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.