Producer / Director Robbie Weekes, best known for co-creating Countdown, has died.
Weekes created Countdown together with producer Michael Shrimpton in 1974, hiring music journalist Ian “Molly” Meldrum as talent co-ordinator. The show produced live in Ripponlea studios is widely-regarded as changing the face of Australian music, with Weekes directing hundreds, if not thousands, of music performances.
Weekes had been a director for ATV0 and ABC on shows including The Magic Circle Club, Kommotion, Happening ’70, Ted Hamilton’s New Wave, The Barry Crocker Show and That’s Dancin’.
In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia for service to the broadcast media industry as a producer and director, and to the community. Last year he returned to Ripponlea studios for the site’s farewell gathering.
Molly Meldrum recalled being cast by Weekes, telling Countdown Memories,
“Well basically there was a friend of mine working for the ABC called Robbie Weekes who I’d worked with at Channel 10 on a couple of shows and he moved over to the ABC. And he was having a meeting and drinks with a guy called Michael Shrimpton who was the Executive Producer and was the boss of the light entertainment section for the ABC. And the ABC had asked Michael to come up with some ideas to get a youth audience into the ABC, maybe through sort of like you know, through music etc. etc. And Michael was having a drink with Robbie at the Botanical Hotel in South Yarra and um, I happened to just drive literally straight up on to the footpath to get a bottle of Scotch from the bottle shop. Robbie looked out and saw me and said, ‘Well that’s the man we need for this’ you know.”
The moment was dramatised in the Molly miniseries with Weekes portrayed by actor T.J. Power.