55 years of Logies history
BY FRANCES BALDWIN
The 55th TV Week Logie Awards will be broadcast on the Nine Network on Sunday 7 April 2013, giving us a perfect excuse to look back over the past decades to see how things have changed.
The idea for the Logies began in 1958 when the editor of TV Week magazine, Rod Lever, and the managing director of Southdown Press, Warren Bednall, decided that television achievements should be recognised by a system of awards.
It was strictly a Victorian affair with nominations printed in TV Week in early December 1958. There were only 10 awards up for grabs, with Lever writing in the 18 December 1958 issue that the voting response had been ‘magnificent’.
He said the nominations reflected the desire of viewers to ‘encourage and reward the enthusiastic people who entertain them’, which remains one of the aims of the Logies today.
The first 'TV Week Awards’ were presented in 1958 on an episode of In Melbourne Tonight (1957-1970), and then promptly renamed by host Graham Kennedy after he won the Star of the Year category. Coined the 'Logies’ by Kennedy because it was short and catchy, the name honoured Scotsman John Logie Baird, who invented television as a transmission device in 1926.
During the 1960s the Logies award ceremonies were predominantly held in hotels, but on three occasions the event was celebrated on board an ocean liner. The early Logies had much glamour and controversy, although they were smaller than the red carpet arrivals as we know them today. Winners from these early years are a passing parade of Australian TV luminaries. Graham Kennedy continued his reign as most popular personality (Vic) in the early 1960s along with Bob Dyer, Toni Lamond and Dawn Lake.
In 1963, a Gold Logie was awarded to Four Corners compere Michael Charlton and the popular entertainer Bobby Limb. Best Entertainment for Youth went to singer Johnny O’Keefe.
Bert Newton, a recipient of four Gold Logies, in 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1984, first compered in 1967 and became the dominant host during the next three decades.
It was not until 1973 that the media were invited to attend the Logies. GTV9 taped the show in colour, two years before regular colour transmission began. It was broadcast in black-and-white and then replayed for guests to watch at the after party.
Adding prestige to this event was 'The Spirit of 96', a special train hired by the 0-10 network.
Loaded with the entire cast of Number 96, the 16-hour whistlestop tour travelled through NSW and Victoria so the cast could appear at the show. The mind boggles at the potential Twitter feeds emanating from the trip in the liberal-minded 1970s if social media existed then!
At the 1993 Logies, again hosted by Bert Newton, Most Popular New Talent was awarded to our own Mentalist Simon Baker for his role in Channel Ten’s drama E Street. Most Popular Series was awarded to Home and Away, which debuted in 1988 and has won 38 Logies since, more than any other series.
2003 saw the awards hosted by Eddie McGuire. There was a tie that year for Most Outstanding News Coverage between The Al-Qaeda Tapes (ABC News) and Bali Explosion (National Nine News) highlighting the current concerns of Australian politics, the media and the public.
On a lighter note, comedy shows continued in a typical Aussie vein with the Most Outstanding Comedy Program going to Kath & Kim (2002-2007).
Now in 2013, nominees are lining up again for television’s popularity race. There are significant differences from the original Logies, 55 years ago. Gold Logie nominees Hamish Blake and Andy Lee will open the Logie Awards but unlike previous years there will not be an official host. The last host was actor-comedian Shane Bourne in 2011.
With circulation of traditional magazines declining, new platforms mean greater interactivity with audiences who use technology for a big part of their day, and night. Twitter followers and Facebook likes, for both celebrities and programs, are a factor in both getting a show on air and also keeping it there. This means networks race to reach audiences not just via the traditional television set, but on the mobile or tablet.
The NFSA is proud to have many Logie-nominated and winning programs in our collection. We wish the best of luck to all the nominees.