Books on Australian TV History

What books on tv history do you have in your collection? Any recommendations?

Here’s a couple of mine;

Say it with feeling is another good read from Gerald Stone, though more about the man himself.


*”Broadcast Wars” (2011) by Michael Bodey. Details TV history since the turn of the century. Ordered through Collins Booksellers in 2015.
*”Complusive Viewing” (~2000) by Gerald Stone. Details the history of Channel 9. Bought at a second hand book shop in Rutherglen, Northern VIC.
*”Brekky Central” (2014) by Adam Boland. Autobiography on the former Sunrise & Wake Up EP. Christmas 2014 present.
I’ve also got a few on American TV if anyone is interested.

An outstanding book. Comprehensive and really a must read.


My Top 5, in no particular order:

  • Australian TV: The First 25 Years (1981) - my first book on Australian TV was an 11th birthday present. I still flick through the pages of it even nowadays. Very well researched with a year-by-year summary and then chapters in individual genres by different authors. Also includes some broad ratings stats, including a Top 10 for each year from 1957 to 1980.

  • 50 Years Of Television In Australia (2006) - a brilliant book not dissimilar in structure to “The First 25 Years” and very well researched and laid out. Also came with a DVD of classic commercials, although I’m not sure where my DVD ended up as it’s missing from the book now.

  • Number 96… Australian TV’s Most Notorious Address (2017) - Nigel Giles’ excellent book full of background interviews from actors, creative and production crews and TV management. Also an excellent range of pictures including the range of Number 96 fan cards.

  • From The Word Go! Forty Years Of Ten Melbourne (2003) - Mal Walden’s history of ATV0/10 is an excellent record of the channel’s history. The genesis for the book was the discovery of a whole lot of negatives that had not been developed and were rescued from going to the tip during a clean out at Nunawading. The book was never cleared for retail sale, I believe because of copyright issues over the photos, but after Mal gave a radio interview about the book I contacted Channel Ten who mailed me a copy. I believe that copies were also donated to libraries. Occasional copies pop up on eBay every now and then.

  • Super Aussie Soaps (2003) - Andrew Mercado’s excellent run down of over 40 years of Australian soaps, starting from Autumn Affair in 1958 and continuing through to The Secret Life Of Us, Foxtel’s Crash Palace and even Kath & Kim (though not a soap, Andrew comments that it presented a more realistic depiction of Aussie suburbia than even Neighbours does!)

Also a brilliant book. I started reading it one night and finished the whole lot before going to bed. I could not put it down.


Boned by Annoymous (although the co-authors were revealed relatively recently) gives some interesting insight into the Eddie McGuire controlled 9 of the 2000s, even if it was written as a “fictional” story.

I’ve also recently enjoyed Kerry O’Brien’s autobiography, especially his insight and views of the rise and fall of Ten before, during and after the infamous Bob Shanks era (amongst other topics).

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I saw this in the shop earlier today. Looks like quite a hefty volume!

It sure is. I have it on Kindle, purchased it and a number of other book for flights I took earlier in the year when I went on holiday to Japan, in the end it was the only book I read on the plane for all flights! There’s a number of excerpts I’ve wanted to share on here as he recalls some very interesting facts from the Bob Shanks era of Ten.

Haven’t finished it yet as the closing chapters aren’t as strong (very much used to justify / promote his political viewpoints, in which while I agree with many of them it comes across as a little preachy for my liking) as the rest of the book.

My recommended book isn’t specifically about Australian television but it includes a chapter on Australia:

The Universal Eye by Timothy Green, published in 1972 (but still widely available used and in libraries), is a lively journalistic account of the television landscapes of various countries and continents by a British author and provides a wonderful time capsule of that era almost five decades ago.

The book has chapters on: the United States, Canada, Latin America, Eurovision (the pan-European TV exchange run by the EBU, not just the song contest), the United Kingdom, West Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, East-West television propaganda, the Arab world and Israel, Asia (including detailed looks at Thailand, India, Hong Kong, and the Philippines), Japan, Australia, Africa, and the future of television (which discusses the advent of cable, satellite, and videotape).

Here’s a typical excerpt about TV news in the Philippines:

“In the early evening ABS-CBN run a two-hour programme called Patrol which is really just a public noticeboard for the city of Manila. All kinds of local titbits turn up. Insurance agents are advised that their exams have been postponed. Boy scouts are told where to report to a jamboree. Payment is offered for 500 cc of a rare type of blood urgently required to help a fourteen-year-old boy suffering from bone cancer; anyone who can offer a transfusion is asked to phone the studio immediately. Even photographs and descriptions of several children missing from home in the slums of Manila are given. Patrol calls itself ‘the public service programme that makes a city move’ and it outranks the imported Bonanza in the ratings.”

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I have both of these… both brilliant and well worth the read.

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i have got who killed channel 9

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I own a copy of Australian TV: The First 25 Years. But the date on the back cover is incorrect.

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On the Box: Great Moments in Australian Television 1956-2006 by Peter Cox is an simple Powerhouse Museum-published book that is worth checking out.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Green’s chapter on Australia – perhaps an interesting glimpse of how an outsider saw Australian television almost half a century ago. He begins with the recent arrival of Intelsat satellite transmissions and then continues:




This sounds interesting:


This one isn’t about Australian TV history, but the BBC certainly left an enduring imprint on Australian television, particularly the ABC:


The above book will be distributed in Australia by Allen and Unwin, but will not available until March 2022.


There is also a New Zealand version of this book (based on the Australian format) titled New Zealand Television: The First 25 Years (1985). It’s available in its entirety on the Internet Archive:


An update: