The Edge of Heaven: Young Talent Time, 1986

The Edge of Heaven: Young Talent Time, 1986
Johnny Young, Clearvoice Pty Ltd.
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Variety show Young Talent Time was compulsory viewing for Australian kids in the 1970s and 80s.

The series ran from 1971 to 1988 with musician host Johnny Young and his team of young performers. The kids sing covers of chart hits, dance and act in sketches echoing the US’s Mickey Mouse Club.

This episode features regular favourites Dannii Minogue, Beven Addinsall, Vince Deltito, Katie Van Ree, Lorena Novoa, Courtney Compagnino and Natalie Miller as well as Neighbours guest stars Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Geoff Paine and Kylie Flinker.

After the opening titles, featuring some very 1980s computer graphics, the performers mime to a pre-recorded cover of 'The  Edge of Heaven' by Wham!

The production values are high with different costumes and sets for every number. The musical accompaniment is tight and upbeat, performed with a full band.

The performers sing together with solos used to highlight each singer’s strengths and match the story line of the performance.

The original lyrics, which have an S&M vibe, have been amended for children's viewing. For example, instead of ‘I would chain you up / If I’d thought you’d swear’ they sing ‘I would chain you up / but I thought you’d tear’ and ‘I would wrap you up’ instead of ‘I would strap you up’.

Echoing the references in the lyrics to the devil (‘My Daddy said the devil looks a lot like you’), Dannii Minogue is dressed as the devil for the song and swings her tail provocatively.

The ‘edge of heaven’ the original song talks about is sexual, but in this sanitised version Courtney Compagnino is dressed as cupid and Natalie Miller as an angel.

The Neighbours stars pretend to play drums, guitar, harp and bass on a podium above the dance floor.

Dannii Minogue’s dancing is a stand-out. The singing is as slick as the choreography and it’s easy to forget how young the performers are as they are so professional.

Wham! was English duo George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. They were massive in Britain and abroad, including Australia, from 1982 until their break-up in 1986.

'The Edge of Heaven', written by Michael, was their farewell single and reached number 2 on the ARIA charts. It was released on the CBS label as part of their last studio album The Final.

The pair took part in the Live Aid concert in July 1985, another milestone event of the 1980s, with Michael famously singing 'Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me' accompanied by Elton John.

This is episode 86/37 and was broadcast on 18 October 1986. The performers felt like family and at the end of every show they joined Johnny Young and sang 'All My Loving' as they waved good night to the camera and viewers at home.

Notes by Beth Taylor