Tonight with Dave Allen

Channel 9 creates international image for Dave Allen

Dave Allen had his first television appearance on the BBC talent show New Faces in 1959. In 1962 he toured South Africa with American vaudeville star Sophie Tucker. Tucker was impressed with him and suggested to him that he try his luck in Australia. Moving there, he worked with Digby Wolfe on Australian television, becoming Wolfe's resident comedian.
While on tour in Australia in 1963, he quickly proved successful and accepted an offer to headline a television talk show with Channel 9, Tonight with Dave Allen, which proved successful.  Initially it was to be an eight-week run; but due to the show's popularity, it was subsequently turned into a 18 month engagement. The show which was later screened in Britain, the success of which led to his own BBC TV comedy series Dave Allen at Large (1971, 1975). Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he continued to tour internationally with his one-man show and also performed as a dramatic actor.

Collage of photos of studio preparation for Dave Allen Show. Seen are Director Brian C. Morelli, Geoff Harvey Musical Director, Tom Moore Lighting Director, Ray Derrick Audio Director, Bill Wells Writer, Floor Manager Eric Moore. Crew members George Weiss, Paul Brincat aka Salty Dog, Peter Russell.

                                       SING - A - LONG

American musical guru Mitch Miller released a record of a male choir whistling the theme from the movie 'Bridge on the River Kwai' it became a worldwide hit along with Miller's other hit themes 'The Longest Day' & 'Major Dundee.' Channel 9 caught the success of that format and produced their own version of Sing Along with Mitch. Hosted by Leonrad Teale, directed by Warwick Freeman, its cast was the who's who of voices including Bill Newman, Ross Higgins and the Delltones L to R : Warren Lucas, Ian 'Pee Wee' Wilson, Brian Perkins and Noel Widerberg. Sadly, Widerberg was killed in a motor accident in early 1962 just after the success of their new release 'Get a little dirt on your hands' and the beginning of the pre-recorded Sing-A-Long series. There was a trying time deciding whether to transmit the shows in which Noel had already appeared. After much discussion with those close to Noel it was agreed to air them. Col Loughnon replaced Widerberg in the group.
Under the guise of 'Necessity is the mother of invention' the above photo captures just that. Channel 9 didn't own a camera crane. The staging of sixteen performers often required a high angle camera view. So a forklift was hired. A wooden palette attached and camera mounted. But! Due to the noise of the motor it couldn't be used during the vocals. In the bottom of frame is Keith Walsh ex-radio man with a loud-hailer who would call out the lyrics. So the only way we could use the fork lift as a crane movement, would be to dolly back the unit - by pushing it. No motor to be used. Then release the previously primed hydraulic valve to get a downward movement of the camera platform. We never ever had any upward movement.
We did have a camera dolly but it was far from being a crane. Very useful for single peformers such as Patsy Ann Noble on a very short season of a tonight show called 'Top of the Town'
The Great Sorcar was an international magical star. In early 1960s he performed this act on 'Top of the Town.' A young girl was sawn in half separated and magically re-appeared in one piece. For a country newly introduced to television the sight of such an act seen live in your living room was very confronting. Sorcar died of a heart attack in 1971 in Japan during his act. One can only hope it wasn’t during the sawing part.