Putting business into show business: by Timothy Jong

Timothy has been supported by staff at the St Albans Community Hub for many years to gain practical writing experience, preparing articles for the Hub’s quarterly newsletter.

Award winning writer and Yooralla customer Timothy Jong is continuing to develop his writing skills, edging closer to his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goal of becoming a professional writer.

Timothy has been supported by staff at the St Albans Community Hub for many years to gain practical writing experience, preparing articles for the Hub’s quarterly newsletter.

We are very lucky to have had Tim share a number of his published works with us, which we will share over the coming weeks. We hope you will enjoy them!

You can read Tim’s first piece about the history of show business below.

Putting business into show business

In the early days of television, television live variety shows and game shows were a big staple for all of the TV networks each week night, but it was the Nine Network who heavily relied on the live variety format for a rating and revenue grab.

Shooting five live shows in five nights, trusting the genre to entertain a whole range of the network's demographics in their programming schedule - starting with Tommy Hannon's variety show and bowing out with Daryl Somers on Hey Hey It's Saturday in November of 1999.

In live variety shows, you could enjoy your favourite international and local musical acts performing, show Australia your own talent on Red Faces, or win a prize by spinning the wheel on The Don Lane Show or, you could even watch Graham Kennedy doing wacky things on his show. The possibilities were endless and they were allowed to almost do anything!

Following the success Channel Nine had with variety shows during the week, Network 10 tried to replicate their success. The Mike Walsh Show was launched in 1973 until 1976, then moved to Nine in 1977, until it was axed in 1984. It was in the midday twelve o'clock slot, where The Mike Walsh Show burst on TV screens for non-working women to watch.

Mike Walsh had all of the elements and the live variety feel to his program, such as singing a song with Geoff Harvey's band, guest appearances and other forms of entertainment. The old-fashioned TV format came from the old vaudevillian style and some of the same performances or acts circuses have. After time, that graduated into the once popular genre.

After the cancellation of The Mike Walsh Show, they revived the afternoon format as The Midday Show in 1985. Starting with the show's first host Ray Martin, ending with Kerri-Ann Kennelly in 1998. Midday had all the elements that its predecessor had - providing light entertainment.

From '98 more women started to get jobs during the day, not being home to watch The Midday Show. As a result, television ratings for afternoon TV started to decline axing the show. These days, it's cheaper to show movies or air repeats of reality shows to catch up on.

With the demise of Midday, Nine Network executives wanted to take the network in a new direction, also axing Hey Hey It's Saturday '99 after 28 years. It was still a successful program airing on Saturday, but they came to the decision they wanted the show to bow out at the height of the hit show and came an end to a rich history of variety shows.

Television game shows have always been a useful vehicle for entertaining TV viewers before the national 6 pm news or trying to encourage viewers to stay watching the channel for the remainder of the night for ratings.

Worth noting, Sale of the Century was a much-watched game show screening at seven o’clock for 21 years, encouraging viewers to watch the channel for the remainder of the night. In 2005, Nine took the bold decision to reboot the tired Sale of the Century format, as Temptation with Ed Philips and Livinia Nixon.

As far back as I can remember, Channel Seven couldn’t knock Larry Emdur’s version of The Price is Right off with any game show they put up against it at 5:30 pm. Seven put on a slew of shows to try to get a jump on the Price is Right dominance, such as the Rob Brough-hosted Family Feud, to Wheel of Fortune.

Then they moved Deal or No Deal from the ill-fated Sunday slot to pit against The Price is Right. Audiences flocked to watch Deal or No Deal just for the curiosity factor. Deal proved they had a hit, averaging a whopping two million viewers each episode, delivering huge ratings into Seven News.

Network 10 took a bold decision, providing an entertaining alternative rebooting Family Feud at six o'clock against the news. The 2014 version of Family Feud rated well. But after the second episode 10 put it on three channels, trying to attract more viewers. However, simultaneously screening the show on multiple channels just made the viewers stop watching it.

Reacting to the resurgence of Seven News, Channel Nine programmers shifted the hour-long Who Wants To Be A Millionaire to a thirty minute version of the program at 5.30.

Right now, the afternoon game show’s contest between Millionaire Hot Seat continues, with its uphill battle trying to beat The Chase. The Chase has been constantly beating Millionaire Hot Seat since 2009, but I think Nine are still satisfied with the 6 pm Nine News lead in.

By Timothy Jong

Read more of Tim’s work soon, with his upcoming article Communication: how my device allows me to converse to my peers being published in the coming weeks.

Yooralla has Community Hubs across Victoria, where people with disability can receive the support they require, meet new friends and get out in their local community, all while learning new skills. Read more about them here.

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