Highlights from a 1966 TV Special

BY SIMON SMITH

For World Television Day on 21 November, curator Simon Smith shares bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage from a program marking the first 10 years of Australian television.

Early TV Bloopers

For the week commencing 12 September 1966, the Nine Network chose to commemorate its 10th anniversary with a range of TV specials.

Among these was the first attempt to compile a history of its most important programming moments: Ten Years of Television or We’re Getting Sentimental Over Us, produced by Project director Stefan Sargent and presented by Bandstand host Brian Henderson. 

The special highlighted a selection of previously unseen bloopers from TCN9 live shows and rehearsals, sampled from goof reels that existed in 1966.

Here are three such moments, featuring Bruce Menzies attempting to introduce an episode of Junior Car Club (c1962), Chuck Faulkner facing an unexpected difficulty on the set of the game show Tic Tac Dough (c1963) and a Hecla advertisement on The Bob Rogers Show (c1962) that goes very wrong:

Behind the scenes with Bandstand

One of the other highlights of Sargent’s documentary is a specially filmed behind-the-scenes sequence from an August 1966 episode of the network’s big-budget musical showcase Bandstand (1958–72).

Featuring singers Laurel Lea and Dinah Lee, this longer segment gives viewers a rare glimpse into the process that went into making an episode of 1960s music television:

Bruce Gyngell, TCN9's Chief Executive in 1966, wrote in 1995, 'There was virtually nothing I would stop at to make Bandstand the best show of its kind. I did everything to make it work … It had to be the best. It was my special project.'

About Ten Years of Television...

Ten Years of Television or We’re Getting Sentimental Over Us incorporated footage supplied by the libraries of both TCN9 Sydney and GTV9 Melbourne.

Premiering in Melbourne on 13 September, the 90-minute special was telecast to Sydney audiences in prime-time three days later, on the exact night of the 10th anniversary milestone.

It featured excerpts from some of the earliest locally-produced programs including Campfire Favourites (with young yodeller Frank Ifield) and Australia’s first live television show, the shortlived The Johnny O’Connor Show.  

Thematically arranged segments encompassed 'Tonight' variety shows, specials featuring visiting artists and key news, sports and current affairs stories.  

It also included choice moments with Graham Kennedy (see below), Don Lane, Jimmy Hannan, Bobby Limb, Dave Allen and other station identities.

Preserving 10 Years Forever

Technical preservation work at the NFSA on the newly reconstructed, surviving 66-minute master of Ten Years of Television or We’re Getting Sentimental Over Us has had its challenges.

We have needed to undertake detailed editing and comparison work with Nine’s existing videotape master to sync and align various sequences with their accompanying sound.

This work was necessary because, upon digitisation of  the four cans of 16mm picture and sound film components, plus an additional reel of Brian Henderson’s isolated voice-over, we disovered that the contents did not fit neatly into place.

Now in the last stages of completion, we can soon return a new higher-quality and more complete digital master to Nine, confirming the long-term preservation of this significant 10th anniversary TV special.

See more footage from this 1966 special in Simon Smith's investigation of the surviving footage of Australian television's opening night, World Television Day: Welcome to Television.

 

With thanks to Peter Cox, Peter Kinna and Georgia Wright. Special thanks to Brendan Horgan.