LIVE PRODUCTION MOVES TO WILLOUGHBY
One of the earliest shows produced in 1956, which wasn't shown on the opening night, was Campfire Favourites hosted by country music singer Frank Ifield. He was the number one recording star in Australia at just 19 years old.
In November 1956 live production moved to the Willoughby studios. St Davids had been outgrown as a venue for live shows. Sad to say St Davids was destined to fade into history. An inglorious fate for such a glorious contribution to the progress of time .
To show the versatility of television Channel 9, where possible, would do live broadcasts away from a studio. The very successful Name that Tune show was produced onboard the ‘Manoora’ cruise ship. It also helped to be able to produce programs whilst the Willoughby studios were being completed. During March 1957 Robert Clyde Packer, the eldest son of Frank Packer, became the TV critic for the Australian Womens' Weekly. The regular columnist Nan Musgrove must have been away on leave. Even though there was much infactuation with televison it didn't stop Clyde Packer from being critical of his family's new pride and joy.
The first women's show on Channel 9 was " Home" produced and compered by Judy Ann James at the now fully functioning Willoughby studios. Judy was the daughter of radio personality Charles Cousens. With Judy is Neil Andrews the Director. "Home" was aired between 4.30 & 5.30 every tuesday afternoon. It didn't have a long run. In March 1957 it was replaced by "Tuesday at One" presented by American Joe McCormick.
English actor Desmond Tester commenced the " Desmond and the Channel Nine Pins" daily program. Desmond was a child star in the British film industry. He co-starred with Sabu in the period film " The Drum" of the British Raj times in India. More on Desmond later.
Popular radio programs were not exempt from being converted into moving pictures. Australia's Amateur Hour was an Australian old time radio program, a talent contest, which was broadcast from 1940 to 1958, and aired on television from 1957 to 1958.
The radio version was originally compered by Harry Dearth, then by Dick Fair, and finally by Terry Dear. It was a popular, long-running program on which many performers appeared.
The television version was compered by Terry Dear, and ran from August 1957 to February 1958. It aired on TCN-9 in Sydney and HSV-7 in Melbourne.
Live musical shows were popular and inexpensive to produce. Frank Lawrence & Marie presented a regular Tuesday night show for thirty minutes at 10.00pm called " Say it with Music"
A bit of imitation grass two branches from a peppercorn tree a length of rope a wooden seat combined with a beautiful voice accompanied by a piano, thirty minutes of captivating live television.
Another ladies program was commenced in March hosted by Elaine White. Elaine was a very cultured English beautician who produced and compered her own show entitled “ Beauty Case” from 4.00 until 5.00 Wednesday afternoon.
" Tuesday at One" was a daytime variety show lasting ninety minutes. The compere Joe McCormick, pictured above, was a personable American actor whose accent was a draw card in those heady early years of Australian television.
There was a high degree of camaraderie developing live shows. Many of us were skilled in our profession but TV was a new medium to which we had to collectively mould our individual talents.
It produced a bonding between “the stars” and the crew. The top photo is of Joe & regular featured vocalist Babs McKinnon with crew members L to R Floor Manager Peter Honeyfield, cameramen Brian Morelli and Warwick Freeman.
In May 1957 a variety show was telecast from the USS Bennington an American aircraft carrier in Sydney Harbour. She was here for the Battle of the Coral Sea Commemorative Service. The show was produced by Channel 9 compered by Chuck Faulkner and featured vocalist Morgan St. John. Another example of the versatility of creating pictures from anywhere.
'What's My Line' had a change of compere in early 1957. Radio personality George Foster joined a new look panel.
In July Jacqueline Kott introduced a new three hour women's program. Jacqueline was a very experienced stage, radio and television actress. In 1957 she married Gordon Samuels who was appointed the 36th NSW Governor 1996 - 2001
The Australian Gas Company sponsored Claire Davis for a thirty minute cooking demonstration show every week.
The Sydney County Council also sponsored a weekly electric cooking show with Barbara Lynch.
1957 culminated with a live Christmas Special variety show starring George Wallace Jnr.
Sport also played a very important part in the rapid appeal of television. Ken Howard was added to the Channel 9 stable of starters of early programs.
Sport also attracted big sponsors. Ted Harris, third from the left, was the NSW State Manager of Ampol Petroleum and also compered the Ampol Cavalcade of Sport show in 1957. He was an experienced sportsman with media background in radio. Ted was later to become Managing Director Ampol Petroleum in 1970. The photo shows the Rugby League Player of the Month presentation.