Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

All television programs

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1950s

Australian Walkabout 1958

The Chauvels, on a filmmaking safari of Australia, travel through the Northern Territory to Rum Jungle for a privileged look inside a uranium mine.

A Town To Be Drowned 1958

This ABC program was one of the first homemade documentaries on a contemporary local subject to be seen on Australian television, and previously thought to have been lost.

Kindergarten Playtime 1959

In 1959, two years after the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite is launched, Australia’s first pre-school television show tackles space travel.

Reg Grundy’s Wheel of Fortune 1959

Reg Grundy’s television debut in 1959 was also his first game show.

1960s

Mr Squiggle and Friends – Episode 148 c1960

Mr Squiggle is one of the most recognised children’s television characters. Although no longer on air, he continues to appear at exhibitions and science fiction conventions.

ABC Children’s TV Club – Monday Showcase 1961

The iconic Children’s Hour on ABC radio morphs into television. This episode features artist Jeffrey Smart and Aroora the Red Kangaroo.

Four Corners – The First Program 1961

This interview with Olympic swimming champion John Konrads, from the first Four Corners in 1961, leaves us with a better understanding of how a great athlete’s mind works.

Dancing Orpheus 1962

This black-and-white nature program from the earliest years of ABC TV features the unique lyrebird. Narrated by John West, it won an AFI Gold Award in 1963.

Interview with Archbishop Mannix 1962

Interviewed at age 97, Dr Daniel Mannix, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, was a man of considerable influence in Australian public life.

Wambidgee 1962

An early children’s animated puppet series about the adventures of a young Aboriginal boy living in the bush.

With Gentle Majesty 1962

The high point of the Melbourne Royal Agricultural Show each day is the Grand Parade. The initial languid pace of the filming and editing nicely underscores the images of the huge, slow-moving workhorses.

The Land That Waited 1963

This remarkable documentary tells the early history of colonial Australia through etchings, paintings and drawings produced by the first colonists.

The Pearl Fishers 1963

This black-and-white television production of the opera was one of the earliest performances ever broadcast on the ABC and one of the most elaborate.

Pick a Box – Episode 170 1963

An episode of the classic quiz show featuring celebrity contestant Barry Jones, who later became a state and federal member of parliament.

Poetry In Australia – Judith Wright 1963

This simple, talking heads interview is most informative and a delight to watch. It is a must-see for students of Judith Wright’s work and fellow poets.

An Airman Remembers 1964

This early ABC documentary is about Sir Gordon Taylor, a fighter ace in the First World War and one of the pioneers of aviation in Australia.

The Legend of Damien Parer 1964

The life of the legendary Australian combat cameraman Damien Parer, through the eyes of those who knew him and through footage shot before his death in action in 1944.

The Mavis Bramston Show – Series 1 Episode 1 1964

A weekly variety show featuring topical satire, sketches and songs.

The Stranger – Series 1 Episode 1 1964

A stranger with an accent, amnesia and seemingly no heartbeat arrives at the home of the Walsh family in Australia’s first science–fiction series.

Divine Service – Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church, Rose Bay 1965

Divine Service was first broadcast in 1956, the first year of television in Australia. In a packed church, everyone is dressed in their Sunday best for the ABC.

Homicide – The Decimal Point 1965

When Homicide first aired, Australian television drama, complete with Australian cops and accents, was a novelty on screen.

The Magic Boomerang – The Discovery 1965

Tom uses a magic boomerang to find treasure, foil his greedy cousin’s plans and save the family farm.

The Mavis Bramston Show – Series 2 Episode 1 1965

Although Mavis Bramston’s topical satire is no longer current, it is still sharp.

Mister Prime Minister – Alfred Deakin 1966

A biography of Alfred Deakin, Prime Minister of Australia from 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908 and from 1909 to 1910.

Mister Prime Minister – Joseph Aloysius Lyons c1966

A profile of Joe Lyons, Prime Minister of Australia from 1932 to 1939.

Wandjina! – Episode 5 1966

Strange events occur when people search for two boys missing in the bush.

Australian Visit 1967

Anti-Vietnam War demonstrations were timed to coincide with the five-day visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam and his wife in 1967.

My Name’s McGooley, What’s Yours? – End of the Line 1967

McGooley, starring Gordon Chater and set in Balmain in the ’60s, was Australia’s first homegrown sitcom success.

A Big Country – Peninsula People 1968

An early episode of this iconic series. A Big Country aimed to bring country Australia into the lives of urban Australians.

Dig A Million, Make A Million 1968

Lang Hancock, nicknamed ‘the flying prospector’ for aerial prospecting with his naked eye, and Peter Wright find Australia’s richest iron ore deposit.

Skippy – Be Our Guest 1968

Clancy wants to make a good impression on her visiting mother. Instead, she gets lost in the bush where she is rescued by a group of Aboriginal men (played by visiting members of the Aboriginal Theatre from Yirrkala, Arnhem Land).

Skippy – Long Way Home 1968

Dastardly Dr Stark kidnaps ‘no ordinary kangaroo’ Skippy for his own private zoo, but Skippy has other plans.

Chequerboard – It’s Amazing What You Can Do With a Pound of Mince 1969

The series brought to light the lives of individuals and families who had missed out on the benefits of Australia’s growing affluence in the 1960s.

Chequerboard – Too Much For Molony 1969

Chequerboard introduces a 'fly-on-the-wall’ observational style. A Catholic priest leaves his order to live with one of his young parishioners.

Play School – Trains Thursday 1969

An early episode of iconic pre-school program Play School featuring presenters Don Spencer, Anne Haddy and Ruth Cracknell.

1970s

Bellbird 1970

Australia’s first successful national weekly serial, dealing with the lives and loves of ordinary people in a small country town.

Chequerboard – My Brown Skin Baby, They Take ‘im Away 1970

This powerful film documents the impact of the government’s policy of removing light-skinned children from their Aboriginal mothers to be raised in Christian missions.

Dynasty – Have You Got the Numbers? 1970

A drama series that revolves around the Mason family, owners of a media empire in the tradition of the real-life Packer and Murdoch clans.

Homicide – The Superintendent 1970

This extraordinary episode breaks away from many of the usual Homicide conventions and dispenses with the customary police investigation in record time.

Profiles of Power, HC Coombs 1970

When Dr Coombs saw the unnecessary cruelty of the Great Depression and its terrible impact on ordinary people, he decided to dedicate his life to economics.

Division 4 – The Return of John Kelso 1971

This superb hour of drama was Division 4’s most awarded individual episode. It sustains a mood of simmering tension and the supporting cast deliver deliciously malicious performances.

It’s Academic – Episode 40 1971

It’s Academic is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running quiz program in television history.

Matlock Police – Episode 1, Twenty-six Hours 1971

From an opening sequence strongly reminiscent of Easy Rider (1969) to a rollicking country car chase at its climax, this is a bumper first episode.

Monday Conference – PNG 1971

In one of the earliest Monday Conference programs, Robert Moore moderates an interview with the impressive New Guinea politician John Guise.

Adventure Island – Episode 1174 1972

A successful children’s show set on the magical Adventure Island, a ‘land that’s far across the sea’.

Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table - Episode 35 1972

With an abundance of playful silliness, Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table is a delightful product of its era and remains very watchable today.

The Aunty Jack Show – Series One 1972

Grahame Bond’s Aunty Jack was a cross-dressing bikie hostess who threatened to jump out of viewers’ television sets and 'rip their bloody arms off’.

Number 96 – Episode 35 1972

One of the only surviving early black-and-white episodes of Number 96 is a rollicking ride through an apartment building and its class values and sex-obsessed situations.

Chequerboard – It’s A Big Day In Any Girl’s Life 1973

A 1970s country society wedding is contrasted with the union of two people living in the city who met on their way to work in a local shoe factory.

Homicide – The Friendly Fellow 1973

This was star Charles 'Bud’ Tingwell’s favourite Homicide episode.

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