Cover: Mike Walsh
Top job for Robyn
Actress Robyn Nevin has scored a major role in the upcoming mini-series Water Under The Bridge. Nevin will play the role of over-possessive foster mother Shasta in the mini-series based on Sumner Locke Elliott’s novel. The role will also provide Nevin a more personal challenge – she scored the role of chain-smoking Shasta only days after quitting the habit in real life, “but I plan to stop again once the series has finished.” The million-dollar production, funded by the Victoria Film Corporation, Australian Film Commission, South Pacific Television (New Zealand) and the 0-10 Network, will be produced in Melbourne even though the story is set in Sydney in the 1930s and 1940s.
Jarratt tip for TV Kelly
Sydney actor John Jarratt (pictured) is the hot favourite to win the lead role of Ned Kelly in the new Seven Network mini-series now in production. Ian Jones and Against The Wind producer Bronwyn Binns are now working on locations, scripts and other logistics for a start to production soon. Jones, however, was reluctant to give away any clues as to who would play the lead role: “It would be dreadful to release a statement about such a thing and then have the actor miss out on the role.”
Graham Kennedy: The man and the myth
TV Times presents the first instalment on a series of articles about Graham Kennedy. Born on 15 February 1934, the young Kennedy lived with his grandmother after his parents had separated. As a Melbourne schoolboy, he worked at his uncle’s barber shop in Collins Street, in the same building as the newsroom for Radio Australia – he was then offered a job as copy boy for the broadcaster. But his big radio break came at the age of 17, as the sidekick to Melbourne radio legend Cliff Nicholls “Nicky” Whitta on 3UZ: “Nicky became my mentor. I was his straight man. He taught me how to use radio, not just be in it. He taught me how to send up a commercial and sell it at the same time.” A guest appearance on a GTV9 telethon in 1957 brought him to the attention of TV producers, looking for a host for the channel’s new tonight show, In Melbourne Tonight. IMT producer Norm Spencer said of Kennedy, “I think Kennedy is the greatest TV salesman ever. If he advertised a product, it sold. He got comedy out of the commercial spots and his unique rubbishing a product made fortunes for manufacturers. Mind you we often got into trouble with the (then) Control Board because sometimes an ad spot might run for five minutes, but how do you judge where a commercial pitch stops and the comedy starts?” Writer Hugh Stuckey, who was one of the writers for the early In Melbourne Tonight shows, writing as many as 16 comedy spots a week plus nightly topical gags, remembers Kennedy would sometimes insult his writers on camera, particularly if a gag fell flat: “Sometimes I had to be physically restrained while watching this at home on TV from driving back to the studio and donging him one! (But) off-camera he was always pleasant to us and never complained about his material.” Philip Brady, the butt of many Kennedy jokes, has worked with Kennedy for years but seldom saw him lose his temper. Though, the 1975 incident where Kennedy’s ‘crow call’ saw him banned from appearing on live TV led to some cutting remarks about the Minister for the Media. Watching the delayed telecast from his dressing room, he exploded when he saw that his comments had been cut out. He stormed out of the studio and, according to Brady, “I don’t think he ever came back.” While many took the attitude that the King had lost his crown, he was back on-air in 1977 as the host of a new game show, Blankety Blanks, an adaptation of an American format. The Kennedy ad lib magic turned the show into one of the biggest hits of the year. Next Week: Graham Kennedy – Myths, money, movies and women.
The Seven Network has turned down the McCabe-Paradine series Paradise Valley, though they still want to show the pilot as a telemovie.
The Sullivans will be taking production overseas next year, with plans to tape scenes in the Netherlands. It will be the first time that location filming for the series is to be done outside of Australia – as storylines that featured Changi prison, the Middle East and Europe were all filmed in Australia.
Actor Paul Karo has returned to Australia after a lengthy stay overseas. The former The Box star has been offered a role in a touring stage production, Flexitime, as well as a guest role in The Sullivans.
Tom Burlinson (pictured) has announced he is leaving The Restless Years, having played the role of Mickey Pratt for over a year: “I want to work in other areas, such as films and stage.”
Despite his recent return to The Sullivans, Andrew McFarlane is not in any hurry to re-commit to an ongoing role in the series.
Viewpoint: Letters to the Editor:
”I haven’t seen the movie Picnic At Hanging Rock, but I liked the book very much and was wondering when the movie will screen on TV.” D. Findlay, VIC. (TV Times responds: The Seven Network will screen it next year.)
“Congratulations on the new series of The Inventors, but the viewing public are still stuck with the ever-boring Diana Fisher.” R. Nelson, WA.
“I have watched every episode of The Sullivans, The Restless Years, Prisoner and The Young Doctors, and in my opinion the two outstanding actresses are Victoria Nicolls and Susan Hannaford. Val Lehman, as Bea in Prisoner, is also excellent. I know that June Salter won a best actress title last year, but she was always June Salter and not really Miss Mackenzie in The Restless Years. I am over 80 and I always read every word in TV Times.” N. Montagu, NSW.
What’s On (September 15-21):
Ask The Leyland Brothers (GTV9, Saturday) travels to New Zealand to visit Queenstown and take a ride down the Shotover River. The Leylands also visit South Australia’s Coorong Lagoon and discover some of the unique wildlife it supports.
In Prisoner (ATV0, Tuesday and Wednesday), Monica (Lesley Baker) is worried about her parole. Bea Smith (Val Lehman) is released from solitary and is a changed woman. Karen (Peita Toppano, pictured) gets involved in the prison reform group.
GTV9 reruns a one-hour telemovie, Do I Have To Kill My Child?, looking at child abuse, both physical and emotional, its causes and effects. Starring Jackie Weaver, Brendon Lunney and Willie Fennell.
Jimmy Hannan hosts the 1979 Quest of Quests, a direct telecast from the Albert Hall, Canberra. (GTV9, Wednesday) A repeat of The Barry Humphries Show screens the same night on ATV0.
Sunday night movies: The Fourth Wish (HSV7), The Three Musketeers (GTV9), Hannie Calder (ATV0). ABC screens A Family Man, starring Paul Mason, Jenny McNae, Moya O’Sullivan and Arkie Whiteley, the fourth instalment of the series of plays A Place In The World. Other movies to appear during the week include: Last Tango In Paris (ATV0), Yours Mine And Ours (HSV7), The Great Escape (ATV0) and Rescue From Gilligan’s Island (GTV9).
Source: TV Times (Melbourne edition), 15 September 1979. ABC/ACP