Wednesday, 31 August 2011

1991: August 31-September 6

tvweek_310891 Steve’s fast women!
Ask Steve Vizard about “his girls”, Fast Forward comediennes Gina Riley, Marg Downey, Magda Szubanski and Jane Turner (pictured as their Fast Forward alter egos Kerri-Anne Kennel, the SBS lady, Pixie Anne Wheatley and Sveta), and all you’ll hear is praise… well, almost.  “Frankly, if I can come clean, I carry the lot of them.  I’m the talent,” he says, with the trademark Vizard modesty.  “Take away their incredible acting ability, their comedic skills, their looks and their personalities, and they’re nothing… these girls are nothing!” 

rowenawallace_0001 Angry network dumps Rowena!
Gold Logie winner Rowena Wallace (pictured) has sparked a furore with the producers of Home And Away after making comments to a newspaper that derided her upcoming role in the Seven Network soap.  Wallace, who won the Gold Logie for her role as nasty Patricia Hamilton in Sons And Daughters, was cast to play Julia Bowman, the mother of a young girl dying of leukaemia in a storyline to air on Home And Away early next year.  But in a story published by Sydney’s Telegraph Mirror, Wallace was less than enthused about the role.  “I’m playing somebody’s mother.  It doesn’t really matter whose mother, does it?  She’s dying of leukaemia and I’m there crying a lot, I suppose.  I can see it now,” she told the paper.  “But I’m doing Home And Away for the money.  It’s a nice little earner until Christmas, and then I can go off and do the World Vision thing, you see.”  Although there is a signed contract for Wallace’s upcoming role, Seven has advised her management that her services are no longer required and the two parties are currently negotiating an outcome.  But a spokesperson for Seven has told TV Week, “the role is being re-cast and Rowena will not be doing it.”

julieannenewbouldE Street wipeout!
A major cast upheaval is headed for Network Ten’s E Street – with four cast members being written out, two former cast members returning, and question marks over three others.  By the end of the year cast members Joan Sydney, Graham Harvey, Julieanne Newbould (pictured) and teenager Daniel Knight will be gone.  Producer Forrest Redlich is currently negotiating with Marcus Graham, Alyssa-Jane Cook and Kate Raison, whose contracts are up for renewal.  “It’s a pretty good bet Marcus will be out.  I’m talking to him about another project,” Redlich told TV Week.  “If Marcus, Kate and A-J go, they’ll be on air until March.”  Meanwhile, Vic Rooney and Kelley Abbey will return to the series, and Diane Craig will take over the role of Dr Elly Fielding from former cast member Penny Cook.

brendafricker Briefly…
Irish actress Brenda Fricker (pictured) has told TV Week that she was on the verge of collapse while filming the ABC mini-series Brides Of Christ, with long hours in a nun’s habit in temperatures of up to 40 degrees.  “The heat killed me and with the humidity I just couldn’t breathe,” she said.  “I don’t like heat and four months was too long away from home.  Although they did everything to make me feel at home at the place I was staying, it wasn’t home.  I also got very ill.  I went to a doctor and he said I was suffering from chronic fatigue.  He said that I needed a long break.  He said I would probably ignore his advice but, if I did, I would end up in hospital.”

bertnewton_1989 Bert Newton and John Blackman have spoken to TV Week about what has been a frustrating year for both of them in terms of radio.  It is a year since Blackman and Wilbur Wilde were dumped from 3UZ’s breakfast program, and Newton (pictured) has reflected on a year that saw his failed attempt to launch an entertainment-based format on 3AK as well as an unsuccessful bid for the licence of 3XY.  “Radio is dead for me in this town at present,” Newton said.  “I’ve done my best to pick it up, but I feel I have run my race.”  Meanwhile, Blackman has had some discussions with KZFM but not confident of any return to radio in the short term.  “The phone is still deadly silent,” he said.  “Radio’s the thing that’s in my blood, and it’s terribly frustrating for me not to be a part of it.”

katefitzpatrick Kate Fitzpatrick (pictured) is soon to make a guest appearance in Nine’s Chances as a former brothel madam involved in the untimely death of a prominent figure.  “She’s a great character and introducing guest stars is a good way for the show to go,” she said.

John Laws says…
”The idea of ‘resting’ from his late-night show and installing temporary replacements is something Steve Vizard has perfected this year.  The star of Seven’s Tonight Live is sometimes missing from the limelight and replaced by various personalities, some of whom have appeared before as his guests.  Vizard’s recent stand-in host, the British comedian and comedy writer Ben Elton, made such a marvellous fist of the job that I dare say there were many viewers wishing he could be around all year.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 31-September 6):
Saturday:  The Choirboys
and The Cockroaches are guest performers on this week’s Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine).

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are The Name Of The Rose (Seven) and Old Gringo (Nine) up against Ten’s re-run of mini-series Come In Spinner, a series originally aired on ABC.

Monday:  In Col’n Carpenter (Ten), Colin (Kim Gyngell) is jailed for a crime he didn’t commit and fights to prove his innocence.  In A Country Practice (Seven), Kate (Michelle Pettigrove) is caught in the middle of old rivalries between Harry (Andrew Blackman) and his brother Rick (John Adam).

rebeccagibneygarysweet Tuesday:  Gary Sweet (pictured with Rebecca Gibney) guest stars in All Together Now (Nine), playing the role of a sleazy fashion buyer.  Beyond 2000 (Seven) reports on the controversial abortion drug RU486, and a device which could enable us to control our dreams.  Henri Szeps and Miles Buchanan guest star in GP (ABC).

Wednesday:  ABC debuts mini-series Brides Of Christ, a six-part series set in Australia during a decade of radical upheaval in our society and in the Catholic Church, starring Josephine Byrnes, Kym Wilson, Lisa Hensley, Brenda Fricker and Naomi Watts.

Thursday:  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), rumours are sparked in Coopers Crossing when Guy (David Reyne) and Jackie (Nikki Coghill) spend the night alone after being stranded in a desolate Outback hut.

Friday:  Movie host Bill Collins is the celebrity guest on this week’s Burke’s Backyard (Seven).

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  31 August 1991.  Southdown Press

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Humphrey and friends for sale

humphreybbear For almost forty years the character of Humphrey B. Bear was the flagship of the Nine Network’s children’s programming portfolio.

The character of Humphrey and the accompanying television series, Here’s Humphrey, may have been mothballed by Nine some years ago – it was last broadcast in 2008 – but there could still be some life to live in the funny old fellow called Humphrey.

The company that owns the Humphrey trademark, Banksia Productions, ceased trading two years ago and its assets are now being sold off – although unlike other liquidations the only major assets are the intellectual property, including the Humphrey trademark, merchandising and the familiar theme song.

tvtimes_231278 Also up for sale is Banksia’s share of The Curiosity Show, a science program for children that was created as a spin-off from Here’s Humphrey in the 1970s and also ran for many years on the Nine Network.

Seven News reports that liquidators BRI Ferrier would not comment on how much Humphrey and The Curiosity Show were worth, but have said there has already been significant interest from potential buyers.

Penni Hamilton-Smith, a former producer of Here’s Humphrey, says that the character of Humphrey is “ageless” and would love to see him back entertaining children:

"I'd like to see him working with children again, either in a television show or a live show, that would be wonderful.  He's got incredible charm and great charisma.”

"Everyone adores him, he goes around bringing joy and affection into people's hearts.  If he can keep doing that, it would be absolutely wonderful."

The character of Humphrey B. Bear was created by producer Rex Heading at NWS9, Adelaide, in the mid 1960s as a result of the channel’s main children’s character, Bobo the Clown, moving across to rival channel SAS10.

Humphrey made his debut in 1965 on local program The Channel Niners before being given his own show, Here’s Humphrey, which was screened nationally in the Nine Network on a regular basis until 2003 and returned for a brief run in 2007-08.

Interested buyers have until the end of next month to make an offer on Humphrey and his friends.

Source: Seven News

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

1991: August 24-30

tvweek_240891 ‘Don’t call us the new Jason and Kylie!’
E Street’s Melissa Tkautz and Bruce Samazan (pictured) are set to become TV’s hottest couple, with their characters Nicky and Max deciding to turn their friendship into a closer relationship.  But with Tkautz already moving into a music career – with the top-selling single Read My Lips – and Samazan’s recording ambitions, the two stars are keen to distance themselves from comparisons to that one-time Neighbours supercouple, Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. 

Future shock!
The Nine Network’s move to cut Chances down from two hours a week to one has seen the show embark on a new dramatic twist – jumping the storyline ahead a year in time.  The move forward will see the Taylor family believe that Alex (Jeremy Sims) has died after a plane he boarded crashes with no known survivors.  However, a man bearing a striking resemblance to Alex is found to be working hard as an honest farmhand and in a steady relationship with a hairdresser (played by Annie Jones), the sort of qualities that Alex is hardly known for.  The happy couple are unaware of the resemblance that the farmhand has to the devious advertising executive and the trouble it will eventually cause.  The format change to Chances also sees two cast members written out, with Anne Grigg and Leverne McDonnell exiting the series, following the recent departures of Kimberley Davenport and Yvonne Lawley.

lisahensley Wild goose chase leads Lisa to the golden egg
The image of a nun wielding a rake while she chases a goose through the convent grounds is one that Brides Of Christ star Lisa Hensley holds dear.  It stood out as she read the script and dreamed of the role that would change her life.  As the faithful Sister Paul, Hensley could picture herself chasing that goose.  “I’d go to bed every night and visualise me in that scene,” she told TV Week.  “I wanted the role so badly.”  The role of Sister Paul sees Hensley reunited with Josephine Byrnes, a former colleague from the mini-series Shadows Of The Heart.  “I never thought in my wildest dreams that Josephine and I would work together again,” she said.  For Hensley, the Brides Of Christ role is a reward after taking the stand not to accept any of the ‘nice’ soapie roles offered to her after working on the Nine Network series All The Way.  “While the offers were flattering, I was scared I wouldn’t get to fulfil my dream of doing theatre and exploring different roles.  So I said no to the offers and disappeared for a while,” she said.  “It was a very hard decision and I don’t know if I could make it again.”

colncarpenter Briefly…
Despite disappointing ratings, Network Ten has renewed sitcom Col’n Carpenter for a fourth series.  The series will now continue on Monday nights after a disappointing run on Sundays.  “The new timeslot has been a big part of the decision to go on,” creator Kim Gyngell (pictured, as Col’n) told TV Week.  “We’ve just had to grin and bear the Sunday timeslot.  Monday is much better.  We all feel like we have a new lease on life now.”  Along with Gyngell as title character Colin, cast members Stig Wemyss and Anne Phelan will continue in the new series, but Kaarin Fairfax is unable to continue her role of Linda as she is expecting a baby in October.  The show is also seeking a new producer to replace Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, who has had to leave for other commitments.

jossmcwilliam Actor Joss McWilliam (pictured), best remembered for his role as an iron-man in the movie Coolangatta Gold, is taking on his first ongoing TV role as a park ranger in the upcoming series The New Adventures Of Skippy.  “If I had the choice I’d rather work in film – it’s a great medium.  But the exposure from television is wider.  An ongoing role in Skippy could be my big chance,” he told TV WeekThe New Adventures Of Skippy is expected to debut on the Nine Network next year and has already been pre-sold to a number of countries.

Bruce McAvaney will be heading Seven’s coverage of the third World Athletic Championships from Tokyo.  “For pure excellence in sport, I rate the championships second only to the Olympics,” he told TV Week.  “These titles also give me the chance to work on my technique for next year’s Olympics because I haven’t called an international meet since 1989.”  Seven’s coverage will consist of daily highlights packages presented after Tonight Live, and live coverage of the women’s and men’s marathons.

Lawrie Masterson’s Sound Off
”I think there must be a recovery taking place in the television industry, because, just lately, it seems some of the networks have resumed their old habit of plying the rest of the media with food and booze, given the barest hint of an excuse.  As my mate Kenny pointed out last week when we were leaving a bash thrown by Network Ten to celebrate 1500 episodes of Neighbours, things have been so bad for so long that now there is a generation of young journos to whom the traditional Interstate Junket is a whole new experience.  The evening previous to the Neighbours bash, there was a very posh party on for the brilliant mini-series Brides Of Christ.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 24-30):
Saturday:  Greg Matthews, Marty Coffey
and Syd Heylen are contestants on this week’s Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune (Seven). 

Sunday:  Seven crosses to Tokyo this morning for live coverage of the Women’s Marathon in the World Athletic Championships.  Sunday night movies are Casualties Of War (Nine) and Colors (Ten) up against the debut of two-part mini-series To Be The Best (Seven).

Monday:  Four Corners (ABC) presents a special edition to commemorate its 30th anniversary, introduced by reporter Chris Masters.  In Col’n Carpenter (Ten), close to death, Colin (Kim Gyngell) is rushed to hospital.  Ten then presents a delayed telecast of the 43rd Emmy Awards from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Los Angeles.

jeremysimsanniejones Tuesday:  Former Neighbours and Jackaroo star Annie Jones (pictured, with Jeremy Sims) makes her debut in Chances (Nine), while former The Young Doctors star Eric Oldfield guest stars.  Beyond 2000 (Seven) reports on new technology from Britain that offers a better way to fight fires on board aircraft.  All Together Now (Nine) is preparing for the 16th birthday of twins Thomas  (Steven Jacobs) and Anna (Jane Hall).

Wednesday: In Neighbours (Ten), Jim (Alan Dale) learns some startling news about Helen’s (Anne Haddy) new husband – and in E Street (Ten), Sheridan (Kate Raison) is playing games with Wheels (Marcus Graham), but who’s really fooling who?

Thursday:  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), a patient’s life is jeopardised when Guy (David Reyne) discovers golden staph in the operating theatre.  ABC screens the series final of Embassy, and Seven presents a repeat of the sketch comedy special from The D-Generation.

Friday:  ABC’s Backchat host Tim Bowden is a guest on Burke’s Backyard (Nine).  Documentary series A Big Country (ABC) focuses on two different cultures and how each contribute to the changing face of Australia.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  24 August 1991.  Southdown Press

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Obituary: Paul Lockyer, John Bean, Gary Ticehurst, Ian Carroll

paullockyer ABC general manager Mark Scott yesterday described it as “the saddest of days” – following the death of veteran ABC journalist Paul Lockyer (pictured), camera operator John Bean and pilot Gary Ticehurst in a helicopter crash on Thursday night.

And last night came news that Ian Carroll, who recently retired from his role as director of innovation at the ABC, has died from pancreatic cancer.

Lockyer, Bean and Ticehurst were on board a helicopter while on assignment producing news and feature stories at Lake Eyre in South Australia.  The aircraft is believed to have crashed around 7.30pm Thursday night.

It is not known what caused the crash but it is believed that there was bad weather in the area at the time.

Lockyer, 61, was a journalist with over 40 years’ experience, most of them at the ABC in various roles, including foreign correspondent postings and reading the news, but also worked for the Nine Network for more than a decade.

His reporting from the Sydney Olympic Games for the ABC earned him a Logie award for most outstanding news reporter.

In recent times he had focused on covering regional issues for ABC and reported extensively on the drought-breaking floods that have hit eastern Australia.  In 2009 and 2010 he reported from Lake Eyre on the biggest floods to hit central Australia in a generation.

He is survived by wife Maria and two sons.

johnbean Camera operator Bean (pictured), 48, had been with ABC for more than two decades, working not only in News but also on programs including Catalyst, The New Inventors, Gardening Australia and Australian Story.  He also worked at the ABC’s Washington bureau during 2009.  He is survived by wife Pip Courtney, a reporter for ABC’s Landline program.

Ticehurst, 60, had been the ABC’s lead helicopter pilot since the mid 1980s and with over 16,000 hours of flying time was one of Australia’s most experienced media pilots.  He is survived by wife Therese.

garyticehurst While covering the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1998, Ticehurst (pictured) was instrumental in the rescue of 14 crew members from stricken yacht Business Post Naiad, which lost a skipper and crew member.

ABC’s current affairs program 7.30 last night devoted its entire program to the dedicated trio, and a tribute site has been produced by ABC Online.

iancarroll The national broadcaster has also mourned the loss of former executive Ian Carroll (pictured) from pancreatic cancer.

Carroll, 64, was involved in the development of ABC news and current affairs productions including Four Corners, Nationwide, The National, Lateline and The 7.30 Report and went on to be chief executive of the ABC’s international satellite channel Australia Network.

He also spent a brief period at the Nine Network. 

Since 2007 he had led the broadcaster’s innovation portfolio, overseeing the launch of two digital channels and the popular online catch-up service iView as well as mobile applications and the development of ABC Online.

He was diagnosed with cancer a year ago but continued to work up until two weeks ago.

He is survived by wife, veteran ABC identity Geraldine Doogue.

Source: ABC, ABC, The Australian

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

1991: August 17-23

tvweek_170891 Cover: Matthew Krok, Rachael Beck (Hey Dad!)

The end for Hey Hey?
Nine Network
executives may have be sent into a mild state of panic following a statement from Daryl Somers that he may be looking at ventures other than Hey Hey It’s Saturday in the not-too-distant future.  “It is not a foregone conclusion that Hey Hey will be on next year,” he said.  “This is the last year of our current three-year contract and we’ll certainly be talking to Channel Nine.  I love doing the program, but there are a lot of things I want to do apart from Hey Hey.  I’ve had to turn down two roles in London stage shows, whereas I’d like to be able to do these things because years down the track I may not get the opportunity.”  Meanwhile, plans are continuing for Hey Hey’s Hollywood-based special to be held later this year for the show’s 20th anniversary.

matstevenson Horror head-on!
In a dramatic episode of Home And Away to screen this week, who will survive Summer Bay’s tragic car crash?  It is only known that David (Guy Pearce) and Adam (Mat Stevenson, pictured) are involved in the head-on crash – but only one will survive. 

Just another quiet night in suburbia…
A car bomb which leaves two police officers dead launches the new ABC police drama Phoenix.  The explosive scene was enacted outside the Camberwell Civic Centre in Melbourne.  Surrounding streets had been blocked off by police as a Ford Falcon loaded with more than a dozen charges was detonated, triggering a 20-metre high fireball.  Almost 100 cast and crew and six cameras were involved in the production of the explosion.

The Bugs Bunny Show host Sophie Lee (pictured) is philosophical about rival Network Ten’s bid to knock the popular cartoon show down a few notches by recently launching a music video show, Power Cuts.  “I’ve read about it, but that’s cool,” she said.  “I don’t know the people involved.”

Simone Buchanan was looking forward to a change from comedy when she left Hey Dad! – and that’s exactly what she got when she took on the role of a rape victim in A Country Practice in episodes to go to air this week.  “It will allow me to break free from the typecasting from Hey Dad!,” she told TV Week.  “The ACP scenes are some of the heaviest I’ve ever been involved with.  They left me feeling emotionally and physically exhausted.  I had 19 scenes in a row.  I had to cry in all of them!”

The Barcelona Olympic Games are less than a year away and the Seven Network, given its recent financial instability, is under pressure to deliver results for the $40 million it paid for the Australian television rights.  “This will be the biggest-ever single undertaking by an Australian television network,” Seven’s network sports director Gary Fenton told TV Week.  “We’ll be taking about 150 people across, building a complete studio over there, then dismantling it all and bringing it back home.  What we plan to do is make sure that viewers see more of the Australians competing at the Games than ever before.”

John Laws says…
”Why, I wonder, would the main ABC employees’ union and the Friends Of The ABC organisation be “surprised” – as they say they are – by the ABC’s offer of a new five-year contract to managing director David Hill?  Is it because Hill dances to the beat of a different drummer?  Opposition to Hill being reappointed must, I guess, be expected because the past few years have been heady and controversial ones for the ABC.  But it’s probably never had a higher profile right around Australia, and that’s due in no small measure to Hill’s input.  Staff-management problems are to be expected in an organisation the size of the ABC, and there’s no doubt Hill has had to make some necessary – and to some people, unpleasant – decisions about staffing levels, programming and future direction.  The next five years are going to pose fresh challenges to the ABC because TV is changing all the time, and there are going to be new demands on the national broadcaster, not least of which is the possibility that, one day, it is going to have to accept some form of advertising and sponsorship.  There will also be the challenge of pay-TV.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 17-23):
  On the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, Seven devotes much of its afternoon and evening schedule to paying tribute – with movies Kissin’ Cousins, Elvis On Tour and Jailhouse Rock and a two-hour special The Elvis Files, presented by Bill Bixby, that promises “startling new information surrounding Presley’s death and the very real possibility that he is still alive.”  This week’s guests on Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) are Craig McLachlan, Rita Rudner, Cameron Daddo and Cathy Dennis.

davidreyne Sunday:  Nine presents the long-awaited debut of two-part mini-series Golden Fiddles, starring Cameron Daddo, Rachel Friend, John Bach, Kate Nelligan, Pippa Grandison, David Reyne (pictured) and Adriana XenidesGolden Fiddles tells the story of the struggles of the Balfour family during the depression of the 1920s, and the news which could offer them a happy and prosperous future.  Sunday night movies are Cocktail (Seven) and Death Hunt (Ten).

Monday:  Ernie Bourne (The Magic Circle Club, Prisoner, Neighbours) and Beverley Phillips (Neighbours) guest star in Col’n Carpenter (Ten).  Craig McLachlan begins his week-long stint as guest host on Tonight Live (Seven).

Tuesday:  ABC presents a direct telecast from Canberra of the first Budget speech from Federal Treasurer John Kerin.  Beyond 2000 (Seven) reports on a new discovery that may lead to a better contraceptive; and the Norwegians have developed a revolutionary system for beating rising damp.  GP (ABC) presents a special episode dedicated to Camp Quality which gives unique holidays to children with cancer.

Wednesday:  In the series return of Hey Dad! (Seven), eight-year-old Arthur McArthur (Matthew Krok) falls for an older woman.  In Neighbours (Ten), Madge (Anne Charleston) is shocked by Harold’s (Ian Smith) new business partner – Brenda Riley (Genevieve Lemon).

Thursday:  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), Clare’s (Beverley Dunn) life is turned upside down when her old flame arrives in town for the opening of Steve’s (Paul Kelman) new garage.  In E Street (Ten), the new marriage between Lisa (Alyssa-Jane Cook) and Michael (Graham Harvey) could be on shaky ground – is she still in love with Wheels (Marcus Graham)?

Friday:  Star Search – The Next Generation (Ten) presents a ‘celebrity special’ looking at past guests and winners.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  17 August 1991.  Southdown Press

Monday, 15 August 2011

Four Corners celebrates 50 years

4cornersOn Saturday, 19 August 1961, Michael Charlton presented the first edition of what would become a current affairs flagship, Four Corners – a program inspired by the successful BBC series Panorama.

At a time when the term ‘current affairs’ was yet to be coined, TV Week described Four Corners as a “television newspaper”:

“Interviewer-compere, Michael Charlton, gives a round-up of the “world this week” using film, live interviews and phone calls from the news centres of the world.  Four Corners is divided into three main segments: ‘The World at Large’, ‘Arts and Entertainment’ and ‘The Local Scene’.  It’s this final segment which will use the American-styled ‘open end’ type of interview which could, in theory, on a ‘hot’ topic, run all night.”

That first edition, produced by Bob Raymond with a staff of six and a budget of £480, featured an interview with American astronaut Scott Carpenter.  This was followed by a report on the anniversary of the Japanese surrender in 1945, Charlton’s report on the recent federal Budget and an interview with swimmer John Konrads.  The program also included an interview with American harmonica player Larry Adler, who presented a live performance.

(You can view excerpts from the first edition of Four Corners via the Australian Screen archive.)

4corners_0001 Just a few weeks after its debut, Four Corners presented an extended report on the deplorable conditions faced by those living at the Aboriginal reserve at Box Ridge, near the NSW town of Casino.  It was a report that presented to many in mainstream Australia their first real insight into the treatment of Aboriginal people, and caused a public furore.  It certainly would not be the last time that a Four Corners report would trigger widespread reaction.  Earlier this year, a Four Corners report on the treatment of Australian cattle exported to Indonesian abattoirs caused public outrage and sparked both national and international response.

michaelcharltonDespite its modest beginnings back in 1961 it did not take long for Four Corners to clock up its first accolades.  In 1962 the show won a TV Week Logie for Best News Feature Program, and in 1963 host Charlton (pictured) won the Gold Logie for the Most Popular Television Personality in Australia.  He is one of only three ABC personalities to have ever won the popular-voted award.

In the years and decades to follow, Four Corners would continue to receive awards for excellence in television journalism – with many Walkley Awards to its credit and a number of industry-voted TV Week Logies.

In 1992, Four Corners became the first television program to be inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards’ Hall of Fame.  Since then, only two other programs have had the same recognition – Neighbours (2005) and Play School (2006).

mikewillesee_0003 Some of Australia’s most well known and respected journalists have worked at Four Corners over its 50 years history – including Gerald Lyons, Mike Willesee (pictured), Caroline Jones, Robert Moore, Peter Couchman, Paul Lyneham, Andrew Olle, Neil Mercer, Richard Carleton, Chris Masters, Peter Luck, Ray Martin, Jeff McMullen, Mary Delahunty, Stuart Littlemore, Charles Wooley, Jenny Brockie, David Marr, Kerry O’Brien, Paul Barry, Ross Coulthart and Liz Jackson.

kerryobrien_0001To celebrate the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Four Corners will present a special edition next Monday with Kerry O’Brien (pictured), a reporter on the program back in the 1970s who this year returned to the program as host. 

50 Years Four Corners: Your Stories, Our History will trace the five common themes that have been found to have been the backbone of the program over the last half century – crime and corruption, social change, Indigenous affairs, war and conflict, immigration and politics.

The screening of 50 Years Four Corners coincides with the launch of a public exhibition at ABC’s Ultimo headquarters in Sydney, tracking the history of one of the most significant programs on Australian television. 

The special and exhibition will also be backed by a website –

Then over the next five Sundays starting 28 August at 10.10pm (AEST), ABC News 24 will broadcast a selection of reports and episodes of Four Corners from each decade that the program has been on air – including two reports surrounding the controversial 1975 Federal Election, one featuring reporter Kerry O’Brien; the 1987 report from Chris Masters that triggered the Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in Queensland;  David Marr’s profile of Stuart Challender, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conductor who was battling AIDS; and Sally Neighbour’s 2003 report into the Bali bombings

4corners_0002 50 Years Four Corners: Your Stories, Our History.  Monday 22 August, 8.30pm, ABC1.  Repeated Tuesday, 23 August, 11.35pm on ABC1 and Saturday, 27 August, 8.00pm (AEST) on ABC News 24.

Source: ABC Publicity. 50 Years – Aunty’s Jubilee, Tim Bowden and Wendy Borchers, 2006. TV Week, 19 August 1961.  Australian Screen.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Simon Townsend on The Morning Show

simontownsend_0001 Former children’s TV presenter and producer Simon Townsend was yesterday’s ‘Flashback Friday’ guest on the Seven Network’s The Morning Show.

Townsend was a producer for Mike Willesee in the 1970s and had edited a children’s newspaper, Zoot, before he ventured into producing his own program, which eventually became Simon Townsend’s Wonder World.  The program, a magazine format aimed at children, was first devised back in 1973.  A pilot was produced in association with Seven but it was not picked up.

By the late 1970s the broadcast rules were changing to enforce a minimum amount of first-run Australian-made content for children on commercial networks.  A second pilot, produced independently, was successful in gaining approval for broadcast under the new ‘C’ classification and the 0-10 Network ultimately picked up the program in 1979. 

Simon Townsend’s Wonder World continued until 1987, clocking up over 2000 episodes and winning five Logies.  Townsend later returned to television as the presenter of ABC’s early evening program TVTV, a nightly program based around television.

Townsend has since suffered a number of personal setbacks, including three strokes and the death of his wife Rosanna from cancer.  He is now retired.

Source: The Morning Show, TV Times, Talking Heads

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

1991: August 10-16

tvweek_100891 Lucy turns nasty… very nasty!
A bitter custody battle is set to show A Country Practice’s Lucy Tyler (Georgie Parker, pictured) in a disturbing new light.  The turnaround in her character has even shocked Parker herself.  In recent episodes, Lucy and husband Matt (John Tarrant) have settled into foster-parenthood with their child, Jason (Sam Boggs).  Now, when Jason’s mother, played by Lisa Hensley, returns to collect him after winning custody through the courts, Lucy refuses to give the child up. “It’s a dimension to Lucy that nobody has seen before,” Parker tells TV Week.  “She turns nasty, very nasty.”

Soap wars!
A war is brewing behind the scenes between rival soaps Home And Away (Seven) and Neighbours (Ten).  TV Week sources say that Neighbours producers have been trying to poach some of the more popular Home And Away stars.  “They have been secretly offering contracts to try and get some cast to leave Home And Away and move to Neighbours,” one source said.  “One major cast member was formally approached.  They are trying to do what Seven did when Craig McLachlan swapped networks (from Neighbours to Home And Away).”  It is believed that Ten also tried to sign up new Home And Away cast member Alistair MacDougall, but Home And Away have since secured him with a two-year contract.  Meanwhile, one former Neighbours cast member, Richard Norton, has joined Home And Away with a two-year contract.

andrewclarke Skippy’s making a comeback… and the new Sonny is a daddy!
The Nine Network has commissioned 26 episodes for a Nineties version of the classic TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.  The original series, which ran for 91 episodes and was syndicated around the world, featured child actor Gary Pankhurst as park ranger’s son Sonny Hammond.  In the Nineties version, Sonny is grown up, a widower with two children, and running his own animal park in Queensland.  Andrew Clarke (pictured), former star of Sons And Daughters, Anzacs, Sword Of Honour and Flair, has signed on for the role of Sonny Hammond.  Filming of the new series is due to start at the Warner Bros studios on the Gold Coast in the next few weeks and the series will go to air next year.

scottmichaelsonrachelblakelyNeighbours is welcoming two new cast members as the long-running series celebrates its 1500th episode.  Former Cleo Covergirl of the Year Rachel Blakely and actor Scott Michaelson join the series as Gaby and Brad Willis, daughter and son of Doug and Pam Willis (Terence Donovan and Sue Jones).  Despite his new role, Michaelson jokes that he is an “old hand” at Neighbours.  “I was first on as an extra when it was on the Seven Network.  Then about four years ago, I had a small part as one of the school kids,” he said.

As the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes approaches its 500th edition, reporter Mike Munro is asked about some of the women he’s interviewed over the years.  His favourite?  “Katharine Hepburn, without a doubt.”  The hardest to get to was Madonna.  “The string of entourage was incredible,” he told TV Week.  “Hepburn had an assistant and a maid.  Madonna had six bodyguards, a personal assistant and four public relations people.”

sheilaflorance_0002 When former Prisoner star Sheila Florance went into hospital for her fifth cancer operation in June, most people – including Florance herself – thought it would be the last time they saw her.  But she has come out of the operation and celebrated her 75th birthday with friends and former Prisoner co-stars.  Her birthday also became a double celebration, as she has also been nominated for an AFI Award for her recent performance in the film A Woman’s Tale.

John Laws says…
”I’ve been a bit perplexed at how Peter Couchman’s program – ostensibly established to canvass Australian issues, otherwise why the name Couchman Over Australia – has seen fit to travel overseas to bring us its talkfests.  I can recall Couchman and his considerable entourage turning up in various countries, including Turkey, New Zealand and some others.  Has it all been worthwhile?  Do we really need a taxpayer-funded Australian TV personality to travel the world organising talk-ins about problems that affect countries thousands of kilometres away from Australia?  In critical economic times – as we now face – all organisations, private and public, have to tighten the purse-strings and in the case of the ABC there has to be a realisation of this essential truth to business life.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 10-16):
Saturday:  Ten
debuts a new children’s series, Kelly, about a smarter than average police dog, starring Gil Tucker and Alexander Kemp.  Ian Moss, James Freud and Martin Plaza are guest stars on Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine).

Sunday:  ABC presents live coverage of the 21st annual City To Surf road race from Sydney. 60 Minutes (Nine) celebrates its 500th edition.  Sunday night movies are Dead Poets Society (Seven), Lethal Weapon II (Nine) and Major League (Ten).

Monday: Former Neighbours star Guy Pearce guest stars in Col’n Carpenter (Ten).

Tuesday:  Beyond 2000 (Seven) reports on a team in Sydney that has developed a new way to monitor the heart that goes one step further than the ECG.

Thursday:  In Embassy (ABC), a Ragaani mail-order-bride is murdered by her Australian husband.  In response, Mahmoud (Joseph Spano) orders that no passports are to be issued to Ragaani women.

Friday:  Bathmat-turned-celebrity Agro is an unlikely guest on this week’s Burke’s Backyard (Nine).

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  10 August 1991.  Southdown Press

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

1991: August 3-9

tvweek_030891 ‘I want a white wedding in a church…’
Rebecca Gibney
’s wedding scenes this week in All Together Now have led to the Logie-winning actress confessing to a potential real-life wedding to boyfriend Jack Jones.  “We’ve discussed it seriously and Jack has jokingly proposed to me,” she told TV Week.  “But it won’t be just yet.  But the fact that we’re talking about it says just how serious our relationship is.”  But if she does tie the knot, Gibney (pictured) says it won’t be a big wedding.  “I can’t be bothered with all the fuss.  I want a white wedding in a church, but I’m a private person and it will be a small affair.”  But as for All Together Now, Gibney’s character Tracey has been caught designing wedding dresses and Bobby Rivers (Jon English) has been discussing buying rings… leading to the rest of the household suspecting an upcoming wedding.  But is this “dream” wedding too good to be true?

craigmclachlan_0002 Now it’s Tonight Live with Craig!
Former Home And Away star Craig McLachlan (pictured) and British writer and comedian Ben Elton have emerged as the guest hosts for Tonight Live while Steve Vizard and the Fast Forward team head to Barcelona to produce some Olympic-themed specials for the Seven Network.  “I’m very excited about working with a studio audience,” McLachlan told TV Week.  “There’s great flexibility in the show and there are so many people I’d love to have on it.”  Elton and McLachlan will host Tonight Live for a week each later this month.

It’s goodbye to Wandin Valley’s favourite couple!
Popular A Country Practice stars Georgie Parker and John Tarrant, whose characters tied the knot last year, have told the show’s producers that they will be leaving at the end of the year – although the Seven Network has so far only issued a statement that “we are having on-going discussions with the entire cast”. 

petatoppano SBS is planning a new series of dramas under the heading Six Pack.  The series of six self-contained stories is set to feature some of Australia’s most familiar actors including Peta Toppano (pictured), John Bluthal, Arianthe Galani, Sandie Lillingston, Simon Burke, Ivar Kants, Susan Lyons, Josephine Mitchell, Steve Bastoni, Angie Milliken, Sandy Gore, Victoria Longley, Anna Volska, Geraldine Turner, Ben Oxenbould, Denise Scott and Angelo D’AngeloSix Pack is expected to screen in Australia and the United Kingdom next year.

The Ten Network is considering an Australian version of US current affairs program Hard Copy – a controversial program labelled as “the trashy television equivalent of the National Enquirer”.  A pilot of the proposed local version has already been completed and producers Showboat Productions are waiting on the go-ahead from the network.  One name rumoured to be involved in the project is former Seven Network presenter Gina Boon.

tammymacintosh Former The Flying Doctors star Tammy MacIntosh (pictured) is set to make her comedy debut in the new Network Ten sitcom Bingles.  The new series, set in a panel-beating workshop, will also star Shane Bourne, Russell Gilbert and Nick Bufalo and is being produced by Media Arts, the producers of The Comedy Company

Pop star Collette, who has recently returned from a promotional trip to Malaysia, has signed to make her acting debut with a guest role in Home And Away.  The star, who rose to fame with a remake of disco hit Ring My Bell, will appear in two episodes of the popular series.

John Laws says…
”The TV “science” battle between Beyond 2000 and Quantum has been, as far as ratings go, fairly one-sided.  Beyond 2000 (Seven) has packed too many big-budget guns, and much more promotional leverage, than Quantum could muster on ABC.  Yet both programs are eminently viewable.  Beyond 2000 revels in its quick-fix, slick approach, cramming as many items as possible into its one-hour slot.  Some items are so brief they merely whet the appetite, leaving us wishing there had been more time to examine them further.  Quantum has adopted a more conservative, serious approach, while managing to maintain a flow of high-quality material.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, August 3-9):
  World champion ice-skaters Jane Torvill and Chrisopher Dean are guests on this week’s Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine).  Seven crosses to Carrara, Queensland, for live coverage of the AFL match between Brisbane Bears and Collingwood, with commentators Sandy Roberts, Peter McKenna, Bernie Quinlan and Bill McDonald.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Deadly Pursuit (Seven), Dead Calm (Nine) and The Woman He Loved (Ten).

Monday:  In Col’n Carpenter (Ten), Colin (Kim Gyngell) and Michael (Stig Wemyss) attempt to cheer up a homesick Linda (Kaarin Fairfax).  In A Country Practice (Seven), Matron Prior (Maureen Edwards) is pursued by Clarrie Rossiter (Peter Carmody).  Ten debuts US talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show in a weekly late-night timeslot following the Second Edition News.

Tuesday:  Jacqueline McKenzie guest stars in GP (ABC).  Beyond 2000 (Seven) looks at a solution to fitting more people on the Paris Metro train system, and also reports on a new polymer that is revolutionising the chewing gum industry.

Wednesday:  Kerry Walker and Noah Taylor star in The Last Crop, a telemovie for ABC.  Walker plays Ann Sweeney, a woman who cleans upmarket Sydney apartments for a living while she dreams of happiness for herself, her daughter and her rather useless son.

annephelan Thursday:  Comedy series Fast Forward (Seven) returns after a mid-year break.  Shane Bourne and Ann Phelan (pictured) guest star in The Flying Doctors (Nine).

Friday:  Seven crosses to the WACA, Perth, for live coverage of the AFL match between West Coast Eagles and Geelong.  Barry Sheene is this week’s guest on Burke’s Backyard (Nine).

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  3 August 1991.  Southdown Press

ABC axes programs, cuts staff

fenellakernebone The Director of Television at the ABC, Kim Dalton has blamed “financial pressures” for the axing of more in-house production and staff redundancies that were announced yesterday.

ABC has issued redundancy notices to staff around the country as it winds down production facilities in Perth and Adelaide and axes long-running shows The New Inventors and Collectors, weekly series Art Nation (presented by Fenella Kernebone, pictured) and the production of documentaries under the Artscape banner.

In an email sent to staff yesterday, Mr Dalton said

"ABC TV management recognises that this can be a very difficult time for some staff and will ensure all the appropriate support is offered.  However in the face of an increasingly competitive broadcasting environment and increasing financial pressures, ABC TV must ensure it uses its Government funding as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver maximum value to its audiences and the Australian taxpayer."

Mr Dalton has said that arts programs will now mostly be sourced from independent producers, or from overseas, rather than in-house – while prime-time programs At The Movies and First Tuesday Book Club will continue.

The Australian reports that production staff for the Sydney-based The New Inventors will be redeployed or may be made redundant, while staff behind the Tasmanian-based Collectors will be shifted to a new series, AuctionsThe Age reports that Mr Dalton has denied suggestions that as many as 100 staff will be made redundant but would not offer a more precise figure.

The Age also reports that Mr Dalton has said that the announced changes will have no impact on the construction of new studio facilities at Southbank in Melbourne.

The Community and Public Sector Union, which represents ABC staff, has branded the axing of Art Nation as “cultural vandalism” and has warned that the wider cutbacks will lead to a breach of the ABC’s Charter, while the Friends Of The ABC has claimed that the broadcaster "is being transformed into a platform for carrying commercial content. This is privatisation by stealth."

In recent times the broadcaster has also cancelled Talking Heads, Can We Help? and The Einstein Factor.

The New Inventors will make its final appearance with its series Grand Final on 17 August, while the Sunday afternoon Art Nation will continue until late November.

This round of cutbacks at ABC comes after recent changes at the Ten Network, where 60 positions were being targeted for redundancies and the axe was put to the long-running Video Hits.

Source: The Australian, The Age, CPSU

Monday, 1 August 2011

Obituary: Reg Whiteman

regwhiteman Reg Whiteman, a performer from the earliest days of Western Australian television and the man who first played the role of children’s character Fat Cat, has died in Perth at the age of 82.

An inaugural member of the WA Ballet Company, Whiteman performed as part of a dance troupe on the opening night of Perth’s first television station, TVW7, in October 1959.

He also appeared on the opening night of Perth’s second television station, ABW2, in May 1960.

Although the idea of the Fat Cat character was initiated by station executives and production staff, it was designed by Judith Byrne, wife of TVW executive Greg Byrne, as television was moving from black and white to colour.  Whiteman, who had previously played the part of Humphrey B. Bear on Perth television, successfully auditioned to don the padded ginger fur costume and bring Fat Cat to life.  It was a role that he played with dedication and at times in some uniquely challenging environments, such as skiing, hot-air ballooning or paragliding – all in costume.

Fat Cat became a regular on TVW7, appearing in programs like Children’s Channel 7, Fat Cat’s Funtime Show, Earlybirds and Telethon and in the nightly segment telling children it was time to go to bed – a feature that still appears on TVW each night at 7.30pm.

The character was also extended to TVW’s sister station, SAS10 Adelaide, where it was played by different performers on programs like the Christmas telethons, the nightly bed-time reminders and the national Fat Cat And Friends series that ran from 1976 to 1992.

Although Whiteman retired from the Fat Cat role 20 years ago, he continued to be involved at TVW7 and is well remembered for his dedication and commitment in entertaining generations of junior viewers.

Source: WA TV History, The West.