The ABC Of….

The ABC Of….

From Tuesday 28 June at 8pm

A six-part interview series, hosted by actor David Wenham, in which a range of prominent Australians, icons of one field or more, revisit their pasts through moments drawn from the vast ABC Archives.

Guests include lta Buttrose, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Garry McDonald, Wil Anderson,John Howard and Sarah Ferguson.

Commissioned to celebrate the 90th year of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The ABC Of is a six-part interview series hosted by David Wenham. It revisits the pasts of prominent Australians through moments drawn from the vast ABC archives and premieres on Tuesday 28 June at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

All six guests are icons of one field or more: legendary businesswoman and publisher,
Ita Buttrose ; beloved tennis star and indigenous advocate, Evonne Goolagong Cawley ; comedian and proponent of mental health, Garry McDonald ; journalist’s journalist and new host of 7:30 , Sarah Ferguson ; former Prime Minister John Howard; and TV host, podcaster and one of Australia’s favourite stand-up comedians, Wil Anderson .

Each half hour episode focuses on a single guest and conversation. The depth of the ABC archive provides the jumping off points for discussion, taking each guest down delightful and surprising paths. At its core, The ABC Of is about how we change and how the world changes around us. It’s a series in which the viewer gets to watch someone meet their earlier self and reflect on how they’ve changed.

Steering each interview is David Wenham, a globally successful film and TV actor whose own ABC career dates back to early 1990s programs such as Simone De Beauvoir’s Babies , Come In Spinner , Police Rescue and G.P. as well as more recent series The Code and Les Norton . And no, we are not forgetting his turn as the inimitable Diver Dan in SeaChange .

For David, The ABC Of has been an opportunity to try something new and challenging, to bring the skills of acting into a new environment.

“One of the joys of being an actor,” David says, “is the opportunity it provides to research history: personal history, history of fashion, architecture, medicine, politics, societal customs. The history of anything and everything. Archival film footage brings history alive, fires my imagination and often throws up more questions than answers.

“With The ABC Of , for the first time, I have had a chance to put the questions to the subject at hand. Sitting in the interviewer’s chair has been a privilege. It has also allowed me to put into practice the best advice I have ever received regarding acting. Listen. Listen real. Think. Think real.”

Head of Factual and Culture, Jennifer Collins says “Created by Jon Casimir ( Enough Rope, Gruen, You Can’t Ask That ) The ABC Of is the perfect format to celebrate ABC’s 90th. Featuring an outstanding line up of guests, a much-loved host in David Wenham, and clever use of ABC archive, audiences will delight in this very special series.”

Production credit: A Guesswork Television Production in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Executive Producers: Jon Casimir and Jo Long. ABC Commissioning Editor Julie Hanna. ABC Head of Factual and Culture Jennifer Collins.

Episode 1 – The ABC Of Ita Buttrose

Tuesday 28 June 8.00pm

David Wenham tracks back through the ABC Archival life of Ita Buttrose, much admired publisher, businesswoman and, since the 1970s, Australia’s unofficial, unelected Minister For Women. Now 80, the indefatigable Ita - we’re all on first-name basis - is also currently chair of the ABC.

To kick off the conversation, The ABC Of researchers uncovered 1959 vision of Ita at 17, on her very first job as a journalist. Ita reminisces about her early days at Cleo and The Australian Women’s Weekly. She also tackles the difficult but rewarding years as chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS (NACAIDS) in the 1980s and being fired from her radio job at the time. She details the journey of her namesake magazine, Ita, and the lean times that followed before the highly successful Paper Giants television series brought her back into the public eye.

Episode 2 – The ABC Of Evonne Goolagong Cawley

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Tuesday 5 July 8.00pm

David Wenham goes fishing in the ABC Archival life of Evonne Goolagong Cawley, the Indigenous kid who conquered the tennis world, winning 14 Grand Slams.

David Wenham goes fishing in the ABC Archival life of Evonne Goolagong Cawley, the Indigenous kid from Barellan in NSW who went on to conquer the world, winning both Wimbledon and the French Open before she even turned 20. And they were just the first two of her 14 Grand Slam titles (seven singles, six double and one mixed doubles).

Some amazing footage has been unearthed by The ABC Of researchers, from news vision of Evonne at 11 and 12 playing at White City in Sydney to footage of the joyous hometown parade staged after her first Wimbledon triumph.

And then there’s a jawdropping 1973 meeting with a male interviewer whose questions will make you pause and rewind to see if you really heard them correctly.

Episode 3 - The ABC Of Wil Anderson

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Tuesday 12 July 8.00pm

David Wenham takes the photo album down from the ABC shelf to look at the baby photos of Wil Anderson, host of Gruen and Question Everything.

Host David Wenham takes the photo album down from the ABC shelf to look at the baby photos of Wil Anderson, host of Gruen and Question Everything.

Wil’s been on our screens for two and a half decades but by his own admission, he hides in plain sight, thinking very carefully about how much of himself he shows the world. This frank, revealing interview will surprise anyone who thinks they know him just from his TV work.

Apart from his love of stand-up comedy, Wil talks about his early appearances on Good News Week and The Fat, and what The Big Gig and The Money Or The Gun meant to him growing up. He also discusses how long it took him to feel like he belonged in the big leagues, his battle with osteoarthritis and why he still has doubts about what he does.

Production credit: The ABC Of is a Guesswork Television Production in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Executive Producers: Jon Casimir and Jo Long. ABC Commissioning Editor Julie Hanna. ABC Head of Factual and Culture Jennifer Collins.

Episode 4 - The ABC Of Garry McDonald

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Tuesday 19 July 8.00pm

David Wenham takes Garry McDonald through his ABC Archival life, revisiting The Aunty Jack Show, The Norman Gunston Show and Mother And Son.

Garry, our best-known comic actor, was hit by television lightning three times in his career, starring in The Aunty Jack Show, The Norman Gunston Show and Mother And Son, but he also played a host of other roles.

Among many other clips, The ABC Of researchers unearthed a 1967 recording of a play by Garry’s NIDA graduation class. Garry talks about his early successes, the origins of the Norman Gunston character and how much he loved playing a straight role in 1982’s Jimmy Dancer, a one-off drama that was part of the Spring And Fall anthology series.

He shares his love for Mother And Son partner Ruth Cracknell and offers insights into his unplanned second TV career, when he became a mental health advocate after his own, much publicised breakdown.

I won’t be missing this one!