From Play School to Countdown: a trip down memory lane

Media release: Thursday, 7 April 2016

From Play School to Countdown, from Bellbird to Alvin Purple, early ABC television programs hold a special place in the heart of many Australians.

With its new exhibition Tuning In: ABC TV 1964–76, the National Archives of Australia has brought together some of the nation's favourite shows – all from the Archives' audiovisual collection.

'It's a perfect reminder of the days when television viewing was a family ritual – and we all juggled life around unmissable programs,' said curator Dr Sara King.

'So many people have fond memories of characters such as Charlie Cousens from Bellbird and Mr Squiggle. And of course the stalwarts of the industry such as James Dibble, Bill Peach and Molly Meldrum.

'This exhibition promises a whiff of nostalgia for everyone who loves the ABC – as well as some fun and giggles along the way.'

But the exhibition also reflects the enormous social upheaval of the time, with current affairs programs covering topics such as draft dodging, Nazis in Australia, and women protesting their right to drink in public bars (to the horror of some politicians).

'We've taken a look at productions that caused political upheaval and moral outrage, as well as those that won popular success and wide acclaim,' said Dr King. 'This Day Tonight (TDT) for example was variously described as "chirpy, irreverent, critical, intrusive and rude".

'From current affairs to dramas, comedies, teen music and children's programs, the exhibition brings to life some of the memorable moments, forgotten gems, and much loved programming of Australia's national broadcaster.

'Visitors can see not just famous and well-remembered programs, but also those that have not been seen since their original broadcast.

'We're also providing a look into some of the correspondence, publicity material, photographic collections and ephemera held in the National Archives' collection.'

Tuning In: ABC TV 1964–76 is open at the National Archives in Canberra until 15 May.

Contact information

  • Elizabeth Masters (Media Officer)
    t (02) 6212 3957 m 0417 247 157 e

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