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Logies Hall of Fame inductees 60 Minutes reflect on the iconic show

'I think we’ll be around for a while yet!'

For 40 years, the familiar tick-tick-tick of the 60 Minutes opener has been heard in living rooms across Australia on a Sunday night. Now, the iconic current affairs program has been inducted into the TV WEEK Logie Awards Hall Of Fame.
"I think 60 Minutes did a lot in the early days to make Australians look outside of themselves and tell them there was a whole amazing world there," veteran reporter Charles Wooley says.
"We called it a magic carpet ride for us, but I think it was for the audience too."
Liam Bartlett, Tara Brown, Allison Langdon, Charles Wooley, Liz Hayes, Tom Steinfort and Ross Coulhart.
Charles, now 69, was a young journalist at the ABC when 60 Minutes premiered in 1979. The original team included Ray Martin, George Negus and Ian Leslie.
Charles remembers his shock at the "great reporter" Ray leaving the ABC.
"We thought, 'How can he go off to something like that?'" he says.
"The first show didn't really have much in it – cigarette-smuggling across the Queensland/NSW border – but after that, it just took off."
Liam, Charles, Tom and Ross.
Allison Langdon, who's been with 60 Minutes since 2011, was born the year the show premiered. Like most Australians, she sat down with her family to watch it every week.
"We all travelled the world through the eyes of whoever it happened to be – Jana [Wendt], George, Ian, Jeff [McMullen]," she says. "It's why I wanted to become a journalist. It was always the dream; the job that I wanted."
Liam Bartlett has had some "amazing adventures" with the show – some of them expected and some not.
"I was bombed in Beirut [Lebanon] on my very first story in 2006," he remembers. "That was a wake-up call!"
Allison feels Aussies can relate to the show's stories.
For Tara Brown, one of the stories that had the biggest impact on her was from her first year with 60 Minutes. She went to New York just days after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.
"The airspace had been closed," Tara, 50, remembers. "We ended up flying to Montréal [Canada] and then caught a bus down to Manhattan. It was just eerily silent. It was a place in shock and, physically, it wore the scars of the attack."
As for Allison, the story that's really stuck with her is closer to home: the Kelly family. Ralph and Kathy Kelly lost their son Thomas to a one-punch assault in 2012, and then their son Stuart to suicide in 2016.
"Ralph and Kathy stood up and said, 'We don't want this to happen to anyone else,'" Allison says. "They're an extraordinary couple."
Tara believes Australian's trust 60 Minutes.
Allison says 60 Minutes' history is full of unforgettable moments.
"Stories like Allison Baden-Clay – that was one that Tara did," she says. "And Joanne Lees – that was a Liz [Hayes] story. The George Negus interview with Margaret Thatcher. Pauline Hanson – that was Tracey [Curro]. And Tom Cruise telling Peter Overton to 'put his manners back in'."
Tara sees 60 Minutes as a show that people grow up with and then introduce to their own children.
"It's become one of those iconic programs because it's something people can rely on," she says.
Liz has been with 60 Minutes for more than two decades.
The world has changed since 1979. Aussies are now more likely to travel to far-off places themselves. For Charles, that means the focus of 60 Minutes has shifted. But the show still has its place.
"It's more about telling stories now than showing people things," he says. "I think we'll be around for a while yet."
For more from our interview with the 60 Minutes team, pick up a copy of this week's issue of TV WEEK.

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