TVs have been a fixture in Australian homes for decades and while the networks these days are flooded with singing competitions, talent shows, cooking programs and half-naked twentysomethings trying to find love, it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, Baby Boomers have been treated to some of the most iconic TV series and moments since television was introduced to Aussie audiences in the 1950s.
Now, Starts at 60 is looking back at some of the most memorable TV moments over the years. Let us know which ones you remember and if there’s an iconic moment you can recall that hasn’t made the list.
There’s been no shortage of shocking and sad deaths on Australia’s soaps and dramas over the years and while audiences were rocked by Patrick Reid’s tragic passing on Offspring, Claire McLeod’s ute plunging off a cliff in McLeod’s Daughters and Maggie Doyle being shot to death on Blue Heelers, none come close to the sadness viewers felt when Molly Jones died on A Country Practice.
Molly, played by actress Anne Tenney, battled leukaemia for 10 weeks and had people glued to their screens in 1984. More than two million Aussies tuned in to the episode where the beloved character – who had previously lost a baby after falling off a ladder – took her final breath.
In her heart-breaking final scenes, the wife of Wandin Valley Hospital nurse Brendan Jones was watching her husband and daughter Chloe flying a kite in the garden. Suddenly, the camera showed the kite from Molly’s point of view, before the picture started to fade out. The final scene showed a desperate Brendan running toward the camera, shouting “Molly!”.
Long before smartphones, computers and tablets, colour TV didn’t even exist in Australia and it took beloved character Aunty Jack from The Aunty Jack Show to bring it to Aussie audiences. At 11.57pm on Friday, February 28, 1975, Aunty Jack – who was played by Grahame Bond – introduced colour television broadcasting on the ABC and beat all the other TV stations into the wonderful world of colour.
The episode began in black and white and after a hilarious sketch, Aunty Jack and the other beloved characters began to become colourful. It won’t look like much to younger generations but it was extremely special for audiences who had never seen their favourite shows like this before.
Bert Newton has hosted more Logie Awards than any other entertainer but things didn’t go exactly to plan when he took to the stage with Muhammad Ali at the ceremony in 1979. Muhammad joined Bert on stage to present the Gold Logie and seemingly got frustrated as Bert continued to ask him questions on stage.
“I was told I was coming here to give out an award, they didn’t tell me I was going to do an interview,” Muhammad said in front of the live audience.
Things went from bad to worse when Bert said: “I like the boy”. In the United States and South Africa, calling men of colour boy was once a racist and degrading term. Muhammad asked if he meant to say Roy, only for Bert to repeat the phrase.
Not realising his blunder, he even asked the audience if there was anything wrong with saying what he did.
Anyone raising children in the ‘80s likely watched The Early Bird Show on a Saturday at one point or another. The popular show was hosted by Darryl Cotton, Marie Van Maaren and a fuzzy mascot called Marty the Monster.
During one episode in 1987, the audience was treated to a giant red kangaroo named Rags who wasn’t at all impressed with Marty. The show, which aired live across the country, saw the kangaroo kick its owner and try to attack the beloved mascot.
In horrific but hilarious scenes, Rags got a hold of Marty and tackled him to the floor. While his owner did his best to try and pull the angry roo from Marty, it wouldn’t let go.
As the interview progressed, Marty could be seen taunting the kangaroo, which saw him get yet attacked again.
He’s one of Australia’s favourite TV presenters but Molly Meldrum couldn’t keep his cool when he interviewed Prince Charles on the wildly popular Countdown in 1977. While he’d interviewed an array of celebrities during his time on Countdown, Molly turned to a ball of mess when he interviewed the Prince of Wales.
In awkward scenes, sweat was dripping down Molly’s face and he became frustrated at his own nervousness, with Charles even stepping in to comfort the distressed host. Things went from bad to worse when Charles had to leave the room so Molly could contain himself.
The entire interview took several takes to film and ended with Charles doing most of the talking. Hilariously, Molly breathed the biggest sigh of relief when the interview finished.
Number 96 was one of Australia’s favourite soaps and while it made headlines for its nudity, gay kisses, sex scenes and raunchy headlines, it was a devastating bomb scene that left viewers on the edge of their seats in 1975.
Beloved character Les Whittaker noticed a letter in the iconic building that said there was a bomb that was going to explode at 6pm. Poor Les only noticed the note at 5:58pm and did his best to warn the other residents to get out of the apartment. He franticly knocked on his neighbours’ doors and burst into the famous wine bar and delicatessen, but it was too late.
The episode ended on a Friday evening with the bomb exploding and viewers had to wait until Monday to discover who had died and who planted the bomb. It turned out to be Maggie Cameron, while some of the show’s favourite stars perished in the attack.