Elspeth Ballantyne, who plays prison warder Meg Jackson, said that Prisoner has proven that women can handle a show on their own. “Prisoner is a very good series. It has a lot of dramatic qualities. It moves quickly and has good storylines provided by some top writers. I have made some good friends while working on the series, such as Fiona Spence. The cast members are a terrific group of women who are very professional. I’m also amazed that there hasn’t been any bitchiness.” But mother-of-two Ballantyne will not allow her children – Matthew, 9, and Tobias, 7 – to watch the program: “It’s an adult show and they are in bed when it’s on at 8.30pm.”
Patsy King, who plays prison governor Erica Davidson, has had a varied background in radio and television – including appearing in the children’s programs Play School and Adventure Island and in the long-running drama Bellbird. King was also on tour around northern Australia in the play Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll: “There were seven of us in the cast and we were chauffeur-driven up the Birdsville Track, playing at every little town we came to. Then we had a couple of rest days, which we spent by a river infested with snakes and crocodiles, and spiders as big as your hand. What a rest that turned out to be.” Her new role in Prisoner is hard work, but hopes that the series goes on for a long time: “I’m enjoying playing Erica because she is different and the character is really developing now. I can see a lot more aspects to her.”
Fiona Spence, who plays prison warden Vera Bennett, had spent the last few years travelling and studying drama at the University Of New South Wales. After a guest role in Glenview High and some TV commercials, the role of Ms Bennett is Spence’s first major role: “I’m happy with Vera. She’s very dramatic and in some ways like myself. She is very unpopular with the public and the more they hate her, the better it is for me. Then I know the character is working.” Eventually, Spence hopes to go into theatre: “I’ve never done professional stage work, only university plays. Then I’d like to try films. I’m not really fussy about what I do. However, I can’t sing or dance, so I don’t want to be in a musical. Drama is what I’m best at.”
700 million will see Miss Universe crowned
A worldwide audience of an estimated 700 million will see Miss Universe 1979 when it is held in Perth this week. The two-hour ceremony, from Perth’s Entertainment Centre, has been years in the planning and will be beamed to 50 countries. Viewers around the world will see the event live but Australians will see it on a delayed telecast as the ceremony is timed to start at 9.00am, Perth time, this Friday.
Current affairs for kids
Children are to get their own daily current affairs program along the lines of Willesee At Seven and This Day Tonight. The new program, yet to be titled, is being produced for the 0-10 Network by former Willesee At Seven reporter and producer Simon Townsend (pictured) and has been approved by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for screening with a ‘C’ classification. The pilot for the program was produced by Townsend in 1977 on a grant from the Nine Network. Nine decided not to proceed with the program and even though Nine funded the pilot, it remained Townsend’s property. Only days after the pilot was given the ‘C’ classification, Townsend received a call from the 0-10 Network. No screening date for the program has been set as yet.
Actor Peter Cousens has been announced as host of ABC’s new children’s environmental series Earthwatch. Cousens will be joined by a forum of four to six children, and the program will include singing and dancing, news clips and a current affairs segment.
The winner of last year’s series of The Inventors, David Little, will be a guest when the show returns this week for its tenth year. Little’s invention, a solar tracker/heater, is now ready for world distribution and Little is now hoping for a financial return of several millions of dollars.
Viewers of The Young Doctors may see a slimmer Ada Simmonds (Gwen Plumb, pictured) next year. The actress has accepted a challenge to lose 6 kg or give $1000 to the next Appealathon, due for early next year, on Perth’s STW9.
Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”Whatever happened to the good old Saturday night B-grade horror movies? They were bad but I still miss them.” G. Barnard, NSW.
“I couldn’t believe it when I read, in the Sunday papers, about all those people who rang up channels ATN7 and TCN9 about TEN10’s screening of Last Tango In Paris. If these people bought some meat from their butcher and, upon coming home, found it was off, would they then go to their nearest chemist and complain about it?” M. Powell, NSW.
“I am only 15 years old and even I know it is very rude to say people 100 years old. Also, Mrs Doolan (Viewpoint, 16 June 1979), can’t you find something a little better to pick on than a commercial? Which, by the way, I, and I am sure many others, find amusing.” D. Hassell, QLD.
What’s On (July 14-20):
ATV0 crosses to Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse on Saturday afternoon for live coverage of Grand National Day, with races called by Clem Dimsey.
This Week Has Seven Days (HSV7, Saturday) features an interview with Peter Mayle, author of Where Did I Come From.
ABC programs The Inventors and A Big Country both return with new episodes this week.
In Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Lyn (Kerry Armstrong, pictured) is released from Wentworth Detention Centre and is met by an unexpected welcoming party. Joyce (Judy Nunn) makes Monica (Lesley Baker) an offer she finds hard to refuse.
On Friday night, GTV9 presents a delayed coverage of the 1979 Miss Universe pageant, held at Perth’s Entertainment Centre earlier that day. The event is hosted by American personalities Helen O’Connell and Bob Barker. Donny Osmond will be a guest performer, and judges include Carol Lynley, Lana Cantrell, LeVar Burton and Ita Buttrose.
ABC presents live coverage of the 1979 British Golf Championship from Royal Lytham, St Anne’s Lancashire, England. Telecast starts on Friday night at 9.25pm and continues for six hours.
Sunday night movies: The Great Waldo Pepper (HSV7), The Dove (GTV9), Freebie And The Bean (ATV0). ABC presents the first episode of Ride On Stranger, a four-part series set in Australia in the 1930s starring Liddy Clark, Noni Hazlehurst, Henri Szeps, Barbara Wyndon, Bunney Brooke and Michael Aitkens.
Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 14 July 1979. ABC/ACP