The Wilsons - complete sketch
A complete sketch featuring 'The Wilsons', a regular In Melbourne Tonight (IMT) sitcom sketch featuring elderly married couple George (Graham Kennedy) and Joyce Wilson (Rosie Sturgess). In this episode, George surprises Joyce with a Mother's Day gift.
Produced weekly for IMT, The Wilsons became two of Australian television's most enduring sitcom characters. Clearly also a favourite of Graham's, the curmudgeonly duo returned for his twice-weekly national show in 1972-73. Such was the popularity and affection for the characters that George Wilson's exasperated catchphrase 'That was a joke, Joyce', entered the Australian lexicon.
IMT scriptwriter Mike McColl Jones recalls that Sturgess often had her script glued to the inside of her newspaper, for when she was inevitably distracted by Graham's inspired ad libs. Graham knew that she was prone to 'breaking up' and would do his best to bring this on, with whatever it took! In this sketch, you can see both trying to disguise their laughter at the other's antics, and failing.
Written by sketch comedy writer Fred Parsons, The Wilsons sketches were conceived around 1964, the names deriving from GTV 9 Publicity Manager George Wilson and his wife Joyce. Staff writer (and later Ossie Ostrich's 'right-hand man') Ernie Carroll had originally written a short 'blackout' sketch featuring two pensioners. Graham liked the idea and requested Parsons turn this into something longer.
Initially, sketches like The Wilsons were pre-recorded late into the night following cessation of station transmission when the studio was vacant. In later years, with the introduction of the purpose-built Studio 9 facility, The Wilsons could be recorded live in front of the studio audience utilising the more flexible revolving stage.
George Wilson's venerable age allowed Graham a rare opportunity to remove his dental plate. In 1956, and with an eye to the future possibility of on-screen television work, Graham chose to have his three unevenly spaced front teeth removed and replaced with a four-tooth plate.
Notes by Simon Smith