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Australia's Amateur Hour

Australia's Amateur Hour

The biggest radio show of the 1940s

Before The Voice, before The X-Factor, there was... Australia's Amateur Hour!

Australia's Amateur Hour was a radio talent show that Australians took to their hearts. It ran from 1940-1958, and featured Indigenous artists and performers from varied cultural backgrounds. Among the significant performers to appear on the show were Johnny O'Keefe, Jimmy Little, Olive and Eva, Rolf Harris and Frank Ifield.

The NFSA holds approximately 60 episodes out of the 925 that aired. Listen to clips below featuring Chad Morgan, The Trinamics (a quartet featuring Keith Potger, later of The Seekers), Albert Namatjira, Paula and Olga Perledo from Greece, and more.

Metal advertising sign with black and red text on white background. Text reads:' Terry Dear comperes Australian Amateur Hour Thursdays at 8! 3AW Melbourne'.
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Metal sign for Australia's Amateur Hour on 3AW
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NFSA ID
1488753
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Metal advertising sign with black and red text on white background. Text reads:' Terry Dear comperes Australian Amateur Hour Thursdays at 8! 3AW Melbourne'. 61cm x 30cm portrait.

Still image from the radio program Australia's Amateur Hour. From right: Terry Dear, Tex Foote, Tifori Peni, Rodney Kindness, an unidentified man and a female dancer. All but Terry Dear are in Polynesian dress.
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Polynesian dancing at Australia's Amateur Hour
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NFSA ID
356391
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Still image from the radio program Australia's Amateur Hour. From right: Terry Dear, Tex Foote, Tifori Peni, Rodney Kindness, an unidentified man and a female dancer. All but Terry Dear are in Polynesian dress.

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Dick Fair preparing Australia's Amateur Hour
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358166

From left to right: Len London, an unidentified woman, Clive Amadio and Dick Fair, gathered around a microphone.

Black and white photo on blue background. Text reads: 'We give all Australia its chance in Australia's Amateur Hour. Thursdays 8 P.M. 4AY with Terry Dear'. Features a head and shoulders image of Terry Dear.
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Australia's Amateur Hour - glass slide
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358705
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Glass slide advertisement for radio talent show Australia's Amateur Hour. Text reads: 'We give all Australia its chance in Australia's Amateur Hour. Thursdays 8 P.M. 4AY with Terry Dear'

Australia's Amateur Hour Ep.901 - The Seekers' Keith Potger
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NFSA ID
522416
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Excerpt from AUSTRALIA'S AMATEUR HOUR 901, including a performance by vocal quartet The Trinamics (featuring Keith Potger, later of The Seekers).
Recorded at Box Hill Town Hall, Melbourne.

Australia's Amateur Hour with Chad Morgan
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NFSA ID
676908
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Australia's Amateur Hour was a pioneering talent show produced by AWA that became a pop-culture phenomenon. The program was heard across Australian radio stations from 1940 to 1958 after beginning on home station 2GB Sydney, hosted by Harry Dearth (1940-1942). Subsequent hosts included Dick Fair (1942-1950) and Terry Dear (1950-1958).

Many prominent entertainers debuted or were ‘discovered’ on the show, including Harold Blair, Johnny O'Keefe, Bobby Limb, Donald Smith and Chad Morgan. This clip is of Chad Morgan's appearance on the Brisbane heat of Australia's Amateur Hour on 23 October 1952, recorded at the Lyric Theatre. Performing 'I'm The Sheik of Scrubby Creek', Morgan went on to win the heat, the semi-finals in Sydney and to be placed second in the finals of 1952.

The show featured a wide range of musical genres and performance types from a diverse range of participants - including Indigenous Australian performers George Hill, Jimmy Little and Olive and Eva, as well as new European migrants to Australia displaced after the Second World War. It was sponsored by Lever Brothers’ laundry soap Rinso for its 19-year run, making it one of the best-known products in Australia at the time. The NFSA holds approximately 60 episodes out of the 925 that aired.

Australia's Amateur Hour with The Reading Sisters
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
207494
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An excerpt from Australia's Amateur Hour episode 901, recorded 27 June 1957 at Hibernian Hall, Cairns, Queensland. It features a performance by vocal group The Reading Sisters (Phronsie, Wilma and Dulcie Reading), with guitarist Walter Pitt (brother of Georgia Lee).

Australia's Amateur Hour was a pioneering talent show produced by AWA that became a pop-culture phenomenon. The program was heard across Australian radio stations from 1940 to 1958 after beginning on home station 2GB Sydney, hosted by Harry Dearth (1940-1942). Subsequent hosts included Dick Fair (1942-1950) and Terry Dear (1950-1958).

Many prominent entertainers debuted or were ‘discovered’ on the show, including Harold Blair, Johnny O'Keefe, Bobby Limb, Donald Smith and Chad Morgan. The show featured a wide range of musical genres and performance types from a diverse range of participants - including Indigenous Australian performers George Hill, Jimmy Little and Olive and Eva, as well as new European migrants to Australia displaced after the Second World War.

It was sponsored by Lever Brothers’ laundry soap Rinso for its 19-year run, making it one of the best-known products in Australia at the time. The NFSA holds approximately 60 episodes out of the 925 that aired.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Australia's Amateur Hour Ep.925 - George Hill
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NFSA ID
572979
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Excerpt from the last episode of AUSTRALIA'S AMATEUR HOUR (13 December 1958). Terry Dear introduces and interviews Dick Fair, who talks about blind Indigenous musician George Hill (cornet and guitar player). The segment includes George's original introduction and performance from program 401.
 

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Australia's Amateur Hour Ep.925 - Albert Namatjira
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572979
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Excerpt from the last episode of AUSTRALIA'S AMATEUR HOUR (13 December 1958), talking about the program travelling over the years. Includes an interview with Albert Namatjira in Alice Springs, clips from Darwin and Fiji.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Australia's Amateur Hour Ep.925 - Paula and Olga Perledo
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NFSA ID
572979
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Excerpt from the last episode of AUSTRALIA'S AMATEUR HOUR (13 December 1958). 'New Australians'  Paula and Olga Perledo (from Greece, having arrived in Australia five months earlier on the USS General CC Ballou) perform Ciocârlia (Romanian folk tune).

Australia's Amateur Hour Ep.925 final program
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572979
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Excerpt from the last episode of AUSTRALIA'S AMATEUR HOUR (13 December 1958). Terry Dear introduces Managing Director of Lever Brothers to talk about sponsorship and history of program. He says, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I think it may safely be said that the introduction of Australia's Amateur Hour was the beginning of an era in which radio entertainment reached its greatest heights...'