Avid Channel Seven viewers throughout the 1960s will remember the popular, pretty and vivacious children’s compere and weather girl Trina Brown. The young lady who presented her audience with a saucy wink every night after she summed up the meteorological conditions and outlook. They even named a pacer after her called, Trina’s Wink, which raced around Perth and regional trotting tracks.
A magazine article about a horse named Trina’s Wink
Trotting owners Sam Conti and Kevin Peiriera named a horse Trina’s Wink, and as it happened, Sunday horse riding was one of Trina’s favourite pastimes.
Pacer Trina’s Wink with namesake Trina Brown
Trina kindly invited Gordon McColl and Ken McKay into her home, and allowed them to record her reminiscences and memorabilia, which we now present here as a reminder of a bygone time when Jim Atkinson dressed as a sea captain, Colm O’Doherty as his trusty seaman, and John Cousins in a lion suit. A lion whose laugh required a special limiter called a ‘Taffy Stopper’ to prevent the volume of his voice deafening the viewers and bending the sound monitoring needles upstairs in the audio control booth. Trina’s next companion proved less noisy, the mute and fondly remembered Percy the Penguin.
Time-Line: Trina Williams (nee Brown)
- 1947 Born in Perth on June 2.
- 1962 Trina was one of the official models at the Perth Commonwealth and Empire Games.
- 1962 moved with her family to Queensland, where she finished her schooling and embarked on a variety of jobs, including work as a secretary, receptionist and public relations officer with a car firm, before going into television at the age of 18.
- 1964 was nominated Actress of the Year at the North Queensland Drama Festival.
- 1965 was Queen of the Magnetic Island annual festival.
- 1965 began TV career in Townsville, as hostess with TNQ-7. Spent 8 months with TNQ-7, in which she did the children’s shows, news reading, weather reports and interviews.
- 1966 Trina began with TVW-7 in Perth. Carolyn Noble, was back for a brief stay after the birth of her baby, meanwhile Trina was kept under cover as a production assistant, until Carolyn finally left.
- 1968 Trina had been Channel Seven’s weather girl for 14 months when she celebrated her 21st birthday on June 2 and became eligible to become an air hostess.
- 1968 The Captain Jim, Seaman O’Doherty and Taffy the Lion roles finish as Children’s Channel 7 paused after Children’s Day at the Royal Show. Taffy made a final appearance on Telethon. Trina got the itch to travel and joined Qantas as a air hostess. She travelled all over the Pacific with Qantas before getting homesick for Perth.
- 1969 January back on-air with Percy Penguin.
- 1971 left TVW on August 30. Trina was the children’s hostess, presented the Early Bird Show with Terry Willesee and Andrew Carroll, presented a series of Stars of the Future, filled in as hostess of Letterbox with David Farr, when Sandra Lucas was away, presented Shopping Guide, following in the footsteps of Audrey Barnaby and Stephanie Quinlan, performed lots of promotional work on weekends and was 7’s weather girl, where she became famous for her wink at the end of the weather. Trina recalls that it was a beaut job, and a tremendous way of life.
- 1971 September married Philip Williams, a US qualified doctor of chiropractic, and became a housewife, a partner in her husband’s business and then a mother.
Trina… “In her own words”
I was very excited when I went out to have a look at Channel 7, and invited to try out for Children’s Channel Seven, and consequent phone call to say I had been accepted, because Carolyn Noble would be going overseas with her husband, and so in August 1966 I started in the production room at Channel Seven, and it wasn’t long after that Channel Seven turned 7, and I was one of the one’s most happy because the management had decided to give everybody seven dollars, and the girls also got a beautiful powder compact, and I was delighted as I had only been there a very short time and I got an additional seven dollars, and back then that was a lot of money. But of course if this had happened the year before all the other staff members realised they would have got seven pounds, so it was interesting that I was the one who was quite excited because seven dollars was seven dollars.
It wasn’t long after that we began working on the children’s program, and of course I was with Jim Atkinson, Captain Jim, Seaman O’Doherty and Taffy the Lion. We had lots of good times together, always fun and live audiences… and I stayed there until the end of 1968 when I left to have a short stint with Qantas as an air hostess. But I came back in 1969 and was introduced to the lovely Percy Penguin, and we had great times together on the children’s program.
I left in August 1971 to get married… so I had been there all of 69, 70 and most of 71, and during that time was lucky enough to win two Logies, which was very exciting.
Fat Cat came after I left Children’s Channel Seven. They introduced Fat Cat with Sandy Palmer, so Fat Cat was just coming in as I was going out.
Eric Walters was the News presenter, and he also had Peter Waltham under his wings, and I began doing the weather. I had to really prove that a girl could do the weather. I believe I was the first girl weather presenter in Western Australia, and that was quite exciting. Luckily for me, Perth seemed to take me to their heart and everybody was very complimentary. It was really good fun when I went out, for people to ask me about the weather.
Max Bostock, who was Production Manager at the time, said that they were going to start an early morning program, and he almost put a blank piece of paper on my desk and said, ‘Can you come up with some ideas.’ When I went home during the Christmas holidays, and was visiting my family in Queensland, coming back through Sydney I saw a puppet of a sticky sort of bird, and I brought that back, and it became the symbol of Early Birds. It was a great program, we had loads of fun times, we had cartoons, but we also interspersed it with weather and news details, so we had someone from the Newsroom working with us… and that was a lot of good fun.
Andrew Carroll and Trina present Early Birds
Basically one camera behind a desk, but we certainly did have some good times. During that time from the News Department there was Andrew Carroll and Terry Willesee, who of course went onto much bigger and better things. We had quite a lot of well known people come onto the program. It ran from 7 in the morning until 9 o’clock, basically during the school holidays. For the May holidays, as it was then, the August Holidays and a spate in the Christmas holidays, which made it quite a long day as we started on-air at 7 in the morning, then we had our production time during the day, then the live children’s program in the afternoon, and then the weather. So it was a full on days work.
Carolyn was involved as well, part time, as she was then a mum with children, so she did the Early Birds sometimes.
Stars of the Future
We had a little talent program within Children’s Channel Seven, but then it was decided to have Stars of the Future and Carolyn was doing it before I did it. We had some wonderful stars in Western Australia, one of them Lynn Whooley, I was privileged to take over to a program that was called ‘Brian and the Juniors’, which was a forerunner to Young Talent Time. Brian Naylor, a lovely man, and as you probably recall, was tragically killed in the recent fires.
Trina, Carolyn Tannock (nee Noble), Percy and Lynn Whooley
Sandy Palmer, and when she married became Sandy Baker, took over the children’s program from me.
Trina also did Shopping Guide on many occasions.
We had lots of fun on weekends, thats when we got involved with the public, like the Royal Show as well. But we would be invited to fetes, sporting events, with Percy being the big drawcard. There would be hundreds if not thousands of people and very exciting, because back then people really took Channel Seven to their hearts. Where ever we went, people were so warm and welcoming to us.
We were asked to go down to the circus, which was in Rockingham. We were going to do some filming to show on the children’s program, and we had to be very careful in those days what was shown on TV. I had a pretty little mini skirt on and my little high heels. At the end of the elephants act I was to walk into the ring and the Circus Master was going to come over and bring the smallest of the elephants over. I was going to explain to the children the trunk, and where the tusks would grow, the softness of its mouth etcetera, and so we are there and we’ve got a fairly wide shot… but I all of a sudden felt something on my leg… and thought, ‘I wonder what that can be’. Well the cameraman luckily saw it and began getting a closer and closer shot of me, and I looked down and realised that the elephant, who had been trying to leave our company, was in fact doing a wee, and it was splashing all over my leg. But of course I could not say on camera, ‘The Elephant is doing a wee’. So of course there is a close up shot of me with tears streaming down my face, tears of laughter of course, and saying, ‘Now we’ll go to a commercial break’.
Letterbox was another program that I was involved with for a short time. Sandra Lucas had been the long time hostess, David Farr being the compere of the program… didn’t he have a lovely voice. Sandra I believe left to go to Expo, I believe in Canada that year (Universal Exposition of 1967 in the City of Montreal).
There was always something going on at Channel Seven. If someone needed a bouquet of flowers or something I was called on to walk in at the appropriate time. When Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) of Coranation Street came out to Australia (in 1968) we had a morning tea for her, with lots of ladies invited to come along, very nicely done in the big studio (Studio 1), yes and I got to meet her, and present her with a bunch of flowers. Many, many good memories.
(One Christmas Eve at midnight) I did a letter to Virginia, a story about, ‘What no Father Christmas, of course there’s a Father Christmas’, it was a lovely thing to do.
How did I get my Wink
We did have to be careful that we did not use a sponsors name instead of… for example, you didn’t say pass me a biro, you would have to say a ball point pen, because you didn’t use the word biro.
You didn’t get called to Mr. Treasure’s office unless you were in trouble, and one morning… I did the weather the first night, and I really had to prove that I could do it… and it didn’t seem the way in those days to tell you you’ve done a good job… it was if you hadn’t. So the next morning I had a memo on my desk to go to Brian Treasure’s office. And when I got there, I walked in and he said (sternly), ‘Good morning’, and I replied (hesitantly), ‘Good morning’. He said, ‘Did you wink on television last night?’ Now its something I have done all my life, I just say, ‘G’day’, and the wink comes, and I said, ‘I don’t know Mr. Treasure’. He said, ‘Well you did, and you will from this night on, because the switchboard lit up’. And then of course I was nervous thinking, ‘Did I wink?’ But that’s how it happened, so it wasn’t anything contrived, it was just a natural happening.
About Marion Leyer
Marion is just an amazingly talented woman, a very nice lady, no nonsense, you knew where you stood with Marion, and she was at the desk behind me, she was in charge, you always felt good when Marion was ‘In Charge’, I still see Marion regularly, there was a time after I was married, for quite some years, we didn’t have contact, but now at least once a month I see Marion, I see Danni Harford, who was one of the dancers (and former choreographer), and I see Brian Smith, who was very involved in production, and that’s a very nice connection. I’ve seen Mr. Max Bostock over the years. Mmmm it’s very nice to catch up with these people. It was like being out on a little planet out at Channel Seven, it was out in the sticks then, the surrounded area, there were houses one side, but towards the back of Channel Seven was just bush.
Trina, Percy and Marion Leyer
I remember the big days out there, like the Ampol Hole in One Day, when people would come out, and of course the first few Telethons were so exciting with the people coming out to the Studios. I keep saying what a great time it was, but it was, and it was a wonderful way of life. It was like a big family out there.
In the production area, it was like a real tight knit family, you didn’t see so much the people up in the office, they were there and supportive of course. I felt quite privileged of course as I was in the artistic side of production, but because of my involvement with the weather, I went into the hallowed halls of the Newsroom as well, and that was quite exciting. And of course I was so young, I look back now and think I would take it all in my stride now, but I was just a young girl and it was pretty impressive when Geoff Paddick came. He had been over in Canberra as a reporter over there, and Geoff Paddick was coming to Channel Seven, you know. I see Geoff from time to time now. Yeah it’s quite amazing.
1970 Best Male Personality: Garry Meadows (TVW7) Best Female Personality: Trina Brown (TVW7) 1971 Most Popular Male: Garry Meadows (TVW7) Most Popular Female: Trina Brown (TVW7)
I remember the first Logie I was told that I had won the Logie, and I was going to Melbourne on the 11 o’clock flight, that meant that I could not do the weather that night, and I was not to tell anyone why. Which included Darcy (Farrell the News Editor). So I had to go to Darcy and say, ‘I can’t do the weather tonight’, and he said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I’m not allowed to tell you’. It was Gary Carvolth who had given me those instuctions, so whether it was for real or not, because Gary often pulled my leg. However I was forgiven by Darcy on Monday when he realised why I had flown out to Melbourne.
Well, Gary is a leg puller and I remember, and as you all know my name is Trina, and we were at a hole in one day and I had to walk up a dais and had to be very careful. All those stairs and mini skirts were in fashion. I though. I know what I’ll do, I’ll wear hot pants, and a little top over that, so I felt quite secure, and as I walked up Gary Carvolth said, ‘And here comes La Trine’. Everybody laughed and I thought they are just happy to see me, and I had no idea what a latrine was at that stage. He was a cheeky, cheeky man.
Garry Meadows and I and his lovely wife Rhonda, went to the Logies twice together, I didn’t work on the evening program with Garry because I was ‘the girl next door’ and I was supposed to be in bed at nine thirty, I think, when the evening programs came on. So Garry was the more sophisticated presenter, where as I was the girl next door.
Of course, I worked in a time when it was black and white television. I remember one day we used to go to the Royal Show, and work there all day, signing autographs and what ever. One day I heard a little boy saying, ‘Mummy look there’s Trina and she is all coloured in’. He had never seen me, except in black and white. I thought that was rather fun. Of course television makes you look a little different, and I would go into a deli or something, I lived with my grandmother for a while, and I went up to the local deli and the fellow said, ‘You look like that girl Trina on TV, but she is shorter and fatter than you’……I obviously looked slimmer and taller in real life. It was nice to go unrecognised, but if you’re recognised you’re obviously doing your job. If you weren’t recognised, in meant that people were not watching your shows.
I was very one eyed about Channel Seven. I was very proud to be with Channel Seven. I did prefer working in the studios. You got to know your little group around you, and I did find it a bit intimidating out in the crowds, but as I say, that’s when you knew that people were watching you.
The night that Trina announced her engagement, Percy and Peter Waltham, surprised her with a bouquet of flowers on-air, which was rather nice.