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Preservation of our Television Heritage

Posted by ken On September - 27 - 2010

TVW veterans Richard Ashton and Gordon McColl joined Professor Mark Balnaves of Curtin University, on Friday 17th September, 2010, for lunch to discuss TVW’s origins and history. Professor Balnaves and Professor Tom O’Regan (University of Queensland) are writing a biography on Sir James Cruthers, TVW’s inaugural general manager and co-founder with Brian Treasure. In the process, Professor Balnaves have been given access to Sir James’ personal archives. These archives are extensive and have significant details about different periods in Sir James’s life. In addition, Professor Balnaves is working with the Battye Library on preservation issues, and establishing a major media archive and an exhibition at the WA State Library in August, 2011.

Richard Ashton and Gordon McColl lunch with Professor Mark Balnaves

A number of former TVW managers have agreed to assist the Professor with his research, to add a greater perspective on the subject. Key people who lived the period and were closely associated with Sir James and Brian Treasure during not only the formative years of TVW, but also during the incredible growth period which took the company from a WA Newspapers subsidiary, to a vast enterprise in its own right. Often outperforming its parent company. Richard and Gordon started with TVW before it opened. Gordon married Sir James’ first secretary at TVW, Judy Copley, whilst Richard married another management secretary, Ronda McWaters. A not uncommon trend, as former Managing Director Kevin Campbell did the same. His wife Joy (nee Heweston) was secretary to both Brian Treasure and Jim Cruthers at various times. One of inaugural News Editor Darcy Farrell’s key staff Stuart Joynt also married another of Sir Jim’s secretaries, Yvonne Garbellini. Stuart has the distinction of being the News Editor of the most number of TV stations that we are aware of (TVW7, SAS10, ADS7 and founding News Editor of NEW10).

There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience residing with the many TVW veterans, who it turn often played vital roles in other networks. People such as Sir James, Max Bostock and Bill McKenzie, who went to work for Rupert Murdoch, after Robert Holmes à Court gained control of TVW Enterprises.

Following the lunch with Professor Mark Balnaves, Richard, Gordon and the Professor ventured out to the Channel Seven studios where they were greeted by Seven Promotions Manager Jill Glass. This gave the Professor the opportunity to see first hand the considerable archives kept by TVW. This deals with photographs, publicity, film and videotape, plus the opportunity to see Sir James’ former office and the TVW boardroom, where much of TVW’s dynamic story played out. Professor Balnaves was impressed by what has been kept and considered it important that such heritage material be preserved. The Professor is also interested in seeking out memorabilia pertaining to all other media outlets in the lead up to the exhibition next year at the WA State Library.

Richard Ashton, Professor Mark Balnaves and Gordon McColl at the Seven News desk in Studio One

During the tour of the station, the visitors were shown Studio One, which now is home to the News and Today Tonight sets, during which time Rick Ardon and the News team recorded a range of promos for broadcast that afternoon and evening.

The Seven News team recording promos with Rick Ardon

It was a busy time for Richard, as he was also preparing for a presentation on his time in Canberra, during his fellowship with the National Film and Sound Archive and delivering a paper on the contribution of Cummings and Wilson projectors and Raycophone sound heads. Important Australian developments which circumvented the American monopoly and crippling lease arrangements that were being imposed on the fledgling Australian cinema industry during the introduction of sound movies.

Richard Ashton’s presentation at Curtin University on Wednesday 22nd September, 2010 on behalf of the Australian Museum of Motion Pictures and Television (Inc)
Photo courtesy of Daryl Binning

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