwink (HSV7) and Brubaker (ATV10), while ABC presents the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Ham Funeral, starring Kerry Walker, Max Cullen, Robyn Nevin and Maggie Kirkpatrick.

Monday:  From 10.00am, ABC presents live coverage of the 1990 NFL Superbowl, direct from New Orleans.  And with the tennis season now over, HSV7’s weekday line-up returns, including current affairs program Eleven AM, the midday movie and afternoon re-runs of US shows Perry Mason, Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream Of Jeannie and Get SmartNine’s Sale Of The Century returns for 1990 in its traditional 7.00pm timeslot.  SBS screens the Australian movie Kostas, starring Wendy Hughes and Takis EmmanuelSteve Vizard presents the first edition of his new late-night show, Tonight Live.

GP_1989 Tuesday:  GTV9’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games gets an early start, 4.50am, to cover the men’s marathon.  ABC’s popular medical drama GP (pictured) begins its second series.

Friday:  HSV7 presents live coverage from Perth of the Davis Cup, Australia versus France.  GTV9’s late-night music video program, MTV, returns for the new year.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 27 January 1990. Southdown Press. 

1990: January 20-26

tvweek_200190 Matt goes in to bat for the street kids
A Country Practice star Matt Day (pictured) is fed up with the media focusing on sensationalist issues surrounding street kids and homeless youth, such as prostitution and drug abuse, while ignoring possible solutions.  “The media should be dealing with issues that cover getting housing for these kids and better support.  Instead they just want to talk about the tragic stories and sell a few more papers,” he told TV Week.  These issues so close to Day’s heart will feature in upcoming storylines for his character Luke in A Country Practice, and he will also be volunteering his services for various refuges that need assistance.

grahamkennedy_4 Nine won’t admit it, but…
Graham Kennedy
(pictured) has not negotiated a new contract for hosting his popular late-night Coast To Coast program and he has advised Nine that he won’t be returning to the show in 1990.  Despite the shock resignation, Nine continues to show its lavish 1990 ‘Shout!’ promos, featuring Kennedy and co-host John Mangos, and has only issued a statement that “we have no further comment to make than discussions are continuing for Mr Kennedy’s return to television in 1990.”  Nine is keen to sign up Kennedy for later in the year and to keep him away from any other network.  Rumours that Kennedy’s resignation is connected to the upcoming launch of Steve Vizard’s new show, Tonight Live, for the Seven Network have been denied.  It is believed that Kennedy’s decision was related the strain of a recent court case against his manager, Harry M Miller.

marcusgraham Dynamic Duo!
Former Neighbours star Jason Donovan and E Street’s Marcus Graham (pictured) have been signed up for roles in the new $3.7 million mini-series, Shadows Of The Heart, being produced for Network Ten by the South Australian Film Commission.  The new series, which also stars Jerome Ehlers (Bangkok Hilton), Nadine Garner, Colleen Hewett, Harold Hopkins, Barry Otto, Robyn Nevin, Sherrie Krenn and NIDA graduate Josephine Byrnes, is set in the summer of 1927 and is described as “a romantic epic set in the Twenties with Nineties morals.”  Production commences this month on location in Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.

Briefly…
Former A Country Practice star Di Smith and The Flying DoctorsLiz Burch are set to bare all in the upcoming Melbourne production of the stage play Steaming.  The controversial comedy also stars Gwen Plumb, Rosey Jones, Valerie Bader and Jenny Hall.

Former Prisoner star Colette Mann has spoken out about her recent shock resignation from Melbourne radio station 3UZ.  Despite a number of consecutive ratings rises for her morning program, Mann says she “never felt comfortable working at 3UZ” and objected to a proposed service agreement that could have her “given verbal notice if I was deemed unfit for work (and if given that notice) I couldn’t work within a 50 km radius of Melbourne.”  She also felt entitled to ask for “a little extra money” following the ratings rises, but station boss Clyde Simpson responded that Mann asked for a significant 43.5 per cent pay increase.  Despite her controversial departure from the station, Mann has said that she would like to do radio again but in the meantime is currently planning some TV work, including a mini-series and some special event work for Network Ten

julianmcmahon Model-turned-actor Julian McMahon (pictured) has spoken out briefly about his relationship with Melissa Cornell, daughter of The Paul Hogan Show and Crocodile Dundee producer John “Strop” Cornell.  “Melissa and I have been together for just over a year now.  She moved down to Melbourne with me when I was doing The Power The Passion.  Now that I am back in Sydney for Home And Away, she has moved back with me.  It is only now that we are beginning to realise where we are and what we are going to be doing.” 

On The Grapevine…
Who is the celebrity hairdresser who how walks to work each day… and not by choice, either, courtesy of a blood-alcohol reading considerably in excess of the legal limit.

So desperate was one showbusiness reporter to secure an interview with one of Australia’s favourite daughters, that she had started to woo the star with chocolates and even had a jingle company pen a song for the lovely lady.

John Laws says…
”Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the reasoning of the ABC board members.  On the one hand, they complain of lack of funds; on the other, they refuse to agree to advertising on the ABC.  Advertising is part of the lifeblood of economics in this country.  There is nothing shameful about it.  The ABC would attract only a minor percentage of the estimated $1.8 billion of TV advertising every year – but even the injection of a few million dollars would make a lot of difference to the ABC’s slate.  So let’s not have too much humbug cluttering up this debate.  After all, the ABC is not shy in aggressively advertising its own ABC Shop products on TV, is it?”

mariavenuti_cookie Program Highlights (Melbourne):
Saturday: ABC
presents the Coca Cola International Golf Classic, live from Royal Melbourne Golf Course, while HSV7’s coverage of the Australian Open tennis continues live from the National Tennis Centre.

Sunday: Sunday night movies are Gloria (HSV7), Liar’s Moon (GTV9), Blame It On Rio (ATV10).

Monday: Singer Maria Venuti (pictured, with Syd Heylen) guest stars in the first episode of A Country Practice for 1990, and the Nine Network’s breakfast show, Today, returns for another year.

Wednesday:  GTV9 presents live coverage of the opening ceremony of the 1990 Commonwealth Games from Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand.  Ken Sutcliffe, Ray Martin and Max Walker head the coverage.

Thursday:  GTV9’s live coverage of daily competition from the Commonwealth Games starts at 10.00am and continues through to 11.00pm, taking a break in the early evening for National Nine News, A Current Affair and US sitcom Growing PainsABC presents the first of a two-part documentary, The Way We Really Were, hosted by Caroline Jones – a retrospective and nostalgic look at life in Australia taken from film and documentary footage of the past 30 years.

Friday: For Australia Day, Today is broadcast live from Admiralty House, Sydney, for the presentation of the Australia Day Awards, including the announcement of Australian of the Year by Prime Minister Bob Hawke.  In the evening, SBS presents a repeat of documentary Being True Blue and ABC presents the second part of The Way We Really Were, followed by the Governor General’s Australia Day MessageATV10’s Friday night movie is Tudawali, the 1988 movie starring Ernie Dingo, Jedda Cole, Peter Fisher and Frank Wilson – and SBS presents two Australian movies, Silver City and Backroads.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 20 January 1990. Southdown Press. 

Monday, 25 January 2010

SBS starts up STVDIO

stvdio SBS has announced the launch of its new pay-TV channel, STVDIO, dedicated to entertainment and the arts.

The new channel will debut on 1 April as a replacement for the Ovation Channel which is to close after not being renewed by Foxtel and Austar in favour of the new channel to be run by PAN TV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SBS.

PAN TV also operates the World Movies Channel on Foxtel and Austar.

SBS’ director of marketing, Jacqui Riddell, explains the identity of the new channel:

“The name STVDIO represents the new channel perfectly.  Every art form – be it dance, fine art, music, theatre, film or writing – is created in a studio.  In addition to performance, our new channel will take audiences into how art is made and what makes artists tick.  Both the channel name and logo have been stylised to include the letters “TV”.”

STVDIO (pronounced “Studio”) will present arts and entertainment genres, including opera, music, film, ballet, art and design, from Australia and overseas.

sbs_2008 SBS’ investment in PAN TV is one of a few pay-TV ventures to be owned by free-to-air interests.  The Seven and Nine networks are joint venture partners (with Rupert Murdoch) in the pay-TV channel, Sky News Australia, while regional network WIN owns alternative pay-TV provider SelecTV.

STVDIO will broadcast on Channel 132 on Foxtel and Austar from 1 April.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

1990: January 13-19

tvweek_130190 Craig’s Crisis
New Home And Away star Craig McLachlan (pictured) admits he was “totally exhausted” and on the verge of a breakdown last year.  The pressures of recording his first album with group Check 1-2, establishing himself on Home And Away after leaving Neighbours, separating from his manager, ex-wife Karen, and the media attention towards his new relationship with former Neighbours co-star Rachel Friend, all became a bit too much. “Some people would say I’ve already had a mental breakdown!  It doesn’t surprise me why Kylie (Minogue) and Jason (Donovan) stopped their acting because it’s just too exhausting to do both,” he told TV Week.  The as-yet untitled album from Check 1-2 should be out in March, and McLachlan will be seen on screen in Home And Away from next month.

The New Wave
Voting for the 1990 TV Week Logie Awards has begun – so who will get the viewers’ vote for most popular new talent?  A Country Practice has welcomed new cast members Georgie Parker, Matt Day and Georgina Fisher, while Jessica Muschamp and Kristian Schmid have been popular additions to NeighboursE Street launched a year ago and has brought some new faces of its own – including Alyssa-Jane Cook and Marcus Graham. And a new children’s series, Pugwall, has made a star of 14-year-old Jason Torrens.  Voting for the 1990 TV Week Logie Awards closes in mid-February.

danniiminogue Hot Summer Love
Home And Away launches its 3rd year with a steamy romance between Emma Jackson (Dannii Minogue) and Adam Cameron (Mat Stevenson).  “When Dannii started on the show, there was an attraction between Adam and Emma,” Stevenson told TV Week.  “Nothing eventuated until Adam began a romance with Carly (Sharyn Hodgson).  They went through a rough patch and Adam and Emma came together.”

Sky’s the limit for new Disney trio
Sofie Formica, James Sherry
and Jeniene Mapp have been selected from more than 100 applicants to host the new Seven Network program, Saturday Disney.  The trio are about to head off to the US to be introduced to Disney executives before touring Disneyland, the MGM-Disney film studios and Disneyworld.  The two-hour Saturday morning show is the latest in a global franchise that has also launched in the US, United Kingdom and Spain.  For 18-year-old Formica, it is a second chance at TV stardom after a recent stint on Seven’s Wombat came to an abrupt end when the show was cancelled.  And for 15-year-old Mapp, Saturday Disney is her first TV appearance after four years’ training with the Johnny Young Talent School.  Former drama teacher Sherry, 22, gave up a career in education to become an actor and auditioned, and was accepted, for the Disney role on his birthday, 14 November.  “What a birthday present – it’s more than I ever expected,” he says.  Saturday Disney will be produced from the studios of BTQ7, Brisbane, when it launches later this month.

sherriekrenn Briefly…
Australian actress Sherrie Krenn (pictured), currently based in the US with a list of film and TV credits since she was discovered by a casting agent for the sitcom The Facts Of Life, is coming back home to Australia for a role in the upcoming $3.7 million mini-series, Shadows Of The Heart, to be produced by the South Australian Film Commission for Network Ten.

Dame Edna Everage, now a global superstar, has made a rare trip back to Australia to promote her autobiography, My Gorgeous Life, including an interview on A Current Affair with guest host Elizabeth Hayes.

jasondonovan Jason Donovan has apologised to his former girlfriend, Neighbours co-star Kylie Minogue, for upstaging her at the London premiere of her movie The Delinquents, turning up to the event with stunning Texan model Denice Lewis.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to steal the show and wreck her big moment.  It was Kylie’s night and I just went along because she’d invited me and a friend.  I thought she would be the centre of attention.  I didn’t try to steal the show,” Donovan sighed.

On The Grapevine…
Who is the popular comic who was all but signed for his own late-night show on Network Ten in 1990?  Unfortunately he – and the plans for the show – got lost in the Broadcom reshuffle.

The Vine hears that some of the younger cast members of Nine’s new drama Family And Friends are already acting like prima donnas.  One source says one actor thinks he’s James Dean, not a budding soap star.

johnlaws John Laws says…
”Three people keep cropping up in my mind as the ones who stood out throughout the year.  They are Graham Kennedy, Ray Martin and Jana Wendt.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne):
Saturday:
  NSW Open tennis, live from White City, Sydney, on HSV7GTV9 crosses to the MCG at 3.40pm for the second day’s play of the First Test: Australia versus Pakistan.  ATV10 covers the Palm Meadows Golf from the Gold Coast.
Sunday: Sigrid Thornton stars in the US-made historical series, Paradise, on HSV7ABC presents the USSR State Symphony, performing at the Sydney Opera House.  Sunday night movies are Hangar 18 (HSV7), Honkytonk Man (GTV9), Black Sunday (ATV10).
Monday:  The Australian Open, direct from the National Tennis Centre, Melbourne, begins on HSV7 with daily coverage from 11.00am through to midnight, pausing only for Seven Nightly News, Home And Away and Hinch.
Tuesday: In Neighbours (ATV10), a mysterious woman moves into Ramsay Street and Madge (Anne Charleston) threatens Paul (Stefan Dennis) with legal action.
Thursday: The Flying Doctors stars Liz Burch and Vikki Blanche present a one-hour documentary, World Vision: A Chance For The Children, showing the work of World Vision’s child sponsorship program in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Uganda and Kenya.
Friday:  GTV9 crosses to Adelaide for the first day’s play in the Second Test: Australia versus Pakistan.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 13 January 1990. Southdown Press. 

Thursday, 21 January 2010

ABC to launch news channel

abc_2001 ABC is set to launch Australia’s first 24-hour free-to-air news channel this year.

The new channel, announced today by ABC managing director Mark Scott, will broadcast on the digital platform and will serve as a competitor to Australia’s only other continuous news channel, Sky News Australia, which is available on pay-TV.

The new channel follows the recent launch of ABC’s children’s channel, ABC3.

New studio and newsroom facilities are currently being built at ABC’s Ultimo headquarters in Sydney.  The news channel will provide more opportunities to view ABC’s existing news and current affairs programming and will also include new programming and features within its continuous news format – tapping into the resources of ABC’s entire news operation, including regional and international resources, and will support a multiple platform environment in co-ordination with ABC News Online, ABC News Radio and ABC Mobile

Programming from the channel will also be made available to other ABC outlets, including its international satellite service, Australia Network, which has coverage into 44 countries.

Mr Scott said that the new channel will launch with no additional funding from the Government and will broadcast on its existing high-definition signal.

The announcement of the new channel has already sparked a defensive attack by Sky News chief Angelos Frangopoulos, claiming that the new channel will end up absorbing funding from other parts of the national operation, would affect the quality of ABC’s existing operations and violates the ABC’s charter.  Mr Frangopoulos also slammed the new operation as being a “needless duplication of services already available to Australians”, as Sky News already provides fourteen, 24-hour channels, including Sky News Business, multiview and local news channels, as well as Australia’s only parliamentary and public affairs channel, A-PAC.

Sky News is a joint venture operation between PBL Media (which owns the Nine Network and regional NBN Television), Seven Media Group and Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting.

The announcement of the new channel comes as ABC and Sky News are also reported to be planning to battle for the right to operate Australia Network on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, after the existing contract expires later this year.

According to ABC’s most recent annual report, ABC’s digital signal, which currently carries ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABCHD and radio stations Dig and DigJAZZ, is currently available to 97.7 per cent of the Australian population, through 324 transmitter sites.

Further details on the new ABC channel, such as programming schedules and launch dates, have yet to be announced.

Source: ABC News, ABC News, ABC News, The Australian, ABC Annual Report

Melbourne moves up from Channel 0 to 10

atv0_1964 It is now 30 years since Melbourne’s ATV0 made history and changed its broadcast frequency to Channel 10.

When Reg Ansett was awarded the licence to operate Melbourne’s third commercial channel in 1963, he was given the frequency of Channel 0 – down the low end of the dial, and, being a ‘new’ frequency, most older TV sets did not have a Channel 0 position on the dial.  The conversion of older sets and antennas to include access to Channel 0 was a short term financial boon for TV repairers and installers as viewers moved to ensured that they were ready to ‘Go for 0’ when it eventually went to air on 1 August 1964, although test transmissions for the new channel had started as early as May.

ATV0_convert The challenges inherent in the low broadcast frequency, such as deficiencies in reception across large portions of Melbourne, coupled with fierce competition from older rivals HSV7 and GTV9, made life tough for Ansett’s new channel – resulting in it often struggling in third place in the ratings.  Even though Ansett had budgeted that his new channel, ATV0, would be making a profit after three years with a lineup heavy in Australian content, it would be many more years before it would end up paying dividends.

By 1969, still faced with the challenges of the low-end frequency and trying to break the dominance of its two older rivals, Ansett ended up underwriting a boxing match between Australian title holder Lionel Rose and British champion Alan Rudkin.  The match was a huge ratings hit, scoring 72 per cent of the viewing audience, setting a ratings record that would not be broken until the Sydney Olympic Games more than thirty years later. 

ATV0_ChannelOne But despite the massive audience boost from the Rose-Rudkin title fight, it would be 1973 before ATV0 would post its first weekly ratings win – heralded with full-page newspaper ads (pictured) – largely due to the controversial, top-rating soapie Number 96, which had dominated ratings around the country. 

By the late-‘70s, ATV0 was in ratings decline.  By this stage it had bid farewell to Number 96 and other major ratings drawcards The Box and Blankety Blanks.  The landmark US mini-series, Roots, had delivered massive ratings but the boost to the station was short lived.  By the end of 1978 the Federal Government had received an application from ATV0 for permission to change its broadcast frequency to Channel 10 – giving it a stronger broadcast signal at the top of the dial which would hopefully eliminate any gaps in the old channel’s coverage and would also provide an opportunity to re-launch the struggling ATV0 as a “new” channel and would also match up the station with the same frequency as its Sydney network partner, TEN10.  The Government approved the changeover early in 1979.

0thegoThe hitch in changing to Channel 10 was that it would conflict with neighbouring Gippsland channel GLV10, causing interference by sharing the same frequency.  ATV0 then agreed to pay the costs incurred by GLV to have it moved to an alternative frequency, Channel 8.  It was not a cheap exercise, as ATV paid around $800,000 to fund GLV’s conversion costs and also to fund the distribution of filters to attach to viewers’ sets – as it was apparent that GLV on Channel 8 would interfere in areas where viewers could also receive Melbourne channels HSV7 and GTV9 and the filters would rectify that.

grahamkennedy In preparing the changeover to Channel 10, ATV managed to sign up one of its former leading stars, Graham Kennedy (pictured), to front the new channel’s advertising campaign – including radio and television commercials.  It was no mean feat, as only 18 months earlier Kennedy was less than subtle in his criticism of ATV0 due to the channel’s poor performance impacting on his Blankety Blanks game show.  Kennedy told The Age that money was certainly a factor in accepting the position of being the channel’s spokesman during the conversion period: “They did offer me a very attractive deal.  And it immediately appealed to me because it will be an historic occasion.  A television station changing its frequency will probably never happen again in our lifetimes.”

There was also talk that Kennedy would also have the opportunity to present a new tonight show on the revamped channel, though was not to be.

atv10_1980_2 By January 1980, the channel was ready to flick the switch.  Thousands of brochures had been distributed to households around Melbourne to advise of the changeover, while a telephone hotline had been set up to enable viewers to get assistance in retuning their sets from Channel 0 to 10.  And without much time to spare, GLV10 made the switch to GLV8 on 17 January.

Then the big day – 20 January – had arrived.  ATV0 had signed off for the last time at around 3.00am that morning – the last program to air on the channel was the 1948 movie, Angel In Exile.  Then, just prior to 2.00pm on the Sunday afternoon, Kennedy, standing atop of the channel’s studio building in Nunawading, welcomed viewers to Channel 10:  “Come on up to Ten, you’ll enjoy the view!”  Then the new ATV10 broadcast its launch promotion ‘You’re On Top With 10’, with catchy lyrics sung by Mike Brady.

The first program to follow on ATV10 was 10’s Summer Sunday, a three-hour outside broadcast from Torquay Beach, south of Melbourne, hosted by former ATV0 newsreaders Bruce Mansfield and Annette Allison

Jana Wendt presented ATV10’s first Eyewitness News bulletin at 6.00pm – and barely a few months later Ms Wendt would be promoted to co-anchoring the main weeknight bulletin on the channel.  Kennedy was back on air at 6.30pm, presenting a one-hour special, You’re On Top With Ten, previewing some of the upcoming shows on the new channel, including the documentary series The Human Face Of China, mini-series Water Under The Bridge and an Australian adaptation of the British comedy Are You Being Served?, as well as the return of familiar titles including Prisoner, The Restless Years, Peter Couchman Tonight and Young Talent Time.

arcade1980a

At 7.30pm, ATV10 presented the movie-length debut of the network’s new highly-anticipated, big-budget soap opera, Arcade, from the producers behind the former Number 96.  Despite ambitions for the series to be the flagship of the network’s lineup heading into the new decade, the series failed to grab even a modest share of the audience and was taken off the air six weeks later.

Following Arcade was the Sunday night movie, Summerfield, starring John Waters, Nick Tate and Elizabeth Alexander.

Viewers that had still yet to make the change to their sets from Channel 0 to 10 were given a slight reprieve, as ATV would simulcast on both channels for an interim period to enable viewers some extra time to make the necessary adjustments and to get used to the new channel position.

Industry magazine B&T reported at the time that the changeover of ATV from 0 to 10 would be the first time that a TV station in a major metropolitan market had changed frequencies – outside of the United States.

The changeover from Channel 0 to 10 in Melbourne led to the network changing its name from the 0-10 Network to Network Ten, with its Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide stations all broadcasting on the Channel 10 frequency.  Although Brisbane’s network partner, TVQ0, would continue to broadcast on the Channel 0 frequency until the late ‘80s.

Source: The Age, 12 October 1978.  The Age, 10 January 1980.  The Age, 17 January 1980.  TV Week, 19 January 1980.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Ding Dong Denise back on daytime TV

denisedrysdale_2 Denise Drysdale is set to make her return to TV as a panellist on the upcoming Ten Network program, The Circle.

One of Australia’s true TV veterans, Drysdale was a performer in children’s television in the 1960s, later featuring in pop music shows Kommotion, Uptight and Dig We Must and on Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight

ernie_denise A number of guest appearances in Crawford dramas Division Four and Homicide later led to her becoming Ernie Sigley’s sidekick on the Nine Network’s The Ernie Sigley Show.  Their popularity led to them, in 1975, winning TV Week Gold Logies for most popular male and female on Australian TV.  Drysdale then won a second Gold Logie the following year.

She also starred in the sitcom The Bluestone Boys and musical special The 20s And All That Jazz (pictured) and appeared on Young Talent Time, Cop Shop, Countdown, The Penthouse Club, The Truckies, The Don Lane Show, The Mike Walsh Show, The Daryl Somers Show and co-hosted Hey Hey It’s Saturday after the departure of Jacki MacDonald from the show.  Living on a farm since the late-‘70s, she also hosted her own weekly program in the 1980s on local channel GLV8, based in Gippsland, Victoria.

The new Ten Network show marks Drysdale’s return to daytime TV after previous success when re-united with Sigley for In Melbourne Today in the late ‘80s, the program later titled Ernie And Denise when the show went national.  Then after two years as co-host on the revived In Melbourne Tonight with Frankie J Holden, Drysdale had her own daytime show, Denise, on the Seven Network in the late 1990s.

Recently, she has appeared as a guest on ABC’s Spicks And Specks and in the Hey Hey It’s Saturday reunion.

The Circle, due to start on Tuesday 9 February, is the replacement for Ten’s 9AM With David And Kim which wound up in December after four years on-air.  (The last two months have seen a “best of” collection of segments from the show airing as 9AM Summertime in the two-hour morning timeslot)

Also appearing as regulars on The Circle will be Foxtel presenter Yumi Stynes, performer and TV presenter Gorgi Coghlan and former Big Brother contestant and Vega FM breakfast presenter Chrissie Swan.

Scheduled to air weekdays from 10.00am, the new two-hour show promises topical chat with audience interaction.  The existing one-hour Ten News bulletin at 11.00am will move to 9.00am.

From the outset, it appears that The Circle looks like a daytime twist on Ten’s early evening The 7PM Project, a program that also features regular and guest panellists discussing issues of the day with some audience interaction.  The Circle’s all-female panel format also appears to bear a resemblance to the popular US show The View (shown in Australia on Foxtel and Nine), and its less-successful Australian adaptation, The Catch-Up, which aired on Nine in 2007.  It will be interesting to see if The Circle can overcome these perceptions and offer a viable alternative to The Morning Show and Mornings With Kerri-Anne on rival networks Seven and Nine.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Mildura: Six months to go

The Government has started playing commercials, specific to the Mildura/Sunraysia area, to remind viewers that local analogue signals will be shut down in less than six months – 30 June to be exact:

Viewers will notice a couple of familiar names in the campaign - Rebekah Elmaloglou, best known from Home And Away, and David Callan, from the former SBS series Going Home.

In the latest Digital Tracker survey, released late last year, 95 per cent of Mildura/Sunraysia households were aware of the changeover to digital television, 79 per cent of households had already converted to digital, however only 19 per cent of households were aware of the analogue shutdown date.  Rates of awareness and conversion to digital TV in Mildura/Sunraysia are higher than most other parts of Australia, largely due to the region’s third commercial channel, a relay of Network Ten, being broadcast solely in digital.  Mildura also currently receives digital signals for ABC, SBS, Prime and WIN, including additional channels ABC2, ABC3, SBS2, GO!, 7TWO and One HD.

After Mildura, analogue television signals will be progressively shutdown across the remainder of Australia over the next few years.  The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is also rolling out commercials across Australia to give viewers a broad overview as to when analogue signals will be switched off in local areas:

Victoria:

Queensland:

South Australia:

Source: Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Digital Ready, Freeview

Friday, 8 January 2010

Monica Maughan

monicamaughan Actress Monica Maughan, star of stage, film and television, has died in Melbourne.

One of Australia’s most recognisable actresses, Maughan made her professional debut back to 1957 with the Melbourne Theatre Company.  It is believed that in her career spanning half a century she had starred in more MTC productions than any other performer.

Television viewers will recognise Maughan from her roles in popular dramas The Box and Prisoner and in the ABC series The Damnation Of Harvey McHugh, which led to her winning an AFI award, for best lead actress, and a TV Week Logie award for most outstanding actress.

Other television roles included appearances in Homicide, Matlock Police, Glenview High, Cop Shop, Loss Of Innocence, Skyways, The Flying Doctors, The Gillies Republic, Come In Spinner, Col’n Carpenter, A Country Practice, The Genie From Down Under, Blue Heelers, MDA and, as Graham Kennedy’s grandmother in the biographical telemovie, The King.

In recent years she appeared in films Crackerjack, Strange Bedfellows and Blessed.

Her last credited TV appearance was in the ABC comedy The Librarians.

Source: ABC, IMDB, Australian Television Information Archive, Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Brian James

brianjamesOf the names remembered in our last post of 2009 there was one name that has only now come to our attention – actor Brian James, who passed away late last year at the age of 91.

A former schoolteacher, James served in the Navy for six years before making his professional acting debut in the production of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, at the Princess Theatre, in 1948.  After touring Australia with the production he went to London, studying drama and also appearing at the West End in the naval comedy Seagulls Over Sorrento – a production that he would also appear in on stage upon his return to Australia.

By the late-1950s, James had made the transition to television, with the lead role in the GTV9 series Emergency, followed by HSV7’s live-to-air performance of Seagulls Over Sorrento, reprising his former stage role.

In the early ‘60s, James had scored the lead role of Captain Bligh in the ABC historical series Stormy Petrel, a role which won him a TV Week Logie for best actor in 1961.  He then appeared in the courtroom drama Consider Your Verdict and played the title role in the Seven Network’s Jonah.

On 1 August 1964, he appeared (pictured) in the TV special This Is It!, commemorating the official opening of Melbourne’s third commercial television channel, ATV0, from studios based in the suburb of Nunawading. 

With roles in dozens of stage productions and in TV series including Bellbird, Motel, Solo One and Young Ramsay, James continued to be a familiar name on both stage and television throughout the 1970s, ending the decade as the bumbling airport administration officer George Tippett in the Seven Network’s Skyways – a role that scored him a Penguin Award.

During the ‘80s he reprised the role of George Tippett in Holiday Island, guest starred in Carson’s Law, appeared as prison warden Stan Dobson in Prisoner and swept neighbourhood gossip Nell Mangel (Vivean Gray) off her feet in Neighbours – all productions based in the same Nunawading studios where he appeared on opening night of ATV0 in 1964.

His last credited TV role was in the ABC series Something In The Air.

Brian James is survived by his niece Julie and nephews Phillip, Michael and Brian.  His cousin Gerald Mayhead had written a tribute to Brian James for The Age, including his extensive stage and film career.

Source: The Age, IMDB, Australian Television Information Archive

1990: January 6-12

tvweek_060190TV Week, incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 6 January 1990 (Sydney edition). Southdown Press.

Cover: Kylie Minogue

The impossible dream
With careers on opposite sides of the world, actors Marcus Graham and Nicole Kidman have to put their relationship on hold.  Graham, formerly of E Street, is starring in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Sydney Opera House, while Kidman is in the US starring alongside Tom Cruise in the new movie Days Of Thunder.

John weds in secret
A Country Practice star John Tarrant has married his long-time girlfriend, ABC reporter Shereen Bates, while on a two-week production break from the series.  The couple had first met at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where Tarrant was studying acting and Bates was doing a media course.  They were married at Caves House, near Yallingup in South Western Australia, in a ceremony attended by around 60 close friends and family. 

sophieheathcote Sophie’s their choice
Former Melbourne model Sophie Heathcote (pictured) has landed a major role in A Country Practice.  The 18-year-old will begin filming on the show later this month with her first scenes to appear on screen in April.  Heathcote will play Stephanie “Steve” Brennan, a country girl who helps her father, Snow (Ben Gabriel), run a farm in Wandin Valley.  Although Heathcote is not giving anything away, an involvement between her character and Luke Ross (Matt Day) may lead to something later on.

‘I never know what the year ahead will bring’
Jon Blake
, the former The Restless Years star still battling to recover from a horrific car accident three years ago, after he had completed filming The Lighthorseman, was special guest at an important party last month.  Mascot Blake threw her son a 31st birthday party, attended by friends and some of the many volunteers who help Blake with his rehabilitation.  The party was also highlighted by phone calls from former The Restless Years colleagues Peter Phelps and Mark Hembrow, both who are overseas.  Another special guest at the party was Blake’s 11-year-old son, Dustin, who often visits his father when in Sydney.  Mrs Blake also thanked TV Week readers who donated generously to help with the rehabilitation effort and have offered their assistance to Mrs Blake.

motherandson Arthur cuts the apron strings
The cast of the ABC series Mother And Son have been told to be prepared for a fifth series of the comedy to go into production in 1991.  The series has been on a break for two years while writer Geoffrey Atherden attends to other projects.  The fifth series could reveal some interesting twists for the show’s central characters, with Arthur (Garry McDonald) possibly to be moved out of the family home, and scheming brother Robert (Henri Szeps) looking after mum Maggie (Ruth Cracknell).  The new series will be a welcome change for McDonald, who was disappointed after plans for a return to TV as his classic Norman Gunston character fell through.  Both Nine and Seven networks had negotiated for a new Gunston series, after his one-off appearance at the 1989 TV Week Logie Awards, and it is reported that an agreement was reached with Nine.  However, financial uncertainty in the industry meant that the project was dropped.

Briefly…
Adelaide teenagers Richard Norton and Jeremy Angerson have joined the cast of Neighbours as the show recovers from losing key cast member Craig McLachlan to rival series Home And Away.

Actress and model Sue Smithers, a former cast member on The Restless Years, is planning a showbusiness comeback after the end of her marriage to lawyer husband Randy.  As well as writing a musical, Higher Love, the sister of actress Joy Smithers is also planning to release a single with comedian Austen Tayshus.  “It will be a comic record – I love comedy and we’ve talking doing one for a long time,” she told TV Week.

Crawford Productions have just released two of its popular programs, All The Rivers Run and Zoo Family, on video as part of their Crawford’s Classics range.  Future releases are set to include the original mini-series of The Flying Doctors, Whose Baby? and The Far Country.  A sequel to All The Rivers Run is expected to screen on the Seven Network during the year.

On The Grapevine:
If one prominent Aussie actor wants people to take him seriously when he says he’s 32, he’d better get to work on his appearance.  While his body is in reasonable shape, a truck-load of brown tint is required for those rapidly spreading grey hairs.

Intelligence, poise and good grooming are just a couple of prerequisites for television reporters, so how is one lass going to explain her recent behaviour at a big-budget movie location?

Who is the struggling deputy editor taking guitar lessons in a park during his lunch break?  Is it a bid to launch a career in the music industry, or is it simply a release from the asylum in which he works?

johnlaws John Laws says:
”Much happened in 1989 to sink a torpedo or two into the industry, and no one needs to be reminded of the financial problems of the various networks.  (But) despite its problems, TV in Australia isn’t so bad.  It’s not perfect but it hasn’t yet hit rock bottom.  For all his woes, Christopher Skase did try to add a touch of quality.  His TVAM, now ditched, was a gallant try at giving us a quality news and business program.  Neighbours, no matter what you might think of it, has won international acclaim, and made mega-stars of its two leading lights, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan.  Then, of course, the industry has, in the past 12 to 18 months, turned out some remarkably fine mini-series.  Bangkok Hilton is an example.  This was an international-class offering, and simply glowed when compared with much of the glossy trash imported from America.”

Program Highlights (Sydney):
Saturday:  ATN7
has the Danone Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championship, live from Milton Courts, Brisbane.  Former Australian Crawl musician Brad Robinson hosts a two-hour music program, Spin, on TEN10, and MTV (TCN9) presents Billy Joel Live In Leningrad.
Sunday: TCN9 presents Melbourne newsreader Brian Naylor’s one-hour documentary, Australia From The Outside Looking In, followed by On The Road With Midday with Midday reporters Lisa Forrest and Paul Lockyer.  Sunday night movies are Lies (TCN9) and Clan Of The Cave Bear (TEN10).
Monday: ATN7 presents live coverage of the NSW Open tennis from White City, Sydney.  A Current Affair (TCN9) returns for a new year, and TEN10 presents Part One of the re-run of mini-series Alice To Nowhere, starring John Waters, Rosey Jones and Ruth Cracknell.
Thursday: TEN10
crosses to Palm Meadows, Queensland for the Palm Meadows Golf Cup.
Friday: TCN9 crosses to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Day One of the First Test, Australia versus Pakistan.  Commentators include Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry, Tony Greig, Ian Chappell and Max Walker.

Source: TV Week (Sydney edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 6 January 1990. Southdown Press.