60 Years of QLD TV

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

50 Years Of Brisbane TV-The fifty icons of Brisbane TV

It's time to blow out some birthday candles, But that's tomorrow. Welcome to the 50 Years Of Brisbane TV "Super Saturday" where we honour the greats of our industry, and look back on those decisions that define our city's industry. We'll give a promo treat, and some programs that we loved from our home town. And of course, those "Only In Brisbane" moments! The idea for the top 50 (originally a top 20), came from the recent Q150 Icons poll, except, ours was personally selected by this blog's sole editor, Kuttsywood. We start now with the ten greatest personalities from Brisbane, over the last fifty years:

The 10 greatest Brisbane TV personalities of the last fifty years:
#10- Kerri-Anne Kennerley: KAK has had a long and fruitful career, on the small screen. Her career started in the 1960's on QTQ-9's Channel Niners, and has never looked back. During the 80's and early 1990's, she was a welcoming face on Ten's Good Morning Australia, even coming back to her hometown in 1988, to anchor Ten/TV0's coverage of the opening ceremony of World Expo 88. Currently she is with Nine, and still pops up now and again on promos in Brisbane, and that is a career going full circle, for KAK.

#9- Hugh Cornish: The first face on Queensland television in 1959, Hugh has gone through some career changes, first as a QTQ-9 tonight show host in the early 1960's, then retreating in the 70's becoming a mastermind, of programming, while hosting a talent quest, then eventually becoming QTQ-9 general manager in the 1980's, until 1985, when many thought retirement was imminent. Other than co-anchoring TVQ-10's weekend news in 1989, and sporadic appearences since then, including a 1999 promo for QTQ and the recent 50 Years of Nine For News special as well as tonight's fiftieth special, Hugh is retired, with a legacy none match in station management or as one of our early stars.

#8- Paul Sharratt: A master of both live theatre and live television production, the late Paul Sharratt, has left an imprint on the Queensland industry. With his production expertise, QTQ-9 ended up with large amounts of variety, from the 1970's until the mid 1980's as well as some other products. His music hall, experience led him to four Logies (voted by Queensland viewers), and another five for "Studio 9", a variety show hosted and produced by Sharratt himself. Sadly, we lost Paul, earlier this year, but he taped a interview for tonight's QTQ fiftieth special prior to his death.

#7- Jackie McDonald: The allround entertainer, Jackie started her career at QTQ-9 in the 1970's doing childrens television, with her sister Fiona (who later went on to BTQ-7's Wombat) before Jackie went for a brief stint at BTQ-7, before going to TVQ-0 until 1983. In 1984, she left Brisbane behind (she had been doing it progressively since the late 70's) to work on Nine's Hey Hey It's Saturday, then left in 1989, and briefly reappeared in 1991 doing Funniest Home Videos, then left for Ten, and hosted Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, until the late 1990's, before returning to QTQ screens tonight, as well as a possible involvement in the upcoming Hey Hey reunion.

#6- Eric Summons: Many will remember this great entertainer, for his role as BTQ-7's childrens presenter Boris The Black Knight, but his other major legacies still live on, in people's memories. These include, being a part of BTQ-7's childrens program Wombat from the program's inception in 1979, through the eighties, as Wombat went national in the middle of the decade, Eric then focused heavily on Boris, until the retirement of Boris's Breakfast Club in 1989. He is also a skilled magician, and often performed during telethons during his BTQ career, and is still entertaining a new generation whose parents grew up, in the 80's with Eric, with his magic, often at public events.

#5- Don Seccombe: The most notable newsreader for many QTQ-9 viewers during the station's first twenty-five years, Don came from the ABC in the early sixties, and saw major changes, and events, including tear-filled accounts, in 1974, after seeing the devastation of the Australia Day floods. Don also hosted his own game show for a time, "I've Got A Secret" and Don retired from the newsdesk, in 1985, just as another ABC alumni arrived at Nine, Bruce Paige. Sadly, Don passed away in late December 1993, at just 62.

#4- Brian Tait: The first face of BTQ-7 in 1959, and later the first Queensland Logie winner for most popular personality, Brian was part of the glitz that was BTQ-7's first golden era in the 1960's. At first hosting a Tonight show, then later part of Theatre Royal, Brian eventually faded into retirement, and passed away in 2007, the same year BTQ-7's third "golden era" began.

#3- Frank Warrick: Frank started at BTQ-7 in the late 70's, eventually reading the 6pm news with Mike Higgins, until a surprise defection in 1983, to QTQ-9 to read with Don Seccombe. During this first two year stint at Nine, he also hosted briefly, the Today Show, before going back to BTQ-7 in 1986. From then until his final departure from BTQ-7 in 2001, he read the 6pm news, first with Janne Rayner in 1987, then Mike Higgins (both in 1986 and 1988) and finally Kay McGrath from 1989 to December 2001. Frank wasn't done, so he took a summer newsreading job for QTQ-9 in 2002, followed by a six year adventure, as a gray nomad until he was brought back to do the QTQ-9 weather in 2008, before finally calling it a career at the end of 2008.

#2 Heather Foord: The only personality from the modern era (1984 onward), and still working, to make this list, Heather started as a newsreader for QTQ-9 in the late 80's progressively working her way up the ladder, eventually becoming the weekday female co-anchor, and staying in that role (other than a break in between 2001 and 2004 to raise her family) up until her decision to leave the newsdesk in 2008. But that wasn't the end, with Heather moving to Extra, hosting the program until the Sydney ordered axing of the program in June 2009, with Heather been thrown back into the newsroom, back in her old role as weekend anchor.

#1 George Wallace Jr: "The Boy From The Valley" deserves this spot, as he was the biggest star of the first BTQ-7 golden era, with Theatre Royal, pulling great ratings, even his peers at other stations knew he was ratings gold. Theatre Royal became the IMT for Brisbane viewers, George, being compared to Graham Kennedy, but sadly, it all ended on September 30 1968, when George passed away at the age of fifty, from a stroke. There is a wing of BTQ-7's facility on Mt Coot-tha (dedicated in the 1980's), named for as of today the greatest personality of the last fifty years.

The 10 greatest Brisbane TV programs of the last fifty years:
#10 Now You See It (BTQ-7 1985-1993/QTQ-9 1998-2003): This childrens gameshow, is a odd addition to any top 10 list. But with two different channels producing the program (BTQ-7 and QTQ-9) two different names, (Now You See It and Download (done to tie in with the new millenium) many different hosts, (Mike Meade, Sofie Formica and Scott McRae) and even different sidekicks (Melvin, a robot and Ms Bytes, a resident of "cyberspace") have earned this childrens favorite this spot.

#9 The Shak (QTQ-9 2006-present) Another childrens product, this time more recent, which uses Brisbane, not just as a production centre, but as a source for stories, that viewers send in. The program has had numerous changes, from being part of Sea World when the program launched, to a physical Shak in the middle of WhiteWater World and using Dreamworld as a backdrop, to the current setting in a typical sharehouse, this program has gone from strength to strength, as a modern success story of Queensland television.

#8 Haydn Sargent's Brisbane/State Affair (BTQ-7 1979-1987) A unique program that had two lives, during the local current affairs wars of the early 1980's, first as Haydn Sargent's Brisbane, hosted by radio personality Haydn Sargent, then after Haydn left the program in 1981, it was retooled, with the same team and became State Affair with Glenn Taylor (who was notably poached from QTQ-9's successful Today Tonight) and became a key part of Seven's 1980's success, up until a drastic change in 1987 (two years after it's nearest competitor was axed, in favor of Willesee) when Seven dropped the successful program in favor of a hourlong news.

#7 Ive Got A Secret (QTQ-9 1965-1974) This gameshow, was a success in more ways than one. It not just gave viewers a look at a new side of Don Seccombe, but others too. Often you would get entertaining "secrets" that were guessed by a panel, and a lot of interstate stars flew up to Brisbane to appear and lift their profiles to the Brisbane audience. Sadly, very little vision of the groundbreaking program remains.

#6 Seven's Super Saturday (BTQ-7 1982-1989) The ultimate kids program of the mid 1980's, Seven's Super Saturday was initally a standalone program, and was part of the Boris's Breakfast Club "brand", with it being also home to Wombat's Agro, and often part of the purely local lineup BTQ had on Saturday mornings. Eventually in 1989, the program and Boris's Breakfast Club ended, with two new national products, being produced from Brisbane, Saturday Disney and Agro's Cartoon Connection being launched in 1990.

#5 ttn (TVQ-10 2004-2008) Brisbane is Network Ten's sole production centre for childrens television, but come 2004, after the ABC dumped Behind The News (a bad decision, that was reversed), a children's news program, Ten stepped up and launched "The Total News", or TTN for short. It was produced out of Ten in Brisbane for it's entire run, and had something BTN never had, which was newspaper support, with the educational liftouts of the major metropolitan newspapers being linked to the program. After three years of competing against BTN, in late 2008 it was axed due to cost cutting, the same fate that happened to BTN (which led to TTN's establishment).

#4 Today Tonight (QTQ-9 1979-1985) The original, and in my words still the best. TT originally started as a venture by some ex ABC journalists, from This Day Tonight, to bring local current affairs to commercial television. Nine took the offer, and went full speed ahead, winning the ratings intially, but losing some traction when original host Glenn Taylor defected to BTQ-7. Notable reporters include Maxine McKew (now federal member for Bennelong), Mark Suleau (now working at TVQ-10) and Michael Beattie (who later went to BTQ-7 to work on the 1995 TT revival, and now is a media spokesman for the RSPCA in Queensland). The program wound up in 1985, replaced with Willesee, then later on in the decade, ACA.

#3 Wombat (BTQ-7 1978-1989) The iconic BTQ production for a generation. Wombat initally started as a Brisbane-only product, but as it got popular, Seven wanted to take it national, so it ended up becoming the first major national success for Brisbane television, and people loved the program, even more in Brisbane itself (where the presenters were "royalty"), and it launched many careers, most notably Jamie Dunn, Agro, Eric Summons, The Blakeney twins, Tony Gordon, Bob La Castra (now a Gold Coast City Council councillor) and many others.

#2 Extra (QTQ-9 1992-2009) The next generation, of QTQ's local commitment began in 1992, with the launch of Brisbane Extra, which stayed around, for 18 years, becoming in the process, the longest lasting local product on any metropolitan TV station. It has been hosted by three main people, Rick Burnett from the programs inception until 2006, then Jillian Whiting from mid 2006 until late 2008 then former newsreader Heather Foord from the start of 2009 until the axing in June. The axing was not taken well by Brisbane viewers, with Extra viewers still lodging complaints months afterward.

#1 Theatre Royal (BTQ-7 1961-1969) Brisbane's most popular program ever, is number one on this list. Based on the old vaudeville stylings of Brisbane's Theatre Royal, based in Elizabeth Street, it became a big success, with the high point being that half of Brisbane's screens were watching BTQ-7 weekly, in a three (later four) cornered market, something only happens rarely now, usually for State of Origin football. The program ended with George Wallace's sudden death in September 1968, with a final tribute show in 1969 and had left a legacy for itself that would never be beaten.

The 10 most memorable Queensland local promotional campaigns of the last fifty years:

#10 Love You Queensland (Sunshine Television: 1992-1995)

#9 The Place To Be (NQTV/QTV: 1986-1989,1990-1994)

#8 Go TV0! (TVQ-0: 1984-1985)

#7 This Is What We Watch (QTQ-9: 1996)

#6 The Great South East (BTQ-7: 1995-December 1999, 2002)

#5 Summer Fever/Seven Fever (BTQ-7: 1978-1979)

#4 Ten, Brisbane Style (TVQ-10: September 1988-July 1989)

#3 Stand Up And Tell Them Brisbane's Great! (TVQ-0: 1986-January 1988)

#2 Nine For Queensland (QTQ-9: 2008-present)

#1 Love You Brisbane (BTQ-7 1982-1987)

The 10 greatest "Only In Brisbane" moments and concepts of the last fifty years:
#10 "The Bullets are riding high": Basketballmania in the mid 1980's hit Brisbane in a big way, with Brisbane's team winning their first NBL premiership in 1985, and what followed was a cheesy video clip, with the team "performing" their team song, and posing in the Queen St Mall, Mt Coot-tha and strangely enough TVQ-0's studios (then NBL broadcaster) alongside footage of the team.

The Bullets were sadly removed from the NBL in 2008 after their owner, Eddie Groves's ABC Learning centres went bankrupt, thus Brisbane has no NBL team currently.

#9 The Gold Coast UHF feeds: For the first twenty years of television in Brisbane, VHF transmissions could be recieved on the Gold Coast, until a decision was made in 1980 to open UHF feeds for the Gold Coast, which has proved to be a smart decision. There is now a need, as the Gold Coast grows, for localised stations, as the costs to maintain the current system may become more expensive, with the addition of digital television, and eventually digital radio.

#8 Early 1980's Brisbane's "jingle on a record" fad: During the 80's, some local ads were very popular, and the idea of a jingle on a record actually came from Melbourne, where plans were layed out for Nine's popular "Brian Told Me So" news promo, to be released as a LP, in April 1979. But Brisbane went "troppo" with the concept during the 80's. Notable releases included a XXXX beer ad, The Brisbane City Council's "Shine On Brisbane" promotional campaign for the Commonwealth Games in 1982, and the most notable, BTQ-7's Kim Durant version of Love You Brisbane, which reached #1 on the Brisbane charts.

#7 The local current affairs wars of the 1980's: The start of the "war" that defined the 1980's for Brisbane viewers, began in 1979, with Seven and Nine launching local current affairs products Haydn Sargent's Brisbane and Today Tonight head to head. Both were successful, but when HSB lost audience, Glenn Taylor (the only big poaching/defection between 7 and 9 during the wars) moved from QTQ-9 to BTQ-7 and started State Affair. It was briefly a three cornered contest, with TVQ-0 attempting a current affairs program in that slot, that was eventually axed. The end of the wars came about from TVQ-0 finally moving to a hour-long news in 1985 and QTQ-9 dropping Today Tonight, in favor of Willesse networked from Sydney. State Affair won the war, lasting until early 1987.

#6 Concepts that work in Queensland, fail elsewhere: There have been some TV concepts, devised as local, that have worked well in Queensland, but failed interstate. First was Extra, which lasted 18 years, and another is the "Flashback" segment on Seven News on Sundays (which has lasted for three years, where as interstate it was dropped, after a few weeks after it was introduced in 2006, while TVW in Perth had their Flashbacks re-introduced recently.)

#5 Shopping with your favorite TV station: This was a fad, in the mid 1980's, which lasted into the early '90s, where you visited a shop that solely stocked your favorite station's merchandise. A prime example was BTQ-7 launching the Seven Shop, at the peak of "Love You Brisbane"'s popularity, and people bought shirts, towels, hats, even beach umbrellas with the 7 slogan on it. Also, at the EKKA, you often got TV station showbags, which were a part of many kids childhoods, in similar fashion to what B105 and Triple M offered until 2007, with posters, drinks, food and often exclusive items.

#4 The Expo Studios of TVQ-0/10: Expo 88 brought many challenges for all three commercial stations. Expo correspondents often were part of newsrooms, and extra staff were hired for the multiplicity of foreign visitors. But only one station took their newsroom to Expo for the entire six months, which was TVQ-0/10. They not just covered Expo, they were part of it, even getting a "national" day. They also performed the switch from 0 to 10 onsite, and literally overnight the "TV0" logos were replaced with "X" Ten logos, and covered everything that made Expo, the event to remember.

#3 Operation Eagle: Many Brisbane kids remember when the newsreaders, would come visit the school, and film a piece for the bulletin, to give students a taste of television production. Originally concieved when helicopters were begining to be used in news, to show off the equipment, this has become a much loved Brisbane institution, more so than interstate. By the 1990's however, the focus shifted to weather, and these days you would often see school visits air on a Tuesday night (QTQ-9) straight after the weather. (The Operation Eagle tagline was used by Seven for nearly thirty years, and has now become a "generic term")

#2 The Ekka: Brisbane's Royal Show, has always been a magnet for innovation. Theatre Royal had a rare colour outing in the 1960's, with a colour feed retransmitted to the showgrounds, and people got to see for the first time their favorite show in colour. Seven also for a time ran their news and current affairs programs from the site in the 1980's, and had at least a onsite presence until 2003. Ten moved some of their Expo 88 facilities to the showbag pavilion, and used it until digital television started, and Nine returned the "travelling" newsroom tradition this year, with a fully digital facility built specificly near the main arena.

#1 The Brisbane Duopoly: For a brief time in 1987, there were three commercial stations, owned by two people in Brisbane. Christopher Skase bought off Fairfax the Seven Network (which then consisted of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), while still owning TVQ-0, a Ten affiliate. Naturally this caused some problems, but was solved, by selling TVQ-0 to Darling Downs Television, which set in gear many things, from the 0-10 switch the next year, to Kay McGrath's move to now Skase owned BTQ-7.

The 10 greatest interstate decisions to affect Brisbane and Queensland viewers:
#10 The battle for Ten and Nine affiliation in 1990: You think aggregation was easy down south, Queensland's turned out to be a war. The seeds were planted when Darling Downs Television sold TVQ-10, and got a cash infusion, which suddenly piqued the eyes of RTQ-7 in Rockhampton. Those two stations allied, preparing for aggregation as a Ten affiliate, when suddenly, WIN Television bought DDQ and RTQ, and literally handed them the Nine affiliation. This upset a lot of people, especially at QTV in Townsville, which went from having the strongest partner, to the weakest, all the while Sunshine Television was laughing, as it had signed a deal well before the launch date.

#9 Local Edition: After the 2000 Olympics, Seven hyped up a program it was hoping to beat Extra with, by the name of Local Edition. Local Edition ran for a hour, and ended up becoming a flop, due to the length, even though the official excuse was "the chairs were too comfortable". It was hosted by Peter Ford and now QTQ-9 news anchor Melissa Downes (as her last work at BTQ, before defecting in 2001 to QTQ). In the end, Seven promised another go at a local product, but never followed through with it.

#8 The end of the "Brisbane Ten" name: Back in 1989, Ten was going through some issues, and a American was brought in to revamp the network. The main consequence in Brisbane, was the dumping of the term "Brisbane Ten", in favor of a semi-networked approach, eventually sapping the localism out of TVQ-10, leaving it a station that didn't care for localism, unlike what it was showing a year earlier at Expo 88.

#7 Seven dumping the Queensland version of Today Tonight: In late 2002, then Brisbane TT host Michelle Reiken, went onto maternity leave, and a (originally temporary) east coast edition was airing in Brisbane, through summer. Viewers were expecting a Brisbane version to come back, but in May 2003, Brisbane's Today Tonight was axed, and a returning Michelle Reiken sacked, in favor of a permanant East Coast edition, just as a influx of ex-Nine executives joined Seven.

#6 Bruce Paige goes to TVQ in 1990: A local decision, which gave Brisbane viewers a taste of what it took for Bruce Paige, to leave QTQ-9 for "greener" pastures at TVQ-10. The newly O&O station took a gamble, a $300,000 per year gamble to revive ratings, which ended up in court, with a lot of details coming out, and it ended with a rare win for Ten. Paige eventually was sacked due to costcutting at Ten, and went to QTV in Townsville, then back to QTQ-9 in 1993.

#5 State Affair ends, 7 trys expanded news: 1987 was a big year in television. But the worst decision was Seven expanding news services, from half hour to hourlong bulletins in Brisbane and Melbourne. Melbourne's changeover was controversial (as it tied in with playout and programming changes), Brisbane's never made the news. Seven axed State Affair (which was still popular), then placed more news in the State Affair slot. The hourlong experiment ended in 1988, with Seven National News becoming Seven Nightly News and returning to a half hour bulletin.

#4 Nine's Gold Coast News getting moved to Brisbane: A botched cost cutting measure, in 2006, QTQ-9 moved their Gold Coast bulletin to Brisbane, leaving anchor Rob Readings, a former TVQ anchor, jobless. Readings then spent a week at Seven in 2007, and went back to Nine in 2008, to anchor the GC News again, which had come back to being produced on the Gold Coast again.

#3 The gradual networking of BTQ-7 in the 2000's: BTQ-7 was once a production centre, with lots of national and local content being produced, at high rates, but by 2008, nearly a decade of neglect has turned "Brisbane's own Channel 7" into a networked monster. It is this networked monster that has cut local content, and respect to viewers.

#2 BTQ-7 archive destruction: What list of interstate decisions would be complete without this recent one. In 2007, BTQ-7 was ordered to destroy all it's pre 1994 history, by a Sydney exec, thus ruining their fiftieth. This is a despicable act, and was probably done out of spite, as well as former BTQ icons losing their history.

#1 Brisbane Extra axing in June 2009: The number one decision, which would have never been part of this list, if it were typed earlier this year. Sydney executives made a bungled decision to drop Brisbane Extra in favor of a networked program in early June, with the final program being June 26. Brisbane reacted in a way, not seen, and after the networked attempt failed miserably, there is now a push going for Nine to reverse this decision as of posting.

Videos: Credits to all uploaders.


  1. Worked 65-68 at BTQ have been searching for archival footage now know why I cannot find any one of the station managers should have squirreled it away What a waste

  2. @Anonymous: I first found out about the "archive destruction" from people connected with Wickety Wak in late 2008. When I found out, I felt exactly the same way.

    But: this comment however, may get you on the right track, concerning footage.

  3. To dispel the rumour of the 'archive destruction', the Seven Network is committed to archiving all the available film & video footage from around the network. There is a massive archiving project currently underway at Seven's Melbourne Broadcast Centre. Seven is also working the National Film & Sound Archive in the preservation of this most important historical record of the film and television industry. The scale of this project is extraordinary, and will take many years to complete. Congrats to the Seven Network.