…and I discover radio. Yes, my TV remains dead and I haven’t done anything about it. Instead, I have been playing DVDs on the computer and especially I have been listening to Radio National, where The Science Show this week celebrated 50 years of television!
Archival footage – Channel 9: From Channel 9 comes the first television program in Australia. Station TCN presents This Is Television.
Bruce Gyngell: Good evening and welcome to television. From wherever you are along the skyline of Sydney…
Sharon Carleton: Like so many things on ‘the box’, it’s not quite what it seems. This is Gerald Stone, author and former TV journalist and executive reading from his book Compulsive Viewing: The Inside Story of Packer’s 9 Network.
Gerald Stone: The general public knows Bruce Gyngell as the first face on Australian TV. Unfortunately, like so much of the industry it launched, that ‘historic’ clip turns out to be a fake. The crude kinescope film copy of the actual event was somehow lost in first-night confusion. What was to appear in a long line of anniversary broadcasts was a re-enactment recorded a year later, and by all accounts a lot more polished than the rather nervous original performance. The counterfeit sees Gyngell presenting in semi-wide shot in front of an impressive world map. On 16th September 1956 he was actually crammed into a closet of the unfinished Willoughby studios, leaning precariously to one side to make room for the bulky camera.
Sharon Carleton: Bruce Gyngell wasn’t even meant to be the first-night announcer. That only happened because of a technical hitch. Nigel Dick worked on the launch of Melbourne’s GTV 9, which was built in an old pickle factory in Richmond. If Bruce Gyngell wasn’t meant to be the first television presenter in Australia, who was?
Nigel Dick: Chuck Faulkner. Chuck Faulkner was an Australian who’d spent some time in America and came back with what Bruce Gyngell regarded as a phoney American accent, and he was to have presented the TCN on-air from Willoughby. TCN 9 studios weren’t ready and they were using a church hall over at Surry Hills across the harbour. They found that about two days before they were to go to air that when they crossed from film to live, the sync pulses of the signals didn’t synchronise, the signals were at odds with each other. They found that they could cross from a live announcer to a live announcer but they couldn’t cross from film to a live announcer, or from a live announcer back to film for that matter. It caused all sorts of problems and roll-over, and it was decided therefore that they had to have two announcers; one at Willoughby and one at St David’s Hall in Surry Hills. And hence Bruce Gyngell, he was the first one to be seen on television and said, ‘This is television.’
Radio National really has been quite a feast these past few days, and promises to be so in the coming week. And you can participate even if you are not in Australia by using streaming radio or downloading podcasts. I recommend it.
On Sunday Rear Vision looks very interesting: Radical Islam in Pakistan.
For years there has been debate over Pakistan’s role in international terrorism. What is the link between Islamic extremism and Pakistan and when and how did it emerge?
Associate Professor of International Relations,
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
Senior Lecturer in Political Science and International Relations,
University of Western Australia
Correspondent with The Far Eastern Economic Review