The exciting early days of 1956

Test transmissions were very popular creating large crowds outside of shops which had a window full of tv sets.

To sit in a restaurant and watch the evening news was a boom never previously imagined.

Then the big night arrived Sunday 16th September 1956 the opening night.

The morning after the opening night a double page spread recorded the historical moment.

Mr Frank Packer who had the vision to create the first television station in Australia

Sydney was fascinated by the behind the scene requirements to produce a TV show.

With the smiling face of Tom Piper looking on Channel 9 promoted a "you tell us" campaign in theTelegraph to see what would be the prefered viewing times.

The Daily Telegragh newspaper, the parent shareholder, created many advertisements showing the forth coming programmes.

Broadcasting and Television released a special issue just five days after the opening almost totally catering for TCN's historical night.

The first TV station in Australia was a resounding success.

One of the successes of the night was Name That Tune compered by Bruce Gyngell who also was the compere of the opening address.

The Control room was a temporary construction which excelled on the night.

The control room crew were L to R Ian Vibart sound engineer, Bill Eve Supervising Producer, Neil Andrews Director and Joe Clark Technical Producer

Producer-Director Peter Benardos discussing program with cameramen Noel Swanson and Ken Bretnall.

Alwyn Leckie performing whilst Johnny O'Connor stands ready for the next introduction. The Johnny O'Connor show was the first live musical program on Australian television.

The first panel show ' What's My Line' compered by George Barnes. One of the lady panelists was Betty Sara mother of the famous Sara Quads.

Bruce Gyngell the host of the first televison program on Australian Television.

The master control room operators for the opening night were L to R : Molly Frood, Mike Ramsden Producer, Max Maxwell Co-Ordinator.

Opening night also had film programs screened from the telecine department using 35mm and 16mm flying spot scanners which gave Channel 9 a quality advantage over other networks.

The Assistant Chief Engineer, Les Free, checking the technical quality of the slide graphics machine prior to going on air.

The powerful Philips transmitter had to be kept in top working order to ensure a flawless opening night. Sid McLean is pictured here doing a last minute check.

A sample of the large crowds that gathered outside of stores that had tv set displays in their windows. This display was set up in the Town Hall at Parramatta.

Grace Bros. Broadway store in Sydney had a very large audience.

All of the live shows on the opening night, and for some months after, were produced in St Davids church hall in Surry Hills. A most outstanding achievement.

The first Channel 9 logo.

The Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies was to officially open Channel 9 on the first night but he had been selected by the United Nations to mediate with Egypt on the Suez Canal crisis. The Official Opening was rescheduled to October.

The headlines of the day gives an insight into the excitement that surrounded Sydney of the impending history making event of the introduction of television. The first program on Australian television commenced  with a fanfare followed by announcement by Bruce Gyngell, and then into 

7.00 pm  'This is Television' a step by step live and film story of the building of station TCN 9.

7.30  The Johnny O'Connor Show live from the studio at Surry Hills - musical variety.

7.45 The Patti Page Show - film from the Willoughby studios - musical variety.

 8.00 What's My Line - live panel show from Surry Hills hosted by George Barnes .

8.30 Douglas Fairbanks Presents - drama film from Willoughby.

 9.00 Live - first telecast of a  news interview with Air Vice Marshal Walters RAAF re-Air Force Week.

9.15  Live - Accent on Strings with vocalist Babs McKinnon from Surry Hills.

9.30 Father Knows Best - film from Willoughby.

10.00 I Love Lucy - comedy film from Willoughby.

10.30  Film highlights Katherine Dunham Ballet.

The official finishing time was 11.00pm.


 Click on this You Tube site to see some footage of the opening night.