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Backchat (1986 - 1995)

Interstitial series

Series synopsis:

Twice weekly from 9.20 pm until 9.30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Backchat journalist Tim Bowden presented audience letters about the ABC’s output on radio and television. They ranged widely from requests for program repeats, to praise for a particular series, or to blame the national broadcaster for causing offence. Sometimes Tim Bowden would be able to respond on air and sometimes the head of the department or the executive producer of the particular program in question would reply within the next few days.

Curator’s Notes:

In 1989, Jim Oram, television critic for the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, summed up what most ABC viewers thought of the program and its presenter with the following words, ‘Backchat’s forum is astonishingly simple. Its commentator Tim Bowden (who reminds one of a koala and therefore should be protected) sits in front of a camera introducing written comments from the viewers’.

The idea for the series came from Peggy McDonald, then head of research and development for ABC Television. Tim was chosen for his ability to write a witty script and for his larrikin streak. He remained its popular presenter for eight and a half years (from 1986–1994).

Tim Bowden recalled that viewers were quick to discover Backchat as a place for their letters of complaint, praise, suggestions or questions about programs and policies. Only a small number of letters were chosen from the thousands the ABC would receive each year, although the ABC policy was to reply to every letter sent. If the query was about some particular area such as news or sport or drama, then that letter would be referred to that particular department of the ABC.

Titles in this series

Backchat, Episode 215 1988

On this week’s Backchat, viewers write in with praise for ABC current affairs programs The World At Six and The World Tonight, programs that copped tough criticism the previous week. There’s also viewers’ response to the BBC’s drama series, Fortunes ...

Backchat, Episode 216 1988

On Backchat, viewers of ABC television and ABC radio listeners could write or phone in their response to the weekly output of the public broadcaster, which in this program includes Countrywide and Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals. There’s also an impassioned plea ...

Backchat, Episode 217 1988

In this program of audience response to ABC programs on television and radio, there’s appreciation for the ABC fillers, which can be seen behind the logo, as well as the ABC’s radio coverage of the Seoul Olympics. Tim Bowden the ...