Gallery: ABC: Tuning In exhibition

The National Archives of Australia looks back on much-loved ABC shows from 1964–76.

Bill Steamshovel, Mr Squiggle and Jane Fennell, 1975

The National Archives of Australia in Canberra has launched a new exhibition Tuning In: ABC TV 1964–76.

It highlights much-loved ABC shows from Play School to Countdown, from Bellbird to Alvin Purple.

“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.


Lynette Curran on the set of Bellbird, 1975


Prince Charles with Molly Meldrum on the set of Countdown, 1977

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

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 even women protesting their right to drink in public bars.


Jackie Weaver and Graeme Blundell on the set of Alvin Purple, 1976


Ronnie Burns and Graeme Blundell on the set of the 1000th episode of Adventure Island ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, 1972


The cast from Basically Black, 1973

“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.”

The exhibition is open until 15 May.


Benita Collings and John Waters on the set of Play School, c.1972


Caroline Jones on the set of This Day Tonight (TDT), 1970


Jon English and Bobbi Sykes on the set of GTK, 1973

7 Responses

  1. Mr Squiggle, remember seeing him live on the rooftop restaurant in a David Jones store way back in the early 70’s. Think it was the old Barrack Street store or could have been Market or Elizabeth Street.

    Love the 70’s hairstyle on Caroline Jones, would have taken her hours under one of those head heating things

  2. Having produced many episodes of Bellbird, directed TDT and briefly “Diddly Dum Diddlies” aka Adventure Island I would love to see that. Perhaps they can arrange a National tour.

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