Wednesday, October 3, 2018

QuickFacts: Moments in Australian Television


Ron Casey and Normie Rowe: 

Ron Casey, controversial Sydney broadcaster and TV presenter, died yesterday in hospital aged 89. Originally a TV sports presenter, he came to be better known for his right wing views as a talkback radio announcer And for politically incorrect positions and comments, resulting in his being suspended a number of times and eventually sacked. Today he is best remembered for his punchup with Normie Row on live television in 1991. During a debate on republicanism, Casey made a derogatory comment to Rowe about Rowe’s Vietnam service. Rowe responded by calling Casey a “low rat” and he pushed Casey back down in his seat. Casey responded by punching Rowe in the face. See it by clicking on: 


Number 96: 

Number 96 was a popular Australian television nightly soap opera that premiered on 13 March 1972 and ran until 11 August 1977. It was set in a small four-storey inner city apartment block at 96 Lindsay Street Paddington (actually Moncur Street, Woollahra) hence the title, although more often than not it was called Nightly Sex instead of Ninety Six. 

Some facts: 
  • The newspaper blurb promoting it on the night of its launch declared "Tonight Australian television loses its virginity". 
  • Number 96 was known for its groundbreaking sex scenes and nudity and for its comedy characters. The series was the first in the world to feature an openly gay regular character. 
  • World's first portrayal of a gay couple fully accepted by and integrated into their community. 
  • The first bare breasts in Oz prime time. 
  • The first gay kiss. 
  • The first bomb explosion used as a cliffhanger. 
  • There were so many complaints to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that Board executives came in each morning at 7.00am to view that night's episode prior to it going to air, to ensure that it complied with the Control Board's guidelines. 


The bomb blast: 

Graham Kennedy’s crow call: 

Despite gay kisses and heaving naked bosoms, there were still some things one did not do on television in the mid 1970’s and one such thing was to use the F word. Tonight show host and compere came close to doing it in March 1975 when he imitated a crow call – Faaaaark! – that sounded very much like the word “Fuck”. 

From the Sydney Morning Herald: 
The infamous crow call.  
On March 3, 1975, on the first night of his new Graham Kennedy Show on Nine, Kennedy uttered the word "faaark" on a live advertisement for Cedel hairspray. This inspired about a thousand calls of complaint from viewers. Kennedy later claimed this was merely his trademark crow call, something he'd performed on air several times over the last 10 years. After receiving a warning letter from Myles Wright of the broadcasting control board, Kennedy responded the following week by asking the studio audience to give his critics a mass crow call. They did so with gusto. A week later, Kennedy was banned from performing live to air. 

From then on had to prerecord his shows and he quit a month later. 

Gordon Chater says “bum” on TV:

As I have said, use of words regarded as swear words were a no-no on Oz TV in the 70’s so how much more were such words verboten in the mid 60’s? 

In 1964 Channel 7 in Sydney started broadcasting a weekly satirical show called The Mavis Bramston Show, which tackled controversial topics. By way of example, one episode alone tackled a visit by the US Vice President to Australia, the introduction of female roller skating to Australia, homosexuality, censorship, price fixing, child endowment, the White Australia Policy, and how the introduction of computers would impact on office secretaries. 

But Gordon Chater used the word “bum” in a sketch and was suspended, as well as making front page news. 

Carol Raye, Gordon Chater, Barry Creyton and June Salter, regulars on the Mavis Bramston Show 

Gordon Chater: 
Opening, and a couple of scenes from the first episode of "The Mavis Bramston Show", including slapstick. Note how the audience fail to applaud until prompted when the cast complete the opening theme 

Carol Raye, now aged 95: 
“I had just arrived in Australia and I joined Channel Seven as a producer and was told to come up with some ideas for a late night show. Seven’s ratings weren’t very good and they wanted to knock off Graham Kennedy. In Melbourne Tonight was a huge success. I’d just come from England and was very influenced by a show that was a huge success in London, That Was The Week That Was with David Frost. It was really a journalistic satire. It wasn’t just lots of funny ha-ha jokes. It was political comedy.”

“Channel Seven’s General Manager said to me, ‘Carol the trouble with you is you’re far too BBC. Australians are not ready to laugh at themselves.’ And I said ‘I don’t believe that. Everybody laughs at themselves if it’s funny.’ 

The show was a huge success, so much so that Qantas pilots sought to change their schedules so as to be home on Wednesday nights when it aired and Canberra shopkeepers sought to change the weeknight that it aired so as not to conflict with late night shopping in that business suffered so much.
Carol Raye: 
“Cardinal Gilroy in Sydney told all his parishoners that they had to sell their (sponsor) Ampol shares. We were naughty, we said the odd word like ‘bum’ which I don’t think had been said.”

Carol Raye on the Mavis Bramston Show: 
(Okay, not so sophisticated buit what was back then?)

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