Four Corners to mark 60th anniversary

Four Corners will broadcast a special episode with highlights from the show’s six decades.

Landmark current affairs program Four Corners will mark its 60th anniversary on ABC next month.

It is not just the longest running current affairs program in Australia – it is the longest-running television program.

On Saturday 19th August 1961, Four Corners made its debut on Australian TV. With a staff of just six and a weekly budget of £480, the first national TV current affairs show was on the air. Originally a ‘magazine’ style show made up of several stories, copies of the program were flown around the country for broadcast. Today, Four Corners is Australia’s longest running current affairs program and a powerhouse of investigative journalism – fearless and forensic, holding power to account for 60 years.

The award winning program has amassed 62 Walkley awards, seven of them the coveted Gold, as well as 23 Logie awards. To mark the program’s extraordinary milestone, Four Corners will broadcast a special episode with highlights from the show’s six decades.

As the program travels through the decades the faces and voices of generations of reporters and hosts appear, including the likes of Michael Charlton, Michael Willesee, Caroline Jones, Paul Lyneham, Ray Martin, Jeff McMullen, Andrew Olle, Chris Masters, Paul Barry, Liz Jackson, Tony Jones, and Sarah Ferguson.

From its beginnings chronicling a rapidly changing 1960s Australia to landmark reporting on Indigenous issues, the archives reveal how Four Corners helped Australians discover each other and how a TV show could start a national conversation. The sixties provide a treasure trove of “did they really say that?” moments.

The 1970s capture a decade of social and political upheaval. The program was not immune with the media announcing “Girl will take over Four Corners” with the appointment of Caroline Jones as host. The stories show the rise of feminism, and the end of the Vietnam War to environmental activism and the rise and fall of the Whitlam Government.

The 1980s provides a wealth of outstanding moments. The era of big hair and excess leaps from the screen. In story after story Four Corners exposed staggering revelations, from the depths of Queensland police corruption in “The Moonlight
State” to the world exclusive scoop revealing a French secret service operation to blow up a Greenpeace vessel.

By the 1990s corporate criminals were being held to account, none more so than in the iconic confrontation between Paul Barry and the disgraced businessman Alan Bond. There were intimate and powerful personal accounts of brave people putting their trust in Four Corners, as a dying Stuart Challender did chronicling his secret battle with AIDS. But not everyone was a fan of “4C’s”. Then Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett colourfully labelled one investigation “an hour of slime.”

The 2000s brought The Age of Terror and Four Corners was there to report on the 9/11 plotters and expose the secrets and lies told to justify the war in Iraq. And as the tide of asylum seekers washed on Australian shores, secret footage from inside Australia’s detention centres exposed traumatising scenes. Showcasing the power of observational film making, “The Ice Age” remains a shocking insight into drug addiction.

In this most recent decade, Four Corners has continued to excel, as showcased by a wave of investigations: from exposing people smuggling networks and cruel practices in the greyhound industry to the use of shackles and spithoods on juveniles in “Australia’s Shame”, the appalling practices of the banking industry and the revelations of a toxic political culture in “The Canberra Bubble”

In addition to the broadcast program a special collection showing extended highlights of each decade and selected programs will be showcased on iView and the Four Corners website. A series of ABC News online articles will delve behind the scenes into the controversies and taboo topics that have defined the program along with “from the vault” special moments on social media.

Production credits:
Executive Producer – Sally Neighbour
Supervising Producer – Morag Ramsay

8:30pm Monday 16th August on ABC.

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