Pushing The Boundaries:The Mavis Bramston Show
Television down under was less than a decade old when in 1964, Carol Raye, a UK-born actress and television presenter arrived in Australia from Kenya where she had established the first television station in the capital, Nairobi. Raye settled in Beecroft NSW close to the ATN Channel 7 television studios. Raye had completed a Producers’ course at the BBC and was looking for a role in production. Armed with her credentials, Raye met with Jim Oswin, the General Manager of Channel 7. Oswin employed Raye, who became the first female television executive in Australia. Raye saw that there was an opportunity to produce a show which dealt with biting political and topical satire which was a bold idea, particularly for a commercial network which had more to lose than, say, the politically fence-sitting ABC. Raye pitched the idea to Oswin. The risk was taken and the result was The Mavis Bramston Show, a ground-breaking show on ATN Channel 7 which held record-breaking ratings for two straight years... no seasons in those days – they did forty shows, an hour weekly, every year.
With Producer Raye at the helm, and with a team of splendid writers, and a legion of legal advisors to ward off the libel suits, the cast of three – Raye, the late Gordon Chater and Barry Creyton performed that weekly hour almost exclusively. June Salter became a regular guest, and Noeline Brown was the original face – and voice – of the show's fictitious eponym. In 1965, others joined the cast, but they seldom numbered more than five or six.
MAVIS was the mother of all Australian television comedy (comparable to the legendary UK program That Was The Week That Was), and the standard by which it is judged, even today. Interviews with Carol Raye, Barry Creyton, David Sale (writer and executive producer), lead writer, the brilliant Ken Shadie, Richard Walsh (writer and founder of OZ Magazine) Maggie Dence (Mavis #2), Bill Harding (writer), John-Michael Howson, Max Gillies, Lucky Starr, Anthony Ackroyd, Glenn A Baker, Peter Moon and TV and film historian Andrew Mercado take us on a trip that explores the phenomenon that MAVIS was and its legacy.
The show aired from 1964 to1968. The 1964 / 65 episodes represent the original purpose: to do topical and political satire. As 1966 progressed, the show became a variety show minus the bite of the original and it was not renewed after 1968.
The documentary will explore the effect of Mavis Bramston on a rapidly changing Australian society and how this pioneering show set the scene for generations of satirical programs including: Fast Forward, Norman Gunston Show, The Gillies Report, Full Frontal, Frontline, The Big Gig, Clark & Dawe, The Chasers and Mad As Hell