We take for granted today that part of our free-to-air television offerings include world class Australian children’s dramas such as Dance Academy (2010), My Place (2009), Lockie Leonard (2008), Mortified (2006) and Double Trouble (2007), but this was not always the case.
When Australian broadcasting hours were extended in 1957 to include the 4-11 pm timeslot, broadcasters and advertisers both saw a commercial opportunity and the sponsored afternoon children’s commercial TV show was born. Early shows included The Tarax Show (1957) with Ron Blaskett, Peters Fun Fair (1956) with Zig and Zag, The Happy Show (1957) with Happy Hammond and Princess Panda, Captain Fortune (1957) and Channel Ninepins (1957) with Desmond Tester. These shows were hosted by an adult, often in crazy hats and costumes, and filmed in front of an audience of excited children. They included a mix of fun and games, puppets and cartoons; all, of course, laced with advertisements from their sponsors.