A Tribute to Alan Bateman (1936-2012)
Many who knew Alan Bateman, the creator of the long-running drama series “Home and Away”, will be saddened to learn that he passed away peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning, 18th August 2012, after a battle with cancer.
Alan will be remembered for his program making and executive roles with all Australian television networks (ABC, Seven, Nine and TEN).
Christened William Alan Bateman, but going by the name Alan to prevent confusion with his father William Glyde Bateman, he was educated at Applecross Primary and Kent Street High Schools, before beginning an apprenticeship as an electrical installer with Brear and Doonan Pty Ltd.
Alan’s ancestry traces back to the Fremantle pioneer and merchant, John Bateman (1789-1855), who emigrated to Western Australia on the Medina in 1830, and whose sons John (1824-1909) and Walter (1826-1882) took over the family business on their father’s death, which became J. & W. Bateman Limited in 1857. The company was largely involved with shipping in the nineteenth century, but expanded to other fields of trading in the twentieth century.
Deliveries were made far and wide across the State of WA from the earliest days
Walter sold his share to his brother in 1872, and when John retired in 1890, he sold the business to his son John Wesley Bateman (1852-1907), whose descendants became prominent shareholders in the firm, that became a public company in 1957, and was taken over by Chew Corporation in 1986. John Wesley Bateman was the great grandfather of Alan Bateman.
Though Alan was not a sporting person, his grandfather William Augustus ‘Bill’ Bateman (1866–1935) was an Australian sportsman who played first-class cricket for Western Australia and Australian rules football in the Western Australian Football Association (WAFA), and was inducted as one of the initial members of the West Australian Football Hall of Fame.
The Perth suburb of Bateman was named after the Bateman family who established their home ‘Grasmere’ at Bull’s Creek. Built as a holiday retreat in 1886, it was also a farm, that provided fruit and vegetables to the colony. Some of the streets were named after ships owned by J. and W. Bateman Ltd. The first subdivision in Bateman occurred in the early 1960s and the suburb was fully developed in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, Alan’s television career began in Perth with TVW Channel Seven, back in 1959 where he was at first a contracted electrician who worked on installing the studios, who later became a technician and by 1962 the senior technician on the Perth Commonwealth and Empire Games at Perry Lakes stadium (oddly, the Perry Lakes grandstand was demolished on the very day Alan passed away).
Alan met a pretty children’s presenter Judy Lee at Seven, and they soon struck up a close friendship before Judy moved to the ABC in Perth, where she appeared on ABW Channel 2 and helped with radio programs, including panels and women’s morning sessions.
Alan and Judy married in 1963 and travelled to London where Alan joined Southampton Southern TV. On their return to Perth, Alan joined Judy at the ABC, by which time Judy was a reporter on the “AM” and “PM” radio current affairs shows.
Alan and Judy have two daughters, and now Phillippa the eldest, is a film producer and Anna is a television producer.
Alan joined the ABC as a technician at the same time as Steve Lumsdaine, TVW’s original lighting man. Alan soon became a floor manager, then producer and so began his rapid rise through the ranks. Meanwhile Steve went on to be an engineer.
The TVW connection proved fruitful for Alan at the ABC, firstly working in 1973 with former Seven senior journalist Bruce Buchanan, who ultimately became an eminent ABC current affairs producer, and then in 1976 rekindled contacts with Rolf Harris, Harry Butler and Vince Serventy, who along with Judy, were Children’s Channel Seven alumni.
Since then, Alan Bateman has been a prolific producer for the Seven Network, Nine Network and the ABC.
- ABC In The Public Interest (1973) – (Producers: Alan Bateman, Bruce Buchanan) ABC… Dramatisations of various Royal Commission enquiries.
- Peach’s Australia – Flinders Ranges (1976) – (executive producer) ABC… Presented by Bill Peach.
- Peach’s Australia – Darling River (1976) – (executive producer) ABC… Presented by Bill Peach.
- In The Wild (1976-79) – (writer/director/co-producer) ABC… Series of wildlife documentaries, presented by Harry Butler with Rolf Harris and Vince Serventy.
- Journey Into Thailand (1982) – (co-producer) ABC… Series presented by Keith Adams.
- Journey into India (1986) – (co-producer) ABC… Series presented by Keith Adams.
Seven Executive Producer
- Nancy Wake (1987) (TV) – (executive producer) 7 Network… aka True Colors (USA: video box title)
- Melba (1987) TV mini-series – (executive producer) 7 Network
- Barracuda (1988) (TV) – (producer) 7 Network… aka The Rocks (USA)
- The Fremantle Conspiracy (1988) (TV) – (executive producer) 7 Network
- Home and Away (1988-1990) TV series – (creator/executive producer) 7 Network
- The Power, The Passion (1989) (TV) – (creator/writer) 7 Network
- The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy (1989) (TV) – (executive producer) 7 Network
- Alan also played an important role for the Seven Network’s broadcast of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
- All Saints (1998) (TV) – (commissioned) 7 Network
Nine Executive Producer
- Point of No Return (1989) TV episode – (executive producer)
- The Flying Doctors (1989) – (executive producer 1 episode)
- Family and Friends (1990) TV series – (executive producer) 9 Network
- Ring of Scorpio (1990) (TV) – (executive producer) 9 Network
- Elly and Jools (1990) (TV) – (executive producer) 9 Network
After Nine, Alan went on to a stint as deputy managing director at Network Ten.
He ran his own consultancy specialising in sports events, before returning to Seven in the mid 90’s as Managing Director and Head of Production, before leaving network television in 1999 to work in other executive fields.
Script writer Bevan Lee credits Alan for kick starting his stalled career when he asked him to rewrite the pilot script of “Home and Away” in 1987 and later commissioned him to create “All Saints” in 1998.
“He was a force of nature in the business, although he left it many years ago to pursue other career options. One huge way he contributed to “Home and Away” is less well known than the fact that it was his original idea. Six weeks in to its time on air, the Network programmers decided to cancel it due to low ratings. Alan got in there and fought like a terrier to get a four week stay of execution. In those weeks the ratings took an upward path and the rest is history.”
Seven Network CEO Tim Worner said in a statement:
“In an industry built on legends, Alan Bateman was a trailblazer. Home And Away, conceived, developed and executive produced by Alan during its critical early seasons, will ensure his history and that of the iconic series are for ever linked.
“Alan was a true television craftsman who always stuck up for program makers, sometimes against all odds, and he often had a lot of fun doing it.”
Seven chairman Kerry Stokes also paid tribute by saying that:
“Alan Bateman spent a number of years as a senior executive for the Seven Network.
“During his time he was responsible for commissioning All Saints and oversaw the production of the Atlanta Olympics.
“He was dedicated to Australian content and programs that reflected the Australian identity. He made a real contribution to the Seven Network and Australian television.”
An ABC spokeswoman pointed out that Alan Bateman was a major contributor to some iconic ABC programming including Peach’s Australia.
“Alan’s work, particularly in documentary and factual formats, paved the way to the quality programming we see today.”
The Bateman legacy is sure to continue as his eldest daughters are making a name for themselves in the industry.
Phillippa Bateman is a writer, screen-writer and feature film producer – who was the executive producer of the 2006 movie “Jindabyne”, starring Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne.
Television has always been the world for Anna Bateman. Her father arranged work experience on “60 Minutes” when she was just 15, and after she left school, worked on the program for free – until she got a paid gig working for Mike Willesee – that was in 1983 – and Anna has worked in TV ever since. Anna, like her mother, joined the ABC, where she became an executive producer responsible for such projects as The Pet Show, Saving Andrew Mallard, Young Performers Awards 2008 and Can We Help, before moving to Melbourne with her son, to take the reins of Aunty’s national Sunday Arts show, hosted by Michael Veitch. Anna is presently the series producer of TEN’s “Can of Worms”, with Andrew Denton’s production company Zapruder’s other films.
Anna’s son Azzam had also decided to pursue a career in film and television, and is currently working as a PA and runner on the ABC’s “Gruen Nation”, which is also made by Andrew Denton’s production company.
Alan Bateman married his second wife Clara in the late 70’s and they have three children – Eliza, William and Selena.
Clara was very much the great love of Alan’s life and an enormous support to him throughout his personal life and professional career.
Eliza and William are both lawyers, whilst Selena is presently studying law at university.
Alan’s first wife Judy, remarried and is now Judy Fasher, and is heavily involved in printing and supporting Equestrian sport in Australia. Judy is married to a doctor and they have two sons,.
Meanwhile, Judy has used her communications skills to help the Australian equestrian team during the Sydney Olympics, and worked with the Royal Australian Navy to deal with issues involved with deployment to the middle east, preparing division heads to face a contentious senate committee and dealing at peak levels with the issue of drugs in sport, in her advisory role to sports administrators in both NSW and national levels. Judy also works as a volunteer with the Sydney International Equestrian Centre (SIEC), and in the process serves all equestrian sports, from kids jumping ponies to our top Gold Medallists. In 2010, Judy was honoured for her extraordinary service to equestrian sport when she was presented with a Distinguished Long Service Award by the NSW Sports Federation.
The Bateman clan has demonstrated continuously to be high achievers from the era of sailing ships to the present, with the latest generation providing much for any modern day patriarch to be highly proud of.
We wish to thank the contributors to this story: Bill McKenzie, Anna Bateman, Jean Shelton (nee Bateman), Judy Fasher, Gordon McColl, Richard Ashton, Steve Lumsdane, Derrick Wright, Voja Milasich, Ian Stimson and Colin Gorey.