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Australian film and television chronology

The 1960s

1960: Orry-Kelly wins third Oscar

Australian Orry-Kelly won the Oscar for Best Costume Design (Black-and-white) for Some Like it Hot (1959). Born John Orry Kelly in Kiama, NSW, in 1897, Orry-Kelly also won Academy Awards for An American in Paris (1951) and Les Girls (1957). His fourth nomination was for Gypsy (1962).

1960: First live broadcast of Melbourne Cup

On its centenary running, the Melbourne Cup was broadcast live for the first time. Leading personalities from all channels appeared on the telecast, which was made possible by a series of microwave repeater stations set up on mountain tops between Sydney and Melbourne. The cup was won by 50-1 outsider Hi-Jinx. The unplaced favourite was Tulloch at 3-1.


Borchers, W, Technical Advances in ABC Television, ABC Content Services, Chronology 4th Draft.

1960: Overseas companies depart with The Sundowners

The Warner Bros production of The Sundowners (1960) was the last of 14 features made by American and British companies in Australia from 1944. Combined with the parlous state of the Australian feature film industry at this time, the withdrawal of foreign producers worsened the outlook for Australian technicians and actors.


Moran, A & Veith, E 2005, Historical Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Cinema, The Scarecrow Press, Maryland, USA, p 15.

1960: Tim Burstall wins Venice Film Festival prize

Tim Burstall’s half-hour children’s short The Prize (1959) was awarded a prize at the Venice Film Festival and opened in 1960 to critical and commercial success. Burstall became a leading light of the Australian film revival of the 1970s and made the feature hits Stork (1971), Alvin Purple (1973) and Petersen (1974).


Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp 21–33.

1960: Local TV content requirements introduced

Australian Postmaster–General Charles Davidson announced the requirement for TV stations to broadcast 40 per cent Australian content overall and four hours in peak time every 28 days. The quota was increased in 1962 to 45 per cent overall and eight hours in peak time. In 1965 the overall percentage was raised to 50 per cent, and in 1968 stations were required to transmit 18 hours of locally-made content per month.


Herd, Nick 2005, 'Australian Television History – Timeline’, unpublished.

1961: First one-hour drama on Australian TV

Set entirely in a courtroom, Consider Your Verdict (1961-64) made its debut on Channel 7. Produced by Crawford Productions and recorded at HSV7’s Fitzroy Teletheatre in Melbourne, it was the first locally made one-hour drama series and ran for 160 episodes.

1961: Four Corners premieres on TV

The ABC weekly current affairs program Four Corners (1961-present) was first broadcast from Sydney at 10 pm on Saturday 19 August 1961. It was hosted by Michael Charlton and modelled on the BBC Panorama (1953-current) program. Not long after it arrived on air, Prime Minister Robert Menzies told producer Clement Semmler 'Young man, I know you and your Four Corners and I want you to know that I know, and and my ministers know, that the sole reason for that wretched program on the ABC is to discredit me and the Government’. Four Corners is the longest running program on Australian television.


Bowden, T with Borchers, W 2006, 50 Years Aunty’s Jubilee!: Celebrating 50 Years of ABC TV, ABC Books, Sydney, pp 80-81.

1961: Feature films almost dead, short films alive

In the years 1960-1966, only seven feature films were made in Australia. While long form drama reached its lowest ebb, there was a boom in the production of corporate and government-sponsored short films. In 1961-62 there were 610 such shorts made. Many Australian filmmakers learnt their craft on these films.


AFC (Screen Australia)

1962: Australian Writers' Guild established

The Australian Writers’ Guild was formed in 1962 as a professional association representing writers for film, television, radio and theatre. Since 1967 the AWG has presented the AWGIE Awards for excellence and its membership has expanded to include writers for video and new media.

1962: Television's Seven Network formed

The Australian Television Network (ATN) was formed in 1962 with the affiliation of ATN7 Sydney, HSV7 Melbourne, BTQ7 Brisbane and ADS7 Adelaide. In 1987, ADS7 switched to Network Ten and became ADS10, and SAS10 changed its name to SAS7 and joined the Seven Network. TVW7 Perth joined the Seven Network in 1988.

1963: The Vincent Report

The Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, chaired by Senator Victor Vincent and known as the Vincent Committee, presented its report to the Federal Parliament. The report found that during one month of 1961 only 1.06 per cent of programs broadcast had been Australian drama. It also noted that 'this country has already demonstrated that it can make world quality films… and the only reason it did not continue to do so is that the industry was left unprotected and squeezed out of business by by an overseas industry’, and 'the rise and fall of the Australian film industry is a melancholy spectacle for contemplation by Australians’. Although none of the Vincent Report recommendations for the film industry was adopted by the government of the day, it played a significant role in rallying support for a revival of the local industry and many of its broad tenets were later adopted.


Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 8 ‘Into the Void’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 212–213.

1963: Television's Nine Network formed

Frank Packer launched the National Television Network (NTN), with GTV9 Melbourne, QTQ9 Brisbane and NWS9 Adelaide joining TCN9 Sydney. This formed the backbone of the Nine Network, though only the Sydney and Melbourne stations were owned and operated by Packer.

1964: ABC logo adopted

On 1 May 1964, the ABC officially adopted its logo after viewing entries submitted in a competition. Adapted from the wave-form patterns on an oscilloscope used for measuring frequencies, the symbol was designed by ABC graphic designer Bill Kennard, and is still in use today.


Borchers, W, Technical Advances in ABC Television, ABC Content Services, Chronology 4th Draft.

1964: 0-10 TV network begins

In August 1964, ATV0 (later ATV10) began broacasting in Melbourne. TEN Sydney began transmission on 5 April 1965 with the variety spectacular, TV Spells Magic. Among the early programs on ATV0 was the pop music show Go!! (1964-67), hosted by Alan Field before Ian Turpie took over in 1965. The adult soap opera Number 96 (1972-78) rescued the 0-10 Network from serious financial difficulty when it became a smash hit in 1972.

1964: Landmark Aboriginal affairs documentary broadcast

Aboriginal people were given the opportunity to express themselves and talk about their problems for the first time in the ABC documentary A Changing Race (1964). Producer Therese Denny travelled thousands of miles and not one European was seen in the program.


Borchers, W, Technical Advances in ABC Television, ABC Content Services, Chronology 4th Draft.

1964: Homicide arrives on TV

The Crawfords crime drama Homicide (1964-76) debuted on Channel 7 and became a TV phenomenon. For eight years (1966-1974), the Melbourne-set series was the most popular show on Australian television and established Crawfords Australia as the largest Australian television drama production house. Richard Franklin, George Miller, Simon Wincer and Colin Eggleston were among the directors of the 509 episodes made during the show’s 12-year run.

1965: Independent film movement in Melbourne

In the mid-1960s, a seminal independent filmmaking group formed around the Melbourne suburb of Carlton. Influenced by the French New Wave, the group included Nigel Buesst and Brian Davies, whose The Pudding Thieves (released in 1967) was Carlton cinema’s first major production.


Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 9 ‘New Strings’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 223-224.

1965: Film festival censorship exposed

In 1965, Sydney Film Festival director David Stratton decided to issue press releases describing censorship cuts made to films in the program. The move was sparked by scenes forcibly deleted from the Japanese film Woman of the Dunes (1964). Censored titles screened at the SFF with their cuts made public included The Pawnbroker (1964) and Loves of a Blonde (1965).

1965: Ubu Films emerge in Sydney

Named after the absurdist play Ubu Roi (1896) by Alfred Jarry, Ubu Films emerged in Sydney in the mid-1960s. Centred on the filmmakers Albie Thoms, Aggy Read, John Clark and David Perry, the Ubu group produced a series of short films which gained attention for their pointed social and political comments and frequent use of nudity. Among the best known Ubu Films productions were Blunderball (Thoms, 1966) and Boobs a Lot (Read, 1970). Thoms later made feature films, including Sunshine City (1973) and Palm Beach (1979), and became the driving force behind the Sydney Filmmakers Cooperative.


Stratton, D 1980, The Last New Wave, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, pp. 279-280.

1966: First Australia-UK live telecast

The ABC and BBC combined to broadcast Down Under Comes Up Live. Using the Intelsat II satellite, pictures from Carnarvon, Western Australia, and Cornwall, England, were transmitted live. One of the interviewees in Carnarvon was Mayor Wilson Tuckey, later a colourful Federal MP(Member of Parliament).


Borchers, W, Technical Advances in ABC Television, ABC Content Services, Chronology 4th Draft.

1966: Skippy the bush kangaroo hops to TV stardom

Production began on the TV series Skippy (1966-68). Created by John McCallum and film director Lee Robinson, the series became the biggest international success story of Australian TV. The 91 half-hour colour episodes produced between 1966 and 1968 were sold to at least 80 foreign markets, including France (Skippy le kangourou), Britain (Skippy the Bush Kangaroo) and West Germany (Skippy, das Känguruh). A Skippy feature film, The Intruders, was released in 1969, but it was not a commercial success.


The Classic TV Archive, Skippy
Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p 245.

1966: Play School launched

An Australian version of the BBC children’s show Play School began on ABC in 1966. It quickly became mandatory viewing for Australian children and is still running. Many of Australia’s most distinguished actors including Noni Hazlehurst, John Waters, Lorraine Bayly, Colin Friels and Deborah Mailman have appeared as presenters on Play School (1966-current). It is the second-longest running children’s TV show in the world, behind the UK’s Blue Peter (1958-current), which began in 1958. The longest-serving Play School presenter was Benita Collings, who introduced children to Big Ted, Little Ted and Jemima from 1969 to 1999. John Hamblin appeared from 1970 to 1999.

1966: TV rules the living room

Ten years after television was launched the television set had become an almost universal item in Australian homes. Ninety five per cent of households in Sydney and Melbourne owned a TV set by 1966.


Herd, Nick 2005, 'Australian Television History – Timeline’, unpublished.

1967: This Day Tonight broadcast for the first time

The ABC flagship nightly current affairs program This Day Tonight was broadcast for the first time on 5 April 1967. The origins of This Day Tonight can be traced to the half-hour program Lineup, which went to air three nights per week in Tasmania from June 1966. The success of Lineup spearheaded the move toward a national nightly current affairs program. This Day Tonight began broadcasting in Sydney and Melbourne and by 1969 each state produced its own version of the program. This Day Tonight ran until 5 December 1978.


Bowden, T with Borchers, W 2006, 50 Years Aunty’s Jubilee!: Celebrating 50 Years of ABC TV, ABC Books, Sydney, pp 96-97.
Borchers, W 2000, A Pocket History of ABC Television, ABC Archives, ABC Content Services.

1967: Bellbird debuts

On 28 August 1967 the first episode of the ABC soap opera Bellbird (1967-77) was broadcast. A milestone in Australian TV drama, Bellbird was created by writer Barbara Vernon and ran until 12 December 1977. The most memorable event in Bellbird was the death of central character Charlie Cousins (Robin Ramsay), whose fall from a silo on the episode broadcast on 25 May 1968 stopped the nation. For months afterwards the show’s producers received sympathy messages from viewers. Set in a small rural town, Bellbird was the forerunner of Network 7’s successful soap opera, A Country Practice, which ran from 1981 until 1993. Actors with long-running roles on Bellbird included Maurie Fields as John Quinney (1969-1977), Terry Norris as Joe Turner (1969-1977) and Carmel Millhouse as Marge Bacon (1967-1977).


Bowden, T with Borchers, W 2006, 50 Years Aunty’s Jubilee!: Celebrating 50 Years of ABC TV, ABC Books, Sydney, p 120.
The Internet Movie Database

1968: UNESCO recommends film industry support

A seminar organised by the Australian UNESCO Committee for Mass Communications in November 1968 recommended government support for the film industry and the immediate establishment of a national film school.


Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 9 ‘New Strings’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 255.

1968: Two Japanese features made in Australia

In 1968 two Japanese feature films were made in Australia. The Drifting Avenger (Koya No Toseinin, 1968) was a samurai western set in California and filmed near Tamworth in NSW. Blazing Continent ( Moeru Tairiki, 1968) starred Japanese hearthrob Tetsuya Watari as an artist who fell in love with a Japanese woman who was engaged to an Australian. Neither film was released theatrically in Australia.


Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, pp 240-241.

1969: GTK, youth culture TV landmark

On 4 August 1969, ABC began broadcasting the ten-minute program GTK (Get To Know). Broadcast at 6.30 pm four nights a week, GTK (1969-74) aimed to introduce 'new teens and twenties … to the world of trendsetting fashions, records, movies and events’. The first program included a profile of Sydney rock band The Cleves and most episodes featured a live performance filmed for GTK at the ABC’s Gore Hill studio in Sydney. The driving forces behind GTK were producer-directors Bernie Cannon and Ric Birch, who pioneered many of the techniques which later became standard in music video clips. GTK’s extensive archive includes Mick Jagger discussing his role in Ned Kelly (1970), Lou Reed performing in Sydney in 1974 and interviews with Marc Bolan of T Rex and Pete Townshend of The Who. GTK ran until 1974 and was superseded by the ABC pop music show Countdown (1974-87).


Bowden, T with Borchers, W 2006, 50 Years Aunty’s Jubilee!: Celebrating 50 Years of ABC TV, ABC Books, Sydney, p 158.

1969: PM Gorton announces Australian Film Development Corporation

At the AFI Awards on 2 December 1969, Prime Minister John Gorton announced a major support package for the Australian film industry. The Government would establish the Australian Film Development Corporation with an initial grant of $100,000 to set up the Experimental Film Fund. A further $100,000 would be allocated to commence the planning and construction of a film school. This became the Australian Film and Television School, which opened in 1973. The Gorton initiatives played a critical role in fostering the Australian film revival of the 1970s.


Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 9 ‘New Stirrings’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 235.

1969: Censorship flashpoint at Sydney Film Festival

In June 1969, the Federal Minister for Customs and Excise, John Scott, imposed a ban on the Swedish film I Love, You Love (1968), which had been selected for the Sydney Film Festival. The decision was made just prior to the arrival of director Stig Björkman, who had been invited to present his film by SFF director David Stratton. Despite extensive media coverage of Björkman’s visit and hundreds of protesters signing a newspaper advertisement, the ban was enforced. When another film was cut by censors at the 1969 festival, organisers inserted a 30-second message saying 'censored’, which attracted boos and jeers from the audience. Added to the long series of similar incidents dating from the 1965 Sydney Film Festival, these events brought the topic of censorship to the fore and played an important role in the changing of Australia’s classification system in 1971.


Richard Kuipers interview with David Stratton, 13 April 2007.

1969: Censorship tide begins to turn

In 1969 Don Chipp was appointed Federal Minister for Customs and Excise. Regarded as a progressive in a conservative administration, Chipp initiated a series of reforms which culminated in the revamped classification system and introduction of the 'R’ rating in 1971.


Sabine, J (Ed) 1995, A Century of Australian Cinema, Mandarin, Port Melbourne, p 75.