Week 6: Radio and Television. What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?
I grew up in Dubbo, which was a country town of about 16,000 people in the central west of New South Wales. We had two TV channels – the ABC and CBN-8 CWN-6, which was broadcast from Orange and seemed to have a selection of programs from the three big networks in Sydney (7, 9 and 10), so we didn’t see a lot of the shows that Sydney took for granted. For example, we saw The Addams Family but not The Musters.
We had one local radio station, 2DU, and we could also get 2GZ in Orange. 2GZ was just that bit more cool. At night we would lie in bed and try to pick up more far-off stations. I could get 2SM in Sydney some nights. 2DU was a bit daggy for our tastes, and would play ads between every song. For a while there I used to ring up and answer their quiz questions, and they’d send me their crappy old singles that were off the playlist as prizes. Mum would turn the radio on as soon as she got up, and if we had been asleep before we wouldn’t be once the radio went on. It was LOUD. There was a radio serial in the morning before the 8 o’clock news. Chicken Man is the only one I remember.
We spent regular holidays in Sydney so we knew what we were missing. We could listen to 2SM all day, and revel in the choice of four TV stations. Four!
Shows that I can remember watching after school were The Addams Family (click click!), The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island. I can probably still sing all the words to the theme songs. My younger brothers watched Sesame Street in the morning before school, and I can still sing a lot of those songs as well.
I look up and see the sky
I look down and see the ground
I look at you and sing a song about Up and Down
Sung by Bert and Ernie
At night we watched other shows. I still love Star Trek, particularly Jean-Luc Picard, although I couldn’t get into some of the later franchises. The latest movie Star Trek, where we went back to the beginning of James T. Kirk and the rest of them, was excellent!
Countdown was the only show that showed music in those days and everyone watched it. It showed film clips and live bands miming their way through their latest hits in an ABC studio full of excitable teenagers. The Top Ten countdown at the end was quite often a disappointment when we saw what was number one and going to be played in full.
Animal Kingdom is possibly partly responsible for my love of wildlife, resulting in two trips to Africa and one to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands so far. Disneyland was on Sunday nights and the whole family watched it. Sometimes it showed cartoons and sometimes stories about wild animals with a hokey narrator.
My favourite show, though, was probably Doctor Who. Doctor Who was on four nights a week at 6:30pm before the news on the ABC. Each week was a story with a cliffhanger at the end of the episode, and the story would have a happy ending on Thursday night. Mum would be out in the kitchen mashing the potatoes in the saucepan, a very noisy process, just as we were getting to the exciting bit at the end of the episode.
Tom Baker with his long scarf was the Doctor in those days, although I remember Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee before him. We didn’t have a television set in the days of William Hartnell, the first Doctor. I left home during Tom Baker’s reign and I didn’t get a TV until Mum gave me the old black-and-white one when she got a colour one from Uncle Bill. Doctor Who was in colour!
I still watched Doctor Who when I could, and I vaguely remember some of the Doctors after Tom Baker. I liked Peter Davison but I remember being less than impressed by Colin Baker, although by that time I was working and not watching so much afternoon TV. I don’t remember the other two, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, at all. By the time Sylvester McCoy came along I was married and not watching TV at all before the 7 o’clock news.
I’ve really enjoyed the recent re-incarnation of the Doctor Who series, and I’m happy to watch repeats on cable TV. But those nights in Dubbo with my sister and brothers in the lounge room watching Tom Baker while Mum was in the kitchen mashing potatoes are what make Doctor Who special for me.
Doctor Who dates:
1963-1966 William Hartnell
1966-1969 Patrick Troughton
1970-1974 Jon Pertwee
1974-1981 Tom Baker
1981-1984 Peter Davison
1984- 1986 Colin Baker
1987-1996 Sylvester McCoy
1996 Paul McGann