Vale: Carol Raye

Veteran performer / producer Carol Raye, best known for The Mavis Bramston Show and Blankety Blanks, has died.

Veteran performer / producer Carol Raye, best known for The Mavis Bramston Show and Blankety Blanks, has died aged 99 -just a week after being given an Order of Australia.

Raye was already a major film star in Britain when she emigrated to Australia, via Kenya, with her husband in 1964. But it was her creation of The Mavis Bramston Showin which she was the lead actor, that made her a household name to Australian audiences.

In one episode alone it tackled a visit by the US Vice President to Australia, the introduction of female roller skating to Australia, homosexuality, censorship, price fixing, child endowment, the White Australia Policy, and how the introduction of computers would impact on office secretaries.

“I had just arrived in Australia and I joined Channel Seven as a producer and was told to come up with some ideas for a late night show. Seven’s ratings weren’t very good and they wanted to knock off Graham Kennedy. In Melbourne Tonight was a huge success,” she once told TV Tonight.

“I’d just come from England and was very influenced by a show that was a huge success in London, That Was The Week That Was with David Frost. It was really a journalistic satire.

“It wasn’t just lots of funny ha-ha jokes. It was political comedy.”

Coaxed into performing in its first season, she was joined by Gordon Chater and Barry Creyton, with music by Tommy Tycho and led by writer Michael Plant.

“Channel Seven’s General Manager said to me, ‘Carol the trouble with you is you’re far too BBC. Australians are not ready to laugh at themselves.’

“And I said ‘I don’t believe that. Everybody laughs at themselves if it’s funny.’

“So I was given 1200 pounds and told to make a pilot.”

One of the first female television executives in the country, Raye went on to work on Channel 10’s popular Number 96, playing Baroness Amanda Ashton von Pappenburg, before producing the series. The network had given a brief to producers: “Coronation Street, but a little racier”, and Raye emerged as one of the stars of a show that won multiple Logie awards.

Before arriving in Australia, Raye lived in rural Kenya with her husband, who worked with the Colonial Veterinary Service. She launched the BBC’s television service in the country, producing live content in three languages.

Raye would later feature in Number 96, and became its casting director followed by Blankety Blanks alongside host Graham Kennedy, both on 10.

Last week she was given an Order of Australia for significant service to the performing arts as an actor and producer.

Parkinson in Australia episode on iview


This post updates.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

8 Responses

  1. wow, i did not even know she was the creator of MB show, i assumed that being a male dominated industry back in the day that it was either Barry or Gordon or a male writer/producer who did.

    What an amazing woman, a massive contributor to the TV industry who will long be remembered, RIP Carol

  2. Carol played two roles in Number 96. Amanda and a double who was swindling Amanda out of her money. It was a complicated storyline which involved numerous chromakey overlays to have both appearing on screen at the one-time but she managed to carry it off with little effort. I doubt whether many other actors at the time would have been able to handle a dual role such as that

  3. Great, great lady! Such fond memories of her elegant and funny persona. Her banter with Graham Kennedy on Blankety Blanks was hilarious. They clearly had a great chemistry and liking for each other. And her Mavis Bramston work was trailblazing. A wonderful life and career. Just shy of 100, but hey; leave them wanting more.

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