Sunday, 31 July 2011

Barbie Rogers in Friday flashback

barbierogers The Seven Network’s The Morning Show last week featured former model and TV personality Barbie Rogers as a ‘Friday Flashback’.

Rogers was a teenage model in the 1960s before becoming a national TV celebrity as hostess of Seven’s early 1970s quiz shows, Temptation and The Great Temptation, alongside host Tony Barber.

Launched as a one-hour daytime show in June 1970, Temptation later expanded into prime time with The Great Temptation debuting in a half-hour weekly timeslot in July 1971 – replacing the recently-departed Pick-A-Box.

The Great Temptation was later ‘stripped’ to five-nights-a-week and host Barber collected the TV Week Gold Logie in 1973 for Most Popular Television Personality.  Rogers also won Logies in 1973 and 1975 for Most Popular Female Personality in New South Wales.

Appearing on The Morning Show with presenters Todd McKenney and Kylie Gillies, Rogers also recalled a controversial incident when presenting movies for Seven.  A pre-recorded segment, with Rogers jokingly threatening to “rip the tits off” anyone who didn’t like the choice of movies presented, was headed for the end-of-year blooper reel but was accidentally broadcast and saw her banned from appearing on TV for two weeks.

Rogers was later back on TV in the ‘80s as a panellist on game shows like Celebrity Tattletales and daytime talk show Beauty And The Beast

These days Rogers is a guest speaker for Probus… and is apparently gagging for a stint on Dancing With The Stars!

Picture: TV Guide (South Australia), 2 March 1974.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

1991: July 27-August 2

tvweek_270791 Wheeling into the wedding
The E Street wedding of Lisa Bennett (Alyssa-Jane Cook) and Michael Sturgess (Graham Harvey) takes a interesting twist when the bride arrives at the church… on a motorbike with former boyfriend Wheels (Marcus Graham, pictured with Cook).  Wheels’ return threatens to steal the limelight from Lisa and Michael’s big day, particularly as the groom has had concerns that his bride-to-be might choose to go back to her ex-boyfriend, but Wheels’ sudden return is only as a friend to Lisa and the wedding goes ahead without a hitch. 

This Guy’s a heartbreaker!
Former Neighbours star Guy Pearce has arrived in Home And Away as David Croft, the nephew of school principal Fisher (Norman Coburn), who strikes up a relationship with high school student Sophie (Rebekah Elmaloglou).  The relationship faces the disapproval of David’s sister Lucinda (Dee Smart) and Sophie’s foster-dad Michael (Dennis Coard) and, as Pearce reveals, “Yes, there will be tears in Summer Bay!” 

benoxenbouldMeet the new Nudge!
The producers of Hey Dad! have signed up a new cast member to fill the gap left by departing cast member Christopher Truswell, who played viewer favourite Nudge.  Ben Oxenbould (pictured), a former child star of the early 1980s movie Fatty Finn, is joining the show as Ben Hubner, a university colleague of Simon’s (Christopher Mayer).  Hubner is described as “a terrific footballer, but not very studious”, and seeks Simon’s help with his studies.  Oxenbould, who more recently has appeared in E Street, GP and Home And Away as well as a lamb roast commercial where he knocks back a date with a Nicole Kidman look-alike, makes his on-screen debut in September.  Producers have said the new character will be semi-regular but if audience response is positive he will stay on as “the new Nudge”.

nickybuckley Briefly…
Blind Date host Greg Evans has told TV Week of his surprise when he found out that co-host Nicky Buckley (pictured) had suddenly left the show to be replaced by Swedish-born model Ankie Nordberg.  “I had no idea about it at all, but you never get any warning,” he told TV Week.  “I’m not certain of the details or the politics.  In fact, I haven’t been able to get in touch with Nicky.”  A Network Ten spokesperson has only said that Buckley has left “to pursue her modelling career and personal interests.”  Nordberg makes her on-air debut on Blind Date this week.

Rebecca Gibney was surprised when she read the script for her upcoming return to The Flying Doctors – two years since leaving the show she is now a mother of two.  But despite her ‘two littlies’, played by Kelvin Barnes and Delaney Unwin, Gibney says she hasn’t any real maternal urges at this stage.  “I suppose I’ll get clucky one day, but I have 16 nieces and nephews, and they are enough to satisfy any urges I might have!,” she laughs.

The Australian Children’s Television Foundation has announced production of a new series of children’s program Round The Twist.  The $3 million production, which has already been pre-sold to the BBC, will unveil a new package of adventures for the Twist family and their obnoxious neighbours.  Many of the adult cast members of the first series, including Frankie J Holden, Richard Moir, Judith McGrath and Bunney Brooke, are expected to be reunited for the new episodes, but the show’s junior characters will be re-cast as the original actors have now outgrown their roles.

lochiedaddo Former Countdown Revolution presenter Lochie Daddo (pictured) has followed in his older brother Cameron’s footsteps in hosting a children’s show.  The younger Daddo is now hosting Ten’s new Kids’ Stuff on weekends, noting that Cameron got his start in TV hosting another children’s program, Off The Dish, in the mid 1980s.

John Laws says…
”It’s rare that two people can successfully work together presenting the same TV program and not fall into the trap of staleness.  I’ve more or less been waiting for David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz to show signs of “long-run fatigue” with their weekly The Movie Show (SBS) – but the program remains as fresh and interesting as it was when the pair introduced it several years ago.  If Stratton and Pomeranz can maintain the present standard – and I see no reason why they can’t – their little 30-minute offering looks like being with us for many years to come.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, July 27-August 2):
Saturday:
  Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) is presented from Perth’s Burswood Casino in a tribute to the musical Grease.  Featuring in the concert special are Craig McLachlan, Wendy Matthews, Rhonda Burchmore, Nathan Cavaleri and Melissa Hannan.

Sunday:  Seven crosses to Football Park, Adelaide, for the early-evening AFL match between Adelaide Crows and Essendon.  Sunday night movies are DOA (Seven), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (Nine) and Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (Ten).

gregevansankienordberg Monday:  Ten’s music video show Coca-Cola Power Cuts, previously seen on Sunday afternoons, now moves into the 5.00pm Monday to Friday timeslot, followed by game show Blind Date with Greg Evans and new co-host Ankie Nordberg (pictured).

Tuesday:  Former E Street star Penny Cook makes her debut in GP (ABC), while Ally Fowler and Susan Leith guest star as a lesbian couple desperate to have a child through IVF.  Former Hey Dad! star Christopher Truswell makes his guest appearance in All Together Now (Nine).  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), a Spanish coffin-maker has designed the world’s first environmentally-friendly coffin.

Wednesday:  In Neighbours (Ten), Helen (Anne Haddy) and Michael’s (Brian Blain) wedding takes place with a few hiccups.

Friday:  Wheel Of Fortune host John Burgess is the guest on this week’s Burke’s Backyard (Nine).  Mike Hammond hosts the series Grand Final of Star Search – The Next Generation (Ten).

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  27 July 1991.  Southdown Press

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Obituary: Ray Taylor

raytaylor_0001 Ray Taylor, host of Australia’s first breakfast TV program, has died in Sydney at the age of 83.

Born in Yorkshire, Taylor came to Australia in the early 1950s with his new Australian wife, Lesley.  With a media background that only entailed a few minor roles with Canadian broadcaster CBC, Taylor enrolled in an announcer’s course and landed a job at radio station 2GN, Goulburn.

By the end of the decade the presenter with the cheeky streak was in Sydney, as host of ATN7’s breakfast program Today.  It was the first early morning show on Australian TV.

Taylor was later sacked from the show.  He told TV Times in 1964 that he was given no reason for the sacking but Sydney press reports at the time indicated tensions between him and the channel.

Today was cancelled three months after the sacking.

raytaylor He then came to Melbourne in 1964 to join the lineup for new channel ATV0.  He hosted the channel’s opening night special, This Is It!, before launching a weekly late night variety show, The Ray Taylor Show.  The show, initially screening on Saturday nights, promised a more sophisticated alternative to the popular In Melbourne Tonight as well as an open-ended format.  “If our guests want to talk to 2.00am, and they are interesting enough, we will stay with them,” he told TV Times.

The Ray Taylor Show proved to be a frustrating experience – with Melbournians seemingly not warming to Taylor’s more mature style of humour and commentary.  “So many viewers here still aren’t mature enough to have a laugh at themselves or hear sex discussed without getting flustered.  It’s all too parochial,” he told TV Times early in 1965.

The show had also endured four different producers and a number of timeslot changes as the channel sought to gradually turn the show around into an In Melbourne Tonight-style clone.  Its last timeslot change saw it move to Monday nights directly up against IMT.

The Ray Taylor Show eventually wound up in March 1966.  The axing came just as Taylor was rehearsing for a role in an upcoming ABC play, Ashes To Ashes.

Taylor and his second wife, singer Annette Klooger, then went to the US where he was invited by a former ATN7 colleague, Digby Wolfe, to join the writing team for The New Bill Cosby Show.  He went on to then write for other American shows including All in the Family, Barney Miller, Dinah! and Cher.

He returned to Melbourne in the mid 1980s, to take on the early evening shift on radio station 3AW.  He then went to Sydney in 1987 to ABC station 2BL to present the breakfast program before retiring from broadcasting in 1990.

Ray Taylor is survived by wife Annette.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.  TV Times, 5 August 1964.  TV Times, 24 March 1965.  TV Times, 15 December 1965.  TV Times, 30 March 1966.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Play Schooling for 45 years

annehaddy_0001 Forty five years is probably a bit old to be playing horsey, reading storybooks or having fun with cardboard boxes and milk cartons – but ABC’s Play School is proud to be doing so as it reaches its 45th anniversary this week.

The Australian series of Play School launched at 10.05am on Monday, 18 July 1966.  It came after the broadcaster had been screening the English series of the same name for the previous two months and had replaced the long-running afternoon program Kindergarten Playtime.

In December 1967 an afternoon screening of Play School was added to ABC’s schedule.

Among the initial line-up of presenters on Play School were actors including Anne Haddy (pictured, above right) and Patsy King.  Also in the early cast was kindergarten teacher Ann Stroh, a former presenter on the Kindergarten Of The Air radio series as well as Kindergarten Playtime, and actors Peter Drake and Evan Dunstan.

johnhamblinlorrainebaylyPlay School went on to feature many familiar faces in the decades that followed – including Alister Smart, Diane Dorgan, Lorraine Bayly, John Hamblin, Janet Kingsbury, Kerry Francis, Don Spencer, Peter Sumner, Colin Friels, Philip Quast, George Spartels, John Waters, Noni Hazlehurst, Trisha Goddard, Donald McDonald and more recently Deborah Mailman, Jay Laga’aia, Andrew McFarlane, Justine Clarke, Alex Papps, Rhys Muldoon, Brooke Satchwell, Hugh Sheridan, Jolene Anderson, Georgie Parker and Matt Passmore.

rachaelcoopes And this month two new presenters joined the team – Rachael Coopes (pictured) and Jonny Pasvolsky.

Play School’s longest-serving presenter would have to be Benita Collings, with more than 30 years and 400 episodes to her credit.  In 1996 she told TV Week of some of the challenges that came with the program and, in particular, working with animals:

“I had a baby goat, a kid, on my knee, and it was fine during rehearsal.  But during the second-last shot in the filming, I felt a wet warmth spreading.  I knew that in that last shot I’d be standing so I said, ‘I think he’s a bit frightened.  He’s just wet himself’.  Well, in the next shot I was standing up with a huge wet spot, and the crew were killing themselves laughing.”

There was also the time when an octopus died in its tank just minutes before making its TV debut.  “We had to swish the water around to make it look alive,” she said.

Play School is one of only three programs to have been inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards’ Hall Of Fame (Four Corners and Neighbours are the other two).

Play School screens weekdays at 9.30am and 4.30pm on ABC2 and at 3.00pm on ABC1.

playschool

Pictured:  Celebrating Play School's 25th anniversary in 1991 – from top left, Janet Kingsbury (with Hamble), Donald McDonald (with Jemima), Benita Collings (with Big Ted), John Waters (with one of the Bananas in Pyjamas) and, in front, Trisha Goddard (with Humpty) and Noni Hazlehurst (with Little Ted).

playschool_45

… and celebrating this week’s 45th anniversary milestone, from top left, Andrew McFarlane, Don Spencer, Benita Collings, (front row) Simon Burke, Lorraine Bayly, Karen Pang, John Hamblin, John Waters and Janet Kingsbury.

Source: TV Times, 20 July 1966.  TV Week, 13 July 1991.  TV Week, 6 July 1996. Wikipedia.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

1991: July 20-26

tvweek_200791 Fame takes its toll
Some of TV’s most popular young stars are finding there is a downside to fame.  E Street’s Melissa Tkautz (pictured, top right), currently heading up the charts with her new single Read My Lips, says that while her showbiz career is a dream come true she admits to bursting into tears “almost every night” just from the sheer exhaustion of her TV and music commitments.  Tkautz also says she has received death threats and her family home is a target for fans.  “I’ve lived there all my life and just too many people know where I live,” she told TV WeekHome And Away’s Rebekah Elmaloglou, 17, has also been feeling the strain of the 17-hour days and a recent health scare has seen her forced to take a two-week break.  “Some people think we film for half an hour a day.  They have no idea,” she told TV Week.  Meanwhile, former E Street star Richard Huggett has moved from Sydney to Melbourne for his role as Glen Donnelly in Neighbours – a move that has taken a personal toll as it has left his girlfriend Miriam in Sydney.  There is lots of weekend commuting as the pair seek some time together but Huggett says having his private life made public has been difficult.  “It was pretty scary to start off with,” he said.  “I just got really nervous about going out.  I even got agoraphobic there for a while.  You have to come to accept it’s part of the job.”

Daryl’s casino gamble
Daryl Somers
is taking Hey Hey It’s Saturday to Perth’s Burswood Hotel-Casino later this month for what he calls a “very brave” assignment – a concert version based around the musical Grease.  “I’ve wanted to do a concert version for years.  This is an experiment in that it’s a theatrical event,” Somers told TV Week.  “It’s breaking new ground to take a studio show to a venue as large as the Burswood complex.”  And although plans to take Hey Hey It’s Saturday to London have stalled due to cost, Somers is still looking to take the show to Hollywood later this year for its 20th anniversary.

Yvonne chances a wedding
New Zealand actress Yvonne Lawley is looking forward to returning home after six months in Nine’s Chances.  “They (the producers) wanted to sign on for two years, but it’s too long at my age,” says the 75-year-old.  Her final episode, which screens this week, will see her character Hattie McGlashan wed her long-lost love Aubrey Nash (Alwyn Kurts) as well as helping to deliver Charlie’s (Kimberley Davenport) baby!

Briefly…
judymcintosh ABC
’s long-running series GP is about to lose cast member Judy McIntosh (pictured), who is leaving after her contract expires later this year.  “It is the best television drama I’ve worked in and everybody has been wonderful,” she told TV Week.  “But I’m a great believer in the idea that when one door closes another one opens.”  Meanwhile, ABC has commissioned another 40 episodes of the popular series, guaranteeing it until the end of next year.

alexpapps One of Home And Away’s most popular stars, Alex Papps (pictured), is returning to the series for a four-week guest appearance.  His return to Summer Bay will be part of the end-of-season cliffhanger.

Matthew Newton, who made his TV debut singing On The Road To Gundagai on his father Bert’s TV show at the age of three, is making a guest appearance in The Flying Doctors as a runaway named Wombat.  It is his second appearance on the Nine Network series, having appeared in a different role four years ago.  His next TV role will be in the upcoming ABC series The Worst Day Of My Life which will screen later this year.

annefulwood John Laws says…
Ten has had trouble for a long time finding the right newsreader for its late-night news program.  It surely has found the answer with Anne Fulwood (pictured) who is probably the best female newsreader in Sydney.  Anne’s slickness as a reader is matched by her striking good looks and the fact that she managed to let her personality and humour shine through.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, July 20-16):
janescaliSaturday:
  Rock ‘n roll greats Shirley Strachan, Brian Cadd, Max Merritt and Normie Rowe battle entertainers Jackie Love, Chelsea Brown, Colleen Hewett and Jane Scali (pictured) in Celebrity Family Feud (Seven).  Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) this week features guests Ratcat, James Reyne, Girl Overboard and The Bodeans.

Sunday: Sunday night movies are Leap Of Faith (Seven), Batman (Nine) and Cannonball Fever (Ten).

Monday:  Sale Of The Century (Nine) begins a week-long Celebrity Challenge – featuring stars of sport, entertainment, music and Hey Hey It’s Saturday.

Tuesday:  In GP (ABC), Nicola (Judy McIntosh) fights to save a Chelmsford victim from suicide.  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller looks at the facelift Barcelona is undergoing in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games.

Wednesday:  Seven crosses to Sydney for the second rugby league Test between Australia and New Zealand. 

annehaddy Thursday:  In Neighbours (Ten), Helen Daniels’ (Anne Haddy) hens’ night-out has a surprising finish.  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), Jackie Crane (Nikki Coghill) buys a motorbike and rents a run-down farmhouse, and discovers she is not alone as a teenage runaway, played by Matthew Newton, and his girlfriend have been secretly living there.

Friday:  Former Brisbane Lord Mayor Sally-Anne Atkinson is a guest on Nine’s Burke’s Backyard.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  20 July 1991.  Southdown Press

Obituary: Googie Withers

googiewithers Actress Googie Withers has died in Sydney at the age of 94.

Born in India to a British father and Dutch mother, she was christened Georgette Lizette but as a child didn’t like the name so she adopted the nickname Googie which became her name for life.

She went on to become a star of stage and screen in Britain and it was working on The Loves of Joanna Godden that she met her future husband, Australian actor John McCallum.

They were married in 1948 and moved to Australia in 1959 when McCallum was offered the job of joint managing director of the JC Williamson theatre company.

But while Withers is best known for her work in British films and television, she has a unique place in Australia’s television history.

She was the first presenter for what are now known as the TV Week Logie Awards.  But the awards, then known just as the TV Week Awards and presented only to Melbourne-based stars and programs, were not presented in the lavish ceremonies that are known today.

logiesfirst Television in Australia was little over two years old and it was early in 1959 when Withers was on the set of GTV9’s In Melbourne Tonight to hand out the awards for “Stars Of The Year” – the precursor to the Gold Logie – to Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner and to award In Melbourne Tonight for Best Live Show.

“It was very interesting coming over to Australia from England, where we had had television for many years,” she later told TV Week.  “We were awfully interested in Graham Kennedy because he was so young then.”

Her career continued in film, stage and television between the United Kingdom, the US and Australia, including the early 1970s Australian TV series Boney and the mid-1970s British prison drama Within These Walls, until her last credited screen role in the 1996 film Shine.

She was the first non-Australian to be awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia Award in 1980.

Both Withers and McCallum, prior to celebrating 60 years of marriage, were interviewed on ABC’s Talking Heads in 2007. 

Googie Withers is survived by three children and six grandchildren.  John McCallum died in 2010.

Source: ABC, ABC, IMDB, 21 Years Of Logies (TV Week, 1979).

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ten to tackle Today and Sunrise?

ten_2008 The Ten Network is reported to be looking at reworking its early morning timeslot with plans to launch a breakfast news program.

Just a week ago the network announced it was cutting its workforce by around 100 while it continues to undertake a strategic review of its on-air offerings.  It has axed weekend stalwart Video Hits and, while nothing has been formally announced, is believed to have also cut Sports Tonight.  The network has also recently walked away from AFL coverage beyond the end of this season and has been re-working its high-definition channel One away from a purely sports-oriented format.  But despite the cuts there is hope that a revitalised early morning timeslot will tap into additional advertising revenue while utilising news resources already in place at the network.

Ten currently presents one-hour bulletins at 6.00am and 9.00am each weekday but the proposed new program – tentatively titled AM – appears set to replace them both and may provide an improved lead-in to talk show The Circle.

But Ten’s planned new venture is entering into what is already a crowded marketplace – with Sunrise and Today leading the morning ratings and ABC News Breakfast and Sky NewsFirst Edition and AM Agenda providing an alternative.

karlstefanovic The network is believed to have Today co-host and TV Week Gold Logie winner Karl Stefanovic (pictured) at the top of its wish list for hosting the new program, though this is unlikely to come to fruition given his apparent desire to move away from breakfast television and the prime-time exposure he has gained at Nine – through A Current Affair, 60 Minutes and Nine News coverage.

Breakfast news television is not exactly new at Ten.  In 1981 the network launched Good Morning Australia, a program that re-ignited the format in Australia several years after the Seven Network had axed its Today show in the mid-1970s.  The launch of Good Morning Australia was later followed by Nine launching The National Today Show (now Today) in 1982, with Seven launching TVAM in the late ‘80s and then Sunrise which has continued in various formats since the late ‘90s. 

gma_1982Good Morning Australia continued until it was axed at the end of 1992 and the name was then re-assigned to Bert Newton’s mid-morning chat show.

Source: The Australian

Monday, 11 July 2011

1991: July 13-19

tvweek_130791 Hey, look who’s together now!
Christopher Truswell
, who is leaving his role as Nudge in Hey Dad!, has signed up for a guest appearance in Nine’s All Together Now, playing an admirer of Anna (Jane Hall).  The special appearance, scheduled to screen later this month, is currently a one-off but Truswell (pictured, top right with All Together Now’s Rebecca Gibney) may be asked to return.

Chances star is out
The Nine Network’s struggling drama series Chances is set to trim its cast line-up as it aims to cut costs while boosting ratings.  Kimberley Davenport, who plays mother-to-be Charlie in the series, is the first victim from the cast shake-up.  Despite the show’s lack lustre ratings Nine is set to commit to a series renewal, though will be trimming the show’s weekly output from two hours a week to one.

stevevizard_0001 All good things must come to an end…
Tonight Live host and producer Steve Vizard will be taking a three-week break to make a series of specials from Barcelona, the host city of the 1992 Olympic Games.  The specials, which are set to feature many of the Fast Forward cast, will go to air on Seven in the lead up to the Games.  Vizard is currently in negotiations with international names like Ben Elton and Bob Geldof to host Tonight Live in his absence.  Meanwhile with Artist Services, the company led by Vizard and Andrew Knight, working on as many as seven projects planned for 1992, Vizard has said it may be impossible for ratings hits Tonight Live and Fast Forward to continue next year in their existing formats.  “The network obviously wants both shows to continue, but we said from the outset that you can only do these things when you’re enjoying it and making them well,” he told TV Week.  In the case of Fast Forward, Vizard said it may be limited to a series of specials next year, while he is considering walking away from the hosting role on Tonight Live to allow him time to focus on the company’s other projects which include a variety show hosted by John Farnham and three sitcoms.

helenwellings Briefly…
The Investigators host Helen Wellings tells TV Week of her early ambitions to be a comedian.  “I know it sounds strange,” she said.  “I know I’m not really a funny person.  I don’t even tell jokes very well, but I really wanted to be a comic.”

The Doug Anthony All Stars, famous regulars from The Big Gig, are returning to TV in a new sci-fi sitcom, DAAS Kapital.  The seven-part series, which debuts this week on ABC, promises to “stretch the boundaries of television”.

simonwestaway Production is about to start on a new 13-part drama series, Phoenix, for ABC.  The idea for the series came from the bombing of Melbourne’s Russell Street police headquarters in 1986.  “It’s not so much cops and robbers – in fact, there are very few villains – but more of a character piece centred on the members of the Major Crimes Squad and the pressure they are under,” producer Bill Hughes told TV WeekPhoenix is set to star Simon Westaway (pictured), Nell Feeney, Sean Scully, Andy Anderson and Paul Sonkkila.

John Laws says: 
“What a spectacle SBS gave us with the live screening of the World Cup semi-final clash between Australia and Portugal, in front of a massive crowd of more than 112,000.  SBS’ coverage was, as usual, impeccable in its camerawork and especially in the controlled commentary of Les Murray and Johnny Warren, one of the finest sporting commentary teams of recent years.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, July 13-19):
Saturday:
  Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) includes a performance by guests Screaming Jets.

Sunday:  Ten presents daytime coverage of its annual Deafness Appeal Telethon, with live crosses during Video Hits and two-hour presentation in the afternoon, featuring personalities from Network Ten programs and Melbourne radio station 3AW.  Sunday night movies are Perry Mason: The Case Of The All Star Assassin (Seven), Coming To America (Nine) and Shy People (Ten).

Monday:  Seven launches a new afternoon quiz show, Blockbusters, hosted by Michael PopeStuart Littlemore returns with a new series of Media Watch (ABC).  The Doug Anthony All Stars make their return to TV in a new comedy series, DAAS KapitalSBS debuts the landmark US documentary series The Civil War.

Tuesday:  Seven crosses to the WACA, Perth, for live coverage of the AFL State Of Origin: Western Australia versus Victoria, hosted by Sandy Roberts.  ABC presents the series final of The Big Gig.

Wednesday:  Aussie ex-pat and British TV presenter Clive James returns to Sydney after 30 years for a one-hour special Clive James – Postcard From Sydney (ABC).

Thursday:  In Embassy (ABC), Michael’s (Alan Fletcher) career is threatened by a scandal when a housegirl claims she is pregnant with his child.

Friday:  In Home And Away (Seven), Pippa (Debra Lawrence) and Michael (Dennis Coard) have a rebellious Sally (Kate Ritchie) to deal with.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  13 July 1991.  Southdown Press

Sunday, 10 July 2011

1991: July 6-12

tvweek_060791 Cover: Kevin Costner

‘Butterfly’ takes off again
The Seven Network has announced production for a further sixteen episodes of Butterfly Island.  The series, starring Grigor Taylor and Penne Hackforth-Jones, first appeared on ABC in 1984 with a follow up series produced by Seven in 1986, although the later series did not appear on Seven until last year.  Taylor plays the part of Charlie Wilson, a widower who runs a struggling tourist resort.

Look who’s back in town!
Some former favourites from Nine’s The Flying Doctors have been reunited for a special episode.  Former cast members Andrew McFarlane, Liz Burch, Rebecca Gibney and George Kapiniaris are returning in an upcoming episode.  The town of Coopers Crossing has been hit hard by the recession and to help boosts its spirits hosts a street party, with some of the town’s former residents attending.  The episode went into production this week and will go to air in September.

matthewkrok ‘Girls want me for my money!’
At the mere age of eight, Matthew Krok is trying to come to grips with his rise to fame.  Having featured in 16 television commercials since last year, Krok went on to a guest appearance in A Country Practice before taking on the role of Arthur McArthur in Hey Dad! and has just finished his first feature film role in Eight Ball.  But the young star doesn’t quite understand the fuss that tends to surround him.  “I don’t think I’m any different to anyone else,” he told TV Week.  And while his Hey Dad! character is having a crush on Sam (Rachael Beck), the young actor has no romantic aspirations just yet.  “I’m not interested in girls,” he insists.  “They’re interested in me.  A girl at my school wants to marry me because of my money, but I said, ‘No way!’.”

lyndastoner_0001 Briefly…
Former The Young Doctors and Cop Shop star Lynda Stoner is returning to television with a guest role in Nine’s Chances, playing the part of nurse Dee Dee Nelson, hired to care for Jack Taylor (Tim Robertson) and help him recover from a stroke, including sex therapy!

Felicity Soper, best known as policewoman Susan Miller in the former Network Ten series Richmond Hill, has scored a role in a new Seven Network mini-series, Good Vibrations.  Also appearing in the series will be Genevieve Picot, Stephen Whittaker, Jeffrey Walker, David Hoflin and former Neighbours star Sasha Close.

Fast Forward star Geoff Brooks says that his character of Bruce Rump isn’t directly based on real-life RSL stalwart Bruce Ruxton, but that they are on the same wavelength.  “At about the same time I said, ‘The Reds aren’t under the bed, they’re in the bed’, Bruce was quoted by a paper saying the same thing,” Brooks told TV Week.  “Rump is actually a composite of a lot of people.  People like Sir Henry Bolte, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Bruce and my dad – people who see things in black and white.”

John Laws says…
Bangkok Hilton set out to be dramatic, exciting and emotion-packed, and it achieved it all.  Not much subtlety, of course, just straightforward, honest to goodness shock-horror stuff – lots of anguish howls, impassioned pleas from our heroine and lots of nasty bad guys.  Bangkok Hilton, as we know, was a ratings knockout the first time around and, as expected, did very well the second time, too.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, July 6-12):
Saturday: SBS
presents a special edition of current affairs program Dateline, where reporter Mike Carey has just returned with a film crew after two weeks in disaster-torn Bangladesh, where more than 150,000 people died in recent cyclones.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Seven), She-Devil (Nine) and My Stepmother Is An Alien (Ten).  Nine then crosses to Wimbledon for live coverage of the Men’s Singles Final.

Monday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Luke (Matt Day) helps Steve (Sophie Heathcote) plan for an overseas trip, while a hospital health check reveals one of the nurses proves HIV positive.

richardhugget Tuesday:  In Neighbours (Ten), Jim (Alan Dale) is afraid that something is still going on between half-siblings Glen (Richard Huggett, pictured) and Lucy (Melissa Bell).  Robert Mammone guest stars in GP’s 100th episode.

Wednesday:  Bruce Spence, Hugo Weaving and American actress Rosanna Arquette star in the Australian-made telemovie Wendy Cracked A Walnut (ABC), telling the story of a housewife who yearns for the romance and passion she finds in pulp novels.

Thursday:  John Polson guest stars in The Flying Doctors (Nine).  In Hampton Court (Seven), an astronomical electricity bill means desperate measures are called for.

Friday:  In Neighbours (Ten), Helen (Anne Haddy) gives Michael (Brian Blain) her answer to his marriage proposal.  In ABC’s documentary series A Big Country, a restaurant owner’s Chinese family in Bendigo recount their experiences in a country town since the war.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  6 July 1991.  Southdown Press

Thursday, 7 July 2011

South West WA ready to go digital

digitalready Regional WA’s two commercial networks, GWN7 and WIN, have announced the date that their respective networks will be switching on digital transmission in Bunbury and the South West region of the state.

The switch on, scheduled for 28 July, will not only see the launch of digital transmission of the primary channels GWN7 and WIN but will also include Ten West and multi-channels 7TWO, 7mate, GO!, GEM, One and Eleven.

The commercial channels will join the existing local digital broadcasts of ABC and SBS.

Although GWN7, WIN and Ten West launched digital broadcasts in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Mawson, Mingenew and Karratha a year ago, their transmissions included only the primary channels.

Bunbury will be the first market in Regional WA to receive the extra commercial multi-channels, with the rollout expected to be completed across the state by early 2012.

gwn7_2011 GWN7 Chief Executive Officer Doug Edwards welcomed the new digital era for local viewers:

“Regional WA viewers will now be able to enjoy the whole digital experience. Put simply – this means more choice of free-to-air television with superior quality picture and sound. With the addition of 7TWO and 7mate, we are now offering greater choice for our audience”.

WIN’s manager of Legal, Regulatory & Network Affairs Shirley Brown said the digital launch brings some equality to viewers when compared to their city cousins:

“The roll out of the full suite of digital channels has been a long wait for the viewers of regional WA, we are pleased that the wait is nearly over and viewers will receive the same services as viewers in Perth have received for some time.”

win_2008Regional Western Australia is one of the last markets in Australia to receive digital broadcasts of commercial television – more than a decade after the first digital television broadcasts were launched in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.  As a result, Regional WA currently has the lowest conversion rate to digital television – with only 58 per cent of households currently converted to digital television, well below the national average of 79 per cent.

Regional WA is set to complete the transition to digital television with the shutdown of all existing analogue signals in the second half of 2013.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Video Hits suffers in Ten cutbacks

ten_2008 The new management at the Ten Network, led by acting CEO Lachlan Murdoch, have this week made their move towards cutting costs as it continues to dismantle some of the strategies laid down by the previous management and re-establish the network’s low-cost business model.

The network is looking to cut around 60 staff through voluntary redundancies – including 22 editorial positions – in what Murdoch told staff in an internal email is “a necessary but inevitably painful restructure”.  If the required number of voluntary redundancies are not met then the network may look at forced redundancies.

Another 40 non-contract positions have reportedly already been cut as the network shuts down its publicity and marketing arms in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and abolishes its separate sales teams for Ten and digital channels One and Eleven.

Ten is also believed to be reviewing its program and on-air presenting line-up, with particular attention to its news and current affairs portfolio, as it looks to rein in some of the costs incurred by the recent investment in current affairs program 6.30 With George Negus and the launch of additional news bulletins.

The advent of digital channel Eleven is also said to have put financial pressures on the business.

High-profile names such as George Negus and Sandra Sully are believed to be safe, for now.

Late night stalwart Sports Tonight, which began back in 1993, is believed to have been axed as the network walks away from its role as joint broadcaster of AFL after ten years.  The network is also expected to allow some of its other sporting contracts to lapse, affecting coverage of sports such as basketball and netball, as high-definition channel One is strategically moving away from being a purely sports-oriented format.

dylanlewisfaustinaagolley But so far the only program to have been formally announced as being cancelled is a somewhat surprising one – Video Hits, currently hosted by Dylan Lewis and Faustina Agolley (pictured).

The weekend music program, which debuted on TEN10 Sydney in February 1987 (Melbourne’s ATV10 didn’t take up the program until almost a year later), is set to wind up with a retrospective of its marathon run on Saturday, 6 August.

In a press release issued today, programming chief David Mott acknowledged the contribution and longevity of the program:

"Video Hits' contribution to the network and the music industry over the past 24 years has been outstanding. Music and how people listen to it, watch it and enjoy it has changed dramatically in last few years and now is the perfect time for the institution that is Video Hits to sign off. The show will always hold a special place in Ten's history.”

Video Hits began purely as a compilation of music video clips at a time when a generational change was occurring in television, as studio productions like Countdown and Sounds were making way for dedicated music clip programs – with Rage, MTV, Night Shift and Video Hits all launching during 1987.

Video Hits later expanded its format to include interviews and live performances.  The show has helped establish the careers of various Australian artists, including Missy Higgins, Angus and Julia Stone and Art Vs Science.

The cancellation of Video Hits now leaves ABC1’s Rage as the only significant program on free-to-air television dedicated to music – and it is largely buried in an overnight timeslot – and with few variety programs on free-to-air television there are even fewer TV opportunities for the promotion of Australian recording artists and music industry in general.

Ten’s newly-appointed CEO, former Seven Network executive James Warburton, takes over the reigns from Murdoch in January.

Source: ABC, The Australian, Network Ten

Monday, 4 July 2011

1991: June 29-July 5

tvweek_290691 This really is TV’s wedding of the year!
Four brides, a speechless groom and a stool – this is TV’s wedding of the year as Craig Donovan (Steve Blackburn), the enigmatic heart throb from Fast Forward’s ‘Dumb Street’, decides to tie the knot in the Dumb Street cafe.  Like all TV weddings, this one doesn’t go exactly to plan as four brides – Danni (Gina Riley), Bobby (Jane Turner), Nikki (Magda Szubanski) and Shelley (Marg Downey) – arrive at the cafe all wanting to be the next Mrs Donovan, with one of them holding a secret.  Will this secret come out?  Who will become Mrs Donovan?  And, more importantly, why is Bob Hatfield (Geoff Brooks) not wearing any pants?

janawendt_1988 Is Jana set to quit?
The recent walkout by Jana Wendt over A Current Affair running a story on a hardware store staffed by topless females highlights the tense relationship between her and the Nine Network.  The TV Week Gold Logie nominee, who was missing from ACA for the next two nights, is also said to not be happy since Kerry Packer regained control of the network – citing editorial interference – and is concerned that the show will be hit hard by cost-cutting measures.  With her contract soon up for renewal, Nine will have to work hard to get her to re-sign.  There are suggestions that she may follow former Nine boss Sam Chisholm to the United Kingdom where he is now running the BSkyB satellite network, or even move to another network here in Australia.

neighbours_88 Export action!
With Neighbours (pictured) and Home And Away both well established in the United Kingdom, it looks like Network Ten’s E Street is about to join them.  Management from Westside Television, the producers of E Street, have just returned from overseas negotiations and E Street is set to debut in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium by the end of the year.  Meanwhile, Grundy Television are hopeful that American audiences will support Neighbours with the show’s first 65 episodes now starting to air on KCOP in Los Angeles and WWOR in New York.  Success in these markets may lead to the series going into wider syndication across the US.  “The local stations are very enthusiastic about the show and they’re very aware that if Neighbours does well, we have 1400 more episodes to sell to them,” Grundy’s Bob Lloyd told TV Week.  Grundy’s are also currently working on a US-based series, Dangerous Women, which is largely adapted from the Aussie series Prisoner.  “The show has already been pre-sold around America to 40 per cent of the markets and is expected to air in Australia,” Lloyd said.

bigsquareeye Briefly…
ABC
’s newest afternoon series is the lively game show The Big Square Eye.  Hosted by former Neighbours and Wombat star Bob La Castra (pictured, centre), the show is taped before a live studio audience and features the latest in video clips, live performances and contestants from the audience taking part in quiz games.  “Everybody, including the crew, has a lot of fun.  Around the ABC it is known as the show everyone wants to work on,” La Castra told TV Week.

GP star Michael Craig, also an accomplished scriptwriter, has written the show’s 99th episode, which screens on ABC this week.  “It was difficult wearing two hats, actor and writer,” he told TV Week.  “I was very concerned that the actors should be happy with what they had to say.”

The Boys From The Bush, the Australian series that gained critical acclaim and high ratings in the UK, has still yet to screen in Australia even though it was shown on the BBC back in January.  A second series, starring Chris Haywood, Nadine Garner and Pat Thompson, is now already in production.   The Seven Network has still yet to announce a screening date for the series, and may choose to show both the first and second series back-to-back in 1992.

abc_black2 John Laws says…
”Despite the wails of those who say they abhor advertising, and those who would like to enshrine the ABC from the real world, the fact is that it is advertising which is likely to be the ABC’s extra lifeblood.  The SBS network has already calmly accepted that advertising is part of life, and already is using sponsorship to positive effect, without denting its credibility or causing shock waves of any kind.  The ABC, I believe, has little to fear from introducing corporate sponsorship of programs, and general advertising.  It has already willingly thrown itself into the “commercial” market by the promotion on a regular basis of its own ABC Shop products.  It is also used to some corporate sponsorship; for instance, Esso Night At The Opera.  I’ve heard no complaints about that series of fine programs, which might not even have happened had it not been for the financial support of the oil company.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 29-July 5):
Saturday:
  Guest performers this week on Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) include Rat Cat, Kate Ceberano, The Ministry Of Fun and Deborah Conway.

Sunday:  Seven crosses to Subiaco, Perth, for live coverage of the AFL match between West Coast Eagles and St Kilda.  In Col’n Carpenter (Ten), Colin (Kim Gyngell) is hailed a hero after saving the lives of four children.  Sunday night movies are An Innocent Man (Seven), Renegades (Nine) and Bull Durham (Ten).

whatscooking Monday:  Nine debuts a new morning program, What’s Cooking, hosted by Gabriel Gate and Colette Mann (pictured).  Former Prisoner and Return To Eden star Peta Toppano guest stars in A Country Practice (Seven) as a country singer whose dreams of stardom are threatened.  Nine starts its second week of late-night coverage from Wimbledon.

Tuesday: In GP (ABC), William’s (Michael Craig) dinner guest drops dead and his relatives demand a very unusual burial.  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Dr John D’Arcy looks at how the sex capital of the world is coping with the AIDS crises, and Simon Reeve visits a Japanese workplace of the future.

Wednesday:  Seven presents a late-night delayed coverage of the first Test of the 1991 three-match Rugby League series, from Melbourne’s Olympic Park, between Australia and New Zealand.

Thursday:  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), several members of the RFDS team may have been unknowingly exposed to the AIDS virus. 

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  29 June 1991.  Southdown Press

Saturday, 2 July 2011

SBS to Go Back for a second time

goback The controversial SBS documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From, putting a reality show twist into the ongoing debate on asylum seekers, is to be renewed for a second series with hopes that the concept will also be sold overseas.

AdNews reports that producers Cordell Jigsaw will be revisiting the concept for SBS, but will be adding in some surprising twists to keep the idea fresh.

Go Back To Where You Came From screened over three nights last month on SBS1, attracting the channel’s highest ratings for the year so far, with a repeat screening on digital channel SBS2.  Last week the six Australians to feature on the “reverse journey” of the refugees were reunited for a studio forum hosted by Anton Enus.

The first episode, screened on SBS1 on 21 June, was watched by an average of 524,000 viewers across the five major capital cities.  The second and third episodes were watched by 569,000 and 600,000 viewers respectively.  SBS reports that overall the series had a national audience reach (based on 5 minute consecutive viewing) of more than two million viewers plus more than 139,000 unique browsers to the show’s accompanying website and more than 115,000 views of online video content from the program. 

The landmark series became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter and also gained the attention of the rival media outlets in Australia and the international media, most notably The New York Times. 

Michael Cordell, co-owner and executive producer of Cordell Jigsaw, told AdNews that there had so far been no formal approach from any international broadcaster but the concept of Go Back To Where You Came From could be easily adapted for other international markets, specifically the UK and United States.

Source: AdNews

1991: June 22-28

tvweek_220691 Making faces
Imitating the stars is a challenge that Fast Forward’s Gina Riley relishes – and even though the send ups are far from flattering, most of her “victims” love them.  The latest star to be sent up by Riley – Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show host Jacki MacDonald – is far from being offended.  “I’m flattered, not insulted,” MacDonald told TV Week.  “I think my ratings will probably increase now.  Everyone in the world watches Fast Forward, so I’m getting double exposure.  And there’s an advantage.  If I have to take a sickie, she can fill in for me!” But for Riley, despite the physical similarities with the video show host, the role was a challenge.  “I found her voice really very hard.  I thought it would be easy because it’s high… I had to watch hours and hours of tape to get it right,” she said.  And one of Riley’s celebrity send-ups is glamorous TV host Kerri-Anne Kennel, based on Good Morning Australia co-host Kerri-Anne Kennerley.  "I hope she likes it.  The name is hardly flattering I know, but it was the obvious one,” Riley said of the Kennel character.  And it seems Kennerley is a fan:  “I think Gina is hilarious and we all know that imitation is the highest form of flattery.  I think she’s terrific.”

Hey Hey it’s Hollywood!
Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s recent special from the newly-opened Warner Bros Movie World has won praise from visiting US television executives, with host and co-producer Daryl Somers invited to take the program to Hollywood.  “They told me they have Johnny Carson and David Letterman in America, but nothing at all like this,” Somers told TV Week.  “They thought it was a warm sort of show, with a genuine feeling of fun and camaraderie.  They couldn’t believe we do 40 a year.”  Hollywood’s Burbank Studios are expected to host the show in October.  Meanwhile, Somers and partner Ernie Carroll have been continuing plans for a London-based special later this year, and Hey Hey It’s Saturday has also been picked up for screening in New Zealand on TVNZ’s Channel 2.

blakeneytwins Mix ‘n match!
Neighbours twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeney have become the show’s latest pop stars with their single All Mixed Up being released in Australia and the UK this week.  The new single was written and produced by English hit-makers Stock, Aitken and Waterman – the same team who created pop stardom for Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan

Briefly…
TV Week Gold Logie winner Craig McLachlan is set to star on US network television with a role in an upcoming ABC network telemovie, The Savage Sea.  The production will be filmed entirely in Australia and also stars Ali MacGraw and Robert Urich.

normierowe Sixties pop idol and former Sons And Daughters star Normie Rowe is returning to television as a presenter on Network Ten’s weekly magazine program The New Bricks And Mortar.

Former Hey Dad! star Simone Buchanan has been cast in her first dramatic role since leaving the long-running sitcom.  She will be guest starring in A Country Practice as an agoraphobic rape victim.

John Laws says…
”Spin-off TV series, like governments, work only some of the time.  That’s why it’s always a major gamble to attempt to capitalise on a successful show by doing another one based on one or more of the characters.  Hampton Court is a spin-off in that it features the Betty Wilson (Julie McGregor) character from the Hey Dad! series.  It deserves to succeed.  The first few episodes, without being spectacular, were funny and enjoyable.  It reminds me very much about the old British series Man About The House, though there isn’t the same concentration on the so-called “naughtiness” of a flat shared by both sexes.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 22-28):
Saturday:
  This weeks guests on Hey Hey It’s Saturday (Nine) include the Hoodoo Gurus, Richard Pleasance and The Fabulous Sounds Of The Supremes.

Sunday:  Radio broadcaster Neil Mitchell launches his own weekly current affairs program, Mitchell On Sunday, screening at 5.00pm on Ten leading in to Ten Eyewitness News.  Sunday night movies are Running Scared (Seven) and Dominick And Eugene (Ten), with Nine screening the first of two-part mini-series An Inconvenient Woman.

Monday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Lucy (Georgie Parker) organises a camping trip which goes horribly wrong when she falls down a cliff while trying to save a kangaroo.  A mysterious intruder terrifies the Willis household in Neighbours (Ten).  Nine starts two weeks of late-night coverage of Wimbledon.

donlane_0001 Tuesday:  TV legend Don Lane (pictured, with Steven Jacobs) guest stars in comedy All Together Now (Nine), playing the part of a Tonight show host who visits the Rivers household after Anna (Jane Hall) wins a competition.  Queenie Ashton, Pippa Grandison and Sally Hudson guest star in GP (ABC).

Wednesday:  Geraldine Doogue presents a Hindsight (ABC) special, Ming Dynasty, looking back over three decades of the Menzies era and his management of our country which resulted in lost economic opportunities.

Thursday:  Colette Mann guest stars in The Flying Doctors (Nine).

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  22 June 1991.  Southdown Press