Category Archives: Australian television history

10 great Australian westerns

To mark the UK release of The True History of the Kelly Gang (2019), Justin Kurzel’s bold reimagining of the sage one of Australia’s most famous myths, bushranger Ned Kelly, the British Film Institute asked me to write about my ten favourite Australian westerns. Not only is Ned Kelly Australia’s most famous bushranger – the name given to convicts who had escaped and survived Australia’s harsh environment to become outlaws – his legend forms a mini industry in film and television. In addition to Kurzel’s, Kelly has been the subject of eight films. The Kelly filmography forms part of a larger of body of Australian westerns, made by overseas and local concerns. You can read my piece in full at the BFI site here.

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The Evil Touch talk at the Australian National Film & Sound Archive

I know from previous mentions of the show this site, that there are more than a few fans amongst you of the early 1970s Australian television horror anthology show, The Evil Touch.

For those who live in Canberra or nearby, I’ll be giving a talk on the show at the National Film and Sound Archive from 6pm on Friday, September 6.

The late 1960s/early 1970s was viewed as the peak period for horror anthology television. The Evil Touch is Australia’s only contribution to this particular broadcast niche. Made specifically for the American market – at a time when little Australian TV was made, let alone exported overseas – it bombed when it aired locally in 1973 and the 26 episode show is now largely forgotten and remains unavailable on DVD.

Although cheaply made, the show remains strangely effective, at times, genuinely disturbing viewing. The grainy look and surreal narrative style give it the feel – to use the words of American television critic John Kenneth Muir – of ‘a low grade transmission straight from hell’.

My talk will look at the show’s origins, making and reception. As part of the event, the NFSA will also screening two episodes: the debut episode that aired in 1973, ‘The Obituary’, starring Leslie Nielsen, and what I think is the most innovative episode, ‘Kadaitcha Country’, starring Leif Erickson as an alcoholic Christian missionary assigned to a remote outback mission, where he immediately comes into contact with an Aboriginal ‘witch doctor’ called the Kadaitcha Man.… Read more

The weird and wonderful history of the Logie Awards

The 61th annual Logie Awards for Australian television take place tonight. The red carpet procession, those strange looking statues, the local and international celebrities, it’s easy and a bit predictable to bag out Australia’s ‘night of nights’, even many of the guests who attend the awards do so live on social media.

Some facts about the Logies are well known. Bert Newton has hosted the awards ceremony 19 times. Kylie Minogue made history in 1988 by being the youngest star to win the Gold Logie. The awards were held on an ocean liner twice and, in 1970, a special Gold Logie was awarded to the astronauts on the Apollo 11 for providing TV’s greatest moment, the telecast of the moon landing.

Other Logie related facts – the colourful and controversial – are not so familiar, and traces of them can only be found by a deep dive into the Internet and, in particular, the bowels of YouTube, where various unknown individuals have preserved snippet of the various awards ceremonies (whoever you are, thank you!).

The first Logie Awards were held in 1959, just a few years after the introduction of television in Australian (Googie Withers was guest presenter and the Gold Logie went to Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner, who appeared as the character Princess Panda on the Channel 9 children’s program The Happy Show).… Read more

A sit down with the Godfather: an interview with Peter Corris

As promised in my recent piece to mark the passing of Australian crime writer, Peter Corris, it gives me great pleasure to post a terrific, in-depth interview with the author that appeared in issue 14 of  the now defunct online journal, Crime Factory, in September 2013.The interview was conducted by avid crime reader and regular Crime Factory contributor, Andrew Prentice.

Crime Factory: Your pre-writing career was academia and journalism, wasn’t it?

Peter Corris: Yes

Where did the shift take place into writing novels?

I was working at the National Times when the first of the Hardy books came out, in 1980. I was the literary editor, sending the books out, doing the reviews, and also doing some interviewing pieces, sports people, politicians…and the first book was a success, very well reviewed.

That was The Dying Trade?

That’s the one. And I’d already finished the second one because I enjoyed doing the first one so much, and had started a third one, and well, the ball just got rolling, even though it took about 5 years for the first one to get published. I gave up the journalism and was bringing in enough from the books and writing short stories to get going. I should add I had a working wife as well, which was helpful.… Read more

10 great Australian crime films

To mark the addition of Ivan Sen’s 2016 film, Goldstone, to BFI Player, I was asked to write on 10 great Australian crime films. The piece is live and can be read in full on the BFI site here.

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