So while the TV networks will be busy telling us what’s coming up or what’s coming back in 2008, we’re going to take a different slant on the New Year activity by telling you what was promised by the four networks at the beginning of 1978 – thirty years ago.
This information comes from TV Times magazine, and “1978” will be an ongoing theme as this year progresses to check on what was happening in Australian TV at the corresponding period in that year.
In a stark contrast to more recent times, ABC promised a range of new Australian drama in 1978 included the thriller Run From The Morning starring Michael Aitkens and Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Twenty Good Years with a cast including Harold Hopkins, Anne Pendlebury, Leila Hayes, Sandy Gore and John Diedrich, and Truckies featuring John Wood and guest appearances by Lois Ramsey and singer Colleen Hewett.
The drama line-up also included Catspaw, a seven-part series set in the air force featuring Peter Sumner, Ken James and Rowena Wallace, a four-part series Loss Of Innocence starring John Fitzgerald, Monica Maughan and Alwyn Kurts, and a children’s series The Nargun And The Stars.
Marcia Hines was coming back to host another series of Marcia Hines’ Music, with guest performers including Jon English, Mark Holden, Johnny Farnham, Linda George and Colleen Hewett. More light entertainment was also promised with the talent quest series Quest 78. ABC was also presenting a new series of In The Wild With Harry Butler and The Inventors and the debut of an Australian version of the British quiz Mastermind. Also returning for another year was Countdown and the nightly current affairs program This Day Tonight.
Overseas programs coming to ABC in 1978 included the US sitcom Soap, the historical series I Claudius and the International Pro-Celebrity Golf hosted by Bing Crosby. ABC would also cover the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Seven’s local drama line-up also included Cop Shop, which had debuted late in 1977 in the lead up to the 1978 ratings battle, and the schoolroom soap Glenview High.
The new year also promised another eight episodes of the sketch comedy The Naked Vicar Show, an Australian version of Father Dear Father, and a new children’s series Bailey’s Bird.
Seven also had plenty of new overseas product in 1978 including US highway police drama CHiPs, mini-series The Holocaust, comedy Tabitha (featuring the grown-up character of the series Bewitched), and mini-series Man From Atlantis. Seven had also scored the British comedy Are You Being Served? which had previously screened on ABC.
Australian Rules football (VFL) was again on Seven in 1978, and returning for another year was the current affairs program Willesee At Seven and, in Melbourne, the variety program The Penthouse Club.
Imported shows also dominated Nine‘s list of new shows for 1978 including The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and the mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors. Nine also had local dramas The Young Doctors and The Sullivans continuing for another year, and joining them is five Australian tele-movies including Say You Want Me, A Good Thing Going, The Touch Of Love and Harvest Of Hate.
Nine was also promising new Australian specials from comedian Dave Allen as well as returning favourites New Faces, The Don Lane Show, The Paul Hogan Show, Ask The Leylands and The Mike Walsh Show. A new children’s show Nine Will Fix It offered viewers the chance to ask for wishes to be granted.
A Current Affair with Michael Schildberger was set to return for another year but with less emphasis on politics – following what Schildberger had described as a “dirty election” the year before – and more on stories of personal interest. Also joining the show’s line-up is Sydney radio host Mike Gibson and Melbourne announcer (“and comedian”) Pete Smith.
The game show Family Feud with Tony Barber, actually a production of TVW7 in Perth, was also promised to expand its audience in 1978 with TCN9 Sydney and GTV9 Melbourne taking the program for the first time. Nine also announced plans for a new game show The Better Sex with host Mike Preston and former Miss World Ann Sidney to be produced at STW9 in Perth.
Nine also to televise the TV Week Logie Awards in March.
The 0-10 Network offered little new Australian content in 1978 despite losing two of its prime-time shows, Number 96 and The Box, the previous year. A new 26-part series Chopper Squad follows a Sydney beach rescue team and had already been sold overseas prior to its Australian debut.
The soap opera The Restless Years, which had debuted in December 1977, continues through 1978, and returning Australian shows included Young Talent Time, Pot Of Gold, Blankety Blanks with Graham Kennedy, and game show $30,000 Treasure Hunt.
Children’s shows on 0-10 include What In The World, Junior Jury, The Early Bird Show and Marie’s Multi-coloured Magic Machine. Late nights included the Philips Soccer League and the variety show Peter Couchman Tonight.
New US titles for 0-10 in the new year included The New Adventures Of Wonder Woman, comedy series Second City TV, The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams and Operation Petticoat, based on the movie of the same name. Among the US titles returning in 1978 are MASH, The Waltons, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files and Alice.
Source: TV Times, 4 February 1978. Published by ABC, distributed by Australian Consolidated Press.