This is Television

It is often claimed that Bruce Gyngell was the first person to appear on TV in Australia. Actually the first voice to be heard on television was that of John Godson who as a announcer at TCN9 announced the station at 7pm on the 16 th September 1956. After the announcement, Bruce Gyngell then appeared to introduce the program “This Is Television” which was made up of numerous clips from US television shows of the time.

In those early days of TV very few people had TV sets in the home. It was estimated, by the end of 1956, 5% of the population of Melbourne had a TV whilst in Sydney it was only 1%. People used to crowd around shop windows to watch TV.

I recall when I first came to Sydney (January 1959) seeing a crowd of people at Cabramatta watching TV through a window on the Hume Hwy at Sunnybrook Wines (now the location of the Sunnybrook Hotel).

Unlike today’s TVs which are flat screen the early TV’s were often called the box due to their square look. Early brands of television were “Precedent”, “Astor” and ”Pye” which were usually square shaped whilst more elaborate furniture type cabinets included “Healing” and “Kriesler” most of these brands are no longer made having been absorbed by companies such as “Philips”.

Some of the early tv programs brings back memories of the good times and also the not so polictally correct times of the 1950s and 1960s. Shows such as the Jack Benny Show with his sidekick “Rochester” who played Jack Benny’s African American butler, or what about the “Amos and Andy” show or the “Black & White Minstrels”. Such shows would be frowned upon in today’s world. Where even the innocent (in my opinion) Noddy & Big Ears is discouraged.

Early morning before school we would watch shows such as ”Mr. Magoo”, “Rocky & Bullwinkle” or “Quick Draw McGraw”. There was a early morning program featuring Rod Taylor giving news and current affairs type coverage. After school the kids would rush home and watch “Andy Pandy”. “Bill & Ben The Flowerpot Men” or “Sooty” with Harry Corbet.

The mum’s at home would have Tommy Hanlon Jnr’s “It Could Be You” to keep them entertained during the day. The evening would be taken up with watching “Pick-A-Box” with Bob and Dolly Dyer or the Jackie Gleeson show. On Saturday we would watch “Captain Fortune” “Bandstand” or “Six O’Clock Rock” and Sunday nights viewing could include the “Sunday Night Movie” All of these programs were shown in Black and White, or more correctly various shades of grey. I do know that one Sydney company in the 1960s “Ducon Industries” produced a “film covering” that could be attached to the TV screen. As my mother and sisters worked for the company, the company allowed us to use this product which when placed on the screen would reduce the glare and as the film was triple coloured with blue, orange and green also when viewing movies etc would give the appearance of blue skies and green grass etc.

What memories do you have of the early days of television in Australia?

Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “As We Were” section.


This page is about memories so tell us yours. If you have some great memories, or perhaps you belong to a local community organisation and would like to share your organisation’s history or story with us then feel free to share your memories or experiences by writing to 17 Rose St, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 or email to [email protected]. You can also share memories on any of my Facebook memories groups including Hills District Memories which you will find at


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