Richard Ashton’s Story Part Two

1972. 

The first time a Disney on Parade arena show that had been produced outside America was done by Channel 7 Perth. It was the brainchild of Brian Treasure. He had succeeded in convincing the Disney organization that we at Channel 7 could produce and mount, with their cooperation and expertise a Disney on Parade arena show which would tour Australia. Michael Edgley, the Bullen Brothers the Circus people and many other smaller investors joined in to finance the project too.

Naturally there were a lot of Americans involved, the head of each department designing, costuming, choreography, stage direction and presentation were all done by Americans. However many Australians, and many Western Australians would join the production in key roles.

Many Australian and local dancers and cast members would join the principal American cast for the show. Some of especially acts would come from America complete. For example Goofy’s comedy car and old ramshackle T Ford which, amongst other humorous antics, driverless, chaste Goofy around the stage.

Goofy’s Comedy Car on the Disney on Parade stage in the TVW big tent. 

But most of the costumes were made and sewn by local seamstresses, under their direction of course. And a great number of props and parts of the sentence scenery were made here too. All the music was played and recorded in America, as were all the film introductions of the Disney stories that were used to start each of the separate parts of the program. The complete soundtracks were recorded in USA and assembled in a large purpose-built audio control room which was full of multi-track playback machines. This control room was virtually a giant sea container which could be quickly packed up for touring.

All the lighting was hired in Australia, but some of the grid work which hung inside the big tent was imported from USA, because mainly it contained flying cables for aerialist acts, and some special lighting and visual effects.

The whole Disney on Parade arena show was housed in a giant tent owned by the Bullen Brothers the Circus people, which I think seated, some 5000 people around a huge thrust stage.

Interior of the Disney on Parade tent erected over the Perry Lakes rugby oval 

Later Channel 7 purchased an even bigger tent which had been used in South Africa. It was even bigger and could accommodate 10,000. This was used for the Peter Pan shows

It was quite an achievement for us at Channel 7 too to pull off such a contract, and quite a feather in Brian Treasure’s hat for convincing Disney’s American producers to mount and stage the show for Australia in Perth. And quite a feather in the cap and showed the forward thinking of the Channel 7 Board for agreeing to join the project. I would think the Board and the other investors also had one eye on the bottom line. The other important feature was perhaps, the employment of large cast Western Australian dancers, actors and staging personnel, who would have employment for a least the next 12 months of the tour. We would all gain heaps of experience.

It was going to be a great show, and a great achievement. It would set the stage for other Disney programs, and for the Hannah Barbara organization to also mount arena shows, produced in Perth for Australia and Asian tours. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Snow White, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and the story of Jungle book were all featured in the first Disney on Parade. And in later shows of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble from the Flintstones, Yogi Bear. They were at the peak of their popularity.

Because Brian Treasure was such a dominant and forceful character everyone was a bit fearful of him, especially when they were called to into his office. When called in on this occasion my first thought was, what have I done wrong this time, flashed through my mind?

As I entered his office he had the visitor with him, it was Mike Grilikies the American producer here to make a TV special of the Disney on Parade arena show for the American network. With a handshake we were introduced. BT as we called him, not to his face, continued saying. “We need a Unit Manager for the American TV special. …and that’s you!” He said. After a little more in the job description department, Brian handed me a bunch of cards.

They were applications to join the Theatrical Employees Union for all the staff that were about to transfer and work on the TV special. As he explained some of the people weren’t keen about joining the union but many more were insisting on it. So I was to keep it quiet, fill out forms for all our people and forward them on with a joining fee to the union office, quietly.

With the door closing behind me, I stood there for a second, probably with my mouth open, with Treasure’s secretary quizzically looking at me. Now back to my office I realize that I had suddenly much more to do. Much of the local live TV production had been much reduced because of our work with Disney. A lot of our TV props workshop was taken up with building scenery every available space seemed to have people working in. In fact we had hired a prop building workshop in Osborne Park were all the small props were being made. Many seamstresses were working in strength too with their sewing machines whirring madly in any available spots. Costuming dummies were everywhere, with the hundreds of costumes already sewn, covered with plastic awaiting fittings. The whole place was in a real buzz.

Now, on top of everything else we were doing, including the advanced unit doing shows at shopping centers, we were to now make a TV special! That meant more props more scenery, especially for the TV show. More staff were arriving from America connected with the TV program. A specialist TV group was also coming from TCN Channel 9 Sydney. They were to bring a specialist film recording unit to be used to film for the production. This later proved to be of no value, mainly because the light level on the thrust stage was too low, and extra lighting in the tent would impractable and too disruptive. The colour television system incorporating what was now very new to us, would be used. Colour television cameras were adapted and the TV show would be recorded using the American colour NTSC system. Dual recorded videotapes would also be recorded in both the American standard and the Australian 625 line PAL system, and an edited version of the program would be made for Australia.

The experiment on which the decision was to be made, whether to use film or videotape was in part due to my television camera work, of which I was quite proud. Because so many of our studio crews were being used in other areas and in the every day running of the TV station, I was about the only one left who could manage to operate the special colour TV camera, with its amazing low light level performance, and its special zoom lens. Only the one camera would be used for the test, I think from memory it was the only one in Australia at the time. More cameras would come later for the TV show recording.

Scene from Cinderella segment Disney on Parade American TV special 

A platform was constructed just to the side of the thrust stage for me, I was glad that I had seen a number of performances and rehearsals of the show so that I had a pretty good idea of what it looked like and what had to be recorded. This helped me to anticipate the various entrances and exits of the acts. And the positioning on the stage of the various routines and dancers and the lighting effects that made the show such a wonderful success. My earphones were connected to the stage and lighting manager’s cues, and I also had the music and sounds in my earphones too.

Disney on Parade Cinderella segment of the show. 

With the help of video recording technicians, I was able to record the complete program. And, even though it only showed one camera angle, I must say it was complete success, proving that the video recording would be far superior to the costly and more time consuming film unit system from Sydney.

The poor Sydney people from TCN were a bit crestfallen when they saw the result of my recording. But they agreed that videotape was best. I got quite a few pats on the back for that effort, it proved again to me, that one of the great loves of my life was, running a live television camera and that I was good at it.

Much of my role now as Unit Manager would be with the crews and stage people, although I didn’t have a very good idea of my complete task. But it sure kept Me on my toes.

Once quickly finishing my normal tasks at Tuart Hill, I would go down to our office that we had set up at Perry Lakes. It was here that I fixed up any the problems and I also spent much time liaising with the Americans and helping them solve their problems and requests, dealing with local people and suppliers.

The Disney producers had chosen Kurt Russell, a new rising star to host the TV special. The American producers had adapted parts of the arena show for the 55- minute TV special. The shows writers had adapted the script and written hosting parts for Russell. He was a pleasant young chap, I think only about 16 years old time. On a couple of occasions I sat with him in the sun outside the tent, occasionally chatting and helping him learning lines, while he waited for his call for next sediment of the TV special being recorded inside.

There were quite some interesting and funny episodes dealing with the American producer’s. One such incident showed the great difference in what they thought was the cost of things and the differences between Australian and American dollars. The American Director early one Sunday afternoon during the recording, wanted to change a camera angle to be high above the seating at the back of the stage. He wanted a scissor lift. I found the suppliers and came back to him saying, yes it’s available but it was, what I thought terribly expensive, seeing it was Sunday and on short notice.

He said. “How much?” I told him expecting he would reject the idea. Instead he just said. “Man, that’s free.” Meaning that was cheap, it was something like $100 an hour plus travel time. So we hired a unit and its operator for all of Sunday afternoon. He mostly sat near his machine but enjoyed seeing the shows recording too. At one stage the Director wanted a real low angle shot late during one evenings recording, much lower than a small tripod could handle, the lens was to be level with the ground surrounding the stage. We bought in a bobcat and without asking anyone’s permission, dug about a two meters square hole about 1.5 meters deep in the middle of the Perry Lakes Rugby field over which the show tent had been erected. Once the shot was taken we filled it in again and kept our mouths shut about the experience. I hope the shots were worth it. Whether they got into the show I can’t remember.

Nobody was very keen to have the Americans driving themselves around in Perth because they drove always started on the wrong side of the road, and got lost so that many of their crew were always driven. Many of the off duty Channel 7 staff and parts of the sales and other department staff gave up time and sometimes holidays to drive the fleet of cars, driving around the Americans, they all had fun doing it. They and their families all got tickets to see the show.

An interesting aside was that, when the American producer Mike Grilikies and his Director finished recording the TV program, they both flew back to the States on different aircraft and the second copies of the hundreds of videotapes were also separated into two lots, and sent back on different aircraft, it was said that if one aircraft went down they wouldn’t lose the show!

The Bullen Brothers tent crews, augmented with extra hands, were hired for the TV special as stagehands. Some of the shows stage settings had to be taken down for the TV program, and this invariably happened after the show, and after the patron’s had gone home. Late one Saturday night I was instructing the Bullen crew to set up the Cinderella scenery ready for the TV show recordings to be started early Sunday morning. The leading stagehand came to me and said the crew would not start the setup until they had been paid. That really “foxed” me and I found myself knocking on Stafford Bullen’s caravan door at about midnight. The Bullen Brothers, like most of their crew all lived in large caravans on the Perry Lakes site. The door opened, and I told Stafford what the crew had said. He sort of snorted and pushed past me, and quickly walked across to the tent, jumped up onto the stage were all the men had assembled. He bellowed instructions and words to the effect that they would be paid after the set had gone in and not before! After the tongue lashing the men look crestfallen, because it was not a good idea to challenge their boss, and they got quickly to work. There was something about circus people.

About an hour in half later, when all was finished and the setting was in place, Stafford appeared with the huge role of notes in his hand, and proceeded to peel of them are off one by one and give them to the men.

He turned to me and said, “If we’d pay ‘em before, we would have had problem, they’d have gone off and got drunk.” He turned and went back to his caravan and to bed, leaving me standing there with my mouth open. It was quite an experience working as Unit Manager on the TV program.

Not all experiences with the TV show recording were bad. There were many fond memories, and it was a great show, nothing like it had been seen for done in Australia before and yet we were doing it from Western Australia, here at Channel 7. The staging and dancing was colourful and spectacular, and of course the Disney tunes were memorable. The Dumbo Circus segments and the staging were well done. Snow White and the House of Cards dancing and costumes were very special. And the Cinderellasegment was great entertainment. The sequences with the humorous segment of Cinderella’s Ugly Stepsisters bought the house down. The whole show was a real winner.

Mickey Mouse arrivers in the Perry Lakes Stadium 

I nearly forgot Mickey Mouse Birthday. It was decided to hold a giant birthday party in the main stadium of the Perry Lakes Stadium itself in which all the Disney characters arrived and had a party, including the of course you know who would cut a giant birthday cake and they would be much singing and dancing. The show was a great success, over 40,000 people turned up to celebrate and join in the fun. It was great publicity for the show too, because from the stadium you could look across to the rugby field and see the giant tent ready to stage the actual show, which incidentally was lit at night in spectacular fashion.

In my thoughts about the experience, it was sad that it was finished and the Americans had all gone home. But I was glad in another respect that MY workload was greatly reduced, and we got back to our core business television, and to our new special events department. It did however give me a greater insight into the expectation of what we would be involved in the future when Channel 7 took on the construction of the Perth Entertainment Centre on the old railway land along Wellington Street to be opened in 1975. That opened in spectacular fashion with the second Disney program featuring Peter Pan. 

By that stage, Channel 7 had bought our own big tent, and Peter Pan arena show, later followed by the Flintstones show which all toured Australia and then Southeast It was very much great experience, leading up to the Bob Hope Down Under TV program from America, followed by The Miss Universe Quest project much later in 1979 for the 150th Anniversary Celebrations for the State of Western Australia. But we’ll get to those projects a little later on.

In 1972 Channel 7 had put together a department called Special Projects, later to be known as special events. As the title suggested the projects we would be involved in would be large promotions which would help to promote Channel 7 and show our community involvement, and hence encourage more viewers two only watch seven giving us a better rating. I was transferred to it. My partner in this new department was Ron Christie. Ron was a senior television producer who had transferred to Perth from our sister station very SAS10 Adelaide. As a producer in Adelaide at NWS9 he was producer for the very popular Ernie Sigley’s Adelaide Tonight show. He and I were to produce special projects and promotions for Channel 7 these included the introduction of the annual Christmas PageantBath Tub Derby, and the very successful Bird Man Rally. This was an event in which people were invited to fly at least 50 metres in an un-powered aircraft.

One of the very successful Birdman Rally held at Two Rocks Marina Yanchep 

Ron eventually transferred back to South Australian has production manager for SAS10, later to become Channel 7 Adelaide.

My new partner in crime was Vern Reid who transferred from the news department. Vern was later to be involved in Channel 7’s charity fund raiser Telethon, including the Telethon Trust, the group responsible for giving out funds for the various medical projects to better children’s lives. Telethon’s major contributor was to the Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital. Much later Vern resigned from television to become general manager for the new Fremantle Football Club called the Fremantle Dockers. I’m sure all his skills learnt in the special events department were put to good use to promote the “Dockers.”

We in special events department put together and produced many other things including the AFI Awards, a very large production at the Entertainment Centre. And introduced many characters including Sunny Sandgroper. By 1975 we produced many programs and promotions. One such program was the Introduction of Colour TV into Western Australia and we also produced the opening of the Perth Entertainment Centre Boxing Day 1974. We produced programmes like the Celebrity Challenge in conjunction with the production department. Our department gradually changed perspective by the late seventies joined the special unit away from the studio in a special factory unit set up for the purpose in the production of the American TV special Bob Hope Down Under, culminating in 1979 with 150th Anniversary of Western Australia. Our, that is Channel 7 contribution was the Miss Universe Pageant, with a live TV program being broadcast by satellite to America and many other countries around the world. We’ll catch up a lot more with this later as we go through the next 10 years.

1975. 

AFI awards. Sunny Sandgroper intro. Intro to colour TV 1975.

My 10,000 helium filled balloons fly from the balcony at the 1974 opening ceremony of The Perth Entertainment. 

Dancers from Perth’s dancing’s show their skills at the opening of the P E C. 

The First Bath Tub Derby was held in 1967 in Canada. It was a fun event conducted from Nanaimo on the island of Vancouver Island 60 km (36 Miles) from Vancouver British Columba Canada. The novelty idea was to cross from the island in 8 hp outboard motored Bath Tubs. Each entrant had to accompanied by a support boat.

Louise Borsje general manager and special projects secretary took part in TV personality weatherman Jeff Newman’s Bath tub racer in the Ladies Race 

The first Bath Tub Derby was held South Perth foreshore of Perth water. Note the TVW 7 outside broadcast van in the back of the crowd on the South Perth foreshore . From Memory we conducted three Bath Tub Derby’s in each case the winners prize was to represent WA in the Australia final conducted on Sydney harbour. I had the good fortune to travel across to Sydney with each of the winners to make sure that they were looked after. All entrants in the Sydney event had to be registered with the Maritime services board and to pass a test to say that they could start in the Sydney event. Also to arrange accommodation and make sure that their bath tub arrived in Sydney and that a rescue boat for each entrant was available to our Perth contestant.

All went well in each event but none of our Western Australian contestants managed to win the Sydney event the prize for winning was a trip to Canada for the world championships. One of ours winners was a young chap called Rowley Goonan, his bath tub was a very good one, and we practised for several days across the heads to Manly and back again with our support boat picking up quite a wash as you can see from the photograph. Rowley used the wash to literally surf down the waves, which was the way the Sydney entrance with doing it. He didn’t win but could have because the quality of the support boat skipper was not as good as others.

My picture taken from the stern of our support boat shows Rowley’s Bath Tub skilfully surfing down the waves on one of the legs coming back from Manly 

The Channel 7 Christmas pageant was another event that we conducted through Perth streets. One year it was estimated that 300,000 attended and lined the streets to see the colourful floats, clowns, marching bands, and many bright costumed dancing girls from many of Perth’s leading dancing Academy’s. it was a very popular special event enjoyed by Perth children and adults

My not so well fitting Official cap as Chief Marshall for the parade. 

My design of Father Christmas Float is still in use to this day. 

The five reindeer and Father Christmas sections are separate hinged trailers. The reindeers were made by MG Car Club’s Patron John Goff. This float for the first time had stereo sound from speakers under each float section. It was a sheer delight this year Father Christmas was played by Fat Cat.

Gulliver’s Travels float 

The idea was that Gulliver was captured by the Lilliputians and was held down

with ropes on either side.

Noel Dixon for the workshop built and carved the body and head of Gulliver.

He scaled measured from me lying along his carpenter’s bench.

TVW 7 Stores Manager Ross Mathews as one of the Parade Marshalls guides a small dancing group in the parade Many of TVW senior staff always helped out 

I convinced the Disney people in Sydney to let us have the Snow White costumes including the Seven Dwarf to come to Perth for the Christmas Pagent 

One of my float designs Mississippi Steamer 

TV Personality Tell Bull plays the Crooked Man 

Channel seven senior floor manager and producer John Easton always played Father Christmas 

Tent touring shows for Disney, Flintstones on Parade, Peter Pan.

Australian Air Race. October 20 1976

1976. 

Me playing Fat Cat with Don Pollock and Peter Condon 

1977. 

Elvis Presley the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll died this year aged 42. It was a sad loss for the many millions of fans he had around the world. But another star was rising on the music scene his name was John Travolta. He became famous for two musical hits Greece and Saturday night Fever in which he co-starred with Australian-born Olivia Newton-John. 1977 was famous for three other things Queen Elizabeth the seconds Jubilee celebrations in England. George Lucas premiered his famous movie Star Wars, and Stephen Spielberg produced one of his best movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

1978. 

Max Bostock my boss is appointed TVW Channel 7 Chief Executive Officer and Bill Mckenzie is made Group General Manager of both TVW and SAS 10 Adelailde.

Bob Hope is encouraged the made a TV Special in Western Australia. The show wasl called Bob Down Under, and of course we are all involved.

Any overseas visiting star could easily make the eastern seaboard for a big entertainment show, but to get over to Perth and Western Australia for major overseas artists and star like Bob Hope was a real achievement. For me as one of the team of TVW people to make it happen was quite a highlight. As usual I seem to be the coordinator of transport to the American crew that arrived to do the show, plus a few other tasks with locations, props etc.

For me as one of the team of TVW people to make it happen was quite a highlight. As usual I seem to be the coordinator of transport to the American crew that arrived to do the show, plus a few other tasks with locations, props etc. We didn’t let American visitor drive themselves, they had a tendency to get lost and drive on the wrong side of the road.

Although a substantial part of the staging and construction was done at TVW workshop with local people…crews, cameras, sound, direction and production were also our local people from TVW and Perth Entertainment Centre, supplementing the small group of American producers, writers and staff.

A number of local video items were planned to be put into the show to give local flavour, showing parts of Perth and WA that would be of interest overseas. Bob Hope had bought with him a number of other stars and entertainers who would take part in the show. Florence Henderson, Barbara Eden and the comedienne Charo were stars in their own right and very much an attraction themselves.

Babara Eden and Charo joking with Bob Hope 

Perhaps the highlight of me was the custom sketch in which the vivacious Charo played an Australian Customs officer, and with Bob dressed in an outrageous outback short pants safari suit, the sketch brought the house down in a hilarious uproar. One of the highlights for us were the preliminaries to the daily briefing held in Marion Leyer’s Suite on the third floor at about half past eight each morning.

Gradually people would wander in after breakfast if you were living in. This meeting included many of the American folk, three of them were Bob’s writers, they would group chairs around the central coffee table in the suite, and then they would start their jokes. More of us would gradually come in, so that by a couple of minutes all that were there were all in tears laughing. Joke after joke flowed round the table it was fantastic, laughing tears roll down until eventually someone called the meeting to  order and we got the day under way.

 

 

Barbara Eden and Charo joking with Bob Hope 

It is interesting that one of the writer for Bob was David Letterman. Apart from the show itself, which was videotape recorded at the Perth Entertainment Centre, a few local segments were videotaped on location to be inserted into the show. 

One of these was a boating segment recorded at Crawley Bay in which a very humorous boating skit was made. A recording segment was also made at the Royal Perth Yacht Club were Bob and a bevy of good-looking Perth girls joined him for a river trip. 

Florence Henderson and Bob Hope on the Swan River 

The trick at the Parmelia was to know when Bob was on the morning move, we would get a telephone signal, drivers and others were up and racing to the lifts in an attempt to beat Bob from getting to the foyer first. I think he did it as a joke on us. Occasionally he won. 

Just then Bob Hope dresser ran up from the dressing rooms backstage, he was in quite a state, “Bob’s teeth, Bob’s teeth…they have be left behind.” we both rushed to the car and we were off back to the Parmelia to get them. He was in quite a flat. Thankfully not much traffic was about at that time of day as we flew a Milligan Street, rounded into St George’s Terrace, then a right turn into Mills St to the Parmelia. Bob dresser raced through the foyer to the lifts, much to the surprise of the Commissioner and check-in staff. Up went the lift to the Penthouse and soon he was back clutching a small box on his hand. 

We did a smart U turn in Mill Street, left into the Terrace, just caught the right-hand lights at Milligan Street back to the Entertainment Centre. Bob’s chap was quickly out of the car and raced inside, the whole round-trip had taken just over 7 minutes. Panic over.

Verbal credit by Bob Hope at the end of the show was Jim Cruthers, also Joe Sweeney, and Keith Mackenzie and Max Bostock, and Brian Smith and Diana Keen, Marion Leyer, Jeff Sinclair, David Wyman, Nola Bosoni, Keith Spice, Dick and Vern and their drivers. Bob Alberti and the orchestra 

Part of the packed audience at the Perth Entertainment Centre 

On his final day, after the concert recording, Bob and his party were on their way back to the airport. We had gathered at his car at the Parmelia front door to say goodbye. He walked around the small group and shook our hands, and then pressed into our palms a pair of his silver cufflinks, which had a small crest of his smiling face. It was a great gesture. 

Back at studio at Tuart Hill for the wash up, I assembled with Bob’s cue card writer a huge stack of cue cards he had used for the show, plus a large pile he had bought with him from USA. It was a massive stack on a palette, over 1 metre high and weighed a ton, too heavy for transport by air. Thinking he would say, ah, just junk them. To my surprise he said. “Oh just send them back on a slow boat via China.” He wants to keep them all. 

How Max Bostock did it was quite a miracle, but there again we had a great team at TVW. It was a great warm up for what was to come in 1979 

Part of the packed audience at the Perth Entertainment Centre 

  1.  

Was the year of Western Australia is 150th anniversary celebrations. Virtually on all year of events of every description, from re-enactment of Captain Stirling voyages of the Swan River from Fremantle to success hill Bassendean, to Garden and Street parties held in local streets by members and friends in celebration. As far as Channel 7 was concerned we helped in publicity for the many events that were held. We also televised many events, but perhaps our greatest contribution was the staging and presentation for world TV of the Miss Universe Quest. July 1979

 

We hire our own F28 from MMA to take the American Crew around WA looking for Suitable sight to do visual segments with the Girls in the contest 

Looking for the dinosaur footprints on peninsular at Broome
L to R: Proctor and Gamble publicity man Harold Glassier president of Miss Universe and Max Bostock 

 

The American Miss Universe crew look at the unusual Sloping Lake at Whitenoom 

Miss Universe 1979 winner Maritza Sayalero from Venezuela July 17 1979 

The Miss Universe TV program went to some hundred and 50 TV stations live around the world. Some TVW production team worked on the quest for over a year, a separate department was established to look after the program. We even took over a warehouse away from the station to set up and make the props sets and scenery which would be re-assembled in the Entertainment Centre for the television programme. This new department handle the thousand and one jobs necessary to make a success of the venture. This included publicity, printing of sponsors proposals right down to be printed programs, coordinating air travel both interstate and overseas, transport in the city and around the State. It was a mammoth undertaking and was perhaps the brain child earlier of Channel 7 senior executive Max Bostock. Many American specialists came to help out with a show including lighting men, staging experts, producers and directors. There were other specialist too including experts on satellite program transmission, we had interpreters and every contestant cool had a chaperone assigned to her. Many of the chaperones came from local and countries from which the girls were chosen to take part. We have accommodation specialist too, people who knew about hotels and bookings, and specialist meals for overseas visitors. Then there were the stars, TV hosts and entertainers who would arrive to be part of the show. Huge support was given to the project by the West Australian Government and various departments including police, tourism, and customs to name just a few there were major sponsors to like General Motors who supplied all vehicles, Qantas who looked after the air travel, and many more. 

Back in January 1979, due I like to suspect, of my good work on the previous years special events and probable the Christmas Pageant, TVW’s managing director Jim Cruthers suggested to Max that the company should give me an overseas trip, possibly New Zealand. Back in 1978 several other production people had gone with Max to Mexico for four weeks to view the organisation and seal the deal for us to host the TV broadcast to the world of the Miss Universe Quest. Mexico was the host that year.

I didn’t get a berth on that trip; we still had to have some production people back here. When Max told me of the New Zealand trip I ask weather it could be USA? I mentioned that it would better for me to see the Disneyland float parade than the snow of the south island even for all its beauty. He agreed, even though it would mean extra cost, and he also said Ronda should come with me! The trip would perhaps be a bonus for 20 years work with channel 7. 

March would be the best time, the lightest load for us to go. Nanna and Grandad would move in to our place and mind Kristy, West and Jeremy for the 30 days we would be away. So with a big family good bye team at the airport we flew to Sydney and then 707 on to San Francisco via Honolulu. Qantas didn’t have rights to land at LA. This in many ways was a good thing because it meant getting to there would mean internal travel in the United States.

 

 

Ronda enjoyed her interest gambling in the casino at Harrah’s Reno Nevada 

Reno Nevada Harrah’s Amazing motor museum

Ronda with Mickey at Disneyland 

 

Pirate Galleon lake at Disneyland 

  1.  

The new decade starts with film star Ronald Reagan winning the presidential election. He becomes president of the United States of America at aged 69. But we learn of the tragedy of the death of Beatle John Lennon he dies as the victim of a violent attack in New York, millions of his fans mourn his death. 

1980 Sees the operating profit of TVW Enterprises for the year increase 8.1% to $4.600.000 and declare a dividend of 30%. 

 

Sir James Cruthers AO Jim Cruthers closing Telethon 

For the good work Jim Cruthers and the TVW staff had done he was given a knighthood, and Max Bostock MBE 

As far as I was concerned I was appointed manager of the special projects division when we all moved back from a Malaga. I also started tutoring television camera operators at the Mount Lawley technical College. 

1981

This year sees the first flight of the space shuttle Columbia, it last two days and is piloted by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen 

Space Shuttle Columbia in April 12 1981orbited the earth 36 times 

This year August 12 1981 sees the first IBM personal computer arrive on the market. 

The first IBM Personal computer No. 51150 

Westly gets a job as junior film cameraman at TVW7 past of the news room staff 

Sir James Cruthers retires from TVW Enterprises and shortly after Robert Homes a Court take over as major shareholder and appoints himself chairman, most senior executive started leaving TVW. Howard Shepherd and Joe Sweeney 1981, Max Bostock and Bill McKenzie 1982, Russel Perry, Alf Binks and Ken Kemp in 1983, Marion Leyer and Bob page in 1985. And the instability starts and we at promotions and publicly departments are asked to help promote Bell Recourses and other Homes a Court companies. This from now onward starts to take away the support the core business of TVW 7. Homes a Court now starts his take over of many English theatre companies like Lord Lou Grade film productions too. 

  1.  

Later in the year Jeremy gets a job at TVW in the sound recording department. Some of his first work was at the Perth Cup. Jeremy had taken up a sound engineering study with a engineering tech school. He also did Public Address with Jansen Audio 

TVW and SAS are now no longer a Public companies after the purchase by the Bell Group owned by Robert Homes a Court. In 1983 Bell Group buys machinery company Wigmores 

  1.  

At 5:20 PM and 45 seconds, on September the 26th 1983 USA time, Australia II won the America’s Cup. 132 years of history of the Americans holding and successfully defending the cup was broken, and it made yacht racing history. The historic sailing event was sailed off Rhode Island sound off the coast from Newport. Australia to was skippered by John Bertram who defeated Dennis Conner’s yacht “Liberty.” 

Alan Bonds Bond Corp buys control of STW Channel 9 

 

I was made manager of Group Colour division of Channel 7. This department was responsible for all film and some video processing and printing for Channel 7. 

Film lab to city for Western mail Newspaper.
Still tutor Mt Lawley Tech Collage. Chairman advisory council. 

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This was the year of the Los Angeles Olympic Games. 7000 athletes from 15 nations took part. Part of the opening ceremony we saw 84 grand pianos playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. 

The opening Ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles 

 

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Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Mount Lawley Technical College.
On January the 28th disaster strikes NASA as space shuttle Challenger explodes on takeoff killing all onboard. In other aviation news an experimental aircraft circles the globe non-stop. Staying aloft for the 25,000 mile journey the aircraft called Voyager has a crew of two, and uses 1500 gallons of fuel. Voyager takes nine days to complete the journey. 

Robert Homes a Court makes an unsuccessful bid for Melbourne’s Herald and Weekly times which of course HSV Channel 7. But he fails and Murdock moves in and buys it for $ 1.8 billon, which meant that he now has a controlling interest in 

The turmoils continues 

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This is the historic year for world peace when the President of the United States Ronald Reagan and the general secretary of the Soviet Union Gorbachev signed the historic treaty between United States and the Soviet Union on arms control. The treaty calls for the elimination of ballistic and cruise missiles. The following year 1988 president Reagan makes a historic visit to Russia. 

Now in 1987 back in Perth Alan Bond buys the two Channel nine networks TCN 9 and GTV 9 from Kerry Packer. With Murdoch purchase of the Herald and Weekly times group he divests his interest in The West Australian newspaper and sell it to Homes a Court.s Bell Group. 

In October 1987 the stock market takes a massive downward fall, the financial pressure on Bell Group leads them to eventually accept a take over by Bond Corp. This comes to finality next year. 

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The American elections for the President of the United States are held and George Bush senior sweeps to a 40 State victory and becomes President. 

The tumult in the Western Australian TV industry goes on 

Due to the takeover by the Bell Group of the West Australian newspapers, the Western Mail of which we at Group Colour were now part of we had been integrated with them. The West Australian newspapers management just flooded in followed by their senior photographic staff and just took over. Most of the Western Mail journalists and technical staff were retained. They had to keep people who knew about the new technology. A lot of the sales staff were lost, and I and nearly all of our staff were out too, We were all made redundant. It was all a bit strange really because my pay cheque was still coming from TVW7 at Tuart Hill. In fact that didn’t dawn on me till much later. Had I realise this I probably could have said that it was not up to them to put me off but the management of TVW Enterprises. 

The redundancy was terribly cleverly organised, we were ushered into an office one by one given the paperwork and a pay check, and said thanks very much for your work over the last 30 years with the company. It was the usual computer-generated letter with the gap left to insert the years of service. With my mouth open, I stood up and was shown the other door. It happened to all my eight staff in a similar manner. Only one was retained, he was our production manager; they had needed to have someone to run the lab. I knew the West Australian newspapers were going to move into the building, there was plenty of room; we had so many empty floors. They could now use our modern machinery and computers to print their paper. 

The Western Mail typesetting and photography was on the leading edge of technology, our lab’s colour printing and processing was the most modern Australia and the West Australian’s was quite out of date. They were still using wet darkrooms and were still printing in black-and-white, where as, we and the press photographers for the Mail were shooting all in colour, processing and printing it, and most cases it was used and printed in the paper in colour. 

I was told later that the West Australian did not want to have a colour photo lab which had outside customers; they were only interested in the press photo work. 

They should have retained outside customers as it would have offset the costs of a colour lab. It was a backward step in my view and very short-sighted. 

At the time, over that Christmas New Year period my mind was just blank, we had all work so hard getting the Western Mail established and running in the new building over the city for past two years, I think my mind was worn out and I was pretty mentally exhausted. We had one week to wind up the lab, tell all our customers that were no longer a business, and to give their business to another photo lab. I spoke to nearly all of them personally, because most were our friends. I referred them on to Custom Colour, a professional lab in Leederville with whom we were quite friendly. When I spoke to Malcolm McDonald at Custom Colour about what I was going to do,

they were happy and they eventually took on two of my staff, and other labs took on the others. They were very experienced professional colour printers and would be much sought-after. We had two staff photographers and quite a lot of their time was spent working to Channel 7. The two staff photographers said that that they were going out on their own. Eventually two of my staff started a photo lab and professional photographic studio in Bunbury. They did some work for the Bunbury TV station; they also did portrait work and some wedding photography. Jeff Paynter was also an underwater photography specialist, later he was the main instigator of sinking the redundant warship of Dunsborough for diving work. 

Western Mail’s closed on January 2 1988 with a 10 year loss over $ 50 million. I did nothing from a month and was very crestfallen and depressed. But I realised that Channel 7 would have no one to look after their publicity photographic work. I approached the studio about this and they quickly agreed that they would need somebody to look after it. So earlier in the February 1989 I returned as a casual, working at Tuart Hill as stills photographer for publicity and promotions department. I was also doing display work. Initially it was the two days a week, sometimes three. I retrieved a lot of the photographic material and cameras from the Western Mail and set up a small studio. I also retrieved the huge stock of Channel 7 negatives and files of proofs from the city and installed them back Tuart Hill. 

I made contact again with Custom Colour in Leederville and offered them some Channel 7 work, the main bulk of the work would now be down in Channel 7 Adelaide because they still had the colour lab working and there was a fast overnight bag system which we would use. 

With Alan Bonds take over of Bell Group and of course The West Australian. Now Bond sells TVW 7 and SAS7 to Christopher Skase and the Quintex Group. 

Brian Treasure, Jack Bendat and Kerry Stokes 

In May 20 1988 a third commercial station entered the Perth market NEW10. Former TVW co-founder Brian Treasure’s West Coast Telecasters, funded by Kerry Stokes and Jack Bendat, was the successful applicant, though the company was sold to Frank Lowy’s Northern Star Holdings before they went to air, as a result of a change in government policy. A number of key ex TVW management and staff were involved with the new channel. These included Bill McKenzie (Managing Director), Stuart Joynt (founding News Director), Marion Leyer (Director of Production) and Glenys Gill (Program Manager). 

Member RFBYC flying fifteen yacht Magic Pudding. 1989. 

Last 10 years back ay TVW 7. Three or four days a week casual work. Publicity and promotion work too. Arranging Displays, Exhibits, Royal Show appearences, Publicity photographer. I also spent the best part of the year downing private weddings photography. This was not profitable, working weekends I came out of it even which seemed to be a waste of time. 

Bond Corporation announces $980 million loss and goes into receivership and in October 2 also collapses after an unsuccessful take over of MGM in America. 

On the world scene we read of the huge ecological disaster when the 987 foot long or wheel tanker Exxon Valdez steaming south from Alaska strikes rocks and spills 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil. This causes a major ecological disaster to wildlife, birds, fish and animals and the massive cleanup commences. The costs are huge. On October 19 a massive earthquake devastated is the San Francisco area. 200 a dead, the cause’s putdown to the movement of the San Andreas fault. 

On September 22 1989 songwriter who had been booming passes away and in Los Angeles famous actress Lucille Ball dies on April the 26th. In the June the very popular Batman movie starring Jack Nicholson premiers. 

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This year sees three popular and well-known personalities pass away. Film star Ava Gardener was 68 years old and Sammy Davis Jr. was 64. Sammy died of throat cancer. Sammy had been a wonderful Telethon guest on two occasions. And West Side Story composer and orchestra leader Leonard Bernstein dies aged 72. 

On the world scene Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein instructs his army to invade Kuwait on August 2. This angers the world and operation Desert Storm commences in the next year 1991. The United States Army led by General “Stormin” Norman Swartscoff… he and his fighting teams free Kuwait and fights on towards Baghdad. 

Back in Perth Robert a Court succumbed to a heart attack and die intestate, under WA law his estate is devided equally among his wife Janet and his Children 

 

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The Walt Disney Co. sets up the Magic Kingdom in France for a European Disneyland.

The new American president Bill Clinton beats George Bush (senior) in the presidential election on November 4. His inauguration takes place in 1993. 

 

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This is the year. Perry Mason actor and TV star dies at the aged 76.

 

1995

Kerry Stokes acquires a dominate stake in TVW 7

 

1996

Alan Bond jailed for 30 months after a jury convict him of dishonesty relating to ASIC investigations of Rothwell’s on 1997 he is again jailed after pleading guilty of deceptively siphoning $1.2 Billion from Bell Resources. 

Atlanta Olympics USA. A large group of TVW 7 staff go to the games for the TV coverage. 

 

1999.

Redundant again
40 Years service, October 16 2000

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