Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sydney exhibition showcases Rage

rage_0001The commemorate this year’s 25th anniversary of ABC1’s Rage, Sydney’s Carriageworks will be hosting an exhibition as part of the Vivid Sydney festival.

The exhibition will consist of 100 television sets each screening a playlist of the 750 of the best video clips from the Rage archive – a total of around 50 hours of material – as a visual representation of the changes in audio and video technology and to reflect Rage’s influence in music trends over the last 25 years.

Headphones will be made available to enable visitors to hear segments of interest.  Visitors will also be able to choose from an array of footage including highlights from Rage guest hosts such as Nick Cave, You Am I, Blondie, Radiohead, Kylie Minogue, Silverchair, MGMT, Metallica, Sonic Youth, Grandmaster Flash, Michael Hutchence, MIA, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck, Malcolm McLaren and many more.

Rage – Celebrating 25 Years will be on display in the foyer of Carriageworks at 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh NSW, from 6 June to 17 June.  Entry is free.

Source: ABC. Carriageworks. Vivid Sydney

1992: May 31-June 6

tvweek_300592Shaping up for motherhood!
Teenage star Rebekah Elmaloglou (pictured) was determined that her on-screen pregnancy in Home And Away would look as real as possible.  For almost nine months she wore bodysuits of various shapes and sizes as her character Sophie’s pregnancy progressed.  “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” she told TV Week.  “However, I haven’t felt very attractive – just fat and large.  But it was comfortable and looked quite real, so I got into the role with ease.  As Sophie got bigger, I had to make it look as though her situation was very awkward and extremely uncomfortable.” 

michelleferretMichelle ‘fesses up!
Fast Forward’s street-wise couple Michelle (Magda Szubanski) and Ferret (Alan Pentland) give TV Week a few pointers on life on the streets.  “Well, firsta all, if youse lag on someone, ya dob ‘em in, ya become a dog,” Michelle says while the normally mute Ferret nods in agreement.  "And then rollin’ someone is muggin’ em, nod the head is pleadin’ guilty and ‘fess up is confess to the coppers on tape.”  Michelle also says that to look good is important.  “The jeans have to look like you’ve been born in ‘em and the hickeys are a fashion accessory, but more than two is in bad taste,” she says. 

Will Mike stop the clock?
60 Minutes reporter Mike Munro talks to TV Week about his plans to spend more time with the family and less time travelling the globe filing reports for the program.  “Things will definitely come to a head over the next couple of years,” he said.  “I’ve got two priorities in life – my family and 60 Minutes, in that order.  I’m happy at the moment, but eventually I will have to start spending a lot more time with the family.  I could even qualify as a house husband!  I’m pretty domesticated, a good cook, and I clean and iron and do all those sorts of things.”

brucemcavaneyOn their blocks!
When the Seven Network successfully bid $40 million for the Australian television rights for the Barcelona Olympic Games, many high-profile media personalities from other networks fought for a place on Seven’s team.  One of those was Bruce McAvaney (pictured), who was unhappy at the financially-ailing Ten Network and saw the Games as a great reason to change camps.  Fortunately for him Seven agreed, but not everyone was successful in getting a spot on Seven’s team.  “We had calls from some extraordinary people,” Seven’s director of sport Gary Fenton told TV Week.  “I’m talking about technical and on-air people.  A lot wanted to be part of this were not considered good enough to be involved.”  The Seven Network is sending a team of 154 to Barcelona, including commentators and technical personnel – putting together what Seven claims is the largest offshore broadcast in the history of Australian TV.  However, Seven’s investment is minuscule when compared to the US network giant NBC which paid $401 million for the broadcast rights and is sending over a team of 3000.  Seven’s coverage will be fronted by McAvaney and Garry Wilkinson, while specialist commentators will include Ron Casey (boxing), John Bertrand (yachting), John Alexander (tennis), Neil Brooks (swimming) and Lindsay Gaze (basketball).  Seven’s on-air team for the Games also includes Sandy Roberts, Peter Landy, Drew Morphett, Peter Mitchell, Pat Welsh, Cameron Williams, Lisa Curry-Kenny, Dennis Cometti, Max Stevens, Edwina Gatenby, Ian Hyslop, Duncan Armstrong, Alexis Hamilton-Smith, Cathy Freeman, Steve Moneghetti, Andrew Gaze, Lisa Forrest, Peter Meares and Kim Watkins.  The Barcelona Olympic Games launch with the opening ceremony on 25 July.

Briefly…
The hot tip going around the industry is that A Current Affair host, TV Week Gold Logie winner Jana Wendt is keen to step away from the program and spend more time with her young son, Daniel.  She is also believed to be considering returning to university to do extra studies.  Midday host Ray Martin is tipped to take over Wendt’s role on A Current Affair with John Mangos taking over Martin’s spot on Midday.

eddiemcguire_0001Network Ten sports reporter Eddie McGuire (pictured) is confirmed as part of the line-up for new Melbourne radio station 3EE which is due to launch at the end of June.  McGuire will be hosting a Saturday morning show on the new station which fills the gap left by the closure of 3XY in September last year.

Former Home And Away star Julian McMahon has turned down a guest role in E Street. The former model is about to head off to the US, but E Street producers are still keen to pursue him for other roles in the future.

whatscookingWhat’s Cooking co-host Colette Mann says that since the show launched a year ago she’s constantly being approached by the public when shopping.  “People will come up to me and say, ‘Shouldn’t you be somewhere else?’, meaning on TV,” she said.  “You want to scream at them, ‘No, the show’s taped!’.  Or they go, ‘What’s cooking, Colette?’, and they think they’re the first person in the world to think of it.  But I must say I’ve never had a bad reaction from people about the show.”  And when asked about her co-star, French-born chef Gabriel Gate, she says their unlikely on-screen partnership has benefited both of them.  “My cooking has improved a lot and his television has improved a lot!”

letthebloodrunfreeLet The Blood Run Free, the off-beat hospital comedy from the producers of The Comedy Company and featuring Jean Kittson and Peter Rowsthorn (pictured), is coming back for a second series.  Production is to resume at the Network Ten studios in Melbourne, although the network has yet to make a commitment to programming the series.  The first series, produced in 1990, was sold to 12 countries and was a hit in Germany and the Netherlands.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”The American sitcom Cheers has a chequered history in this country.  From memory, it started life here on Network Ten and was pushed around various timeslots until – like other US sitcoms such as Roseanne and Married… With Children – someone at Ten placed it in someone else’s too hard basket.  Since it became Nine Network property two or three years ago, Cheers has enjoyed increased success, while never setting the globe ablaze and while still having to cope with some buffeting around the program schedule.  In the US, of course, it’s been a different story.  The NBC sitcom regularly finishes in the five top-rating shows on the year and the nondescript little bar on Beacon Street in Boston, where the show is set, has become a national landmark.  After making its US debut in 1982 at a lowly number 77 in the ratings, Cheers climbed steadily until – by the time it celebrated its 200th episode about 18 months ago – it was number one.  Better late than never, the Nine Network will screen the special hour-long celebration episode this week.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne: May 31-June 6):
Sunday:
  Seven crosses to Football Park, Adelaide, for live coverage of the afternoon AFL match between Adelaide Crows and North Melbourne.  Sunday night movies are Road House (Seven), I Love You To Death (Nine) and Aliens (Ten).

Monday:  Martin Jacobs, Geraldine Turner and Ben Oxenbould star in That Man’s Father, the final instalment of SBS’ Six Pack drama series.  In A Country Practice (Seven), Sergeant Newman (Jon Concannon) suspects young James Hutton (Ari Mattes) is a victim of incest.

lochiedaddoTuesday:  In All Together Now (Nine), Marcus (Lochie Daddo, pictured) a school friend of Thomas’ (Steven Jacobs) falls for Tracy (Rebecca Gibney).  In Chances (Nine), Sean Becker (Stephen Whittaker), an old friend of Alex’s (Jeremy Sims) arrives at the agency and sets his sights on Angela (Patsy Stephen).

Wednesday:   In Neighbours (Ten), Madge (Anne Charleston) makes a decision about Lou’s (Tom Oliver) marriage proposal.  Nine crosses to the Sydney Football Stadium for live coverage of the Rugby League State Of Origin match between NSW and Queensland.

Thursday:  Seven presents a one-hour special, Barcelona With Steve Vizard, exploring life in Barcelona today and its cultural history in the lead up to the city hosting the Olympic Games.  In Embassy (ABC), Terry Blake (Frankie J. Holden) applies for a promotion to a job in Canberra.

Friday:  Following Andrew Denton: Live And Sweaty, ABC presents the debut of a British game show with a difference – Sticky Moments With Julian Clary.

Saturday:  Network Ten launches a new children’s program, The Shorn Sheep Show, featuring Joy Smithers, a former MTV co-host and actress in the acclaimed mini-series Bangkok Hilton.  SBS current affairs program Dateline presents a special report to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Six-Day War, with Mike Carey reporting from Egypt, Israel and Jordan.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  30 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

1992: May 24-30

tvweek_230592Cover: Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown)

Living in the Seventies
Despite the Seventies being the era of ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’, All Together Now star Jon English confesses that he can look back on that era without too much embarrassment, insisting that he never played up to the image of a high-profile actor-singer during that period.  “I was never into that sex and drugs thing, to tell you the truth,” he told TV Week.  “In the bulk of the Seventies I was appearing in the theatre eight times a week (in Jesus Christ Superstar).  I watched everything in that era from the edge of the stage.”  Meanwhile English’s co-star Rebecca Gibney admits that as a teenager in the that era (“14 trying to be 25”, she said) she was a big fan of the rock performer.  “I wrote to Jon once but he never replied,” she said.  “I loved his music, had his albums and went to his concerts.”  The Nine Network sitcom has adopted a retro theme for this week’s episode as the show’s characters stage a Seventies-style “sit-in” while re-living the Woodstock era.

sofieformicaLong-distance romance?
They might be rivals in children’s television and working in different cities, but Melbourne-based Saturday At Rick’s co-host Lochie Daddo and Brisbane-based Saturday Disney’s Sofie Formica (pictured) are denying reports that they are romantically linked.  “Just good friends,” Daddo told TV Week.  “I ended up doing a pilot for an afternoon show in Brisbane for Ten.  We went out for dinner one night.  It was like a blind date.  The next four or five weeks, for some reason or another, I was up there nearly every weekend for work.  So I saw a lot of Sofie.  We are still very good friends.”  Daddo has recently joined Saturday At Rick’s following his first professional acting role in an episode of All Together Now.  “As a result of All Together Now, I was a guest on Rick’s,” he said.  “Then they said, ‘Do you want to do the show?’.“  Meanwhile, Formica has recently returned from Turkey where she was an Australian delegate at the European Broadcasting Union’s international workshop for children’s television presenters, and has since started a new role as host of Seven’s children’s quiz show Now You See It.

effie_0002The hair of the wog!
Acropolis Now’s self-styled beauty queen Effie (Mary Coustas, pictured near right) and friend Sophie (Sheryl Munks) have decided that the cafe’s resident career woman Suzanna Martin (Nicki Wendt, far right) is in dire need of assistance.  “Suzanna looks like the ‘before’ lady on the shampoo commercial,” Effie told TV Week.  “She’s got very fine hairs.  I want to give her a good root perm, which will stuff up her hairs for five years.”

Briefly…
Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s Daryl Somers has been busy working on two additional projects.  The first is a series of one-hour specials, The Best (And Worst) Of Red Faces, highlighting some of the acts to have appeared on the mock talent quest segment since it started back in the early 1980s.  “It’s been a huge job for everyone involved, endeavouring to find every segment ever done – the oldest piece dates back to 1982,” he told TV Week.  The second project is a movie to star the team from Hey Hey It’s Saturday, to be filmed in Brisbane and Melbourne.

deesmartLate last year, Home And Away star Dee Smart (pictured) described working on the series as being like a prison sentence.  (“It feels like I’ve been there for years,” she said at the time)  Now it seems her desire to be written out of the show will be realised with producer Andrew Howie agreeing to let her go in July.  Her departure could lead to some challenging times for the soap, which recently celebrated 1000 episodes, with co-stars Nicolle Dickson and Bruce Roberts also contemplating leaving.

E Street’s Brooke ‘Mikey’ Anderson has been dumped from the series 10 weeks before her contract was due to expire.  The young star, who had been in the series since it started three years ago, has already starting filming a guest role in rival series A Country Practice.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”It wasn’t until the Seven Network ran Blackadder back-to-back with Fast Forward that the Rowan Atkinson series gained anything more than a cult following in this country.  Unfortunately, the series was long gone before an audience large enough to be commercially viable had starting lamenting it.  The ABC, however, grabbed the rub-off advantage and screened the first series of the more recent Atkinson creation, Mr Bean.  Be warned.  A second Bean series is now set to premiere.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 24-30):
Sunday:  Actor, dancer and choreographer Paul Mercurio and colleague Kim Walker are guests on this week’s Sunday Afternoon With Peter Ross (ABC).  Network Ten presents the second series final on New Faces With Bert Newton, while Nine’s Our World documentary series features Adventure Bound with Alby Mangels.  Anne Phelan is a guest star on comedy series Late For School (Ten).  Sunday night movies are Masquerade (Seven), The Freshman (Nine) and Voices Within: The Lives Of Truddi Chase (Ten).  ABC’s late night series Compass features the story of religious academic John Hull, who documented his experiences as his sight gradually deteriorated from the age of 17 to middle-age when he became completely blind.

Monday:  This week’s Six Pack (SBS) feature is Loulla, a story set in the 1950s of the arrival of an unexpectedly glamorous proxy bride from Greece to a rural backwater in Australia, starring Lenita Vangellis.

abigail_0001Tuesday:  In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller tastes the grain that could feed the Third World, while Tracey Curro investigates the treatment that’s forcing cancer to mature.  Seven later presents a delayed telecast of the AFL State Of Origin match between Victoria and Western Australia from the MCG.  In Chances (Nine), Bambi Shute’s (Abigail, pictured) sex show is a hit.  ABC presents the series return of comedy DAAS Kapital, featuring the Doug Anthony All-Stars.

Wednesday:  ABC presents The Comedy Festival Debate: Is Laughter Better Than Sex? – featuring Michael Corton, Brett Jones, Steve Crabb, Jane Clifton, Andrew Denton and H. G. Nelson and chaired by Campbell McComas.  The first of three one-hour specials of The Best (And Worst) Of Red Faces appears on Nine.

Thursday:  In Nine’s new travel series Getaway, Rebecca Harris tours the Blue Mountains on a Harley Davidson, David Reyne goes diving at Dunk Island and guest reporter, former Sale Of The Century hostess Delvene Delaney presents a tour of Byron Bay.

johnwaters_0001Friday:  John Waters (pictured) hosts ABC’s new ten-part series The Bush’s Australian Sheepdog Challenge.  Late night sport includes delayed coverage of the Winfield Rugby League Cup (Nine) and the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge (Ten).

Saturday:  Nine begins its coverage of the French Open tennis, live from Roland Garros Centre, Paris, with commentators John Newcombe, Tony Trabert and Betsy Nagelson.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  23 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ten says Newsnight is old news

hamishmacdonald_0001Only a few days ago Network Ten had all guns blazing about a new-format late night news program to be hosted by journalist Hamish Macdonald (pictured).

The program was to be called Ten Newsnight and debut on Monday, 4 June at 10.30pm.

Now it seems that while the bulletin is still going ahead, the name is not.

Instead, Ten Newsnight will just be the far more traditionally-named Ten Late News, the same title of the late night news bulletin that Ten axed last September.

Ten is reported to have said that the Newsnight name was merely a working title for the purpose of getting news of the show’s launch out to the press, insisting that the last-minute name change was to reflect a simpler, more concise brand for the new program.  One wonders if the network was somehow assuming that the viewing audience would not have the cognitive skills to figure out what a program called Ten Newsnight might specifically entail?

While it is certainly not uncommon for new programs to launch to the public with different titles to those proposed in the development stages, Ten’s media release issued on Monday left no doubt as to what they intended to call this program.

However it has come to light via the online forum Media Spy that Ten’s change of heart may have potentially been prompted in part by the Nine Network trademarking the names “Newsnight” and “9 Newsnight” several years ago – while pay-TV news network Sky News Australia also has an established program called News Night, although such similarities didn’t stop Ten naming its early morning show Breakfast when ABC already had its own ABC News Breakfast.

Despite Ten opting for the pre-loved title for the new program they claim it will be a different news experience compared to its late night predecessor presented for many years by Sandra Sully, with the new program incorporating a mix of news, interviews, entertainment, sport and interaction with social media.

Ten Late News is, at this stage, still set to debut on Monday, 4 June, at 10.30pm and will screen Monday to Thursday nights.

Source: Media Spy, TV Tonight, The Australian

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

50 years of TNT9 Launceston

TNT9_1960sAnother half-century celebration for regional television this week with Launceston-based TNT9 having commenced official transmission on Saturday, 26 May 1962 for viewers across north and north-western Tasmania.  It was Tasmania’s second commercial television station, two years after TVT6 launched in Hobart.

The licence to operate the new channel was granted in 1960 to Northern Television Limited, a company owned by W. R. Rolph and Sons, owners of local newspaper The Examiner and radio station 7EX.

New studio premises were constructed at Watchorn Street, South Launceston that would ultimately house both TNT9 and 7EX, and TNT9’s transmitter was built atop Mount Barrow. 

TNT9_openingTNT9 was officially opened by Governor Lord Rowallan (pictured) on the night of Saturday, 26 May 1962, accompanied by his wife Lady Rowallan, station general manager Arthur Evans and Edmund Rouse, the managing director of W. R. Rolph and Sons.

At the time of TNT9’s official opening the station employed around 30 staff.

TNT9, Saturday, 26 May 1962:

2pm Test Pattern
6pm The Mickey Mouse Club
6.45 TNT News
7pm Official Opening TNT9: Governor Lord Rowallan
7.30 The Flintstones
8pm BP Super Show
9pm The Dave Brubeck Show
9.30 Movie: Two Guys From Milwaukee
11pm News; Close

Source: The Mercury, 26 May 1962

TNT9’s early line-up consisted largely of American imports but did include Australian shows from the mainland, including BP Pick A Box, Bandstand, The Mobil-Limb Show, Sunnyside Up, It Could Be You and Whiplash – while local programs included Hunter’s Tele-Quiz, Sports Club, Children’s Time, Easy Beat, Quiz Quest, Talk Of The Town and At Home With Nine as well as the nightly 15-minute news service produced in association with The Examiner.

Presenters at TNT9 during the 1960s included Rod Thurling, Joy Swain, newsreader Bruce Farrar, sports presenter David McQuestin and a young radio announcer from Victoria – Mal Walden.

TNT9_northernlightsDuring the 1970s local programs included the Logie-winning Saturday Night Show with Jim Cox and Graeme Goodings (now a newsreader for Seven News in Adelaide), talent quest New Faces and the Northern Lights telethon (pictured) which attracted stars from the mainland.  Ray James took over from David McQuestin as the main sports presenter and 7EX radio announcer Paul Murphy became TNT9’s newsreader and later news editor.  Some of Murphy’s successors at the news desk have included Tim Lester (now with Nine News), Diane Massey, Kaye Wilkinson, Steve Titmus, Kim Millar and current news presenter Jo Palmer.

TNT9_1980sThe 1980s were a turbulent time in Tasmanian television, with TNT9’s parent company ENT Limited (formed in the 1960s with the merger of Northern Television Limited and Examiner Newspaper Pty Ltd) successfully taking over Hobart’s TVT6.  The takeover eventually led to TNT9 and TVT6 adopting a single on-air brand – TAS TV – and a uniform program schedule across the state.

By the end of the 1980s aggregation was on the horizon for Tasmania and Edmund Rouse, chairman of ENT Limited, told The Examiner in 1987 that competition would not be in the best interest of Tasmanian viewers:

“I do not necessarily believe that Tasmanian viewers will be better served under the proposed new system.  Firstly, we run 18 of the top 20 TV programs in Australia.  The two we don’t run have no relevance to Tasmania.  Secondly, inevitably the number of repeats will be substantially increased as any visitor to the mainland capitals would know occurs there.”

TasTVNevertheless, ENT complied with the government’s aggregation policy and sold TNT9 to Tricom Corporation for $40 million in 1988 while retaining TVT6 (TAS TV), thus forming the basis for two statewide television networks, one based in Hobart and one in Launceston. 

Tricom (a predecessor to what is now Southern Cross Austereo) also owned Victorian regional stations BCV8 Bendigo and GLV8 Gippsland and in March 1989 branded all three channels as Southern Cross Network.

scnnets1994In April 1994 aggregation was implemented in Tasmania with Southern Cross Network (TNT) and TAS TV (TVT) now broadcasting in competition with each other across the whole of Tasmania.  TAS TV (now a branch of the WIN network) had an affiliation with the Nine Network for the supply of programs, while Southern Cross formed ties with both the Seven and Ten networks for its program schedule – and since 1998 Southern Cross has dominated the ratings across the Tasmanian market.

Digital television had arrived in the early 2000s and on 1 January 2004 Southern Cross and WIN launched a joint venture, a digital-only channel Tasmanian Digital Television (TDT) offering primarily a Network Ten schedule enabling Southern Cross to gradually move towards an exclusive Seven Network line-up.  The channel was the first of its kind in Australia, giving Tasmanian viewers a third commercial channel operated by the owners of the two existing networks – a concept that would later expand to Mildura and Darwin.  The introduction of the digital-only commercial channel led to the Tasmanian market having one of the fastest conversion rates to digital television in Australia.  According to the latest Digital Tracker survey, 86 per cent of Tasmanian households have converted at least their main television set to digital compared to the national average of 82 per cent.

southerncross_2000Southern Cross Television in Tasmania has since expanded into the multi-channel environment with the network relaying the Seven Network’s digital channels 7TWO and 7mate to the Tasmanian market.  But the advent of competition, digital television and multi-channels have largely come at the cost of local production, although Southern Cross does continue to produce its own news service, Southern Cross News, seven nights a week.  Local production also includes a fishing program, Hook Line And Sinker, which is shown across Australia via 7mate, and coverage of the annual Targa Tasmania event.

Southern Cross Television won the 2011 ratings year in Tasmania with a prime-time market share of 39.8 per cent (comprised of 30.3% for Southern Cross, 6.7% for 7TWO and 2.7% for 7mate), well ahead of WIN (23.0%), ABC (18.5%), TDT (13.5%) and SBS (5.2%).

southerncrosstvSource: The Mercury, 26 May 1962.  The Examiner, 26 May 1987. The Rise and Fall of Edmund Rouse, Stephen Tanner.  Regional TAMThe Good Innings, Graeme Goodings.  University Of Tasmania.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Ten launches into Newsnight

hamishmacdonaldThe Ten Network has announced plans to re-enter the late news arena with the launch of a new program to be hosted by journalist Hamish Macdonald.

Ten Newsnight, according to News Director Anthony Flannery, will not be “a traditional news bulletin”:

“It will cover the staples of news bulletins, such as headlines of the day, breaking news, sport, weather and finance.  But Ten Newsnight will also include features such as live interviews, entertainment, and segments that use social media to reveal what people are talking about and what will be the next day’s big stories.”

“It will be contemporary and at times it will be provocative. We will tackle challenging topics and issues. We will give a different perspective to big stories and big issues.”

Starting his career at regional network WIN, Macdonald then went abroad where he worked at Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and at Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera English.  He joined Ten at the end of 2010 primarily for the role of senior foreign correspondent for George Negus’ evening current affairs program but also for other reporting and presenting roles at the network, including guest-hosting The Project and The Circle and compiling the recent Ten News special report Bikie Wars: Here And Now

Earlier this year Macdonald was a nominee for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent at the TV Week Logie Awards.  He has also been nominated for prestigious Walkley and Quill awards.

breakfastGiven Ten’s big-budget news expansion last year failed to pay any dividends and this year’s launch of Breakfast (pictured) is also falling well short of making any inroads against the domination of Sunrise and Today, the launch of Ten Newsnight is a risky proposition but it does fill a gap in the coverage of late news on commercial free-to-air television since the axing of Ten Late News last September.

Ten Newsnight, with Macdonald and sports presenter Brad McEwan, will screen Monday to Thursday nights at 10.30pm from Monday, 4 June.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

1992: May 17-23

tvweek_160592Wandin Valley’s new breed takes over!
The arrival of new cast members Gavin Harrison and Kym Wilson (both pictured) in A Country Practice signals a new era for the series which has in the last few months lost many of its established and popular cast – including Syd Heylen, Gordon Piper, Georgie Parker, John Tarrant, Matt Day, and soon to join them will be Lorrae Desmond.  But Wilson says that despite the cast upheaval there is a positive feeling around the set.  “There are good vibes going around the Seven Network,” she told TV Week.  “It was a bit of a shock – not so much for Gavin and me – for people who have been in the show for a long time; fixtures like Gordon and Syd.  And now with Georgie, John, Matt and Lorrae, of course it’s a bit sad.  But everyone said when Molly (Anne Tenney) and Brendan (Shane Withington) left – then Vicki (Penny Cook) and Simon (Grant Dodwell) – that the show was over.”

Drama touches on a grave concern
Former Australian actor John Bluthal has returned from the UK to play the part of a Jewish father in the black comedy Death Duties, the fourth feature in the SBS drama series Six Pack. For Bluthal, the character is almost a mirror image of himself. “He’s probably the nearest person to myself I’ve ever had to play, as far as I’m concerned,” he told TV Week. “Like me, he’s a Pole, he’s Jewish and he grew up in Melbourne.” Death Duties, which tells a story spanned over several years during which a father and son’s stormy relationship mellows into something more agreeable, also stars Anna Volska, Nancye Hayes and Lloyd Morris.

sexMore Sex for Sophie
The Nine Network this week launches a weekly series spin-off from the recent documentary Sex.  The new series, screening on Thursday nights, sees host Sophie Lee joined by a team ready to cover every aspect of sex and sexuality – Dr Kerryn Phelps, family therapist Brian Cade and reporters Darren McDonald, Sallianne Deckert and Patrick Lindsay.  Although the series will tackle the topic of sex in a serious manner, Lee says the show will maintain a sense of humour.  “In the Nineties it is important that people are educated about sexual matters, but it’s important not to take yourself so seriously that you alienate humour from anything,” she said.

Briefly…
Former Prisoner star Maggie Kirkpatrick makes a guest appearance as a nun in this week’s episode of Hey Dad!  It is Kirkpatrick’s first TV role since returning from two months in the United Kingdom where she is still a popular figure due to her role as prison officer Joan “The Freak” Ferguson in the former prison drama.  “It might look as if I’m hanging on to a relic from the past (but) Joan Ferguson is certainly not a relic of the past for viewers in England,” Kirkpatrick told TV Week.  In Hey Dad!, Kirkpatrick plays the part of Sister Maureen, a former teacher of Betty’s (Julie McGregor) back in Walgett who comes to the city to see how Betty is getting on in life.

The Nine Network has given the green light to a second series of murder-themed game show Cluedo before the first series has even debuted.  The thirteen episodes of the first series are to begin screening next month.  Cluedo will feature the show’s producer Ian McFadyen as host, joined by the characters of the popular board game of the same name, played by Andrew Daddo, Joy Westmore, Nicola Paull, Jane Badler, George Mallaby, Peter Sumner and Frank Gallacher.

Seven Network drama Home And Away has celebrated its 1000th episode with past and present cast members gathered for a party at a Bondi Beach restaurant. 

The team from the D-Generation are set to return to the ABC, where they launched their television career in 1985, for a weekly series of one-hour programs to commence in July.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”Television producers don’t get heaps of kudos for their efforts at being socially responsible, but here are a few words of praise for those at the helm of the ABC’s pleasant little sitcom Dearest Enemy.  A scene in a recent episode showed a Liberal politician whose arrogance obviously did not exceed his ignorance – he actually pulled over to the side of the road to make a call on his car phone.  If it gets the message through to at least one of that increasing bunch of morons on the motorways – you’ve seen them… left hand on the receiver, right hand on the steering wheel, mind on who knows what – then we should all have cause to be thankful.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 17-23):
Sunday:
  Seven’s Sunday afternoon and early evening is dominated by AFL, with live coverage of the Brisbane Bears versus Footscray match from Carrara, Queensland, followed by live coverage of the Adelaide Crows versus Collingwood from Football Park, Adelaide.  New Zealand actor Jay Laga’aia guest stars as a physical education teacher in the comedy series Late For School (Ten).  Sunday night movies are The January Man (Seven), Sarah, Plain And Tall (Nine) and Field Of Dreams (Ten).

Monday:  In Home And Away (Seven), Sophie’s (Rebekah Elmaloglou) unborn baby is in serious danger as Sophie starts haemorrhaging after her accident on the beach.

jeankittson_0001Tuesday:  Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Tony Sheldon and Norman Kaye are guest stars in this week’s GP (ABC).  In Chances (Nine), plans hot up for Bambi Shute (Abigail) and her new sex show.  ABC presents a Big Gig special, hosted by air-headed fitness fanatic Candida (Jean Kittson, pictured) and featuring Denise Scott, Wendy Harmer and Phil Scott.

Wednesday:  Nine presents live coverage from Brisbane of the second game in the rugby league State Of Origin series, followed by overnight coverage of One Day International cricket, England versus Pakistan, from England.

Thursday:  In the series return of Embassy (ABC), the new Australian Ambassador to Ragaan, Katherine Jensen (played by Catherine Wilkin) arrives to find the Embassy in upheaval.  The Nine Network debuts its new magazine-style series Sex, hosted by Sophie Lee.

Friday:  Seven crosses to the WACA, Perth, for live coverage of the AFL match between West Coast Eagles and Adelaide Crows.  Nine has live coverage of One Day International cricket from London, and Ten has late-night delayed coverage of the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge basketball.

Saturday:  SBS debuts a new documentary series Across The Red Unknown, featuring George Negus and his crew setting out in August and September last year on a 13,000 kilometre trek through parts of eastern Russia from the Sea of Japan, through the wilds of eastern Siberia, across the steppes of southern Russia and the Ural Mountains.  Meanwhile, viewers can also see Negus as host of ABC’s Foreign Correspondent.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  16 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

1992: May 10-16

tvweek_090592‘I want to go home!’
Neighbours star Melissa Bell has said there was one simple reason for her controversial move from Melbourne to Network Ten’s other soap E Street, which is based in Sydney.  “The main reason I am going home is to be close to my family,” she told TV Week.  “I’ve missed them so much.  My last phone bill was more than $1000.. Telecom must love me!”  Moving to Sydney will also bring Bell (pictured with new co-star Bruce Samazan) closer to Jason Redlich, son of E Street producer Forrest Redlich, although she stresses that while they are good friends they are not romantically linked as previous reports have suggested.  “He is a special friend and I missed him, too.”  Her pending departure from Neighbours has thrown storylines into a spin, particularly as producers had planned a major romance between her character Lucy Robinson and Brad Willis (Scott Michaelson).  But despite feeling homesick in Melbourne, Bell has acknowledged her time in Neighbours as a very positive experience.  “If it wasn’t for Neighbours, I wouldn’t be where I am and have the exposure it’s given me.  Everyone made me feel so welcome.  I’ve really loved working with Anne Haddy and Alan Dale especially.  I’m going back to Sydney with so much experience, work-wise and personally.  Moving to Melbourne has made me a better, stronger person.”

Rachel gets a taste of the outback
British-born actress Rachel Ward, wife of Australian actor Bryan Brown, is a special guest reporter in this week’s debut of Nine’s new travel show Getaway.  Ward and her two children, Matilda and Rosie, embarked on a two-day trek in the Alice Springs area as a feature report on the new series.  “The idea of the harsh, red centre full of rock and desert seems so much part of the Australian tradition.  I wanted the girls to experience it,” said Ward, who also found she didn’t mind eating witchetty grubs but wasn’t so keen on the kangaroo tail. 

sarahmonahan_0001Hey, happy birthday!
Seven Network
sitcom Hey Dad! is celebrating a milestone 200 episodes, but one of the show’s original cast members, teenager Sarah Monahan (pictured) admits there has been a downside.  “It was hard to keep friends at school.  They seemed to have the attitude, ‘Hey you weren’t here’, so you can get left out of everything.  In years five and six, I was going to school only two-and-a-half days a week, so the kids would really hassle me,” she said.

Briefly…
ABC
’s travel series Holiday, which gained a popular following on Saturday nights up against ratings giant Hey Hey It’s Saturday, is now set to take on the even more competitive Sunday 7.30pm timeslot, up against 60 Minutes, Full House, Dinosaurs, The Simpsons and Late For School.

brucerobertsHome And Away star Bruce Roberts (pictured) is believed to be planning to quit the series when his contract runs out later this year.  The young star, who plays policeman Nick Parrish, isn’t happy working on the show and is keen to move on.

Speculation continues that former Good Morning Australia co-host Kerri-Anne Kennerley could be set to jump ship from Network Ten to either the Seven or Nine networks.  Network executives David Leckie from Nine and Glen Kinging from Seven are said to have been trying to contact Kennerley while she was overseas recently.

Play School’s popular characters Bananas In Pyjamas have been given their own series.  The bananas, B1 and B2, will soon feature in a series of 40 five-minute episodes to screen in the 3.55pm weekday timeslot (between Sesame Street and Play School) from July.

Lawrie Masterson: The View From Here:
”I have seen only one program in the series, but congratulations to the Australian Children’s Television Foundation on Lift Off, now screening on ABC.  This is dazzling kids’ entertainment centred on many an educational and environmental message, and the sheer creativity behind it all is – to use a word popular among the age group at which it is aimed – awesome.  If you don’t get a chance to watch it with your kids – or anyone’s kids – first time around, it is to be rescheduled later in a timeslot more accessible to more people.”

”Having bleated last week about the fragmented scheduling of the British series The Darling Buds Of May, it is now my duty to report that the series will be seen on HSV7 in Melbourne on Saturday nights from this week.  The series is already screening in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 10-16):
Sunday:
  ABC presents early morning coverage (from 4.45am) of the first race in the America’s Cup, live from San Diego, USA – with subsequent races covered early on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  Sunday night movies are Driving Miss Daisy (Seven), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (Nine) and Lock Up (Ten), up against SBS’ delayed telecast of the Eurovision Song Contest from Malmo, Sweden.

Monday:  This week’s Six Pack (SBS) feature is Piccolo Mondo – starring Peta Toppano, Victoria Longley, Denise Scott and Angelo D’Angelo – a comedy drama about three women who meet for lunch at an upmarket Italian restaurant to talk about marriage, infidelity and betrayal.

paulchubbwendystrehlowTuesday:  In GP (ABC), William (Michael Craig) and Nick (guest star Paul Chubb, pictured), a morgue attendant, play a trick on a brash young medical student – but Nick is a little on edge and confides to William that he’s preoccupied with a personal problem – he’s impotent – but his girlfriend Alice (Wendy Strehlow, pictured) can’t understand why he won’t spend the night with her.  On Nine’s Chances, ‘70s sex symbol Abigail makes her series debut as outrageous sex therapist Bambi Shute, who enlists the help of advertising executive Angela (Patsy Stephen) to help her launch a new TV show, The Sex Show.  Logie-winning actress Tracy Mann guest stars in Nine’s All Together Now, appearing as an ex-girlfriend and singer from Bobby’s (Jon English) wild past.

lindacropperWednesday:  ABC presents the first instalment of two-part mini-series Children Of The Dragon – starring Bob Peck, Linda Cropper (pictured), Gary Sweet, Lily Chen and Wan Thye Leiw – set against the tumultuous events of China’s Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

Thursday:  In Acropolis Now (Seven), pretending to be deaf, Jim (Nick Giannopoulos) overhears the others plotting to kill him.  Nine debuts its new travel series Getaway, featuring reporters Jeff Watson (formerly of Beyond 2000), David Reyne (The Flying Doctors), Anna McMahon (Eyewitness News, Brisbane With Anna McMahon) and Rebecca Harris with guest reporter, actress Rachel Ward.

Friday:  Late night sports coverage includes delayed coverage of the Winfield Cup (Nine) and the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge (Ten).

Saturday:  Ten crosses to the Melbourne Glasshouse for live coverage of the NBL Mitsubishi Challenge match between the North Melbourne Giants and the Canberra Cannons.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  9 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

1992: May 3-9

tvweek_020592Rebecca does a double take!
Being an aunt several times over – with 14 nieces and nephews – All Together Now star Rebecca Gibney (pictured) is no stranger to crying babies, which makes her well equipped for this week’s storyline which sees her character Tracy offering to babysit a pair of five-month-old twins.  But Gibney, engaged to singer Jack Jones, is in no hurry to start her own family.  “I’m not at the stage where I can even think about it,” she told TV Week.  “It wouldn’t make sense to me to have a child now.  I think you’ve got to be settled as a human being before you go into it.”

petatoppano_0001Peta tells: ‘Marriage, millions and me’
Actress Peta Toppano’s character in the upcoming Six Pack episode titled Piccolo Mondo tells her two friends (played by Victoria Longley and Denise Scott) that they all should have married rich men.  And, ironically, that’s what Toppano has done in real life, marrying one of Australia’s richest men, Perth entrepreneur Kerry Stokes.  But while she is enjoying being a millionaire’s wife, the former Prisoner and Return To Eden star is not planning to leave showbusiness but is enjoying a break while spending time with her new husband and his two teenage sons.  Toppano is very enthusiastic about her role in Six Pack.  “It was a fabulous part and so well written,” she told TV Week.  “When I read the script I found myself laughing so much – Lena was a great character.  I haven’t played anyone quite like Lena before.  I guess she was a little like the character in Return To Eden, but a much more authentic woman.”

julianmcmahon_0001‘I’m Captain Good Guy… again!’
Former Home And Away star Julian McMahon (pictured) is accustomed to playing nice guy roles, such as his latest role in GP as a policeman, but is keen to play the role of a villain.  “I’m really looking forward to playing a villain for a change, instead of being Captain Good Guy,” he tells TV Week.  “In The Power, The Passion – my first television job – I touched on villainy… just.”  The GP role comes just after McMahon has completed work on movie Exchange Lifeguards, starring alongside Christopher Atkins, Elliott Gould and Mark Hembrow.  The production was an intense schedule, with 14-hour days over seven weeks.  “Now I’m never going to the beach again unless I get paid for it!,” he said.

johnwaters_0001Briefly…
Actor John Waters (pictured) is taking on an unusual role as host of ABC’s upcoming Bush’s Australian Sheepdog Challenge.  The show comes after the success of similar shows in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Waters, who recently starred in mini-series Which Way Home, will soon be heading to South-East Asia for his next role, a private eye in the movie Singapore Sling.

Producers of Seven’s new sitcom Newlyweds are still on the hunt for an actress to play the lead role after the sudden departure of Alyssa-Jane Cook.  Former Neighbours star Annie Jones has cropped up as a possible contender for the role.

nicholaseadieThe third series of Embassy is soon to start screening on ABC.  One of its upcoming guest stars will be actor Nicholas Eadie (pictured), playing the part of a politician with a kinky sex life.

There are rumours around the television industry that the Ten Network is considering the idea of one national news bulletin for the whole network, based in Melbourne.

The Nine Network has commissioned a six-part series as a spin-off to the recent documentary special, Sex, hosted by Sophie Lee.

7_1990sLawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”Back in the bad old days when the Seven Network, in particular, was more fragmented than it is today, this type of thing used to happen regularly.  The network’s major stations – ATN7 in Sydney and HSV7 in Melbourne – were not as closely aligned as they are now and often there was a lag of up to four weeks with regular series such as A Country Practice.  In other words, a major storyline, such as a wedding in Wandin Valley, would be seen a month earlier – or later – in one city, a nightmare for a national publication such as TV Week.  But genuine networking of schedules was going to solve all that and, to a large extent, it did.  Which makes the current situation with The Darling Buds Of May all that more disappointing.  The delightful six-hour series, one of the most popular shows in Britain last year, will screen on Seven at 8.30 on three consecutive Friday nights… in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.  Other capital cities will have to wait, mainly because AFL games are scheduled on those nights and, in the case of Melbourne, partly because the powers that be at HSV privately admit they’re not sure where to slot The Darling Buds Of May, anyway.  The feeling is that series would sit more comfortably in the ABC’s schedule, rather than the line-up of any commercial station.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 3-9):
Sunday:
  Showbiz legend Toni Lamond and her son, actor Tony Sheldon are guests on this week’s Sunday Afternoon With Peter Ross (ABC).  Sunday night movies are Blue Steel (Seven), Joe Versus The Volcano (Nine) and Grass Roots (Ten).  Late night sport includes Shell Australian Touring Car Championships (Seven), the Spanish Grand Prix (Nine) and delayed coverage of the rugby league Winfield Cup (Nine).

andrewclarke_0001Monday:  Nine presents the debut of children’s series The New Adventures Of Skippy, a modern take on the TV classic Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, starring Andrew Clarke (pictured).  In A Country Practice (Seven), Kate (Michelle Pettigrove) blames the town’s new vet Anna (Anne Looby) for the death of her horse.  This week’s Six Pack (SBS) feature is Loveless, exploring the complexities of human sexuality as Tom (Simon Burke), who has just lost his father, makes a video about a relationship between a father and his gay son.

Tuesday:  In GP (ABC), Julie (Denise Roberts) is confronted with the fear of living alone after her bag is snatched.  The episode features guest stars Julian McMahon and Joy Smithers.  In Chances (Nine), Madelaine Wolfe (Karen Richards) the agency’s new photographer needs Angela’s (Patsy Stephen) help when she has problems with a nude model.

Wednesday:  Nine’s telecast of the Rugby League State Of Origin is being scheduled in prime time across Australia for the first time.  In the past the network had been reluctant to commit to a prime-time screening in non-rugby territories, but last year’s prime time telecast by NWS9 Adelaide showed that the game can attract strong ratings outside of its traditional markets.

Thursday:  Seven presents delayed coverage of the AFL Centenary Match, between Collingwood and Carlton on the 100th anniversary of the traditional rivals’ first match, from the MCG.

markmitchellFriday:  ABC presents the long-awaited debut of its new big-budget children’s series Lift Off, starring Mark Mitchell (pictured), featuring a combination of live action, puppetry and animation. 

Saturday:  SBS presents a live telecast of the Coca-Cola Soccer League Awards from the Darling Harbour Convention Centre, followed by live coverage of the FA Cup Final from Wembley Stadium, UK, and a delayed telecast of the Scottish FA Cup Final from Glasgow.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide.  2 May 1992.  Southdown Press.

SBS scores jackpot in federal budget

SBS_2008_0002SBS might not have had a ticket in last night’s OzLotto $70 million jackpot but it has won an even greater prize… more than $158 million over the next five years, as announced in the Federal Budget.

The funding boost is in contrast to the 2009 round of triennial funding which saw SBS denied funds intended for improving its digital broadcasting initiatives.

The increased funding for Australia’s second national broadcaster includes $63 million over the next four years to facilitate the network’s launching of a national free-to-air Indigenous channel by the end of 2012.

The new channel will largely incorporate the existing NITV, which launched in 2007 but has had limited capacity for market reach.  NITV is currently available via terrestrial broadcast only in remote and outback communities with access in larger, more populated areas limited to pay-TV platforms.  The new channel will be available via SBS digital television across Australia, through terrestrial broadcast as well as the VAST satellite system.

In a statement issued by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said the increased funding will help SBS maintain its relevance in an increasingly competitive and changing media landscape:

“The Australian Government recognises SBS as one of Australia’s most important institutions.  This represents the most significant funding boost SBS has ever had, and will ensure SBS can continue to provide a unique broadcasting service that includes comprehensive television, radio and online services.”

“This additional funding will allow SBS to address its immediate financial pressures, adapt to the changing media environment and build or upgrade its technology capabilities.”

“The creation of a truly national free-to-air Indigenous television service, built on the foundations of the existing NITV service, will greatly expand the availability of Indigenous broadcast content for all Australians.”

abc_2001The Budget has also allowed additional funding for ABC, in particular to allow Australians in regional and remote areas better access to ABC radio coverage.  The funding will also enable ABC to migrate distribution of its radio networks from the Optus Aurora satellite, which will cease at the end of 2013, to the Government-funded VAST system.

Australians who have direct satellite-to-home access to VAST will also gain access to ABC’s digital-only radio stations as a result of the transition. 

Source: DBCDE, SBS

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Obituary: Digby Wolfe

digbywolfe_0001Digby Wolfe, one of Australia’s first national variety stars, has died in the US after a short battle with cancer.

Born in 1929, Wolfe was a star of British film and television, working with comic talents such as Hattie Jacques and Ronnie Corbett, before coming to Australia in 1959. 

He became popular as the host of the variety show Revue ‘61 (later Revue ‘62).  The weekly series, from Sydney’s ATN7 and produced in association with the Music Corporation of America (MCA), is reported to have been the first Australian television production sold to an overseas network (Canada’s CTV) for prime-time screening.

Revue ‘61 won a TV Week Logie in 1962 for Best Variety Show, and Wolfe won Logies in 1961 and 1962 for Most Popular Male Personality in New South Wales.

Revue ‘62 was abruptly axed mid-year, with Wolfe moving into radio as host of a daytime program, Wolfe At The Door, syndicated across Australia through the Macquarie radio network.

His next stop was to the US where he featured in a string of shows including I Dream Of Jeannie, The Monkees, Love On A Rooftop, That Girl and The Munsters, and was a writer for the iconic sketch comedy series Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In.

digbywolfeWolfe returned to Australia in the mid-1970s and was announced as Mike Willesee’s replacement as host of This Is Your Life in 1976.  He was also intended to produce a sitcom and a big-budget variety series for the Seven Network and, in partnership with ATN7, set up the Creative Development Centre, a non-profit venture to train and develop Australian television writers and producers.  Unfortunately his return to Australia only lasted a few months as he was to make a sudden return to the US when a family member fell ill.

He had spent the last decade working as a lecturer, and later a professor, in dramatic writing at The University of New Mexico.

He died in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Thursday.

Digby Wolfe is survived by a sister.

Source: The Age. IMDB. TV Times, 27 June 1962. TV Week, 25 September 1976.  TV Times, 19 February 1977.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Obituary: Edith Bliss

edithblissEdith Bliss, a former Australian pop singer and television presenter, has died at the age of 53 after a long illness.

Brisbane-born Bliss hit the Australian charts in the late 1970s with the single If It’s Love You Want followed by two more singles and an album, Total Bliss, in 1980.

She then went on to television as a reporter for popular children’s program Simon Townsend’s Wonder World.

A decade later she was on television again as a presenter for Townsend’s other venture, ABC program TVTV.

Bliss married Mark Tanner, a sound mixer on Wonder World, and they had four children.

In 2006, under her married name Edith Tanner, she appeared as a contestant on the final episode of game show Wheel Of Fortune.

Daughter Eden had posted a message on Facebook, saying her mother "passed very peacefully early this morning and her infectious spirit will be missed by all. You're with the angels now, Mum."

Source: Daily Telegraph, Wikipedia

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

1992: April 26-May 2

tvweek_250492Sale stars in sitcom
Sale Of The Century’s Glenn Ridge and Jo Bailey are soon to be seen as guest stars in the Nine Network sitcom All Together Now. In the episode to screen this week, Anna (Jane Hall, pictured with Bailey) wins a spot on the popular quiz show. But Bailey is playing down her acting debut. “I wouldn’t exactly classify this as an acting debut,” she told TV Week. “When you see me on screen you’ll understand why. It wasn’t that much different to doing a show of Sale. And somehow I doubt the talent scouts will come chasing after me.”

Back out in the outback!
Some new faces and controversial storylines are set to feature in the revamped The Flying Doctors.  Heading the new cast list is Peter Phelps, taking on his first regular TV role in Australia for seven years.  Phelps, who recently had a stint in the US series Baywatch, plays the role of senior nurse Dennis Taylor, a former drug addict obsessed with helping others affected by narcotics.  “I have a few ex-junkie friends, so this is an important issue for me,” he told TV Week.  “I know people who have been through rehabilitation and I want to make this character real.”  Also joining the series when it returns to screens later this year are former Neighbours star Elaine Smith, Simone Buchanan (Hey Dad!), Belinda Davey (Prisoner), Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Lydia Miller, Marieke Hardy, Simon Grey and Steve Jacobs.

lorraedesmond_0002‘We’ll miss Lorrae dreadfully’
Shane Porteous
, the ‘elder statesman’ of A Country Practice, is fairly philosophical about the recent cast changes which saw long-serving colleagues Gordon Piper and Syd Heylen leave the series.  “The departure of (characters) Bob and Cookie is, I guess, a matter of artistic decision,” he told TV Week.  “It is up to the people who look at demographic surveys and say these characters are working, those characters aren’t, but I know we will miss them a lot.”  Meanwhile another original ACP cast member, Lorrae Desmond (pictured), is also about to leave the long-running series.  “We’ll miss Lorrae dreadfully, but it’s her decision.  Good luck to her – she has so many other things to do as an entertainer,” Porteous said. 

Briefly…
Her character may have recently passed away in Home And Away, but that hasn’t stopped producers approaching Cathy Godbold about the possibility of a return to the series.  The former Chances star’s role as leukaemia-stricken Meg Bowman gave the series a ratings boost and producers are considering bringing her back to play another character.

The producers of Hey Dad! have been given the green light by the Nine Network for a new sitcom.  My Two Wives, starring Peter Fisher (Kingswood Country), Linda Newton, Morna Seres, Brett Blewitt, Patrick Ward and Kym Valentine, will begin production in Sydney in May and is expected to debut on Nine late in the year.

melissabellThe battle between Network Ten soaps E Street and Neighbours for the services of Melissa Bell (pictured) has been won by E Street.  Bell, who had a brief role in E Street before moving to Melbourne-based Neighbours, is now returning to Sydney to play a new romantic interest for Bruce Samazan’s character Max.

Former Good Morning Australia host Kerri-Anne Kennerley is still on the Network Ten payroll although she has no on-air role at the present time – although she may soon be back on TV screens in a new show modelled on the popular US talk show hosted by Oprah WinfreyTV Week also hears that Kennerley is also potentially looking at a new project for the Seven Network.

SBS_sixpackLawrie Masterson: The View From Here
”First-run locally-produced drama on SBS is notable, if only for the fact that it is so rare.  By nature, the genre of program and the network don’t necessarily go together, although past associations have resulted in some pleasing success.  Still, it’s four years since SBS screened its previous effort, David Stevens’ mini-series Always Afternoon.  It is a decade since Bob WeisWomen Of The Sun swept all before it, including the United Nations Media Peace Prize.  After all that time, Weis and SBS have joined forces again.  Six Pack is the label name they have given half a dozen self-contained dramas.  Each runs an hour, a format which, in itself, is fairly rare in an industry which leans towards open-ended soaps or four-hour “television events”, which used to be called mini-series.  Weis has done a commendable job drawing together fine casts to work with a mix of experienced and up-and-coming scriptwriters and directors.”

Program Highlights (Melbourne, April 26-May 2):
Sunday:
  Sunday night movies are Repossessed (Seven), The Hunt For Red October (Nine) and Parenthood (Ten).

craigmclachlanMonday:  In A Country Practice (Seven), Bob (Gordon Piper) and Cookie (Syd Heylen) return to Wandin Valley.  Seven presents the debut of two-part mini-series Heroes II – The Return, starring Craig McLachlan (pictured), John Bach, Christopher Morsley and Miranda Otto.  SBS debuts new drama series Six Pack, a series of six self-contained dramas.  The first Six Pack feature is Mimi Goes To The Analyst, the story of a sexually inhibited young woman who shares a flat with her sister and regularly visits an analyst to try and help her over her problems with the opposite sex.

Tuesday:  Showbiz veteran Hazel Phillips is a guest star in this week’s GP (ABC).  In A Country Practice (Seven), Terence (Shane Porteous) fears that Cookie (Syd Heylen) will die after an argument with Bob (Gordon Piper), but Bob has a surprise for Cookie.  In Chances (Nine), Alex’s (Jeremy Sims) life is in chaos when billionaire Crowley Lander (Barry Hill) offers him his empire and his daughter – while Jack (Tim Robertson) takes drastic steps to ensure Alex refuses. In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Amanda Keller tries out the musical instruments of the future, Dr John D’Arcy tests the robot that will guard a house, and Simon Reeve looks at the latest methods of earthquake prediction.

Wednesday:  In Hey Dad! (Seven), Sam (Rachael Beck) becomes the talk of the town when she wins a local shopping centre contest.  In E Street (Ten), Penny (Josephine Mitchell), CJ (Adrian Lee) and Jamie (Scott McRae) are caught in a love triangle.

Thursday:  Seven’s popular comedy show Fast Forward is back with new episodes, followed by a concert special featuring Kylie Minogue in Dublin.  In the series final of Phoenix (ABC), Jock (Paul Sonkkila) and his officers have only six hours to question their suspects and charge them.

Friday:  The final episode of afternoon game show Supermarket Sweep (Nine), hosted by Ian Turpie

Saturday:  Ten crosses to Sydney for live prime-time coverage of NBL Mitsubishi Challenge – Sydney Kings versus Gold Coast Rollers.

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