Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

This Day Tonight (1967 - 1978)

Current affairs program
Daily x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

Commonly abbreviated to TDT, this was Australia’s first nightly current affairs television program. Its original and best-known presenter was the unflappable Bill Peach, who introduced 3 or 4 magazine-style items produced by the TDT team of television journalists from all around Australia.

Curator’s Notes:

For many years the ABC was the only source of current affairs programs on Australian television. ABC News had begun at the start of television in 1956 but it wasn’t until 1964 that Four Corners hit the airwaves as a weekly current affairs program. TDT was something quite new in Australia, a nightly current affairs program featuring hard-hitting interviews with politicians and officials as the stories were breaking.

TDT was also breaking new ground with its highly irreverent approach to stories, such as the musical comedy sketch about then NSW Premier Bob Askin or the anthem composed and sung for Frank Sinatra when he arrived in Australia. TDT regularly broadcast animated political satires from cartoonist Peter Nicholson, which were aired the day he made them to ensure they were topical.

The program’s presenter for the first eight years was Bill Peach, whose laconic delivery and infinite supply of weak jokes would mask any studio meltdown from breaking tapes or camera malfunctions, to the wrong tape being put to air. Some of the great names of Australian current affairs journalism worked for the program over its lifetime: Michael Willesee, Paul Murphy, Tony Joyce, Allan Hogan, Mike Carleton, Stuart Littlemore and Tim Bowden.

TDT won many awards during its years of broadcast including Logie awards for Best News Program (1967), Most Outstanding Coverage of Political Affairs (1971) and Outstanding Contribution to TV Journalism in 1977. Its contemporary successor is The 7.30 Report hosted by Kerry O’Brien.

Titles in this series

Peter Nicholson Animations – Fraser’s Leadership Challenge 1974

Political cartoonist Peter Nicholson satirises Billy Snedden’s claim that his parliamentary party would go through ‘the valley of death, over hot coals’ in their support for him.

Peter Nicholson Animations – Gough’s World Tour 1974

Political cartoonist Peter Nicholson satirises Gough Whitlam as he heads off on a world tour following a record anti-Labor vote in the Queensland State elections.

This Day Tonight – The Last Program 1978

This last TDT program captures a unique interview with the former Governor-General Sir John Kerr, appointed by Prime Minister EG Whitlam in 1972. Kerr had dismissed the Whitlam Labor government in 1975 and had not spoken to the media about ...