The greatest TV moments of the ‘70s

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The birthday celebrations continue as TV WEEK turns 60 and reflects on six decades worth of television greatness, including the biggest shows and stars.

In the decade of disco it seems only fitting that colour finally came to our screens. Through a hippy haze of peace, love, flares and big hair we watched television get bolder, braver and brighter. Groove your way through the greats below.

Young Talent Time

1971: Teenage song-and-dance show Young Talent Time took centre stage, hosted by Johnny Young. Over the next 18 years, it bred stars like Tina Arena (above far right) and Dannii Minogue.

Number 96

1972: When sex-and-sin soap Number 96 premiered, it was called “the night Australian TV lost its virginity”. Taboos were shattered as actress Vivienne Garrett became the first topless woman on TV, Deborah Grey went full frontal, and Joe Hasham kissed another man.

The Mike Walsh Show

1973: Mike Walsh began his reign over daytime TV with smart chat, sharp comedy and plenty of variety on The Mike Walsh Show, which ran for 13 years, first on Ten and then later on Nine.

Paul Hogan

1973: Former Sydney Harbour Bridge rigger Paul “Hoges” Hogan turned a spot on a talent show into a career with his own series, The Paul Hogan Show. Mike’s appeal created midday magic.


1974: Tuning in to Countdown every Sunday became a part of Australian life for 13 years. Ian “Molly” Meldrum bumbled through at the best of times, but when Prince Charles made a guest appearance in 1977, Molly was truly lost for words.

Graham Kennedy

1975: After run-ins with the network and broadcasting authorities, prankster Graham Kennedy’s infamous “faark” crow call saw him banned from live TV. Two years later, he was back on top with the game show Blankety Blanks.

Aunty Jack

1975: A rainbow actually looked like one when TV was broadcast in full colour from March 1. ABC comedy fave Aunty Jack was the first character to appear.

Done Lane

1975: After Ernie Sigley ran foul of network boss Kerry Packer, US singer Don Lane stepped in to host Nine’s night-time variety show, renamed The Don Lane Show. It earned Don a Gold Logie and ran for eight years.

The Sullivans

1976: Drama filled the screens with hospital soap The Young Doctors and wartime series The Sullivans. Viewers sobbed when Grace Sullivan (Lorraine Bayly, below centre) was killed in the Blitz, but cheered when hospital dragon Sister Grace Scott (Cornelia Frances) fell down the lift shaft. “Everyone loved a bitch and I loved playing her,” Cornelia said.


1979: Wentworth Detention Centre inmates Bea Smith (Val Lehman), Franky Doyle (Carol Burns) and Lizzie Birdsworth (Sheila Florance) were the stars of drama Prisoner. “Hard-hitting, fast action, with genuine issues,” Val, who ruled the steam press, recalled.

Bert Newton

1979: A TV WEEK Logies knockout was in the air when a quip by host Bert Newton to boxing great Muhammad Ali went terribly wrong. Bert said, “I like the boy”, unaware it could be taken as a racial slur. “It was an honest mistake on my part,” Bert said later.

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