The most iconic moments in Aussie TV history

From Bert Newton's racist comment, to Molly Meldrum's meltdown, there's been some stellar moments on Aussie TV. Source: Getty

While much of what airs on our screens these days is a parade of 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 witnessed 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.

Molly’s death on ‘A Country Practice’

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 in her final months on the show and had people glued to their screens to see how her story would end. More than two million Aussies tuned in to the 1984 episode to watch the beloved character – who had previously lost a baby after falling off a ladder – take 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!”.

Aunty Jack brings colour TV to Australia

It’s a moment many Aussies will remember well. At 11.57pm on Friday, February 28, 1975, The Aunty Jack Show – starring Grahame Bond – introduced colour television broadcasting on the ABC and changed the landscape of Australian entertainment forever.

The episode began in black and white and after a hilarious sketch, Aunty Jack and the other beloved characters began to transition into colour. It seemed like science fiction at the time and to this day, it still holds a special place in the hearts of Baby Boomers around the country.

Bert Newton’s racial slur stuns Muhammad Ali at the Logies

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.

A Kangaroo attacks Marty the Monster on ‘The Early Bird Show’

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 visit by 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.

Molly Meldrum’s car-crash interview with Prince Charles

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 show 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 compose 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. In the years since, Charles has good-naturedly joked about the interview on numerous occasions and even participated in a hilarious video to mark Countdown’s 40th anniversary.

A bomb blast rocks ‘Number 96’

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 that said there was a bomb in the building 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.


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