Wednesday, 29 February 2012

1992: March 1-7

tvweek_290292 State of shock!
Unlike most young Australian actors, E Street star Bruce Samazan (pictured) is in no hurry to work in the US – in fact he has no plans to ever visit there again.  Making his first trip to the US, staying with friends in Texas during a production break for E Street, Samazan cut short his two-week visit and made a dash back to Sydney, admitting that the place “freaked” him out.  “There’s gang warfare over there that I can’t grab a hold of… it’s chaotic,” he told TV Week.  “It’s totally unnatural for an Australian to go over there and adjust to the fact that if you wear the wrong coloured baseball cap or T-shirt, you might be shot at.”  On one occasion he went to put on a Los Angeles Raiders cap but was advised by his local friend, “Bruce I wouldn’t wear that.  You could get yourself into trouble – you might get shot at”.  Then, two days later, a local newspaper carried the headline ‘Two Youths Shot Dead Outside Nightclub’… for wearing LA Raiders outfits.  “That was pretty scary stuff,” Samazan said.

gordonpipersydheylen It’s goodbye to the Valley!
A Country Practice viewers will soon bid farewell to three of the show’s most popular characters.  Gordon Piper (who plays Bob Hatfield), Syd Heylen (Cookie) and Matt Day (Luke) will be making their final appearances on screen in the coming weeks.  For Day, leaving the series has come at the right time.  “The character is now rounded off and I feel he has gone as far as he can for me,” he told TV Week.  “Theatre is the next avenue I wish to explore.  I want to steer clear of TV for a while.”  Showbiz veteran Heylen leaves the show with happy memories.  “I’ve made a lot of good friends,” he said.  “The series kept me before a broad audience, which you don’t get to cover doing live work.  It has been a happy period.”  And although Piper is adamant that he won’t be returning to A Country Practice, he and Heylen (both pictured) will be making a guest appearance in two episodes later in the year in a storyline which sees Cookie return to hospital. 

mauriefieldsvaljellay New doctors set for take-off
The Nine Network drama The Flying Doctors is set for a major revamp as production starts soon on its tenth series.  In a major shake-up for the series, the series will now be based in Broken Hill (the real-life base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service) rather than the fictional Coopers Crossing, and the only familiar cast members making the move to the new location will be husband-and-wife team Maurie Fields and Val Jellay (pictured) and Sophie Lee.  And joining the new-look series will be Simone Buchanan (Hey Dad!), Peter Phelps (who has just returned from the US where he featured in Baywatch), Steve Jacobs (Rose Against The Odds) and Lydia Miller.  The new-look series is scheduled to debut on Nine around mid-year.

gilliangayleblakeney Briefly…
Neighbours’ Blakeney twins, Gayle and Gillian, are about to ‘split up’.  Gillian, who plays Caroline Alessi, will be taping her final scenes in the Network Ten series this week.  “While I love the character and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself on the show, I feel it is time to move on as an actor,” she told TV Week.  Meanwhile, Gayle is contracted to the show until July and will then assess her options before making any decision about her future.  But while the pair will no longer be working together on Neighbours, they will be working together again in London next month as they record their next single which is due for release in Australia later this year. 

families Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, with views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, is the location for the latest TV soapie wedding – but it is unlikely to ever appear on Australian screens.  The British TV series Families, which stars Briony Behets (the British-born actress best known for her roles in Aussie dramas Number 96 and The Box), is filmed between Manchester and Sydney… but so far the series is yet to be sold to an Australian network.  The series’ wedding is between Behets’ character Diana Stephens and cafe owner Anton Vaughn (Rhett Walton).

The patchy relationship between the local producers of the Network Ten tabloid current affairs show Hard Copy and Paramount, who own the US-based format, continues.  But executive producer Peter Sutton isn’t concerned as he said there are plenty of other sources for content if the plug is pulled on being able to grab stories from the US version, but concedes that the show may have to change its name – with Fast Copy or Australia’s Hard Copy cited as possibilities.

melissabell Actress Melissa Bell (pictured) is currently caught in a battle between Network Ten’s two soapies.  Melbourne-based Neighbours’ producers are keen to renew Bell’s contract when it expires mid-year, but Bell wants to move back to Sydney-based E Street where she once had a brief role – due in part to her current off-screen interstate relationship with the son of E Street producer Forrest Redlich.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
Fat Cat has been banished from our screens in one of the most profound decisions made in the history of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal.  The tubby tom’s character was deemed “still not clearly defined” and his show was accused of having “still generally poor” direction.  It took 15 years for someone to reach this momentous decision, years in which the lives of whole generations of Australian children must have been corrupted irreparably.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, March 1-7):
  Nine crosses to Brisbane for the Benson And Hedges World Cup match between Australia and India.  Seven has motor racing with coverage of the Nascar/Auscar Nationals from Calder Park, Melbourne.  Meanwhile, ABC’s Sunday Afternoon With Peter Ross is back with a collection of arts-themed programming and interviews.  Sunday night movies are Shirley Valentine (Nine), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Ten) and the Japanese comedy Tampopo (SBS), up against Seven’s debut of mini-series Prime Suspect.

Monday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Luke (Matt Day) and Darcy (Kym Wilson) meet Douglas ‘Simmo’ Simmonds (Richard Moir), a crippled Vietnam pilot who revives Luke’s dreams of flying.  In Neighbours (Ten), an accident puts Helen’s (Anne Haddy) life at risk – while in Mother And Son (ABC), Maggie (Ruth Cracknell) remembers a clock that her late husband Leo gave her on their 25th wedding anniversary as she takes one from the house across the street.

Tuesday:  In GP (ABC), Robert (John McTernan) is acting strangely and decides to be a medico on an Antarctic expedition – until he reveals he has a tragic illness.  Beyond 2000 (Seven) reports on mankind’s most ambitious project yet – human habitation on Mars, while reporter Tracey Curro test drives the world’s first car in a suitcase.

Wednesday:  ABC presents a one-hour special, Cop It Sweet, taking a look at Sydney’s inner-city Redfern Police Station, in an area with a history of clashes between police and Aborigines, making it one of the most controversial police districts in the country.  Nine crosses to the Sydney Cricket Ground for day-night coverage of the Benson And Hedges World Cup match between India and Pakistan.

Thursday:  More World Cup cricket from Sydney on Nine, this time the match between Australia and England.  In Acropolis Now (Seven), Effie (Mary Coustas) arranges a party for Sophie’s (Sheryl Munks) 21st birthday at Vibrations Disco. 

Friday:  Seven presents live coverage of the semi-final of the AFL Foster’s Cup, with commentators Bruce McAvaney, Peter McKenna, Don Scott, Gerard Healy and Bernie Quinlan.  The ARIA Awards (Nine) are telecast for the first time, live from Melbourne’s World Congress Centre, and hosted by Richard Wilkins and Julian Lennon, with appearances by John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Jenny Morris, Noiseworks, Diesel, Wendy Matthews, Margaret Urlich, Rockmelons, Sophie Lee, Craig McLachlan, Dannii Minogue and international artists Diana Ross, Rod Stewart and Harry Connick Jnr

olympathon Saturday:  The Seven Network presents an all-day telethon to raise financial support for the Australian team to compete at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.  The Olympathon starts at 7.00am, including special editions of Saturday Disney and Video Smash Hits, followed by live crosses around Australia for interviews with some of Australia’s Olympic hopefuls.  The evening telecast includes a night of entertainment featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Phantom Of The Opera stars Marina Prior and Rob Guest (both pictured with Seven’s Bruce McAvaney), Julie Anthony, Grace Knight, Craig McLachlan, Vanetta Fields, Judith Durham, Simon Gallaher, Don Burrows and Peter Cupples.  The telethon concludes at midnight.  Nine presents all-day coverage of the Benson And Hedges World Cup cricket from Adelaide. 

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  29 February 1992.  Southdown Press

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Breakfast battle takes on an early start

breakfast The Ten Network’s new Breakfast show debuts today (Thursday) following news last night of the resignation of Kevin Rudd from the position of Foreign Minister.

The new program was originally scheduled to launch on Monday.

Breakfast co-host Paul Henry (pictured, second from left) confirmed the sudden programming change on Ten’s The Project last night:

“This is a hugely exciting evening.  We are not launching Breakfast on Monday.  Ten are launching Breakfast tomorrow morning at 6am. How good is that!”

Joining Henry on Breakfast will be Andrew Rochford, Kathryn Robinson and Magdalena Roze

sunrise_2 And in an interview published in this week’s TV Week, Sunrise producer Michael Pell is not overly concerned about his show’s new competitor.  “We just concentrate on what we do and what we’ve got coming up.  We don’t look over our shoulder,” he said.  And in comparison to the successful chemistry between Sunrise presenters Melissa Doyle, David Koch, Natalie Barr, Mark Beretta and Grant Denyer, Pell says Ten’s combination is an unknown quantity.  “The presenters on Ten’s new show… we haven’t seen them work together.  So it’s anyone’s guess how it will turn out – chemistry is the key.”

Meanwhile, Today co-host Karl Stefanovic welcomed the addition of the new Ten program as it will force all players to be at their competitive best and viewers will be the winners there.  “The more competition in the slot, the better it is for everyone,” he said.

Currently, Sunrise still dominates the breakfast slot nationally, and while Today is ranked second nationally it is now leading in the key markets of Sydney and Melbourne.  ABC News Breakfast is coming a distant third.

Breakfast.  Weekdays, starting today, 23 February, 6.00am.  Ten.
Sunrise.  Weekdays 6.00am, Seven.
Today.  Weekdays 5.30am, Nine.
ABC News Breakfast.  Weekdays 6.00am, ABC1, and 6.00am (live, AEDST) on ABC News 24.

Source: Network Ten. TV Week, 25 February 2012. The Age.

Prime7 backs down on Tamworth axe

prime7 The Prime7 television network has backed down from last month’s decision to relocate production of its Tamworth-based news bulletins to Canberra.

Prime7 chief Doug Edwards told Tamworth staff that the news production unit of around 14 staff will now stay in Tamworth as opposed to the previous plan which was to see some production staff redeployed to Canberra and the local news presented by network weather presenter Daniel Gibson.

The move of the Tamworth-based news bulletins, covering the Tamworth and Taree regions, was scheduled to take place in April.

The turnaround is reported to have come after a review of the logistics in producing as many as five regional newscasts out of Canberra – with the Prime7 studios in the national capital already compiling local news bulletins for the Orange, Wagga Wagga and Albury markets each weeknight.  The original plan would have seen some pre-recording of newscasts and this raised the concern that late-breaking news stories could be left out from the evening bulletins, although Prime7 at the time said it would still have the capacity to cover late-breaking news to local markets.

Political lobbying against the move to Canberra – led by federal MP Tony Windsor – plus strong viewer and staff reaction are also believed to have been contributing factors in the network’s reviewed strategy.

The Tamworth studios have been producing local news since 1965 when the station originally known as NEN9 commenced transmission.  The station became part of the Prime network in the late 1980s in the lead-up to aggregation.

Source: Northern Daily Leader

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

1992: February 23-29

tvweek_220292 Sophie set for TV sex special
Sophie Lee
is to host an upcoming one-hour special on the topic of teenage sex for the Nine Network.  The special, to be produced in association with A Current Affair, aims to “educate both parents and teenagers about a lot of sexual issues”.  “It’s there to bridge the gap between teenagers and their parents… and I hope they have an open mind about sex,” she told TV Week.  The upcoming special comes after certain sections of the media savaged Lee for comments she made in the Fact And Fantasy File diary – an initiative of the NSW Family Planning Association that has since been banned by Prime Minister Paul Keating.  In an interview published in the diary, Lee stated that one-night stands were “okay” – a comment that the print media focused on and made much controversy.  “What I’m saying is that if you want to go ahead and have casual sex, that’s your business and that’s okay, if you practise safe sex.  That’s it.  That’s all I said.  I was appalled at the way the diary was handled by the media.  To dismiss it as smutty, they are missing the whole point.  Kids have a right to be educated… otherwise they are going to die if they make the wrong decision.”

logies1992 John’s jetting in!
Full House star John Stamos is coming to Australia to be a VIP guest at the upcoming TV Week Logie Awards.  “I’m really excited about this trip.  My whole life I’ve wanted to go to Australia and then I heard Full House was very successful there, too,” he told TV Week from Los Angeles.  Also on this year’s Logies guest list is former Minder star Dennis Waterman, who is currently touring Australia in the comedy Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell.

maxgillies_0001 Mad Max III
Five years since The Gillies Republic, comedian Max Gillies (pictured) is back in a new series, Gillies And Company, which debuts this week on ABC.  Known for his brilliant parodies of politicians, royalty and celebrities, Gillies this time around has expanded his repertoire to include gardeners, bank managers, tourists, sports coaches and bureaucrats.  “It’s an opportunity to explore new avenues,” he told TV Week.  “I always wanted to do a brighter show, which is why this has been so much fun, but the characters still require a lot of concentration and a lot of time in the make-up room.”

melbourneextra Briefly…
The Nine Network’s new Melbourne Extra current affairs show was recently launched at a lavish function attended by network identities and Victorian Premier Joan Kirner, who will be making regular appearances on the program.  Despite the insecurity that comes with working in commercial television, ex-ABC host John Jost is confident of success.  “If you are going to cover all the important news in Melbourne, you need the time and resources to do it – and that is the commitment that Channel Nine has made to this program,” he told TV Week.  Joining Jost on Melbourne Extra will be reporters Tracey Spicer, Helen Ballard, Natasha Johnson, Des Dowling and Stephen Claney.

kateraison E Street’s Sheridan Sturgess (Kate Raison) takes the law into her own hands to try to put an end to serial killer Mr Bad’s (Vince Martin) reign of terror.  The pair agree to meet at Sheridan’s television studios.  The meeting ends when police arrive and Sheridan fires a shot at Mr Bad.  She is arrested and ends up in jail on remand. 

The Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) has announced that their annual ARIA Awards event will be televised for the first time this year.  The Nine Network will be broadcasting the event live from Melbourne next month and is securing a top line-up of presenters and performers – including Rod Stewart, Julian Lennon, Spinal Tap, John Farnham, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, Anthony Warlow, Jimmy Barnes, Johnny Diesel and Crowded House.  Negotiations are also continuing with Kylie Minogue, INXS, Midnight Oil and Phil Collins.

Steamy soap opera Chances has been sold to the BSkyB network in the United Kingdom.  The sale follows the network’s recent purchase of another Aussie series, E Street.

tvweek Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”Welcome to something of a new-look TV Week!  The changes, however, are not just cosmetic.  In fact, TV Week makes one of the most profound movies it has made in the 14 years I have been associated with the magazine – our on sale day is now Thursday instead of Monday.  As explained in last week’s issue, that facilitates much tighter deadlines, particularly in our program listings.  Undoubtedly the networks will still find ways of making late alterations and getting under our guard, but it’s going to be more difficult from now on.  And that should mean a better service for you.  We hope you regard as a bonus, too, the fact that – apart from our program listing, which we print in 14 different editions each week to cover the whole of Australia – TV Week is now basically 100 per cent colour.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 23-29):
  Afternoon sport includes cricket (Ladies’ International Super Test on ABC, and Benson And Hedges World Cup on Nine), football (AFL Foster’s Cup on Seven) and basketball (Ten).  Sunday night movies are A Fish Called Wanda (Seven), Miami Blues (Ten) and French film Life Is A Long Quiet River (SBS), up against the Winter Olympics on Nine.

Monday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), former prostitute Lizzy Walker (Joanne Hunt) returns to Dr Terence Elliott (Shane Porteous) to have her baby.  In Mother And Son (ABC), Arthur (Garry McDonald) didn’t really expect to be excavating his father’s ashes in the middle of the night.  ABC debuts new comedy series Gillies And Company and arts program Review.  Nine’s coverage of the Winter Olympics comes to an end with live coverage of the closing ceremony.

queenieashton Tuesday:  With the Winter Olympics now over, Nine’s prime-time line-up is getting back into full swing – with the return of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show (with new host Lisa Patrick), All Together Now, Chances and The World Tonight With Clive Robertson.  Veteran actors Queenie Ashton (pictured) and Willie Fennell are guest stars in this week’s GP (ABC).

Wednesday:  Nine crosses to Sydney for day-night coverage of the Benson And Hedges World Cup Cricket: Australia versus South Africa.  Seven has live coverage of the AFL Foster’s Cup.  Prime Minister Paul Keating presents his Economic Statement, in a one-hour broadcast on ABC.  Dateline (SBS) takes a look at the increasingly popular Communist Party in Greece.

Thursday:  In E Street (Ten), Alice (Marianne Howard) has urgent news, while Sheridan’s (Kate Raison) feelings for Wheels (Marcus Graham) begin to change.

Friday:  Seven presents a delayed telecast of the 34th annual Grammy Awards from New York’s Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.

Saturday:  Nine crosses to Auckland, New Zealand for the Benson And Hedges World Cup Cricket: South Africa versus New Zealand, followed by rugby league highlights of the Toohey’s Challenge Cup.  This week’s documentary on World Around Us (Seven) is Coronation Hill: Land Of The Apocalypse, looking at Coronation Hill, located within Kakadu in the Northern Territory, where the richest uranium deposits on Earth are believed to lie – and the Aboriginal people have a warning for those who would mine it.  ABC’s late-night review of the week in politics, Order In The House, begins a new series. 

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  22 February 1992.  Southdown Press

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Northern NSW going digital in November

northernnsw Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy has announced 27 November 2012 as the date for the switch-off of analogue television services in the Northern NSW coverage area (pictured).

The switch-off will affect local transmissions of ABC, Prime7 (NEN), NBN, Southern Cross Ten (NRN) and SBS in the Northern NSW regions of Newcastle/Hunter Valley, Tamworth/New England, Taree/Manning River, Richmond/Tweed Heads and Northern Rivers.

Some towns within the above regions may be identified for analogue switch-off before the November date, however a list of towns affected is yet to be finalised.

Excluded from the November switch-off will be the Gold Coast and Gosford/Central Coast areas which both fall within the Northern NSW market but overlap with the Brisbane and Sydney television licence areas respectively.  Those areas will have analogue services terminated in late 2013.

According to the latest Digital Tracker survey – covering the period October to December 2011 – 84 per cent of households in the Northern NSW market have already converted at least their main TV set to digital, compared to the national average of 82 per cent.

digitalready In preparation for the analogue switch-off, broadcasters are establishing seven new transmission sites to improve areas of poor digital reception, but viewers within the coverage area that are unable to receive an adequate digital signal by 27 May may be eligible for transition to the satellite-based VAST system which will provide access to all free-to-air networks and their digital multi-channels.

Households requiring practical or financial assistance in making the transition to digital television may be eligible for government support and are advised to consult the Digital Ready website or telephone 1800 20 10 13.

The Northern NSW analogue switch-off will follow that of the Southern NSW, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and ACT markets which are due to switch to digital-only transmission on 5 June this year.

Source: DBCDE

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

1992: February 15-22

tvweek_150292 Just 18… and Kym’s got it all!
She might be only 18 years old, but Kym Wilson (pictured) has emerged from an acting novice to a talented professional, with acclaim for her performances in the film Flirting, stage production The Crucible and mini-series Brides Of Christ.  And she is optimistic that her decision to join A Country Practice is a positive career move.  “You have to choose roles that are going to fulfil you,” she told TV Week.  “That is why I chose A Country Practice as the soap I wanted to do.  It has been going for 10 years, the people I work with are fantastic actors and it has that extra dimension by dealing with issues in society, which perhaps the other soaps do not do.”  The young star has also taken on an additional on-air role as co-host of Seven’s Saturday morning Video Smash Hits, although is wary of becoming over-exposed or being pigeonholed as a “personality” rather than an actress.  “That was my concern when I chose to do Video Smash Hits – that I wouldn’t, without degrading Sophie, become another Sophie Lee, who is seen more as a TV personality than an actress because she did The Bugs Bunny Show before she did The Flying Doctors.”

gordonelliott Axe for Hard Copy?
It may be a ratings winner for the Ten Network, but its weekly “tabloid” current affairs show Hard Copy (hosted by Gordon Elliott, pictured) could soon be axed due to a falling out between the network and Paramount, the owners of the concept.  Paramount is believed to have notified Ten that it wants out of the deal when the current batch of 13 episodes is completed, due to Ten failing to comply with certain changes that had been requested of the Australian franchise.  The termination of the agreement would mean that the show’s title can not be used in Australia, or that any  reports from the US version can be broadcast here.  But Network Ten boss Gary Rice has denied any rift with Paramount and insists that production of Hard Copy is business as usual.     

alyssajanecook Frozen out!
E Street star Alyssa-Jane Cook (pictured) always insisted that she wanted her exit from the show to be dramatic, but admits that her final scenes with the series have been her most challenging.  Her character, Lisa Bennett, finds herself at the mercy of E Street’s serial killer Mr Bad (Vince Martin) who has kidnapped her and locked her in a freezer in a bid to lure his targets Sheridan (Kate Raison) and Wheels (Marcus Graham) to their deaths.  Cook is not about to give away the outcome of the storyline, but says the scenes were amongst her most difficult.  “By the end of the 14-hour shoot, I was emotionally and physically exhausted,” she said.

tvweek Briefly…
TV Week
has announced a new era as it embarks on changes to production techniques and its format.  This week’s edition includes a special eight-day program guide – Saturday to Saturday – as from next week the magazine will feature program listings from Sunday to Saturday, while the magazine’s on-sale day will change from Monday to Thursday.  This change, incorporated with tighter production deadlines, will see the magazine report more up-to-date stories and offer a more accurate program listing.  Despite the changes, the cover price of TV Week will remain at $1.70.

All Together Now star Rebecca Gibney has broken her silence on her private life by denying reports that while on a three-week holiday to the United States that she and her fiance, singer Jack Jones, had been secretly married in a Las Vegas chapel.  “Marriage crossed our minds at some point, but we decided against it,” she told TV Week.  “But we haven’t run off to Las Vegas to have a quickie wedding.”

davidreynelenoresmith Former The Flying Doctors cast members Lenore Smith and David Reyne (pictured) have embarked on a new project, appearing in the stage production of Love Letters which begins at the Sydney Opera House before touring regional centres in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.  Reyne has also started work on a new travel series, Getaway, for the Nine NetworkGetaway, which also features former Beyond 2000 reporter Jeff Watson and two yet-to-be-named female reporters, makes its debut on Nine next month.

John Laws says…
”Perhaps, as a nation, we should all have been watching the documentary about the Snowy Mountain hydro-electric project, aptly screened over the Australia Day weekend on the ABC.  By any standards the Snowy project was a heroic undertaking, in both engineering and human terms.  It took 25 years to complete and it ranks as one of this nation’s greatest achievements.  Here was a mammoth engineering feat brought to life by Australians and “new” Australians from Europe, most of them displaced persons from World War II.  The ABC documentary team interviewed a handful of the thousands of people who worked on the Snowy project, but their stories seemed to embrace all its spirit and courage.  Interestingly, the general feeling among them was that a scheme like the Snowy could never be built today.  Way back in 1949, when Ben Chifley’s government got it off the ground, there was no conservation movement!”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 15-22):
  Saturday afternoon sport includes golf on both ABC (West Australian Ladies’ Classic) and Seven (Australian Masters), while Nine presents a highlights package of the Winter Olympic Games.  Nine’s evening is dominated by the return of Hey Hey It’s Saturday, followed by more live coverage of the Winter Olympic Games from Albertville, France.

Sunday:  More golf on ABC and Seven, while Nine presents highlights of the Reebok Blacktop Basketball, from Adelaide’s Clipsal Powerhouse Stadium.  Evening programs include the return of multi-lingual current affairs program Vox Populi (SBS) and Brian Naylor’s documentary Australia From The Outside Looking In (Nine).  Sunday night movies are Good Morning Vietnam (Seven) and K-9 (Ten), up against the Winter Olympics (Nine).

Monday:  In Mother And Son (ABC), Arthur (Garry McDonald) brings a pet budgie home for Maggie (Ruth Cracknell) after she is upset by her son Robert (Henri Szeps) – but how this leads to 10 naked dentists dancing on a golf course has to be seen to be believed! 

Tuesday:  ABC’s consumer affairs program The Investigators is back for another year, followed by drama series GP where a new locum (played by Christopher Bailey) arrives at the practice, only to have his wife turn up and reveal that he is not who he says he is.  In SBS’ current affairs program Dateline, reporter Maeve O’Meara profiles influential Irish writer Colm Tóibín.

Wednesday:  Astrophysicist Graham Phillips and journalist Cathy Johnson join ABC’s science program Quantum as it returns for its eighth year.  This year is the International Year of Space and, to mark the occasion, Quantum will begin a series of reports on everything from space junk to space technology.  The 40th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne is documented in a two-hour BBC special, Elizabeth R (ABC), following the Queen on her many official duties over 12 months and giving a rare glimpse of her more informal moments.

effie Thursday:  In Acropolis Now (Seven), Effie (Mary Coustas, pictured) suspects Suzanne (Nicky Wendt) of treachery and plots her revenge – murder by haircare products.  ABC’s documentary series The Big Picture presents When The War Came To Australia – Our Melancholy Duty, the first of a four-part series tracing the social history of Australia during World War II and the effects of Japan’s attack on Darwin, which occurred fifty years ago this week.

Friday:  Dateline (SBS) features a report on Simone Harvari, France’s top TV producer, who heads a company where the majority of employees are female.  In Neighbours (Ten), a reunion with old mates has devastating implications for Doug (Terence Donovan).

Saturday:  Nine debuts its new Saturday morning show, Saturday At Rick’s, hosted by Steven Jacobs with Tania Lacy, featuring cartoons, video clips and interviews.  Nine then crosses to New Zealand for the Benson And Hedges World Cup cricket – Australia versus New Zealand.  ABC also has cricket with live coverage from the North Sydney Oval of the Ladies’ International Super Test: Australia versus England.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  15 February 1992.  Southdown Press

Saturday, 11 February 2012

C31 joins early analogue switch-off

C31_Melb_2012 C31, Melbourne’s community television channel, is soon to join its Sydney counterpart TVS in an early shutdown of its analogue signal – well ahead of the scheduled shutdown of other analogue services in their respective cities.

On their website, C31 advises that it will cease analogue transmission (from UHF 31 and from UHF 64 in South Yarra) on Thursday 1 March, even though the analogue shutdown is not scheduled for Melbourne until late 2013.

From 1 March, viewers will only be able to access C31 on digital television channel 44 (UHF 32 from Mount Dandenong, or UHF 66 from the South Yarra translator).

The shutdown of the analogue signal marks an end to over 17 years of transmission from UHF Channel 31, dating back to when the channel first launched in October 1994.  Back then, Channel 31 was broadcasting a program schedule only on Monday to Thursday evenings and on Saturday nights broadcast live coverage of races from Harness Racing Victoria, then a sponsor of the channel.

C31 now broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and also has some programs available via a catch-up facility on their website.

TVS will also be closing its analogue signal from 1 March, while Brisbane’s 31 Digital and Perth’s WTV are already broadcasting solely in digital.

Source: C31

Ten’s ready to rise for Breakfast

breakfast Network Ten’s new breakfast news program, creatively titled Breakfast, is set to debut on Monday, 27 February at 6.00am.

Breakfast will be fronted by Andrew Rochford (The Block, The Project and recently breakfast co-host at Mix 106.5 in Sydney), Kathryn Robinson (Ten News), Magdalena Roze (The Weather Channel, Ten News) and outspoken New Zealand presenter Paul Henry, who was signed up for the new program for $NZ1 million by Ten’s interim CEO Lachlan Murdoch.

Even before Henry makes his Australian TV debut, his appointment to the network has already sparked divisive debate largely due to controversial comments made while host of TVNZ’s own Breakfast program which led to his resignation from the national broadcaster and subsequent million-dollar offer to cross the Tasman.  He will also continue to appear on New Zealand television with plans to host a weekly comedy show on commercial network TV3.

Ten’s head of news and current affairs, Anthony Flannery says Breakfast aims to be ‘must-see’ TV for Australians as they start their day:

“Breakfast is a tough, competitive environment and we can’t wait to get into the game. Already, the opposition is taking cheap pot shots – I couldn’t be happier that they’re taking us so seriously, so soon.”

“We plan to make Breakfast a must-watch part of Australia’s day. From fact to fun, it’s going to be a fresh start to the morning TV schedule.”

The new show will have a tough job ahead of itself, entering a market dominated by the long-running Today and Sunrise programs as well as alternatives ABC News Breakfast and Sky News’ First Edition and AM Agenda.

Ten’s new show will also be under pressure to deliver numbers to lead in to mid-morning show The Circle which currently suffers by not being handed a large audience from the preceding early morning children’s shows.  The Circle, despite winning a TV Week Logie last year for Most Popular Light Entertainment Program, is currently rating well behind Seven’s The Morning Show and Nine’s recently-launched Mornings.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

1992: February 8-14

tvweek_080292 ‘Don’t call me Betty!’
While Hey Dad! star Julie McGregor (pictured, centre, with co-star Rachael Beck) loves playing the role of ditzy secretary Betty Wilson in the long-running sitcom (“I’m not sure that there is anything around that would be as rewarding to do,” she says) don’t ask her to “do a Betty” when she’s not working.  When McGregor leaves the studio after a taping, she leaves Betty behind in the prop cupboard.  “You just shut off, put the toys away, and you come home,” she told TV Week.  “Of course, every now and then you say something and you think, ‘Oh gosh, that sounded like Betty’.”  In the series’ return to air this week, Betty’s old boyfriend Stan (Bill Young) is looking for work, but his potential new employer sparks a brawl when he makes some less than polite remarks about Betty.  The punch-up is not shown on screen, but it’s the talk of the Hey Dad! household.

Gay murder rocks GP
’s medical drama GP makes a controversial return to screens this week with scenes depicting graphic violence and a storyline surrounding a gay bashing and murder.  Simon Radley (Felix Nobis) joins the Ross Street practice as a locum and possible replacement for Dr Nicola Tanner (Judy McIntosh) – but after work hours he frequents gay bars looking for sex, while his partner David Robinson (Scott Burgess) is keeping the home fires burning.  A vicious assault on Dr Radley is witnessed by Dr William Sharp (Michael Craig), who identifies one of the culprits in a police line-up.  A second attack on Dr Radley leaves him beaten to death.  “It’s pretty heavy stuff,” Burgess told TV Week.  “Simon and David share a house, but while Simon is driven by his urges to seek clandestine sex, David is settled and stable.  The story is as much about their private dilemma as it is about the prejudice that gay people who live in the city have to face – being supposedly different from everybody else.” 

vincemartin_0001 When will the killings stop?
Has E Street’s serial killer storyline gone too far?  While insiders at the Ten Network claims that the ongoing storyline has boosted ratings, what effect does having a sustained storyline based on murder and having a deranged killer as the focal point have on the viewer – and is it appropriate for a 7.30pm timeslot?  Although the actor who plays the character of serial killer Steven Richardson, Vince Martin (pictured), is concerned that “there was perhaps too much killing… and I still feel this is the case because there are more deaths to go to air”, the show’s producer Forrest Redlich defends the storyline as “just storytelling”.  “I’ve got the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal’s code on violence,” he says.  “We have to stick to the letter of the law and we are doing that.  When you look at how the story is presented, it isn’t a violent storyline.  You don’t see a lot of violence in it when the murders are taking place.  I just think it’s basically about storytelling and working within the tribunal guidelines.”   Pat Manser of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal has expressed concern over the material being depicted but stresses that viewers do not have to just accept what is presented to them.  “The best method of attack is to go straight to the station, because the stations are quite sensitive to public criticism,” she says.  “If they get more criticism than pats on the back, they will do something about it.”

jackimacdonald_0002 Jacki MacDonald
(pictured) has described her new Network Ten show Healthy Wealthy And Wise as “a show that’s not really like anything else” and, after a decade as the funny girl on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and a year as host of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, is excited at the prospect at doing “something serious” for a change.  “In this show I’m not zany, silly or crazy,” she said.  “We all enjoy ourselves, laugh and have a good time – but it’s not a format for outrageous antics.”  Healthy Wealthy And Wise, which also features Ronnie Burns as co-host, is produced by former Hey Hey It’s Saturday co-producer Gavan Disney.  Although the show has only just debuted on Network Ten, it has already been sold for screening in New Zealand, Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

marydelahunty After six years of reading the news for ABC in Victoria, Mary Delahunty (pictured) is returning to current affairs television as she takes over as host of the Victorian edition of The 7.30 Report – replacing John Jost who has left the ABC to join the Nine Network as host of its new Melbourne Extra current affairs program.  Ian Henderson, a former European correspondent for the ABC, has taken over as newsreader for the 7.00pm ABC News in Victoria.

Mike Hammond, the former host of Ten’s Star Search and now the sole host of Good Morning Australia, is enthusiastic about the breakfast show’s new format.  “It has a totally new look, and a new format which is a world first.  Breakfast television has never before recognised the fact that daily routines don’t allow you extended periods of time to sit in front of the box watching long interviews.  Our new program informs you while you get ready to start your day.  If you want to compare us to Today, we still offer more news and weather, more financial news, more politics and sport, and more relevant stories.  And in what is probably a television first, there is up-to-the-minute traffic information as well.”

andrewwaterworth Former Quantum reporter Andrew Waterworth (pictured) has moved to the Seven Network as a reporter for Beyond 2000.  “I was with Quantum for five years and I put a lot into the show,” he told TV Week.  “But you get to a point in your life where you feel you would like a change.”

John Laws says…
”Whether Seven’s Real Life is going to offer any serious long-term problems to Jana Wendt’s A Current Affair on Nine is yet to be assessed, though the early signs are that ACA will be the toughest of nuts to crack.  Real Life’s problem may be that it has hyped itself up as being completely different to the current affairs shows we have become accustomed to – and this, as any viewer will tell (producer) Gerald Stone, is a load of old cobblers.  Real Life is a mixture of everything – a sort of mini-version of 60 Minutes, with shades of ACA and The 7.30 Report thrown in for good measure.  It really can’t be anything else.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 8-14):
  Nine presents a two-hour preview of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, hosted by Ken Sutcliffe, taking a look at the behind-the-scenes preparations and focusing on the Games venues and competitions as well as the Australian team.  On Seven, AFL is back for the new year with its pre-season competition, the Foster’s Cup, live from AFL Park, Waverley.

Sunday:  The first day of ratings for 1992 – and Nine’s current affairs line-up of Business Sunday, Sunday and the evening 60 Minutes are back for another year.  Seven crosses to Darwin for live coverage of the afternoon match between Collingwood and the West Coast Eagles for the AFL Foster’s Cup.  Sunday night movies are Air America (Seven) and The ‘Burbs (Ten), while Nine presents live coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games from Albertville, France.

johnjost Monday:  Nine’s regular daytime line-up is back for the new year – with In Melbourne Today, What’s Cooking and Midday With Ray Martin all returning.  At 5.00pm, Nine launches its new game show Supermarket Sweep, hosted by Ian Turpie, followed by the debut of Melbourne Extra, with John Jost (pictured) presenting local current affairs as the lead-in to National Nine News.  Sale Of The Century (Nine) returns for another year at 7.00pm, while ABC launches a new series of comedy Mother And Son at 8.00pm.  Stuart Littlemore’s Media Watch is also back for the new year, at 9.15pm on ABC.  Nine starts its routine coverage of the Winter Olympic Games, hosted by Ken Sutcliffe, with over four hours of coverage each night from 8.30pm.

gp_1992 Tuesday:  The return of ABC’s medical drama GP focuses on the gay bashing of the new doctor at the Ross Street surgery.

Wednesday:  Seven presents live coverage of the AFL Foster’s Cup match between Geelong and St Kilda from AFL Park, Waverley.  In E Street (Ten), Alice (Marianne Howard) and Penny (Josephine Mitchell) try to cope with their new business venture – meanwhile someone else in the neighbourhood receives a surprise visit from Steven Richardson (Vince Martin).

Thursday:  Seven begins four days of coverage of the Australian Masters golf, live from Huntingdale, Melbourne.  In the evening, sitcom Acropolis Now (Seven) returns, while ABC presents a movie-length debut of its new police drama Phoenix, starring Paul Sonkkila, Simon Westaway, Nell Feeney, Sean Scully and Andy Anderson.

Friday:  Burke’s Backyard (Nine) is back for another year, hosted by Don Burke with presenters Peter Harris, Dr Harry Cooper and Densey Clyne.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  8 February 1992.  Southdown Press

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Humphrey rescued from receivers

humphreybbear Humphrey B. Bear is set to entertain a new generation of children with the rights to the character being bought by an Adelaide company.

A feature of the Nine Network for over 40 years, Humphrey was feared to be gone forever with his former owner Banksia Productions going into liquidation three years ago.

Last year, the rights to the Humphrey brand were among Banksia’s assets  put up for sale by accounting firm BRI Ferrier.  More than 100 groups had shown interest in purchasing Humphrey, but it was Adelaide-based games and entertainment company Imagination that won the deal for an undisclosed sum.

The company is now exploring options for re-inventing Humphrey for a new generation of youngsters – with the potential for another TV series, charity work or even an animated series spin-off.

Imagination chief Shane Yeend told Adelaide’s Sunday Mail that he plans to celebrate Humphrey’s return with a reunion of those who have worked with the “funny old fellow” over the years:

"For the last few months, we have been going through 40 years worth of material.  We have come across all these people who have had something to do with Humphrey and we thought it would be nice to have a reunion later this year to celebrate how he has affected so many people."

Humphrey was created by Rex Heading of Adelaide channel NWS9 in 1965 – with the Here’s Humphrey program screening across the Nine Network on an ongoing basis until 2003, with a brief return in 2007-08.  The show won TV Week Logies for Best Children’s Program in 1970 and 1982.

Source: Adelaide Now

Saturday, 4 February 2012

ABC1 presents The Real Graham Kennedy

grahamkennedy_6 When TV looks back on the man that was Graham Kennedy, it rarely drifts from the public side of the talented performer:  The hilarious moments from In Melbourne Tonight, his comic rapport with Bert Newton, the portrayal of the mega-camp ‘Cyril’ in Blankety Blanks, and the 1980s success of Graham Kennedy’s News Show, just to name a few. 

But as well as the very public Kennedy, it was well known that there was also an equally private one.  A shy, somewhat reclusive person who rarely gave any real insight into his life away from the cameras.

In The Real Graham Kennedy, a one-hour documentary screening tomorrow (Sunday) night on ABC1, a number of Kennedy’s former colleagues, friends and employees recall some of their experiences and memories of Kennedy, giving some insight into this private persona.  Some of those appearing in the program include Val Wesley, Ernie Carroll (the man behind Ossie Ostrich), Toni Lamond, Joy Westmore, Rosemary Margan (who confessed having to ask a friend what was that word that Kennedy had disguised as a “crow call” on that infamous night in 1975), Mike McColl-Jones, Philip Brady, Pete Smith, Denise Drysdale and Susan-Gaye Anderson.

The program also includes rare home movie footage and some early comedy sketches, depicting some of Kennedy’s early comic influences, as well as audio commentary from Kennedy himself as he recalls some of his family and his early background.

The Real Graham Kennedy was produced in 2009 by Bob Phillips, a former producer of In Melbourne Tonight.

The Real Graham Kennedy.  Sunday 5 February, 10.00pm.  ABC1

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

1992: February 1-7

tvweek_010292 How to succeed away from Wandin Valley
A Country Practice star Georgie Parker (pictured) is suddenly hot property on the theatre circuit, with two producers vying for her services for upcoming stage productions.  Parker, who is currently taping her final scenes for A Country Practice, has been offered the lead role in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, scheduled to premiere in Sydney in September, and has been called for a second audition for the revival of the classic Gypsy.  Parker has also been offered a role in the Seven Network’s upcoming comedy Newlyweds, but has turned it down citing reluctance to accept another television series role so soon after ACP.

‘We’re great together!’
Garry McDonald
and Ruth Cracknell, about to return to screens in a new series of Mother And Son, believe the series could go on indefinitely… or at least as long as writer Geoffrey Atherden writes the scripts.  “Over the years it’s become funnier,” Cracknell told TV Week.  “Good comedy doesn’t go away.”  And the two actors quite happily continue their light-hearted banter even when the cameras stop rolling.  Cracknell confides that McDonald tells all the jokes, but her trademark one-liners on screen are carried over off screen with just as much success.  “We’re great together,” she chuckles.  “It would have been a wonderful marriage!”

joycejacobs ‘I was absolutely shaken…’
When A Country Practice star Joyce Jacobs (pictured) heard that her fellow cast-mates Syd Heylen and Gordon Piper were being written out of the series, she thought she would be next.  “I was absolutely shaken!,” she told TV Week.  “It was a great shock and my first thought was, ‘It’s me as well’.  I have been more involved with the doctors in the past year or two and in fewer scenes with Cookie (Heylen) and Bob (Piper).  We’ll miss them.  There was always laughter, although you could thump them sometimes.”  Jacobs is now in her 11th year in A Country Practice as snoopy Esme Watson, but she was not the first choice for the role.  In the series pilot she played an extra, Wilma, who had little dialogue.  It was a character that Jacobs didn’t think would go anywhere, much like the woman she used to play in Number 96.  “I used to go into Mr Godolfus’ shop and buy a quarter of a pound of tea, but they blew them all up didn’t they?,” she said.  But she was later chosen to play Esme Watson in A Country Practice after the actress originally cast for the role had dropped out.  But like any television performer, Jacobs admits nothing is forever.  “I think if and when A Country Practice finishes I’d be glad to do a little cameo role in a film now and then.  It would be nice.  I couldn’t go into another series.  I’m too old… past retirement age, you know.”

stevenjacobs Briefly…
All Together Now’s Steven Jacobs (pictured) and former Countdown Revolution co-host Tania Lacey have signed on as presenters of Nine’s new Saturday morning show, Saturday At Rick’s.  The program, to go to air live for two hours each week, is reminiscent of the early days of Hey Hey It’s Saturday.  The new show, to debut later this month, is expected to be produced at Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast.  Two more presenters are also to be signed up.

Network Ten has commissioned a second series of sitcom Bingles before the first series has even gone to air.  The series, set in a panel-beating workshop, stars Shane Bourne, Tammy MacIntosh, Nick Bufalo and Russell Gilbert

russellcrowe Acclaimed young actor Russell Crowe (pictured) will be a guest star in the second series of ABC’s Police Rescue.  Crowe, who won an AFI award for his role in Proof, is currently appearing on the big screen in the long-awaited Spotswood.  In Police Rescue he plays Senior Constable Tom Younger, a local football hero and new member of the squad.  Producer John Edwards is excited about Crowe joining the show.  “Russell is a fabulous actor,” he said.  “He’s also a charismatic and exciting personality.”

Lawrie Masterson’s Sound Off
”When he took my call, Ian Frykberg was on the Gold Coast in Queensland.  It was windy rather than sunny, but, anyway, he was doing some work preparatory to a 12-metre yacht challenge later this year.  Then he was due to leave for Albertville, France, not just for a dramatic change of climate, but for the 1992 Winter Olympics.  Before the Winter Olympics are over, Frykberg is going to be casting an anxious eye towards places as far flung as Mackay in Queensland, Berri in South Australia and Napier, New Zealand.  They are just some of the venues for the World Cup of cricket.  And before that’s over, there’s the not inconsequential matter of the NSW Rugby League starting its 1992 season on 20 March.  Such is life when you’re director of sport at the Nine Network…”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, February 1-7):
  Afternoon sport includes a repeat of last Monday’s NFL Superbowl (ABC) and Fifth Test Cricket, live from Perth, on Nine.

Sunday:  ABC’s rural affairs program Landline returns for another year.  Afternoon sport includes Test Cricket on Nine and the Ironman Super Series on Ten.  At 6.30pm, Ten launches Bert Newton’s New Faces, reviving the title and format that Newton hosted at the Nine Network from 1976 to 1985 in the same timeslot.  Also at 6.30pm is the return of Seven’s The Main Event, hosted by Larry Emdur, followed by US sitcom Full House and debut of new US series DinosaursThe Simpsons returns with new episodes on Ten at 7.30pm, followed by the debut of locally-made sitcom Late For School, starring Frankie J. Holden, Sarah Chadwick and Matthew Newton.  Sunday night movies are Runaway Train (Seven), Gulag (Nine) and Uncle Buck (Ten).

jackimacdonald_0002 Monday:  Current affairs programs Four Corners and Lateline are back for another year on ABC, while Seven’s late-night variety show Tonight Live With Steve Vizard returns for its third year.  Although it was widely tipped for a Saturday night timeslot, Ten debuts its new lifestyle/magazine show Healthy Wealthy And Wise on Monday, hosted by Jacki MacDonald (pictured) and Ronnie Burns and featuring Iain Hewitson, Ross Greenwood, Jim Brown and Lyn Talbot.

amandakeller_0001 Tuesday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Shirley (Lorrae Desmond) is suspicious of Muldoon’s (Brian Moll) sudden generosity, while Matron Prior (Maureen Edwards) tries to keep Kate (Michelle Pettigrove) away from Harry (Andrew Blackman).  Gordon Bray and Karen Tighe present the 41st annual ABC Sports Awards, from the New Maritime Museum in Sydney.  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller (pictured) examines virtual reality systems where the observer exists in a 3D, computer-generated world.

vincemartin Wednesday:  In E Street (Ten), Steven (Vince Martin, pictured) makes a bold move, while Alice (Marianne Howard) gets an offer she can’t refuse, and CJ (Adrian Lee) gets advice on wooing the modern woman.

Thursday:  In The Flying Doctors (Nine), Penny (Sophie Lee) turns to Guy (David Reyne) for comfort, little realising the strength of their mutual attraction.  In Home And Away (Seven), Sophie’s (Rebekah Elmaloglou) fears for her baby’s future seem justified.  Seven presents an ‘encore’ screening of US series Dinosaurs from Sunday night.

Friday:  Documentary series A Big Country returns to ABC, this week focusing on the Spencer family who live in the far north of the Cape York Peninsula.  Seven years ago they made the break from society.  Nine crosses to the Sydney Football Stadium for the Seven’s International Rugby League, with commentators Ray Warren and Darrell Eastlake.  Nine’s late-night music show MTV returns for the new year, hosted by Richard Wilkins.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  1 February 1992.  Southdown Press