Next in our series of posts marking the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 80th anniversary, here is another object relating to Australia’s national broadcaster, from the Powerhouse Museum’s collection.
It is a colour poster promoting the much-loved ABC television serial Bellbird. The show looked at the daily lives of the inhabitants of a rural community around a small country town.
Created by Barbara Vernon, Bellbird had a devoted national audience during its ten years of production from 1967. It was screened for 15 minutes, four nights a week, after GTK and before the news. It was taped in the ABC’s Melbourne studios in Elsternwick, with some location work done in the Victorian town of Daylesford. Maurie Fields played John Quinney, the local stock and station agent. Lynette Curran was the show’s pin-up girl.
Charlie Cousens, the evil real estate agent, was played by Robin Ramsay, who decided to leave the show in 1968. The writers devised a suitably rustic way to kill off the character. In a memorably shocking sequence, he fell from a wheat silo. The death scene usually figures in retrospectives of great moments in Australian television.
This poster dates from the latter days of Bellbird in the 1970s.
Australian TV soaps had their origins in long-running radio serials such as the ABC’s Blue Hills (1949–1976). They have been a staple of Australian television since the 1950s. Bellbird was a precursor to later TV serial dramas set in country towns — A Country Practice (Seven network, 1981-1993) and Something in the Air (ABC, 2000-2002).