Sunday, 29 January 2012

Willesee at Seven… again

mikewillesee_0003 Veteran journalist and producer Mike Willesee, the man who popularised current affairs on commercial television in the ‘70s and dominated the genre for more than two decades, is returning to television to join the Seven Network’s Sunday Night.
Willesee, a reporter and presenter of Four Corners and This Day Tonight for the ABC back in the 1960s (pictured), was the first host of A Current Affair when it debuted on Nine in November 1971.  Although serious current affairs had been done on commercial TV before it was still largely seen as the domain of the ABC, though Willesee and A Current Affair in its original form did much to change that perception.
He later left Nine and had a stint as news and current affairs director at the 0-10 Network, where he also presented a weekly interview program, before joining the Seven Network in 1975.  At Seven he hosted the first Australian version of This Is Your Life and then the long-running nightly current affairs program Willesee At Seven.  The program claimed victory over A Current Affair in the then 7.00pm current affairs battle when ACA was axed in 1978.
Although Willesee At Seven (later to become Willesee ‘81 and Willesee ‘82) ended early in 1982, he had handed over the host role to Derryn Hinch in the show’s later stages while he produced documentaries for the network.  He returned to Nine in 1984 to revisit the nightly current affairs genre with Willesee as well as producing specials for the network, winning a Logie for Most Popular Documentary in 1986. 
tvweek_301191Willesee was the predecessor to the revival of the A Current Affair brand when Jana Wendt took over as host in 1988 – with Willesee later returning as a guest host on occasions before taking over as Wendt’s successor in 1993.  His interview with then Liberal Party leader John Hewson is said to have lost the Liberals the 1993 federal election by highlighting the confusion over their proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He has twice hosted the TV Week Logie Awards, first for the Ten Network in 1983 and then for Nine in 1986.  In 2002 he was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards’ Hall of Fame for his contribution to television news and current affairs.
Willesee joining Sunday Night will give it some added clout up against Nine’s Sunday night flagship 60 Minutes in the two networks’ perennial battle in news and current affairs.
Sunday Night, with host Chris Bath, returns for 2012 next Sunday, 5 February, at 6.30pm on Seven.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

NBN celebrates 50 years

nbn_openingThis year will be one of celebration for Newcastle-based regional network NBN as 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of its debut.

Launching on Sunday, 4 March 1962, it was the first regional television station in New South Wales and the fourth nationally.  Construction of the station’s premises in Mosbri Crescent, Newcastle, had been 18 months in the planning – culminating in a two-studio complex capable of producing large-scale “live” production as well as news bulletins, women’s and children’s programs, weather reports and commercials.  Programs were then beamed from Mosbri Crescent to a 450-foot mast atop Mount Sugarloaf which would then broadcast the NBN3 signal to an area of over 420,000 people, stretching from Gosford and Sydney’s northern suburbs in the south, almost as far north as Taree and out west to Scone and Muswellbrook. 

TV Week previewed the station’s opening night a week beforehand:

“The Postmaster-General C.W. Davidson will officially open the new Newcastle station, NBN3, during the station’s first program beginning at 6.00pm on Sunday night, March 4.  Before the official opening NBN3’s production executive Matthew Tapp will welcome viewers and talk briefly about the programs the station will show.”

“Women’s show compere Ken Eady will then conduct a 20-minute tour of the station to show NBN3 viewers how its programs are made.”

“Ken will introduce NBN3’s children’s compere and newsreader Murray Finlay, who will complete the tour with a look at the station’s newsroom.”

“Matthew Tapp will then introduce the Postmaster-General for the official opening.  This will be followed by the station’s first news service read by Murray Finlay.”

bobdollydyer NBN3 initially promised a schedule of around 56 hours of programming a week, starting transmission each day from around 2.30pm.  Like with many Australian stations at the time, programming was predominantly American but with the addition of popular Australian programs like BP Pick-A-Box (with presenters Bob and Dolly Dyer welcomed to the NBN3 studios at the time of its local debut).

But despite NBN3 being the region’s first television station many locals were more than familiar with television.  Much of NBN3’s coverage area also received fortuitous coverage of the Sydney channels – leading to a proliferation of high-mast antennas sprouting up on top of many homes to  get a clearer picture of the Sydney-based signals. 

nbn_1962 nbn_1963
nbn_1965 nbn_1967

To compete with the imposing signals from Sydney, NBN3 had a slate of local production from Mosbri Crescent.  A Saturday afternoon teenage music program, Tempo, was hosted by local radio 2KO personality Allan Lappan.  Ken Eady hosted women’s program Home At 3, with a special Friday edition sub-titled Anything Goes, promising “community singing, quizzes and what Ken Eady calls ‘some crazy stunts’.” 

murrayfinlay_0001 New Zealander Murray Finlay (pictured) presented NBN3’s first children’s program, The Three Cheers Show, and was also the station’s first newsreader.  NBN3’s first news service (produced in association with 2KO) was a half-hour bulletin each night at 6.30pm, comprising a mix of local, national and international news.  The bulletin was later extended to 35 minutes, then 40 minutes and then, in 1972, a one-hour newscast – the first regional-based one-hour newscast in Australia – in a format that continues to this day.

Finlay was the front man for NBN’s evening news for over twenty years and his successor, Ray Dinneen, also served at NBN for over thirty years before retiring in 2010. 

NBN nbn_1994
nbn_2006 nbn_2012

bigdog NBN has always maintained a level of local production – with programs over the years including a local franchise of pre-school program Romper Room, the long-running Travel Time With Jayes, morning shows The Breakfast Club and Today Extra, and telethons and community announcements for local charities.  The station’s mascot Big Dog (pictured) has also been a favourite with junior viewers for many years and can still be seen each evening as he wishes boys and girls a good night.

NBN3 also provided production support for an early 1970s drama, Silent Number, for the Nine Network and produced the national program Variety Italian Style

Over the years, the station has been acknowledged for its contribution to television – winning a TV Week Logie in 1963 for excellence in programming by a country station and then another six Logies between 1976 and 1995 for outstanding contributions by regional television.

The advent of aggregation saw NBN’s signal expand across the wider Northern NSW/Gold Coast market from December 1991, adding the markets of Tamworth, Taree, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast to its coverage area as the Nine Network affiliate.

NBN now broadcasts to a market of 2,109,000 viewers – ranking it as Australia’s fourth largest market behind Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – and won the 2011 ratings year with 31.6 per cent market share (comprising NBN’s 23.6% and digital channels GO! 4.8% and GEM 3.2%).

NBN has had a number of owners since its inception in 1962, but since 2007 it has been owned by Nine’s parent company PBL Media (now Nine Entertainment Co.).

To celebrate its 50th anniversary NBN will be holding a reunion of past and present employees on Saturday, 10 March.  The event will include a collection of nostalgic footage and photos from the past 50 years.  Any past employees wishing to attend the reunion are invited to contact NBN by email turning50@nbntv.com.au or contact Promotions Manager Mike Rabbitt on telephone (02) 49292333.

And throughout 2012, NBN News will be presenting a series of special reports on different aspects of the station’s history and significant community events of the last half century.

Later this year it will be the end of an era when NBN switches off analogue transmission across its coverage area (excluding Gold Coast and Gosford, which will occur later) in the conversion to digital-only broadcasting – but more significantly it will mark the end of transmission from Channel 3 from Mt Sugarloaf, the signal that launched NBN 50 years ago.

Source:  NBNTV Week, 24 February 1962.  TV Times, 21 July 1979.  TV Week, 15 May 1982.  The Newcastle Star, 4 March 1987.  TV Eye – Classic Australian TelevisionRegional TV Marketing. Regional TAM.

YouTube: markspyreport

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Geoffrey Rush – our Australian of the Year

geoffreyrush Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush (pictured) was last night announced as our Australian of the Year in recognition of his contribution to the arts.

The 60-year-old, who this year celebrates 40 years in the industry, gained international fame in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in the movie Shine which led to him winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Despite much of Rush’s acting work being in the theatre and on film, the Queensland-born actor has also worked in television.  He made his TV acting debut in the ABC mini-series Menotti in 1981.

He later appeared in Twisted Tales and played the lead role of newspaper editor Bill Wyatt in the 1996 series Mercury.

Rush also made a guest appearance in Kath And Kim in 2004.

Also on this Australia Day, a number of television identities were among the hundreds recognised in this year’s Australia Day honours list:

Maggie Beer – “For service to the tourism and hospitality industries as a cook, restaurateur and author, and to the promotion of Australian produce and cuisine.”  Beer was a co-presenter on the popular ABC series The Cook And The Chef for five years and has also been a regular guest on MasterChef Australia.

Jamie Durie – “For service to the community as an ambassador and supporter of a range of charitable and environmental organisations, and as a landscape designer.”  Durie came to national fame as the presenter of Backyard Blitz and The Block.  He has more recently appeared on the Seven Network’s The Outdoor Room and gained international fame when he caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey.

Gus Mercurio (posthumously) – “For service to boxing as an administrator and sports commentator, as a film, television and stage actor, and to the community.”  Mercurio appeared in numerous television series over his career, including period dramas Cash And Company, The Sullivans, Power Without Glory, Tandarra, Five Mile Creek and All The Rivers Run, and was a boxing commentator for 12 years.

Oscar Whitbread – “For service to the Australian film and television industry.”  Whitbread has been a television producer since the 1960s, working on ABC dramas including Bellbird, Marion, And The Big Men Fly, Power Without Glory, Rush, Catspaw, The Truckies, Outbreak Of Love and I Can Jump Puddles.  He later worked on The Flying Doctors, Ratbag Hero, Cluedo and Acropolis Now.

Source: ABC, Governor-General of Australia, IMDB, IMDB.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

1992: January 25-31

tvweek_250192 Jana: ‘I welcome the challenge’
A Current Affair host Jana Wendt (pictured) talks to TV Week about the changing news and current affairs environment taking place – in particular, the launch of Real Life, produced by her former 60 Minutes boss Gerald Stone, going head-to-head with ACA.  “I think anything that increases the competition is good,” she said.  “It will sharpen our edge and I welcome that.  I’m confident we can deliver.  I don’t want to sound masochistic, but I welcome the challenge.”  Not only will ACA be duelling with Real Life, but it will also have Derryn Hinch’s new Network Ten show at 6.00pm, giving him a half-hour head start on ACA and Real Life for the day’s big stories.  Ten has also re-launched Ten Eyewitness News as a 5.00pm bulletin, and Nine has its own 5.30pm local news programs coming soon in each state.  Asked how she feels about this changing landscape, Wendt said: “We’ll have to wait and find out, but Nine believes there is a market for news at 5.30pm, so perhaps there is at 5.00pm.”

stangrant Stan: ‘It’s the only gig in town’
Former ABC reporter Stan Grant (pictured) said that he had been made offers before to change to commercial television but had always knocked them back in loyalty to the national broadcaster, but then the offer to front Seven’s new Real Life came “out of the blue”.  “This offer came along initially as a reporter,” Grant told TV Week.  “Then (producer) Gerald Stone came to me and said, ‘How would you feel about presenting it?’  It basically came out of the blue, and I said, ‘Yes’.  I’d given presenting a bit of thought at the ABC.  I’d piloted a program there.  I’d also read news updates during the Gulf War, but I was committed to Real Life.  This was to me the only gig in town.”  But although Grant will be the front man of the new show, he emphasises that Real Life is a team effort.  “There’ll be a lot of interaction between myself and the other reporters.  You’ll get a sense of a team at work here, as opposed to a presenter and a lot of sort of faceless, nameless reporters.  It’s definitely not the Stan Grant Show, but I think A Current Affair is the Jana Wendt show.”

kymwilson Kym’s rockin’ role
A Country Practice star Kym Wilson (pictured) has signed on as the new co-host of Seven’s Saturday morning Video Smash Hits.  Wilson replaces Emily Symons who recently left the show after a two-year stint to pursue acting full time, and will be leaving Home And Away later this year.  “It’ll be interesting to meet the people whose music I love,” Wilson told TV Week.  “I’m an avid music listener.  It’s going to be great fun.”  Wilson, who previously starred in Brides Of Christ, will be continuing in her A Country Practice role as Darcy Hudson.  “I just hope people don’t forget about my acting and consider me just a TV personality,” she said.

andrewdaddo Briefly…
Andrew Daddo
(pictured) is making his return to Australian television in Nine’s new ‘whodunnit’ game show, Cluedo.  Daddo, who has returned from the US after a year with MTV, will join Frank Gallacher, Jane Badler, Nicki Paull, Joy Westmore and Peter Sumner as the principal characters based on the Cluedo board game.  George Mallaby is also tipped to be joining the show, but this has yet to be confirmed.

number96_dvd2 E Street star Toni Pearen, whose character Toni is the next potential victim of mass-murderer Mr Bad (Vince Martin) in episodes to air this week, says that the serial killer storyline has done wonders for the show’s ratings.  “Every soap has mediocre times and E Street was going through such a period when, all of a sudden, this serial-killer storyline comes along,” she told TV Week.  “I just think it is something that no other soap has done before, so viewers have really taken to it.”  When it is pointed out that in the Seventies, Number 96 shocked the nation with its pantyhose strangler mystery (pictured), she is nothing less than amazed.  “Wow, a pantyhose murderer!  Okay, so I wasn’t around then.  This serial killer thing is new to my generation.”

tammymcintosh Actress Tammy MacIntosh (pictured) is looking forward to her new role in the ABC series Police Rescue after a year of setbacks.  After quitting The Flying Doctors in 1990, a collarbone injury saw her withdraw from a role in the $4.5 million film Garbo.  Then a role in feature film It’s Now Or Never, alongside Jason Donovan, came to an abrupt end when the film’s finance fell through.  Things looked better when she signed on for Nine’s Chances, but a controversial incident over a nude scene saw that role short-lived.  “I rang my agent every day for a month to find out if I’d got the Police Rescue part,” she told TV Week.  “When I found out I had the role, I just burst into tears.  I couldn’t believe it.  I feel very lucky about the way things have turned out.”

lisapatrick The Nine Network has announced that Lisa Patrick (pictured) will replace Jacki MacDonald as host of Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show.  “I just feel so privileged,” she said.  “I’ve watched Jacki for years and she always made me laugh.  Now, to go in after her… well, I don’t quite know what to say.” Patrick, 26, was a former model who hit the big time in 1989 with a role in the US sitcom Live In, although the series was axed after ten episodes. 

John Laws says…
”You have to admire the tenacity of the people behind Nine’s The Flying Doctors.  I’ve lost count of the number the times the series has almost crash-landed.  Yet – amazingly – it remains airborne, its continuing survival achieved by switching the route and turning a handful of hapless actors into free-fall sky divers.  But, in television, and especially in the soapies field, survival is the name of the game.  Any actor who joins a soapie realises only too well that he or she could be out on their ear in weeks or months, depending on the acceptance level of their character.  In the latest shake-up, there appears to have been a casting slaughterhouse, with one actor – Sarah Chadwick – already gone and six others, described as playing “favourite” characters, pencilled in for departure.  This is draconian, even by soapie standards.  Crawfords, though, are old hands at the soapie business and the tendency is to believe that they know what they’re doing.  In the case of The Flying Doctors, let’s hope so, because it has been around a long time, providing employment for hundreds of people, and enjoyment by millions.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, January 25-31):
Saturday:
  Saturday afternoon sport includes tennis (the Women’s Singles Final for the Australian Open) on Seven, test cricket on Nine and golf followed by lawn bowls on ABC. 

Sunday: Australia Day is dominated largely by sport – more golf on ABC, more cricket on Nine, and the Men’s Singles Final of the Australian Open on Seven.  ABC presents the Australia Day Address by the Governor-General just before the 7.00pm news.  Sunday night movies are The Fremantle Conspiracy (Seven), City Heat (Nine) and Stealing Heaven (Ten), up against soccer (Australia versus Sweden) on SBS, and ABC’s tribute to conductor, the late Stuart Challender on Sunday Stereo Special.

Monday:  ABC crosses to Minnesota, USA, for live coverage of the NFL XXVI Superbowl, hosted by Don Lane.  Seven’s morning news program Eleven AM returns for the new year, as does ABC’s evening current affairs program The 7.30 Report.

Tuesday:  Beyond 2000 (Seven) returns, with Simon Reeve reporting on Jamaica’s solution to pollution from bauxite mining.  Amanda Keller takes a ride on a turbo swing, and Bryan Smith discovers growing food in space is a tricky business.

Wednesday:  In Home And Away (Seven), Sally’s (Kate Ritchie) first day at high school does not go well. 

tonipearen Thursday:  In E Street (Ten), an anxious neighbourhood awaits news on Toni (Toni Pearen, pictured), who is missing and has found herself trapped in dense bush and tied to her car bumper by serial killer Mr Bad (Vince Martin).

Friday:  Blackout (ABC) looks at the topics of assimilation, adoption and sexual abuse in the Aboriginal community, and how these circumstances have prompted the creation of addictive personalities.

Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  25 January 1992.  Southdown Press

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Playlist revisits the Arcade

arcade_0001 Soap opera historian and TV commentator Andrew Mercado recently paid tribute to Australia’s most famous soapie flop, Arcade, on his Showcase program The Playlist

Featured in the program last week was Arcade cast member, TV Week Gold Logie winner Lorrae Desmond and one of the show’s creators, David Sale, to discuss with Mercado just what went wrong with the show that was hoped to be the ratings hit of the 1980s.

Sale was the creator and writer for the successful drama Number 96 (1972-77) and in 1979 was hired along with Number 96’s former executive producer Bill Harmon and story editor Johnny Whyte to turn the then 0-10 Network’s concept of a shopping centre-themed drama into a prime-time series that could take on ratings heavyweights like Willesee At Seven and The Sullivans.  The team came up with a quirky mix of characters that would run the stores that made up the fictional shopping centre in a series that would feature a broad mix of comedy and drama.

Arcade was rushed into production late in 1979 and debuted across the newly-relaunched Ten Network in a movie-length episode on Sunday night, 20 January 1980, before settling into a regular half-hour timeslot each weeknight with the hope that it would gain a following before the ratings season was due to kick off in February.

lorraedesmondDespite Ten spending a fortune on constructing a mock shopping centre in its main Sydney studio, and hiring a cast featuring veteran performers such as Desmond (pictured, as newsagent proprietor Molly Sparks), Peggy Toppano, Mike Dorsey, Syd Heylen and Aileen Britton, the end result left viewers and critics dumbfounded by some fairly rudimentary storytelling and some stilted performances, including one infamous scene where a young actress is shown to be virtually reading straight from the script.

After copping much criticism and dismal ratings the series, originally heralded by Ten as being “a breath of fresh air”, ended up being removed from the schedule after six weeks – a duration that in today’s terms seems like a lifetime considering its shaky start.

The upside from the experience is that two of the show’s stars, Desmond and Heylen, went from Arcade to long-running roles in the popular series A Country Practice, while some of the show’s younger cast members, such as Jeremy Kewley, Tracy Mann and Christine Harris, went on to have their own career success. 

With only around 30 episodes aired before Ten pulled the plug (and hopefully they’re all still in the archive) and given its legacy of being such a monumental flop, Arcade seems a prime candidate for getting a DVD release so that it can be re-lived in all its bargain basement glory.

The Playlist is an entertaining panel discussion of all things related to television – although at five minutes per episode it is far too brief – and appears every Monday and Friday evening on pay-TV channel Showcase and is repeated the following day.  It can also be viewed online at http://www.theplaylist.com.au.

Source: The Playlist – Arcade of broken dreams

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Prime7 shifts Tamworth news to Canberra

prime7 It’s another nail in the coffin of regional television production with news that Prime7 plans to shift production of Prime7 News’ Tamworth and Taree bulletins to Canberra.

The move, due to happen in April, comes after the centralisation of production of the network’s other newscasts from Orange, Wagga Wagga and Albury to Canberra.

With five newscasts ultimately to be produced from Canberra every weeknight there will be a certain amount of pre-recording of bulletins, meaning that reporters will now have earlier deadlines to get stories prepared for airtime.  But Prime7 chief Doug Edwards told ABC Radio that this would still not impact on the standard of local news reporting and that late breaking news will still get to air.

Mr Edwards said that the move to centralise its news production is to take advantage of digital facilities installed in Canberra and also gives the network scope to adopt new technologies such as mobile apps and online streaming of news stories.  He also said that the three production staff to be made redundant in Tamworth are looking to be redeployed to Canberra.  There is not expected to be any change to news reporting staff in Tamworth, although newsreader Fiona Ferguson will not be making the move to Canberra – with the newsreading role to be taken over by Daniel Gibson, weather presenter for Prime7 who is also newsreader for the Albury bulletin.

nen9_1988 The move out of the Tamworth studios located in Goonoo Goonoo Road will mark the end of almost fifty years of production from the site.  The station opened in April 1965 as local channel NEN9.  The channel later partnered up with Taree station ECN8.

In the late 1980s, NEN9/ECN8 became part of the Prime regional network.  From December 1991, NEN9/ECN8 formed Prime’s move into the expanded Northern NSW/Gold Coast market with aggregation as the Seven Network affiliate.

Last year, Prime changed its on-screen branding to Prime7.

Apart from Prime7 News the only other local television news into the Tamworth-Taree regions are inserts into the Newcastle-based NBN News and brief updates broadcast throughout the day from Southern Cross Ten’s Canberra news room.

Source: ABC, Northern Daily Leader.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

1992: January 18-24

tvweek_180192 Cover: Kevin Costner

Is Jennifer set to quit?
Tonight Live host and producer Steve Vizard has denied rumours that the show’s resident newsreader Jennifer Keyte will not be with the show when it returns for 1992, although he has conceded that she has not renewed her contract with the show.  “I can tell you she’ll be back,” he told TV Week.  And Seven Nightly News reporter Naomi Robson, who has filled in for Keyte on Tonight Live, denies suggestions that she will be Keyte’s replacement on the show.  “I don’t know where these stories come from.  There is no talk about it at the moment,” Robson said.  “Jennifer is well entrenched in both her jobs at Seven.”  Rumours over Keyte’s position have been sparked by her apparent concern that her appearances on the late night show are affecting her credibility as the main news anchor for Seven in Melbourne.  It is believed that she wants to concentrate on what is shaping up to be a fierce battle for early evening ratings this year with the launch of Seven’s new current affairs show, Real Life

jeremysimsanniejones_0001 The naked truth about Jeremy Sims
Chances star Jeremy Sims wants people to know that despite his character Alex’s readiness to strip off (as pictured, with co-star Annie Jones), in real life there is an intelligent head on those often bare shoulders and that he takes his job very seriously.  Sims has no desire to be a “personality” and as a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) wants to be taken seriously as an actor – adding that Chances presents some significant challenges.  “I’ve had to go into scenes after minimal rehearsal and put myself on the line,” he told TV Week.  “This means day in, day out, every week, in what is probably the most dramatic – if over-the-top – role on television.  I’m really grateful for the role of Alex.  It’s the only role I think I’d be happy doing on television in an ongoing soap.  I’m sure there are other guys who are happy doing their bits on Home And Away and E Street, but I would be bored out of my mind doing that stuff.”  Sims also responds to some of the jokes and send-ups made about the show and his frequent bouts of nudity.  “I’m fascinated that people still make such a big issue out of it.  People are puerile on the subject, you know.  Tits and bums are the most amazing subjects.  You can get endless publicity over the fact you show a part of your body on television,” he said.  “Apart from the political satire, Fast Forward is nearly all tits and bums jokes.  It’s all cheap innuendo, yet they can get away with it because they have the facade of being intelligent satire.  It is mostly just puerile, schoolboy humour.  I’m not saying I don’t laugh at it.”

menicaroutas Man of Meni talents!
Hard Copy reporter Meni Caroutas (pictured) will do anything for a story – even if it means crawling through Melbourne’s drains.  On a recent assignment, the policeman-turned-reporter joined the Cave Clan for a trip around a part of the metropolis few ever see.  “When I heard of the Cave Clan I thought it was just a bunch of kids, but they are all about 20 and well organised,” he said.  “They just do it for kicks, a bit of fun.  They get maps of the drains.  It’s all carefully planned.”  As a member of the NSW Police Force, Caroutas was an undercover detective but a set up saw him charged with theft of cash and amphetamines.  Even though he was exonerated and received a settlement, his career with the force was ruined.  Officially he is still a member of the NSW Police Force but is hoping to soon be discharged.  “I’m just a number at the moment,” he said.  “Hopefully all the paperwork will be processed soon.  I don’t consider myself a copper.”

Briefly…
Dinosaurs, a new US co-production between Jim Henson Productions and Walt Disney Television, is set to be Seven’s new weapon against long-running current affairs show 60 Minutes.  Not since The Comedy Company has a rival show managed to consistently knock 60 Minutes in the ratings – although Seven’s ALF and Ten’s The Simpsons had tried – but coupled with popular US sitcom Full House, Seven hopes Dinosaurs is a strong contender against the current affairs ratings giant.

GP star Brian Rooney might not be returning to the popular ABC drama when production resumes this year.  The 18-year-old, currently appearing in the stage production of Wizard Of Oz in Adelaide, will be taking on a leading role in the upcoming production of Neil Simon’s Lost In Yonkers but it is uncertain if he will be able to combine that commitment to production of GP.  “Hopefully, I can do both,” he told TV Week.  “I did that when I was doing Les Miserables and GP.  We might be able to work GP in.”

Former Brides Of Christ star Melissa Thomas is looking forward to making the move from Sydney to Melbourne for her new role as schoolgirl Lily Price in the upcoming Network Ten sitcom Late For School.  The 17-year-old has been the victim of an ongoing campaign of obscene phone calls and intruders at her home.  “It’s been pretty scary stuff,” she said, adding that the new job offer came at just the right time.  “I desperately needed some excuse to get away from Sydney.”  Late For School, which also stars Frankie J. Holden, Sarah Chadwick, Ross Higgins and Matthew Newton, is set to debut soon on Ten.

John Laws says…
”We are in for a heady year, it seems, on the current affairs front.  Even Ten is getting into the act, but I suspect it’s going to be trailing the field in the ratings with Mr Shame (though its much-criticised but entertaining beat-up series, Hard Copy, could well prove a ratings winner throughout 1992).  My prediction is that A Current Affair will maintain its momentum in the long haul, but its control of the important 6.30pm timeslot is no longer guaranteed.  Seven executives and Gerald Stone are, I’m told, supremely confident that their new product, Real Life, can knock off Jana (Wendt) and company.  If nothing else, the battle is going to be brutal and unrelenting.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne/Regional Victoria, January 18-24):
Saturday:
There’s golf (Palm Meadows Cup) and lawn bowls (Qantas Jetabout International) on ABC, tennis (Australian Open) on Seven/Prime and cricket (Benson And Hedges World Series) on Nine/VIC TV.  With the cricket being held in Melbourne, regional network VIC TV has live evening coverage of the cricket, while Nine in Melbourne has a repeat of the 1983 movie BMX Bandits, the movie which launched the career of Nicole Kidman. 

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Thunderball (Seven/Prime) and The Star Chamber (Nine/VIC TV) up against mini-series Bride Of Violence (Ten/SCN), while ABC presents Bruce Beresford’s production of the Richard Strauss opera Elektra for the State Opera of South Australia.

bertnewton_1989 Monday:  Ten launches some major changes to its daytime and early evening line-up.  At 8.30am, Bert Newton (pictured) returns to TV as host of The Morning Show, presenting 90 minutes of entertainment and infomercials.  The new program replaces ‘Til Ten.  Ten also debuts US talk show Sally Jessy Raphael and moves Oprah Winfrey to an afternoon timeslot after a trial run in a late-night timeslot over the last few months.  However the biggest change is late in the afternoon, with the move of Ten Eyewitness News to the 5.00pm timeslot, followed by the debut of current affairs program Hinch at 6.00pm (following Derryn Hinch’s recent axing from the Seven Network).  At 6.30pm is American dating game Studs, followed by Neighbours at 7.00pm.  Regional network SCN breaks away from the Ten schedule in the early evening to run alternative programming: The New Candid Camera at 5.00pm, Neighbours at 5.30pm, Southern Cross News (Bendigo/Gippsland) and Studs (Albury/Shepparton/Ballarat) at 6.00pm, and then at 6.30pm Rob Gaylard (ex-GTV9) presents Southern Cross Eyewitness News, a half-hour bulletin of national news broadcast statewide, followed by a delayed broadcast of Hinch at 7.00pm before re-joining the Ten schedule.  Seven debuts its long-awaited current affairs program Real Life at 6.30pm, and after Home And Away presents the series return of A Country Practice.  Then in the wee small hours of the morning, at 4.00am, Ten resumes repeats of classic Australian drama Prisoner.

Tuesday:  After the late news, Ten/SCN debuts the new US drama series Dangerous Women, a production of the Australian Grundy organisation largely based on its former series Prisoner, with scripts and storylines in early episodes almost directly copied from the Australian original.

atownlikealice Thursday:  Seven/Prime starts a repeat of the popular 1981 mini-series A Town Like Alice, starring Bryan Brown, Helen Morse (both pictured) and Gordon Jackson.

Friday:  In the lead up to Australia Day, ABC presents the first of two nights of The Aussie Picture Show – a collection of films representing Australian life over the past 80 years.  Tonight’s line-up of films include Leisure, the 1977 Academy Award-winning animation depicting the world of work and leisure through history; Bingo, Bridesmaids And Braces, tracing the lives of three working-class women as they grow up over a 12-year period; This Is The ABC, a 20-minute review of the operations of the ABC in the 1950s; and the 1979 telemovie A Good Thing Going, starring Chris Haywood and Veronica Lang.

Source: TV Week (Victoria Country edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  18 January 1992.  Southdown Press

Sunday, 15 January 2012

NBC Today at 60

today_nbc On Friday, the American NBC network's Today show celebrated 60 years of broadcasting. It is the longest-running morning television program in the world. Today began on 14 January 1952, hosted by Dave Garroway with newsreader Jim Fleming and panellist Jack Lescoulie.   The concept was created by NBC vice-president Sylvester (Pat) Weaver (father of Hollywood actress Sigourney Weaver).

The program celebrated its 60th anniversary with current day hosts Matt Lauer and Ann Curry joined by a reunion of former Today presenters and newsreaders, including Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley, Deborah Norville, Katie Couric, Willard Scott and John Palmer, while various national landmarks were emblazoned in the Today logo colours.

Since March 1985, NBC’s Today has been beamed to Australian screens.  Hosted at that stage by Gumbel and Pauley, Today was the flagship of the Seven Network's News Overnight, starting every weeknight at midnight. As well as Today, News Overnight included newscasts and current affairs programs from the NBC and CNN networks.

While the News Overnight programming block was soon disbanded, Today (not to be confused with the Australian version of Today on Nine) continues as part of Seven’s overnight schedule – currently screening in an edited version at 4.00am on Tuesday to Saturday mornings, with the Sunday edition and NBC’s Meet The Press airing early on Monday morning.  

NBC’s Today is also screened weekday mornings from 9.00am on the digital 7mate channel.

Source: Wikipedia, Today

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Aussie TV classics on 7TWO – including an ABC favourite

tvtimes_youngramsay Although the Seven Network’s digital channel 7TWO tends to feature a line-up heavy in classic British fare of drama, comedy and lifestyle shows, the channel manages to squeeze in some classic Australian content.

With its coverage of the minor tennis tournaments now out of the way – and the Australian Open about to start on the main Seven channel – 7TWO from Monday will resume screening classic soap Sons And Daughters and early episodes of Home And Away in their morning timeslots.

From Monday afternoon, 16 January, 7TWO will also roll-out two more vintage classics.  Young Ramsay, a family drama that ran from 1977 to 1980 starring John Hargreaves (pictured with co-star Barbara Llewellyn) as a country vet, and Five Mile Creek, a period drama set in the early gold rush days of Australia that featured Liz Burch, Gus Mercurio, Michael Caton and a young Nicole Kidman.

Although Young Ramsay is being played out from episode one, Five Mile Creek is being resumed from season three as it had a brief run of episodes on 7TWO last month.

Both dramas were originally screened on Seven and produced by Crawford Productions, though Five Mile Creek was a co-production with the American Disney Channel in the early-‘80s and gained a loyal following in the US.

tvweek_260699 From Friday, 20 January, 7TWO begins a re-run of one of the most popular dramas to come from the ABCSeachange.

Seachange told the story of city lawyer Laura Gibson (Sigrid Thornton) who after a string of personal crises adopts a change of lifestyle and moves her family to the fictional seaside town of Pearl Bay, hoping for a more peaceful and less dramatic existence as a local magistrate but finding herself immersed in a town of somewhat eccentric characters.

Although Thornton played the central character in Seachange, the series featured a strong supporting cast of veteran performers and new talent, including John Howard, Kerry Armstrong, David Wenham (pictured with Thornton), William McInnes, Jill Forster, Kevin Harrington, Fiona Corke, Tom Long, Alan Cassell, Shaun Micallef and Mark Mitchell.

The series, produced by Artist Services (best known for producing Fast Forward), delivered high ratings for ABC in the competitive 7.30pm Sunday timeslot and its popularity led to the initial batch of thirteen episodes in 1998 being followed by another in 1999 and a third in 2000. 

Over its three-year run Seachange collected nine TV Week Logies – including three for Most Outstanding Drama Series – and three AFI awards.

The series has been repeated on a number of occasions on ABC but this is its first airing on a commercial channel.

Other ABC titles to have featured on 7TWO since its inception are Mother And Son and Barry Humphries’ Flashbacks.

Young Ramsay and Five Mile Creek, weekdays from 12.00pm, starting 16 January.  Seachange, Fridays 7.30pm, starting 20 January.  7TWO.

Source: Five Mile Creek, Seachange, Australian Television Information Archive

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

1992: January 11-17

tvweek_110192 There’s nothing psycho about this shower scene
E Street star Kate Raison shares her thoughts on the steamy closed-set shower scene that marks a turning point in the relationship of her character Sheridan Sturgess to Wheels (Marcus Graham).  Although Raison describes the steamy scene as not so much raunchy but “more your first kiss”, it is apparent that the scene – which lasts for two minutes – is a lot more than that.  But she points out that in reality neither actor was nude for filming of the scene and that it was nowhere near as romantic as the end product appears.  “I don’t want to take the romance out of it for people, but it’s not romantic at all,” she told TV Week.  “It’s very technical and difficult to film.  We had two cameras and we were trying to pivot in a baby’s bath… it took about three or four hours to film.  It’s one of the worst things you could ever imagine.  They were very difficult scenes to create and it’s a very technical thing in the end.  Hopefully, it will look romantic to the audience.  We want to make it look, and be, as real for the audience as possible.”

andrewfyfe Luck of the draw!
Although he has appeared in commercials and occasionally gets caught on camera on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, the show’s resident cartoonist Andrew Fyfe is about to take on a new challenge as he faces the cameras in the new children’s show, Guess What?  Despite the challenge of a prominent role in a new show, Fyfe – who also produced the former Ossie Ostrich cartoon strip in TV Week and had been a cartoonist for satirical magazine Mad – has a positive outlook.  “The first thing I like about this is that it’s great fun.  The second thing I like is that it’s great fun.  And thirdly, I like it because it’s great fun,” he said.  Guess What?, which also stars Alison Brahe (recently Mrs Cameron Daddo), is being taped in Adelaide and debuts on Nine in February.

logies1992 Red-hot for Silver!
TV Week
takes a look at who could be strong contenders for this year’s Silver Logies for most popular actor and actress at the TV Week Logie AwardsNeighbours stars Mark Little, Richard Huggett, Gayle and Gillian Blakeney and Melissa Bell are listed as potential nominees – while E Street also boasts a strong field, including Tony Martin, Marcus Graham, Kate Raison, Bruce Samazan, Alyssa-Jane Cook, Toni Pearen and Melissa TkautzHome And Away has popular cast members including Les Hill, Rebekah Elmaloglou, Mat Stevenson, Nicolle Dickson and Emily SymonsA Country Practice’s Georgie Parker and Shane Porteous have both won Silver Logies in the past and may do so again this year, but TV Week reminds readers not to underestimate other favourites such as John Tarrant, Matt Day and Joyce Jacobs.  Former The Flying Doctors star Rebecca Gibney now has new fans with her role in All Together Now, and Col’n Carpenter stars Kim Gyngell and Anne Phelan and Hey Dad!’s Julie McGregor are also listed as potential contenders.  TV Week also reminds readers of cast members of other series Chances, GP, Embassy, Police Rescue and The Flying Doctors that could also be worthy of votes.

Briefly…
Home And Away star Rebekah Elmaloglou talks about her teenage character Sophie coping with falling pregnant – and with the baby’s father David (Guy Pearce) now dead, she fears that she will lose custody of the child to her parents.  “Sophie’s got no husband or boyfriend, no money and not a happy future,” she told TV Week.  “Sophie starts to think that the only way she is going to be able to keep David’s child is by running away.  Her hormones are clouding her better judgment.”

joanmcinnes It was a lavish event on the grounds of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Kirribilli as former ‘Til Ten host Joan McInnes married Sir James Hardy just before Christmas.  The wedding was attended by many TV and showbiz identities, including Midday’s Ray Martin and Geoff Harvey and Wheel Of Fortune hostess Adriana Xenides

Home And Away star Dee Smart’s recent outburst in TV Week about how unhappy she is about being in the show has caused quite a stir at Seven.  The network is now believed to be trying to release her from her contract to appease her, but this is proving difficult with planned storylines for the show written well in advance – so she may be in Summer Bay still for some time yet.

Lawrie Masterson’s Sound Off
”It is inevitable that Australia – already overserviced by television networks, in my opinion – will now get a Pay TV system.  How it is implemented, the number of licences to be granted and who gets them, and some guidelines on content, are among the contentious issues still to be ironed out.”

John Laws says…
”What is it about A Current Affair that grabs the imagination of the nation?  In my view it’s because the program has become the evening newspaper that modern Australians don’t buy any more.  Combine 30 minutes of news and 30 minutes of A Current Affair and you have all the elements of what evening newspapers used to be about.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne/Regional Victoria, January 11-17):
Saturday:
Summer sport continues with tennis (NSW Open and the Rio International Challenge) on Seven/Prime, golf (Sanctuary Cove Classic) on ABC and cricket (Benson And Hedges World Series Cricket) on Nine/VIC TV.

Sunday:  Sunday night movies are Inspector Morse: The Ghost In The Machine (Seven/Prime) and Buster (Ten/SCN), while Nine/VIC TV presents the first instalment in the re-run of mini-series Ellis Island.

Monday:  The Australian Open, the premier Australian tennis event of the year, begins its two-week competition today at Melbourne’s National Tennis Centre – with live coverage throughout the day and evening on Seven and Prime.  Nine/VIC TV begins a daytime re-run of the landmark 1970s US mini-series Roots.

TuesdayAustralian Open on Seven/Prime and World Series Cricket on Nine/VIC TV are the only real highlights today, with both events taking up most of the afternoon and evening timeslots.

Wednesday:  E Street (Ten/SCN) returns for its fourth year.  Wheels (Marcus Graham) moves in with Sheridan (Kate Raison) to protect her from serial killer Steven “Mr Bad” Richardson (Vince Martin), but it doesn’t take long for their attraction for each other to become apparent.

Thursday:  ABC begins four days of coverage of golf with the Palm Meadows Cup, live from the Gold Coast.

Source: TV Week (Victoria Country edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  11 January 1992.  Southdown Press

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Kerri-Anne dances across to Seven

kerriannekennerley_0001 Just weeks after hosting her final Kerri-Anne show on the Nine Network, Kerri-Anne Kennerley has now departed the network despite previous reports she was staying on board for “future projects”.

It ends a nine-year association with Nine as host of Kerri-Anne (previously Mornings With Kerri-Anne) although her history with the network goes back way further – as host of Midday and brief stint as co-host of What’s Cooking in the 1990s, and in the 1960s was a presenter on Everybody In at Brisbane channel QTQ9.  She was also a regular performer on Nine’s The Mike Walsh Show.

The future of the Kerri-Anne show was subject to a lot of speculation during 2011 as it was being soundly beaten in the ratings by Seven’s The Morning Show, and towards the end of the year she was on leave for several weeks while guest presenters filled in.  Kennerley later said in a radio interview that the first she knew of her axing from the show was from a newspaper article.

The irony in her departure from Nine is that she appears to be heading to Seven as a contestant in the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars, the show whose co-host Sonia Kruger has just severed ties with Seven – after more than a decade – to take Kennerley’s place at Nine.

Kruger is set to co-host Nine’s revival of the Mornings brand (with singer David Campbell) as well as the network’s upcoming return of former reality giant Big Brother.

Apart from Dancing With The Stars it is not known if Seven might have other plans in mind for Kennerley but they have been known to use the show as a vehicle for cross-network promotion, and DWTS would provide a strong platform to promote any new Kennerley venture.

Source: news.com.au, news.com.au

Obituary: Carl Bleazby

carlbleazby Actor Carl Bleazby, best known from the long-running ABC series Bellbird, died late last month at the age of 95.

Born in Melbourne in 1916, Bleazby was a radio announcer and actor at Melbourne station 3XY when he enlisted at the break out of World War II in 1939.  He served with the AIF in the Middle East for two-and-a-half years and rose to the rank of captain, but when his radio background was discovered he was transferred to broadcasting duties for the AIF at Radio Jerusalem.

In 1945 he returned to 3XY and furthered his acting career, leading to roles in early TV drama productions including Seagulls Over Sorrento, Consider Your Verdict and Homicide.  In 1967 he was cast as Col. Jim Emerson in ABC’s Bellbird.  It was his first ongoing TV role, but it was a series that he didn’t give much of a chance.  “I gave it about three months,” he told TV Times in 1974.  “It was surprising to me at the time that it took off the way it did but it has developed a lot since then.  I think the very ordinariness of the people helped viewers identify with them and helped its early success.”

Despite the ongoing commitment to Bellbird, production breaks allowed him to make guest appearances in other dramas such as Ryan, Hunter, Matlock Police, The Long Arm, Division 4 and Power Without Glory.

After Bellbird wound up in 1977, he made guest appearances in Skyways, Sons And Daughters, Prisoner, The Flying Doctors and Home And Away.  He also starred in films Country Town (the movie spin-off from Bellbird) and Annie’s Coming Out.

Carl Bleazby died peacefully in a nursing home in Killara, NSW.

Source: TV Times, 18 March 1972.  TV Times, 23 February 1974.  IMDBRadio HeritageTV Tonight.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Rage goes retro in January

BeOurGuest For years now it’s been an annual tradition – when ABC1’s Rage goes into retro mode during the month of January.

Every year Rage digs through the archive to bring viewers a mix of retro hits and repeats of classic ABC shows.  In previous years the retro playlists predominantly featured old Countdown and Rock Arena footage and episodes but these days features a slightly broader mix of shows, interviews and performances from the vaults.

This weekend the retro hits kick off at 10.00am today (Saturday) with an hour of classic hits – but this only acts as the warm up to tonight, starting at 11.30pm, when the Rage playlist (below) includes video clips and studio performances of 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s hits and interviews with stars of the era, including footage from classic shows Hit Scene, GTK, Be Our Guest (which featured regular cast members Jack Allan, Jacki Weaver, Sean Scully, Lorraine Bayly and Gordon Glenwright, pictured) and This Day Tonight (TDT).

Saturday 7 January:
11:30pm
THE EASYBEATS Wedding Ring (EMI)
NILSSON Everybody's Talkin' (Independent)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND Sweet Jane (Warner)
TDT: TEENAGE ACTIVITIES/DISCOTHEQUE April 3rd, 1967 (ABC)

Sunday 8 January:
12:00am
PYTHON LEE JACKSON - Live on Be Our Guest, 1966 I Idolise You (Independent)
HIT SCENE (host Dick Williams, pictured below) May 24th, 1969 (Rage)

12:30am
HIT SCENE May 31st, 1969 (Rage)

1:00am
ALLUSIONS, THE - Live on Be Our Guest, 1966 The Dancer (Independent)
ALLUSIONS, THE - Live on Be Our Guest, 1966 Gypsy Woman (Independent)
FUSIONS Tully - Live on Fusions, July, 1969 (Rage)

1:30am
APPROXIMATELY PANTHER Documentary on youth culture, 1967 (Rage)

2:00am
BLACK DIAMONDS, THE - Live on Be Our Guest, 1966 See The Way (ABC)
BLACK DIAMONDS, THE - Live on Be Our Guest, 1966 I Want, Need, Love You (ABC)
HIT SCENE July 12th, 1969 (Rage)

2:30am
GTK Frank Zappa Rehearsing at the Hordern Pavillion (ABC)
HIT SCENE July 26th, 1969 (Rage)

dickwilliams 3:00am
HIT SCENE August 2nd, 1969 (Rage)

3:30am
GTK Interview with Ravi Shankar (ABC)
HIT SCENE August 16th, 1969 (Rage)

4:00am
LITTLE RICHARD Operator (Warner)
THE TEMPTATIONS All I Want From You (Motown)
MARVIN GAYE Can I Get A Witness (EMI)
MARVIN GAYE Sexual Healing (Sony)
HIT SCENE November 8th, 1969 (Rage)

4:30am
RICHARD WRIGHT GROUP - Live on Be Our Guest Miss Hargreaves (ABC)
RICHARD WRIGHT GROUP - Live on Be Our Guest No No No No (ABC)
HIT SCENE December 20th, 1969 (Rage)

5:00am
ATLANTICS, THE - Live on Be Our Guest It's A Hard Life (ABC)
ATLANTICS, THE - Live on Be Our Guest Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do (ABC)

5:30am
GTK Renee Geyer Interview & Performance (ABC)
SANDY EDMONDS - Live on Be Our Guest Sunny (ABC)
JULIE DRISCOLL & THE TRINITY Indian Rope Man (Polydor)
THIS DAY TONIGHT: DANCING August 19th, 1977 (ABC)
NEWS EXCERPT - October 1st, 1978 Babe's Disco (ABC)
IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS Reasons To Be Cheerful (Festival)

rage6:00am
THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER Twilight Zone (Atlantic)
PORTSMOUTH SINFONIA Classical Muddly (Festival)
TED MULRY GANG Jamaica Rum (Independent)
NOOSHA FOX The Heat Is On (Chrysalis)
TELEX Rock Around The Clock (BMG)
DONNA SUMMER This Time I Know It's For Real (Warner)
SYLVESTER Mighty Real (Festival)
THE POINTER SISTERS I'm So Excited (BMG)

Rage Goes Retro continues every Saturday night (late night through to 6.30am Sunday) during January on ABC1.

Source: Rage

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Crawfords classics on DVD

flyingdoctorsOver the last few years a selection of classic Crawford Productions series – including Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police, Skyways, Carson’s Law and Holiday Island – have been screened in late-night timeslots on regional network WIN, which has owned the Crawfords business since the late 1980s.

Recently, Crawfords Australia (as it is now) have started to release episodes of other series on DVD.

The Flying Doctors, based on a fictional adaptation of the real-life Royal Flying Doctor Service, began as a mini-series on the Nine Network in 1985 – with a cast led by Andrew McFarlane (The Sullivans) and US actress Lorna Patterson – and its popularity led to production of an ongoing weekly series from 1986 with a mix of cast members from the original mini-series and the addition of new characters to sustain an ongoing production.  (Among those joining McFarlane in the ongoing series were Liz Burch and Rebecca Gibney, pictured above)

The series gave the Nine Network one of its few drama successes in the '80s, among a string of failures such as Starting Out, Taurus Rising, Waterloo Station, Possession, Prime Time, All The Way and Kings. 

The Flying Doctors was a success in Australia and overseas and ran until 1992.  The series was relaunched as RFDS in 1993.  RFDS, which featured few of the Flying Doctors cast and shifted the focus of the show from the fictional town of Coopers Crossing to the real-life town of Broken Hill, failed to catch on with viewers and was not extended beyond its first series.

Crawfords Australia have recently released a DVD box set featuring 234 episodes of the series.  The Crawfords website does not mention if this also includes the initial 1985 mini-series and/or the RFDS spin-off.

The 48-disc box set is certainly one of the largest DVD releases in Australia but is still a far cry from the long-running Australian series Prisoner which has just had all 692 episodes re-released in a 174-disc set – believed to be the largest DVD release in the world.

thesullivans And another Crawfords series is also getting a new life on DVD.  The Sullivans was the highly-acclaimed series depicting the life of a Melbourne family during the time of World War II.  The series debuted on the Nine Network in November 1976 and was an immediate success.  The Sullivan family was led by Dave (Paul Cronin, formerly from previous Crawford dramas Matlock Police and Solo One) and Grace (Lorraine Bayly) with daughter Kitty (Susan Hannaford) and sons John (Andrew McFarlane), Terry (Richard Morgan) and Tom (Steven Tandy).  The Sullivans was a hit in Australia, winning a swag of awards, and sold to 20 countries.  Even though World War II ended in the series in 1981 the show continued to depict life in post-War Melbourne. 

Bayly had left the series in 1979 but production of The Sullivans wound up after Cronin decided to leave in 1982.  After 1114 episodes The Sullivans came to an emotional end on screen in early 1983.

To coincide with the 35th anniversary of the show’s debut Crawfords Australia released the first 50 episodes of The Sullivans on DVD before Christmas and are planning to release the next 50 episodes this year.

Both The Flying Doctors and The Sullivans DVDs are available via the Crawfords Australia website.

1992: January 4-10

tvweek_040192 Goodbye E Street
Alyssa-Jane Cook
(pictured) says that now is the best time to leave E Street after the string of tragedies that have struck her character, Lisa Bennett.  “After everything the character has been through she definitely needs a break, so she heads to Queensland to contemplate life,” Cook told TV Week.  “But I think I’ve been there three years and I just think it is time to have a look around and see what else is happening, and to look at my life and decide which way I want to go next.”  Although Cook describes her character’s departure from the series as “scary, thrilling, hot and cold”, she is not ruling out a return at a later date.  “If Lisa Bennett comes back, let’s hope she smiles a lot more,” she said.

mauriefieldsvaljellay Coopers Crossing crisis!
Despite the show going into an extended “production break” two months ago, the Nine Network has given the go-ahead for thirteen more episodes of The Flying Doctors – but six of the show’s cast will not be returning.  Robert Grubb, who plays Dr Geoffrey Standish, is unavailable to do the new episodes, while co-stars Lenore Smith, David Reyne, Nikki Coghill, Paul Kelman and Chris Stollery have reportedly been axed.  Producers have confirmed that Sophie Lee and showbiz favourites Maurie Fields and Val Jellay (pictured) will be staying.  With the current backlog of episodes set to resume broadcast in February, production on the new series is due to start in March and the new episodes should screen by the end of the year.

Ian’s the prime suspect
Cluedo, a new game show based on the popular board game, is set to begin production for the Nine Network next month.  The hour-long show will be hosted by Ian McFadyen (The Comedy Company) and will have a regular cast who will play various roles in a murder mystery.  At the end of the episode, members of the studio audience – each equipped with computer-linked electronic selectors – will be asked to nominate who the murderer is, how he or she did the crime, and where.  The first to guess all criteria correctly wins the prize.  Cluedo is being produced by Crawfords Australia and will debut on Nine later in the year.

logies1992 Briefly…
TV Week has opened voting for the 34th annual TV Week Logie Awards, to be held at the Radisson President Hotel, Melbourne, in March and telecast via the Seven Network.  As well as the Gold and Silver Logie categories – for most popular personality and most popular actor/actress respectively – TV Week readers will be asked to vote for their favourite drama series, mini-series or telemovie, light entertainment/comedy program, public affairs program, lifestyle program, sports coverage, music video and children’s program.  Other categories open to the public vote are Most Popular Actor and Actress in a Telemovie or Mini-series, Most Popular New Talent as well as state-based awards for Most Popular Personality and Most Popular Program.

debbiehancock Former Young Talent Time cast member Debbie Hancock (pictured with YTT host Johnny Young back in the ‘70s) made a recent return to television as a contestant on Network Ten’s Blind Date, and since returning from the trip to Italy that she won with her date Mike Neat, the couple have announced their engagement.  “I never expected to find a man on Blind Date,” she told TV Week.  “Having had failed relationships, this is fairytale stuff.”

Network Ten drama Neighbours makes an early season return for 1992 – with Glen Donnelly (Richard Huggett) taken to hospital in a coma following a fall from a building site in the 1991 season cliff-hanger.  Glen wakes to learn he is paralysed from the waist down.  The storyline will lead to Huggett’s exit from the series, making his last appearance on screen in February.  “I am glad I left with something dramatic rather than just wandering out,” he told TV Week.

John Laws says…
”Does the title of Gerald Stone’s new current affairs show on the Seven Network (Real Life) imply that until now we have been experiencing something less than actual reality?  But let’s not be unkind to Gerald.  It’s quite a task to promote a new current affairs program these days – and promote it in such a way that the viewing public ends up believing it’s going to be something completely different.  But where will Real Life fit into the scheme of things, and just how different will it be?  If you look closely at the advance trumpeting you could be excused for thinking that, well, isn’t it all just a teeny-weeny bit A Current Affair-ish?

Program Highlights (Melbourne/Regional Victoria, January 4-10):
Saturday:
  Seven (and regional affiliate Prime) has more tennis with the semi-finals of the Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championships, live from Brisbane, in the afternoon, and the Australian Men’s Hardcourt Championships, live from Adelaide, in the evening.  Nine (and regional VIC TV) crosses to Sydney for Test Cricket – the Third Test between Australia and India. 

Sunday:  Seven/Prime cover the final of the Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championships in the afternoon, and the final of the Men’s competition in the evening.  Nine/VIC TV has more Test Cricket from the SCG.  After Seven Nightly News, Seven/Prime debuts children’s drama Clowning Around – the story of a boy who fulfils his dreams against all odds – starring Noni Hazlehurst, Ernie Dingo, Rebecca Smart and Clayton Williamson.  Sunday night movies are Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (Nine/VIC TV) and Baywatch: The Trophy (Ten and regional Southern Cross Network).

Monday:  Aussie soaps Home And Away (Seven/Prime) and Neighbours (Ten/SCN) return for 1992 – now both screening against each other in the 7.00pm timeslot.

annecharleston Tuesday:  The summer of tennis continues on Seven/Prime with the NSW Open, live from White City, Sydney.  In Neighbours (Ten/SCN), Madge (Anne Charleston, pictured) learns that she is to receive a $250,000 payment from her late husband Harold’s (Ian Smith) life insurance policy.

Wednesday:  Marcia Hines, Simon Gallaher and Tina Arena are among 25 performers at the Australian AIDS Benefit Concert, screening on ABC, introduced by Ita Buttrose and hosted by Jean Kittson (The Big Gig).

Thursday: Nine presents limited live coverage in Melbourne of the Benson And Hedges World Series Cricket, due to the match being held at the MCG, with only two hours in the afternoon and a highlights package from 11.30pm.  Regional network VIC TV presents live coverage of the full day’s play.

Friday:  In Blackout (ABC), Aboriginal singer and songwriter Archie Roach talks about his life and his forced removal from his family for assimilation into white society. 

Source: TV Week (Victoria Country edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  4 January 1992.  Southdown Press