For a show that only lasted two seasons and two specials, The Aunty Jack Show certainly made an impact on Australian audiences.
Aunty Jack was created by writer, producer, comedian, singer, and songwriter Grahame Bond. Inspired by an Uncle Jack that he didn’t like, his grandfather and the last official tea lady at the ABC, Dot Strong. Aunty was a gravel-voiced transvestite that liked to solve all her problems with violence. The catchphrase “I’ll rip your bloody arms off” became quickly part of the culture that remains to this day.
The show is described as being heavily influenced by Monty Python’s Flying Circus even though the character debuted before Flying Circus was even screened in Australia. The original series debuted on the ABC in 1972 and faced an immediate backlash.
The program was almost cancelled by the ABC, but it was the petitioning of the young kids of the ABC higher-ups, and it’s strong ratings that saved it, and it was given a second and final season in 1973. Grahame thought that it was better to have the character die out on top than slowly slinking into a joke itself. So he literally killed Aunty Jack in the final episode by giving her a heart attack due to the foul langue that the other characters used.
Aunty Jack’s death didn’t stop the character for returned a few years later for a TV special in 1975. The show was such an influenced that the original film negatives of the original series were put in the vault at the National Archives of Australia.
The character will always be linked hand and hand with Australian television history as on 11:57 PM on Friday 28 February 1975, Aunty Jack introduced colour television broadcasting on ABC-TV and beat all the other TV stations into the wonderful world of colour.
No matter if you were a fan or not the utterance of “I’ll rip your bloody arms off” may have passed your lips which shows the lasting power of this iconic Australian character.