Joined: 18 Mar 2005
Articles created: 11
Location: Moorooduc Highway, Mt. Eliza, Victoria
[Back to top]
Posted on: 23 February 2006 08:35:00 UTC
0, those were the days
August 19, 2004>From ATV0 to Channel Ten, the Age Green Guide touches on four decades of a Melbourne institution.Birth of a network
Transmission of what would eventually become Australia's third commercial network began on 1 August 1964, when ATV0 began broadcasting in Melbourne (transmission in Sydney and Brisbane began in April and July 1965, respectively). The date was not an accident, reflecting aviation pioneer Reg Ansett's love of horses, who celebrate their birthday on that day.The previous year, Ansett won the broadcast licence and became the inaugural chairman of Austarama Television. By October 1963, construction had begun on purpose-built studios on 10 acres of land at what was then known as East Burwood (later Nunawading). Among the many teething problems that the fledgling Channel 0 faced was its low frequency, causing reception problems, cured in 1980 when it became Channel Ten.The variety extravaganza This Is It, which featured singer Diana Trask, Lionel Long, Ray Taylor and Vikki Hammond and was hosted by the station's first face of news, Barry McQueen, aired in primetime on the first night of broadcasting. The following night saw the debut of the teen-oriented live music program The Go!! Show. Audiences attending the first record were given a poster of The Beatles.Something for the kiddies
"Of course, Magic Circle Club started out not on the ABC, I have to say, but on a commercial network," Nancy Cato told Mark Trevorrow recently the ABC's The Way We Were, her tone suggesting she's had to remind the public of this misconception a few times too many since the show's debut in 1965.A feature of any baby boomer's childhood, the children's fantasy show set in the Enchanted Forest was written by John Michael Howson, who also played Fifi Bear, and hosted by Cato, until she suffered a serious on-set accident from which she made a miraculous recovery after 15 months on her back. Cato also presented The Children's Show, which played in the 4pm slot from the first week of transmission. When ATV refused to sell The Magic Circle Club concept to the ABC, most of the cast set up camp at the ABC to make another crowd-pleaser, Adventure Island.Through the Australian Children's Television Foundation and a long-term relationship with Melbourne producer Jonathan M. Shiff, Ten has partnered benchmark children's drama productions such as Winners (1985), in which starred a very young Nicole Kidman, Ocean Girl (1993) and the current Wicked Science. The cast of 1985's The Henderson Kids sported the strong cast of Nadine Garner, Jane Hall, Annie Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Nicholas Eadie and Kylie Minogue, and was targeted at the 'tween audience. There was even an attempt at that sacred cow of preschoolers television Play School with Mulligrubs (1988- 1995).The Blankety Blanks Behemoth
Blankety Blanks enjoyed a rapturous reception when it launched in 1977, only two years after the evergreen format was born in the US. Hosted here by Graham Kennedy, the show was an ideal vehicle for regular panellists Stuart Wagstaff, Noelene Brown, Carol Raye, Ugly Dave Gray, Noel Ferrier and Barry Creyton to voice racy and naughty jokes in a show that owed more to vaudeville and improv than high-stakes game show. It was a huge success, which cannot be said of Ten's unsuccessful stab at Jeopardy, for which quiz show king Tony Barber was poached.Prisoner and other series
Until Number 96's debut in 1972, home-grown series were mainly staid, reassuring domestic dramas and cop shows. Number 96 and The Box, the following year, changed that with their modern spin (nudity, homosexuality, multiculturalism) on soap opera staples.Set in a women's prison, 1979's Prisoner was a phenomenal success during its seven-year run, and provided an employment bonanza for female character actors, including Val Lehman, Kerry Armstrong, Sheila Florance, Jane Clifton, Collette Mann and many others. It wasn't all T&A and bitch fights at Ten, with the 1920s set Carson's Law (1983-4), the edgy, urban E Street (1989-93), Heartbreak High (1994-1996) and of course the global phenomenon that is Neighbours, which Ten began screening in 1986, a moment that Chennel Seven, its original broadcaster is unlikely to forget.
Notable series that didn't go the distance included Richmond Hill (1988), Medivac (1996), Holiday Island (1981) and the Titanic-proportioned disaster Arcade (1980).Bite-sized drama
After the Deluge (2004) was a timely reminder of the golden age of the miniseries in the 1980s, when Sydney-based producers Kennedy Miller through its long-standing relationship with Ten created such landmarks of Australian television as The Dismissal (1983), Bodyline (1984) and Bangkok Hilton (1989). One of the memorable miniseries of 1984 was the Melbourne-shot Waterfront, starring Jack Thompson, Greta Scacchi, Ray Barrett and Noni Hazlehurst and set to the backdrop of the 1928 waterfront strikes.A defining historic moment was also the subject of The Dunera Boys (1985). At the other end of the scale were the miniseries behemoths Return to Eden (1983, "When a crocodile takes Stephanie Harper there is hell to pay") and The Thorn Birds, which in 1983 is estimated to have cost an exorbitant $21 million.Comic capers
Hey You in 1967 was ATV0's first foray into that most problematic genre (for Australian producers, at least), the sitcom. And though others that have followed on the network, such as The Bluestone Boys (1976) and Bingles (1991), are equally unlikely to figure in any top 10 lists, sketch comedy shows have proven to be surefire audience favourites.Launched in 1988, The Comedy Company became a benchmark of Australian television, regularly attracting more Sunday night viewers than 60 Minutes and launching a raft of careers, spin-off shows and household characters who are as well known today as they were some 15 years ago.Not the same old news
Ten's news programming once looked quite different to today's, with its "First at Five" bulletin and the absence of a nightly current affairs program. Its news service launched in 1964 in a short-lived one-hour format, alternating between a half-hour and hour service for many years. The catchy Eyewitness News tag was introduced in 1972. 24 Hours was a short-lived weekday current affairs program overseen by one-time network news and current affairs boss Mike Willesee.Jana Wendt and Jennifer Keyte did their cadetships at Ten during a turbulent few years that saw several news readers coming and going before Wendt was teamed with David Johnston. With Perfect Match as the lead-in, Johnston's double-header with Jo Pearson was a dream formula for Ten, convincingly out-rating Nine in a timeslot where Nine now holds sway.Chris Masters, Maxine McKew and Kerry O'Brien were among the reporters at Ten's stab at 60 Minutes, Page One (1988-89), while now Arts Minister Mary Delahunty was on The Reporters (1982) team. "Tabloid current affairs" auspiciously arrived in 1991 with the scandal-sheet Hard Copy, anchored by ex-pat Gordon Elliott.The resurrection of Bert
Bert Newton credits producer Gavan Disney for resurrecting his career with Good Morning Australia. Indeed, when "Moonface" began his Channel Ten career in 1992, he was reeling from a number of personal and professional setbacks. He'd been unceremoniously dropped by Channel Nine after 26 years and was laden with punting debts. The Morning Show, which became GMA, began in late January 1992, Newton also lending his sharp wit and unpatronising warmth to that old television standard, the amateur talent quest, with Bert Newton's New Faces. The rest, as they say, is history.GMA has become a television institution and its host one of the network's signature faces, all the more remarkable for a show where advertisers have free rein to plug their products, visiting celebs don't have to field awkward questions and nudge-nudge gags show no sign of ever becoming out-of-date.Infotainment
Like reality television today, the demise of the once-ubiquitous lifestyle/infotainment genre was predicted long before it happened. Healthy, Wealthy and Wise premiered in 1992, and enjoyed a seven-year dream run with its solid production values, breezy blend of information and advice and telegenic hosts, which at one time included Felicity Kennett, wife of then- Premier Jeff Kennett.And we can't ignore ...
Gordon Boyd - British actor and singer Gordon Boyd was one of Ten's all-singing, all-dancing personalities. He hosted the channel's first talent show Showcase '65 and the dating show The Marriage Game (1966-72). Last seen alive and well in Sydney.Deadly Earnest - By day Ralph Baker was ATV0's floor manager and producer, but come late Friday nights he would don his magic-shop hat and teeth and black gown and be transformed into the ghoulish Deadly Earnest, host of a late-night slot for B-grade horror movies that fast attracted an unexpectedly large cult following. Last seen as a puppeteer working with his own company, Pinnacle Puppet Theatre.Jimmy Hannan - With pearly whites tailor-made for a career in television, the versatile and hard-working Jimmy Hannan was best known as host of the musical variety show Jimmy, later Tonight with Jimmy Hannan. He will celebrate his 70th birthday next week.Peter Couchman - Though to many people Couchman will forever be associated with the ABC, his latenight variety show on Ten was a regular stop for visiting celebs and local identities such as Derryn Hinch andCornelia Frances. Last seen on the corporate and public speaking circuit.Kerri-Anne Kennerley - The actress and kid's show presenter Kerri- Anne Wright, as she was then known, joined Gordon Elliott on the current affairs-human interest-celebrity morning show Good Morning Australia in the early 1980s. Co-hosts, including Tim Webster, Mike Gibson and Terry Willesee, came and went, but the indomitable, brassy and effusive Kerri-Anne was the unrivalled queen of the advertorial- filled, morning slot for the next decade.Bart Simpson - Despite being born on the network that showed the landmark Tracey Ullman Show and having been a one-time mascot for Foxtel, Bart Simpson fast became a potent symbol of Ten's youthful demographic in the 14 years since The Simpsons' debut. Last seen dropping a cherry bomb into Principal Skinner's petrol tank.Simon Townsend - With his wonder dog Woodrow and a clutch of bubbly
presenters (including Jonathan Coleman, Angela Catterns and Sheridan Jobbins), Simon Townsend's eponymous C-time after-school magazine show was a phenomenal success during most of the 1980s, its appeal waning as its devoted adolescent audience moved on. Last seen recovering from a stroke and the death of his wife, Rosanna.Drawn from the book From the Word Go!! Forty Years of Ten Melbourne 1964-2004, by Mal Walden. Additional research by Paul Kalina.
We're SBS - Bringing the World Back Home.