Tears, standing ovation, for last ABC audience at Ripponlea

It was a sentimental evening as ABC's historic Melbourne studios ended 6 decades of production.

There were tears and a standing ovation last night a chapter in Australian TV history quietly drew to a close…

The Mad as Hell recording was notable for the last-ever filming inside ABC’s Studio 31 at its famed Ripponlea home. Watching on were writers, editors, production runners and security guards.

Host Shaun Micallef, who has filmed productions there including Welcher & Welcher, The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) and Newstopia, fought back tears as he thanked cast and crew -some of whom had worked on shows dating back over thirty years.

“It is really the people in the building that make all the difference,” he said. “It’s those I want to thank tonight, not only those here but everybody we’ve all worked for, for the past 20 years.”

But by then the audience was already on its feet, in recognition of the end of a TV era.

Opened in 1956, the studios have been home to iconic shows includingBellbird, Countdown, The Big Gig, Kath & Kim, Spicks and Specks, Seachange, Adventure Island, Frontline, The Late Show, The D-Generation, Round the Twist, The Gillies Report, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, plus Something in the Air, Recovery, The Adventures of Lano & Woodley and more recently The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight, Dirty Laundry Live, Newton’s Law and Hard Quiz.

Many more shows by other production companies and even commercial networks have happily filmed there across six decades.

The 4 storey building is home to 2 large studio spaces, and several smaller ones, with production space for set construction, wardrobe, make-up, props, editing suites and broadcast tower. A revamped Southbank studios now house radio, television and digital productions but a Port Melbourne storage will be home to excess resources. Mad as Hell is due to resume there in 2018, subject to a formal commission.

ABC ME kids programming are now the only remaining shows left at Ripponlea, expected to wind down in coming weeks.

It is understood the property is yet to be sold, although ABC has vacated nearby offices in Selwyn St Elsternwick.

Meanwhile Classic Countdown episodes will air from September 17 while an ABC documentary on the studio’s history is also being filmed for airing later this year.

A celebration for former staff will be held in October.

7 Responses

  1. Significantly Ripponlea is the last of the original FTA studio spaces left intact in Melbourne. HSV and GTV have both departed to newer facilities, and while there are still studios operated by NEP on the HSV site the original configuration has long since gone. Truly the end of an era.

  2. David, something that has long been a question in my mind is the overall use of the ABC building at Gilburton in Adelaide. It’s a huge building, about seven or more stories high. Surely it isn’t viable for just the ABC?

    1. >> Gilburton in Adelaide … It’s a huge building, about seven or more stories high. Surely it isn’t viable for just the ABC?

      Firstly, the ABC building is in Collinswood. And the other suburb is Gilberton.

      Anyway, the ABC building in Adelaide hosts the studios of ABC 891 Adelaide, A TV studio, the BtN team, the Newsroom (television and radio), and it still has television production space, it hosts the sound library, and it still has an orchestral studio.

      There are other tenants in the building, so it’s not all the ABC. Channel 44 operate from there; and the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) has all of the top floor I understand, and the Office of the Public Advocate have the floor below that. There may be others.

      There is also a refurbishment going on, so you actually need other space for staff to work in whilst their workplace undergoes that…

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