Head and shoulders shot of Simon Townsend wearing a sportscoat and shirt, smiling at camera, sitting next to his pet Woodrow the bloodhound, against a deep red backdrop.

NFSA celebrates 40 years of Simon Townsend’s Wonder World!

Media Release

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Simon Townsend’s Wonder World! on 3 September 2019 with a new online collection, featuring rare and memorable moments, documents, artefacts, images and letters that span the show’s eight years on the airwaves. It is available on the NFSA website https://www.nfsa.gov.au/wonderworld.

Simon Townsend said: ‘From my own childhood, I knew the heartfelt wish of every child was to be older, so the first rule of Simon Townsend’s Wonder World! was to outlaw words like ‘kid’ or ‘youngster’ and we never used children’s ages.

‘This was one of the secrets to our success, and along with music, humour, dog stories galore and lots of easily understood information, the show became an instant winner. I’m delighted that the NFSA is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Wonder World!’

For an entire generation of Australians, the name Simon Townsend is synonymous with innovative children’s entertainment. Simon Townsend’s Wonder World! premiered on 3 September 1979, bringing together two of Townsend’s great passions – journalism and kid’s entertainment. It was one of the first Australian programs to obtain the C Classification to meet Australian broadcasting standards, and it changed the Australian media landscape in terms of children’s entertainment, pioneering the concept of current affairs for kids.

Highlights available on the NFSA website (https://www.nfsa.gov.au/wonderworld) include:

  • The first and last episodes of the show, from 1979 and 1987 respectively.
  • The never-before-seen pilots of Simon Townsend’s Wonder World! (1977), as well as The Ripper Report (1974), the very first TV incarnation of Townsend’s ‘current affairs for kids’ concept.
  • Complete reports from some favourite Wonder World! reporters including Jonathan Coleman, Angela Catterns, Adam Bowen, Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements.
  • Footage of Townsend receiving an award from Prime Minister Bob Hawke for the show’s 1000th episode.
  • A complete 83-page scrapbook compiled by Townsend and the Wonder World! team celebrating the 1000th episode.
  • The very first fan letter Simon ever received, along with his typed reply.
  • Examples of artwork and photographs sent to Simon and Woodrow by fans and viewers.
  • Still images of Simon, Woodrow and the Wonder World! reporters.

NFSA Digital Content Producer Mel Bondfield said: ‘Simon Townsend's Wonder World! was a landmark children’s program; it educated and informed while making current affairs fun and relevant for kids. However, they also pushed the boundaries and were never afraid to tackle difficult subjects as well.’

Digital Content Producer Mel Bondfield is available for interviews. Please contact Miguel Gonzalez, Manager National Media, (02) 8202 0114, 0404 281 632, or Miguel.gonzalez@nfsa.gov.au.