The Hal Turner collection

BY ADAM BLACKSHAW

Publicity shot of Hal Turner as Bobo the Clown with white face, blue nose, large red mouth and orange, fuzzy wig

Publicity shot of Hal Turner as Bobo the Clown, 1965. NFSA title: 1459385

When television station SAS10 launched in Adelaide on 26 July 1965, the first program broadcast was The Bobo Show starring Charles ‘Hal’ Turner as Bobo the Clown.

Hal Turner's daughter Gayle recently donated to the NFSA a large collection including Bobo costumes, scapbooks and memorabilia.

Gayle performed alongside her father as Lenny the Lion and Lenny's costume is also part of the donation.

The collection includes Bobo merchandise from the mid-1960s, when Bobo's young fans could join The Bobo Club, purchase Bobo dolls and drink Bobo cordial. Turner was frequently mobbed by children when he made public appearances in his clown costume.

Relive - or discover - the popularity of Bobo in our new curated collection.

Bobo is born

Hal Turner started performing in vaudeville theatre when he was six years old. Having cut his teeth on the stage, he found himself in the right place at the right time when television began in Adelaide.

The Bobo character was originally developed at Adelaide's first television station, NWS9, which was then owned by a 28-year-old Rupert Murdoch. Turner joined NWS9 as a writer and head comedian for the Adelaide Tonight show but was approached to develop a character that would appeal to a younger audience.

Bobo the Clown initially appeared as part of The Channel Niners. Turner was soon hosting two radio programs as Bobo and writing a newspaper column. By the time he started with SAS10, Turner was flying each week to Melbourne station ATV0 to appear on The Magic Circle Club

For more, visit the Bobo the Clown curated collection.

 

With thanks to the family of Hal Turner. RMIT graduate Eleanor Colla undertook an internship with the NFSA’s Documents and Artefacts curators, helping prepare the Hal Turner collection for cataloguing and conservation.