Tag Archives: Number 96

The book about Australian TV’s most notorious address

Number 96I have a lot of time for anyone who makes the effort to preserve and curate popular (and unpopular) culture of pretty much any kind. The latest example of this kind of work to cross my radar is a book which shares the same title as the hit seventies Australian soap opera that is its subject, Number 96.

In the book’s introduction, Nigel Giles says he was eight years old when he started watching Number 96, two years after it made it sensational debut on ATVO (now known as Channel 10). I was the same age but, regrettably, my parents were not so permissive and deemed me too young to be allowed to watch the show. Nonetheless, it still registered on my pre-teen brain because of Abigail Rogan or ‘Abigail’ as she was universally referred to, who briefly played the show’s sultry blond bombshell, Bev Houghton. Thanks to the success of Number 96, Abigail would become one of Australia’s first sex symbols, starring in a raft of TV shows and movies.

Number 96 depicted the lives of the residents of a fictitious block of inner Sydney flats. It was the brainchild of two producers, expat American Bill Harmon and Don Cash, who was English born but had worked in the US.… Read more

Spirit of 96: the story behind Cash Harmon’s Number 96

SpiritAustralian readers who have followed my site for a while will be aware of my interest in 1970s Australian television, including the soap opera Number 96. Number 96, which I have previously written about here, depicted the lives of the residents of a fictitious block of inner Sydney flats. Debuting on March 13 1972, the racy content caused moral outrage on the part of religious groups. It was a huge success with audiences, however, who were keen to dive head first into the warm water of the increasingly sexually liberated early seventies.

When I discovered Melbourne man Nigel Giles was compiling a oral history of the show and pitching for funds on Pozible to publish a book on the subject, I immediately thought it was something Pulp Curry readers would be interested in and might also wish to contribute to.

The book is titled Spirit of 96: the story behind Cash Harmon’s Number 96. You can find the page for Nigel’s Number 96 Pozible campaign here.

Below Nigel discusses why Number 96 was so controversial and successful, and how it deserves recognition as one of Australia’s most significant television shows.

In the 1970s there was one TV show that had the whole country talking. When the adults-only soapie Number 96 debuted on our screens in March 1972 it was hailed as the night Television lost its virginity!… Read more

Pulp Friday: witches, sorcerers & Satan’s disciples

Satan, witches, warlocks, demons, they were everywhere in the sixties and seventies and no more so than on pulp fiction covers. To mark Halloween, today’s Pulp Friday offering is a selection of covers featuring the lord of darkness and his various disciples.

It’s hardly surprising that Satanism and witchcraft featured so prominently in pulp. Not only did these books mirror then contemporary tabloid fascinations with black magic and witches, but the subject was an excuse for a bit of gratuitous sex and nudity. Especially sex. Devil worshippers, particularly Satan’s female disciples, were nothing if not sexually promiscuous, at least in the pages of pulp fiction.

The selection of covers below hail from the UK, US and Australia. They ran the gamut of key pulp fiction sub-genres: fiction (Dennis Wheatley’s To the Devil a Daughter, one of many occult themed books he wrote); history and so-called exposes (James Holledge’s Black Magic, ‘The world of uncanny occult rights, psychic phenomena, weird sex rities’); how to guides (How to Become a Sensuous Witch); television and movie ties ins (The Witchfinder General and  The Grip of Evil, the latter part of a series of paperback spin offs based on the hugely popular early 1970s Australian television show, Number 96), and smut titles (Bride of Satan and The Cult of Flesh – ‘Violent debauchery in a Satanic Cult of Flesh Worshipers’),

Even Carter Brown, hardly the most salacious of pulp writers in the sixties, touched on occult themes in books like Blonde on a Broomstick.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Number 96 paperback tie-ins

Bev & BruceLike the television show they were based on, today’s Pulp Friday offering, Number 96 paperback tie-ins, contain nudity, sex, free love, devil worship, infidelity and murder.

The Australian TV soap opera Number 96 depicted the lives of the residents of a fictitious block of inner Sydney flats. These days it comes across as a cultural curio and a sleazy late night commercial TV reminder of early, pre-feminist, seventies. It was indeed those things, but also much more.

Number 96 debuted on March 13 1972, “The night Australian television lost its virginity”. There was moral outrage about the explicit nature of the show and protestors picketed Channel 0 (now the Ten Network) with placards demanding the station “ban this filth”.

It was a huge success with audiences, however, who were keen to dive head first into the warm water of the increasingly sexually liberated early seventies. The show resulted in a feature film and even had its own passenger train that transported the cast and crew from Sydney to Melbourne for the annual Logie awards (Australia’s equivalent of the Emmys). The train made stops at country towns along the way at which thousands turned out to see it.

The end titles always featured a shot of the exterior of the apartment block.… Read more