Rex Heading on Bobo and Humphrey B Bear
In this filmed oral history from 2000, Rex Heading recalls working with Hal Turner's Bobo the Clown at NWS9 and creating Humphrey B Bear when Turner left the station to star in his own show on rival network SAS10.
Rex Heading was a junior announcer on radio at 5KA in Adelaide with an interest in radio drama. He became one of the first staff appointed to Adelaide’s first television station, NWS9, owned by a 28-year-old Rupert Murdoch, when it was preparing to launch in 1959. Heading was seeking talent for the new station and eventually worked with emerging artists such as Graham Kennedy, the Bee Gees and Ernie Sigley.
Hal Turner joined NWS9 as a writer and head comedian for the Adelaide Tonight show. With an eye to children’s programming, Rex Heading approached Turner to develop a character that would appeal to a younger audience. At first Turner was reluctant, feeling that it would negatively impact on his reputation as a performer, but he was eventually persuaded and became one of the first recognisable characters on children’s television, Bobo the Clown.
As Bobo, Hal Turner first appeared in an ensemble cast on NWS9’s children’s program, The Channel Niners. In addition, Turner also wrote, produced and acted in the station’s Christmas pantomimes including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin. He was also hosting two radio programs as Bobo and wrote a newspaper column. Bobo quickly became a household name, first in Adelaide and then nationally.
Turner left NWS9 and began a five-month publicity campaign of public appearances, radio interviews, charity work and special events for the soon to be launched SAS10. Meanwhile at NWS9, Bobo’s old station, Rex Heading was developing a new character, Humphrey B Bear. The iconic children’s TV character first appeared on Here’s Humphrey on 24 May 1965 and ran until 2008 as the second-longest-running children’s TV program in the world.