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The Aunty Jack Show – Series Two (1974)

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'I'll rip your bloody arms off' education content clip 2

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Each week the closing credits were played over this sequence as Aunty Jack (Grahame Bond), with Thin Arthur (Rory O’Donoghue) in the side car, rode aggressively over the top and into her royal domain of Wollongong, to the signature tune of the series, Farewell Aunty Jack.

Curator’s notes

In its day the program effectively pushed the boundaries of what could be done on television. It’s hard to imagine from today’s perspective those times of thirty years ago when to say 'bloody’ on the ABC (the nation’s public broadcaster), sent a frisson through the viewing public, not to mention a pantomime dame with a moustache and a boxing glove called Aunty Jack, threatening to punch anyone who didn’t watch her program. It was a bold and brave decision by the ABC to program this, over the many objections it received.

The Aunty Jack song was one of the earliest video clips, showcasing a great character and a memorable tune that stays with you so that you find yourself humming it long after the program is finished. The clip itself is still visually fresh and amusing although a little slow, but in its day was very stylish, and its technique was often copied. It was unusual in those days, and probably still is, to find a comedy show with several musical sequences in each program.

As with most filmed sequences at the ABC in the transition from black-and-white to colour, the opening and closing musical sequences of The Aunty Jack Show were filmed in colour although all programs were transmitted in black-and-white until the changeover date. Then with a fanfare at midnight on the 1 March 1975, despite Aunty Jack threatening to hold it back, colour was introduced on Australian television for the first time and audiences found themselves having to upgrade to a colour television set.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows the closing sequence of The Aunty Jack Show, Series Two. Filmed on a rocky shoreline near Wollongong in New South Wales, the main characters Flange Desire, Kid Eager, Thin Arthur and Aunty Jack are seen in costume while Thin Arthur (Rory O’Donoghue) performs the song 'Farewell Aunty Jack’. The camera focuses on Aunty Jack as she speaks her lines in the song. In another sequence she drives her motor bike with O’Donoghue in the sidecar. In the final moments of the clip Aunty Jack knocks over the three others with her boxing glove.

Educational value points

  • The clip features the line for which Aunty Jack is best remembered in the theme song from the hit Australian television show of the 1970s, The Aunty Jack Show. The larger than life character warns viewers that she will 'rip your bloody arms off’ if they don’t watch the show the following week. Written by musician and singer Rory O’Donoghue with Grahame Bond, the song was released as a single in 1973 and stayed at number one in the Australian charts for 22 weeks.
  • Aunty Jack, an obese cross-dressing bikie, created controversy as well as enthusiasm among ABC television viewers of the 1970s. An anarchic figure, she also made many derogatory references to her home town, Wollongong in NSW. Many Wollongong citizens rang the ABC to complain about the show when it was first shown in 1972. In spite of this the show and the characters achieved cult status and had a large following.
  • The clip does not convey the confronting nature of the show that initially evoked negative critical reviews and an outraged response from many viewers. Complaints cited its violence, its bad language and its 'drag queen’ central character. Coming out of university revues and before television audiences in Australia had seen the British TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, its free-flowing format and its irreverence were new to most ABC viewers.
  • This controversial and groundbreaking series first appeared on Australian television in 1972, during a period of great social and political change in Australia. The Labor government of Gough Whitlam was elected on the slogan 'It’s Time’ after 23 years of coalition government, and censorship laws were eased allowing Aunty Jack and the more titillating serial, Number 96, to appear on Australian television.
  • Many comedy programs including The Aunty Jack Show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe and the D Generation have their origins in university revues. The Aunty Jack Show emerged from the Sydney University architecture revues of the mid-1960s. Grahame Bond and Rory O’Donoghue were founding members and other members were the scriptwriter Geoffrey Atherden, the film director Peter Weir (writer on the series) and composer Peter Best.
  • The second series, from which this clip is taken, launched the career of Garry McDonald (1948–). He appears in the clip as the character Kid Eager, but in the series he also created the role of Norman Gunston, regional TV reporter. Later he would revive the character in the ABC TV series The Norman Gunston Show (1975–76). The series was later picked up and screened by Channel Seven.
  • Maurice Murphy, the director and producer of The Aunty Jack Show headed ABC Comedy and initiated and promoted new Australian comedy talent. Having worked with the creative talent behind Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the UK he returned to Australia and commissioned the first series of The Aunty Jack Show. He had to fight for the show against ABC management. Since leaving the ABC he has continued to work in TV and film.

This clip shows the closing sequence of series two of The Aunty Jack Show. Aunty Jack plays the guitar while Thin Arthur sings ‘Farewell Aunty Jack’ seated at the piano. Flange Desire and Kid Eager dance in costume against a backdrop of cliffs.

Thin Arthur (sings)

Farewell, Aunty Jack
We know you’ll be back
Though you’re ten feet tall
You don’t scare us at all.
You’re big, bold and tough
But you’re not so rough
There’s a scream as you plummet away…

The camera pulls back to reveal Aunty Jack at the top of the cliff.
Aunty Jack Goodbye, me little lovelies and remember – you’d better tune in next week to the show because if you don’t, I’ll come round to your house and I’ll rip yer bloody arms off. And I will too. Don’t forget it.

The rest of the song is accompanied by images of Aunty Jack riding a motorbike and the four characters standing on the cliff-top with ocean spray in the background.
Thin Arthur (sings)

She rides a black bike…

Aunty Jack I do.

Thin Arthur (sings)

And drives through the night.
She’s big, round and fat
But don’t dare tell her that…

Aunty Jack I bloody well aren’t.

Thin Arthur (sings)

’Cause she turns so mean
Her glove starts to gleam
And she’ll scream as she plummets away…

Aunty Jack Do you want a good smack in the mouth?

Thin Arthur (Sings)

Oh, farewell Aunty Jack
Don’t you know you’ll be back?
Though you’re ten feet tall
You don’t scare us at all.
You’re big, bold and tough
But you’re not so rough
And there’s a scream as you plummet away.

Aunty Jack punches the other three with her golden boxing glove and they fall to the ground.

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This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

Terms & Conditions

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. ALL rights are reserved.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading this clip:

When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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