A broad-ranged selection of interviews recorded by Storry Walton. In most cases, Storry’s own detailed time-code-referenced logs are lodged with the interviews: a valuable accessory to interviews that are many hours long and capture the astonishing breadth and depth of the subjects’ careers.
Sir James (Jim) Cruthers
- Pioneer Commercial Television Executive, philanthropist 1950s – 1980s.
- Recorded 2002.
- Interviewed by Storry Walton
- Recorded for State Library of West Australia (SLWA), with a copy lodged with NFSA.
- SLWA Call No. OH 3849
- NFSA Title No. 565624
- Detailed time-coded log included for quick reference.
- Note: an oral history also exists of Cruther’s early years, rec.1993/94 SLWA No. OH 2722.
This oral history is notable for a number of reasons – James Cruthers’ career flourished in West Australia, far from the national television centres of Melbourne and Sydney; he was an important figure in the early development of commercial television outside the major centres of Sydney and Melbourne; he nevertheless made inroads into Eastern States television. Internationally, became an influential confidant and executive to Rupert Murdoch in the United States, securing some of his biggest international deals including the acquisition of Fox and BSkyB. He did this despite or perhaps because of the way, as a young executive, he sensationally beat Rupert Murdoch to two television licences – TVW7 in Perth and SAS10 in South Australia. He was not constrained by State or regional limits. As the Managing Director of West Australia’s first television station TVW7 he built a huge stadium in Perth to which he brought international shows including Disney on Parade, the John Denver Special and the Miss Universe Pageant – and sold the televised shows on to his rivals in the Eastern States, reversing the sales traffic. He embedded Channel 7 into the community life of WA, arguing that even commercial television belonged to the people, and describes the many community based programs and activities he initiated with the station. He talks freely and tells wonderful stories about the many people he dealt with including Prime Ministers Robert Menzies, Billy McMahon, Malcolm Fraser, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke. Also Arthur Calwell, Alan Bond, Robert Holmes à Court, HRH Prince Charles, Phillip Edgley, Bob Hope, John Denver, Sir Reg Ansett, Clyde Packer. He describes how he initiated Richie Benaud’s career as a sporting commentator – originally for his TVW7 break-through live television coverage of golf. His prodigious philanthropic life was as important to him as his business life and often intertwined – at TVW7 he created what was known as the most productive charitable annual Telethon in the world, insisting, on principle, that as a charitable event there should be no advertising whatsoever for its entire 26 hour length. He supported a host of charitable and community projects, especially for young people and in the arts. He accumulated a huge and valuable collection of the works of Australian women artists long before they were recognised in the mainstream of the art world.
- Refugee Advocate. 1990s
- Recorded 2002
- Interviewed by Storry Walton.
- Recorded for State Library of West Australia.
- SLWA Call No. OH 3388
- Detailed time-coded log and table of contents included.
This interview was entitled Southern Landfall. As a lay pastor of the Uniting Church, John Dolling was the only person allowed to visit the Cambodian and Chinese boat people behind barbed wire in the first processing and detention centre set up for asylum-seekers under a system of legalised mandatory detention in a remote desert location – at Port Hedland in the 1990s. He talks candidly about his years of advocacy and support on their behalf which attracted national and international attention, his awareness of the distinction between genuine asylum seekers and those who became known as ‘economic refugees’, his concern at the way Australian media from the far-off capital cities frequently misunderstood or distorted the situation, the complexities of the often colliding legal, political and humanitarian considerations relating to refugees, how the BBC’s Panorama program made a documentary with him, and how it was that a Perth commercial radio station (6PR) allocated an hour and half to interview him in depth to explain the situation. He relates many stories of the lives of particular refugees, examples of courage and resilience.
- ABC Live Television Production Assistant, Singer. 1960s
- Recorded for NFSA 2010
- Interviewed by Storry Walton.
- NFSA Title No. 817924
- Dur. 02:22:29
- Detailed time-coded log supplied but not currently noted under ‘Holdings’
This interview is notable as perhaps the only oral history to date which explores the largely unknown role and complex work of the ABC’s pioneering Production Assistants (misleadingly called Script Assistants at the time) in live-to-air television drama in the 1960s. Frances Carr-Boyd describes work at the ABC Brisbane studios and then her move to Sydney to work on many of the ABC’s vast output of one-off teleplays, serials and series including My Brother Jack (1965). She describes the gender role of women in the ABC at the time and the detailed responsibilities and techniques of on-air drama. She also talks about her often allied work as a singer in television music programs and her career in music including at Covent Garden, and in English television.
- Innovative Australian television and film director/producer in music, drama tv soaps, and the arts with ABC, SBS, Channel 7, London Weekend Television and the BBC. 1950s – 90s
- Recorded for NFSA 2013
- Interviewed by Storry Walton.
- NFSA Title No.1151037
- Duration 7:12:14
- Detailed time-coded log for quick reference supplied but not currently noted under ‘Holdings’.
- Note: An earlier oral history (with Vincent Plush, 2001) exists at NFSA – Title No.1068108
This interview is full of Bill Fitzwater’s irrepressible energy and teems with the names and stories of Australia’s and the world’s top contemporary musicians, composers and artists. Bill Fitzwater is regarded as a foremost innovative producer of contemporary music and arts programs in Australia and the UK. He cheerfully broke new ground, defied convention, dropped experimental techniques into mainstream television, created new ways, and married the newest technologies in television as they emerged to wildly expressive and beautiful use. He discusses his television life in drama, documentary, puppetry, ballet, modern dance, orchestral music, opera, music education, children’s television, teaching and training. He reflects on a theme that ran through all his life’s work – a creative method that drew together in various combinations (sometimes all) the elements of music, music concrète, natural and electronic sound, and words with vision. He elaborates on many examples. They include a kinetic art tv documentary production with US choreographer Alwyn Nicholais and dancers, using words that were stretched, multi-layered, reversed and mixed with natural sound and music. He called it releasing filmmaking from the literal. For UK’s LWT he made a documentary history of music in two and a half minutes. He worked with many music greats including composers George Tzipine (his teacher), Dorienne le Gallienne (in Melbourne, for ABC), Pierre Boulez, Harrison Birtwhistle, György Ligeti, pianist Roger Woodward, conductors Colin Davis, Neville Marriner, Franz-Paul Decker (in Sydney with the SSO for ABC) , and singer Cleo Laine. In the field of dance he discusses the programs he made with Australian choreographers Laurel Martyn, Graeme Watson and Graeme Murphy, the Ballet Rombert, and the Borovansky Ballet – and how he found new ways to televise dance for the screen. He describes how he produced the opera Norma with Joan Sutherland, not for opera buffs but for a wide general audience (Sutherland was worried that he wanted to shoot it like a football match.) He details how he produced 13 episodes of a puppet series with the Maestro’s Company for SBS Television to introduce children to opera, using many novel techniques including complex matting of seven layers of images for The Flying Dutchman episode, all rendered to scale of a model set with child actors Justine Clarke and Adam Willits. He talks also about his work in drama and documentary, educational television, and in children’s television, and of his methods and philosophy of teaching television and sound at tertiary institutions, especially in the founding years of the National Film School in Britain and the Australian Film and Television School.
He details the process of his painstaking restoration of many silent films for the BBC in the 70s, with wildly controversial but meticulously researched music scores, for example – The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Metropolis (Fritz Lang, with full orchestral soundtrack based on the works that were played live by full orchestras to accompany the first screenings) and Earth (with a score of natural sounds inspired by Dovshenko’s original notes). He also describes his restoration of 22 of Chaplin’s early silent films.
The log of this interview is an important first reference because it contains at a quick read all his projects and productions and all the people with whom he worked.
Julie James Bailey
- Television producer/director, Tribunal member, academic, advocate for womens’ rights, teacher, community video trainer. 1950s – 2020, continuing.
- Recorded for NFSA 2015
- Interviewed by Storry Walton.
- NFSA Title No. 1323277
- Duration 11:48:14
- Detailed time-coded log and index supplied for quick reference.
An extraordinary career. Julie James Bailey talks about the early influence of her author-mother Florence James, of Dymphna Cusack, her mother’s co-author of controversial novel Come In Spinner, of childhood house-guests and visitors Christina Stead and Miles Franklin; of her young years in Britain – author at 20, 16mm cinematographer aged 23 filming Dora Russell’s Caravan for Peace behind the Iron Curtain; and as a young woman tv director in early British commercial television for Tyne Tees Television and Anglia Television, and in the US with WGBH, Boston where she worked on coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy and on pioneering schools educational programs transmitted from aircraft over five States – anticipating satellite broadcasting. In Australia she was appointed to the Government’s Interim Council for a Film and Television School. She talks of the rise of community interest in television in the 70s through the Access Television movement and the advent of public (community) stations in the 70s. She discusses her founding of the Research and Survey Unit at the then new Australian Film and Television School and the pioneering work she initiated on collection and analysis of data on Australian media including a major survey of women in film and television and the founding of Media Information Australia (MIA). She covers her appointment as the first Professor of Film and Media at Griffith University and the associated activist work relating to women and media. She reflects widely on the run-up years to the establishment of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal under Bruce Gyngell (The Make It Australian Campaign, the Campaign To Improve Broadcasting, the Government’s Green Report) and her subsequent appointment to it. She describes her work as an early member of the Tribunal, including chairing the hearings for the first Aboriginal television station licence (CAAMA), licences for the Northern Territory, the Channel 10 hearings and the question of transparency of financial statements, her dissenting report on the Kerry Packer ‘Goanna’ controversy hearing and the Queensland hearings in which Alan Bond and Christopher Skase were central…and much more. She covers her roles as member and chair of numerous national bodies involved in womens’ rights, childrens’ television, educational television, community standards and regulation as well as her now well established teaching, video and communication training work and advocacy with indigenous people in very remote Aboriginal communities and nations of the Pacific…and more.
- Producer/ Director of television comedy and light entertainment. 1950s – 2020 continuing.
- Recorded for NFSA 2018
- Interviewed by Storry Walton.
- NFSA Title No.1529044
- Dur. 14:21:33
- Log to be supplied to NFSA .
Maurice Murphy provides a thoughtful, quizzical, and entertaining rumination about the nature of comedy with many anecdotes about famous comedians and productions unravels and ponders the eccentricities of his life in comedy. He has been a major innovative and highly original influence in the development of light entertainment and comedy in Australian television and feature films as a prolific producer and director, from the 1970s to today. He also played a major role as producer in the early days of tv comedy in Britain. He talks about the differences in the nature of comedy between Australians and Britons and cogitates about what’s funny and what’s not and why. He discusses his break-through productions for ABCTV in Australia in the 1970s, including I’m Alright Now with Reg Livermore, the anarchistic comedy The Aunty Jack Show with Grahame Bond and Rory O’Donoghue, The Norman Gunston Show with Gary McDonald, Flash Jack From Jindavick, Alvin Purple and Wollongong the Brave. He discusses his role as Head of Light Entertainment for ABCTV at a very young age. He covers periods of work in the UK with Frank Muir (Head of Light Entertainment at London Weekend Television), and the shows he produced with Michael Palin and Terry Jones (including The Complete and Utter History of Britain as a precursor to The Monty Python Show) – and the various series he produced/directed with Tommy Cooper, Harry Corbett, Wendy Craig, Spike Milligan, Dudley Moore and particularly Doctor In The House and its sequel – and his shows as producer and collaborator with Ronnie Barker (including Six Dates With Barker). He reviews the production and direction of his Australian feature films including Fatty Finn – and how in the case of 15 Amore, in defiance of all film industry practice, he not only wrote, produced and edited it, but also financed, distributed and exhibited it.
Current affairs broadcaster, ABC program manager, Head of Television ABC, Managing Director SBS, Member ABA and ACMA, Chair of NIDA and AFTRS, New Media Consultant and more. Period: 1960s – 2020 continuing
- Recorded for NFSA 2019.
- Interviewed by Storry Walton.
- NFSA Title No. 1600923
- Duration: 15:10:00
- Detailed curriculum vitae, time-coded log and index supplied for quick reference, but not currently noted under ‘Holdings’
The significance of this oral history is that, in the narrative of Australian radio and television from the 1970s to the 90s, and in new media from the 90s onwards, Malcolm Long has initiated, shaped or participated in significant changes to Australian broadcasting in every position he has held. This is an interview about the technological, human and cultural challenges of change and high professional principle in Australian public broadcasting over a restless period of 60 years. Among many topics, he talks of his early ABC radio days in the Talks Department and his membership and revolutionary influence on the ABC of the Radio Active Movement, discusses at length the regular controversies about left-wing bias, balance and alleged Marxist influences in the ABC and the advent of Lateline. Among the people he discusses are Allan Ashbolt (controversial Head of Special Projects), Ken Myer (Chairman), Geoffrey Whitehead (Managing Director), David Hill (Managing Director), Bob Carr (as a journalist, later Premier of NSW), Rod Kemp (Minister for the Arts), Michael Duffy (Minister for Communications), Bob Hawke (ACTU), Gerard Henderson (critic) and the Gang of Thirteen (high-level critics of the ABC). He argues the importance of an ABC Asian television service, and talks extensively about his role as Head of Television in digital conversion of the ABC. Of his time as Managing Director of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), he talks about the controversy he managed about the SBS identity – whether to broadcast to a number of ethnic minorities or whether more broadly to provide a world-based ethnic menu for all Australians. He talks of the creation of multiculturalism and broadcasting, differentiation between SBS and ABC broadcasting and roles, and the support of the Australian screen industry by an assertive film commissioning program through the creation of SBS Independent. He talks about violence and sex, public taste, codes of practice and the values that public broadcasting should practise. He talks about his consultancy (through his company Malcolm Long and Associates) to top-end media and and corporate companies on digital futures, infrastructure and management, including Macquarie Bank, as an Independent Director of Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group, and his membership of and Chairman of major policy and regulatory enquiries for States and the Commonwealth Government, including the Government’s Convergence Review of 2011-2014. Also in the new media field, he discusses projects he has run with many clients including Telstra, APN News and Media, and the Australian Association of National Advertisers. In the Government regulatory sphere, he speaks of the philosophy and practice of Government regulation and his time as a part time member of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and then as a Member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, describing in detail some of cases relating to accusations of breaches of broadcasting codes that were brought before these authorities, including the John Laws ‘Cash for Comment’ case, the Allan Jones conflict of interest cases, and the sixty cases of bias brought by Senator Richard Alston against the ABC in its Gulf War coverage. In the field of professional training, he talks of his Chairmanship of NIDA at a time of high crisis and of AFTRS as it was shaping its programs for the digital and new media frontiers…and much more (see the log and index)
He speculates on how new media might be shaping human consciousness and throughout he elaborates on his profound belief (as an ‘evangelist’) in public broadcasting and in high ethical standards.