Tag Archives: TNT 9

Gerry & The Pacemakers conquer Tasmanian devil

One of the great bonuses being a journalist is you get to meet people and go places that most people could only dream about.

From sports stars to movie stars, rock stars to royalty. Sure there’s the seamier side covering murder trials and stories of the scum of society, and I haven’t mentioned politics but you can put that in whatever category you fancy.

I was working for TNT 9 in Launceston, Tasmania in the mid seventies.  We’d survived the swinging 60’s and the  music and culture of the British invasion which swept the world.

The sixties produced the greatest music  of all time, so when I heard Gerry and the Pacemakers were coming to town to perform I could hardly wait to do the story.

Now, everyone remembers The Beatles but wayback then Gerry and The Pacemakers were right up there with them, having three number one singles in a row in the UK . Something not even The Beatles achieved.  They were also hugely popular in the U.S.

By the 70’s the halcyon days were over, Gerry had made his millions and owned Liverpool’s biggest commercial radio station, but he still loved to perform.

That’s how we came to meet in Launceston, Tasmania. He was just happy to sing to small gigs around the world to audiences that couldn’t get enough of the Liverpool sound.

I rang the Hotel the group was staying at and asked his manager for an interview, fully expecting him to decline.  The concert was a sell out, no publicity was really needed.

To my shock and delight he said OK if you’re here at 11 am you can speak to him for 5 minutes.

I arrived with my cameraman and minutes later Gerry burst through the door full of smiles and the exuberance that he was noted for.

The five minute interview stretched to 15 when I thought I’d better quit while I was ahead.  Then I got cheeky. ”Gerry is there any chance we could video you and the band doing a rehearsal?” He threw back his head and laughed then in his thick Liverpudlian accent said. “We’ve been doin’ this for 15 years , we don’t rehearse anymore, we just do it.”

He must have sensed my disappointment and said “Hang on a minute.” He picked up the house phone and rang each of the band members rooms.  Within 15 minutes they’d assembled in the room they were due to perform in later that night.  Not looking too happy about it I might add. But Gerry was the boss and he paid their wages.

I was fully expecting the group to run through a song with the camera rolling and Gerry to say now you’ve got your pictures see you later.

Boy was I wrong. After ripping through “I Like It” Gerry laid down the law. “Come on boys, we can do better than that, that was like a reggae version, let’s do it again.”

This time it sounded much more like the original hit. I was thrilled. Then  Gerry asked me if I’d like to shoot it from another angle so it looked like a multi camera production. Would we what.  So my cameraman set up in a different spot and away the group went again.

Gerry was obviously enjoying himself because he asked if I’d   like a few more.  I even started asking for requests. My mate Jim Cox loves “Ferry Cross The Mersey” – moments later that most evocative of Merseyside songs was ringing out, and all being captured on video from multiple angles.

Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying, How Do You Do It, It’s Gonna Be Alright, they were all there.

I remember saying to Gerry I almost had enough material for  30 minute special  and Gerry said well let’s give you some more.

I could barely believe my eyes and my ears, this international superstar who’d been at the top of the charts and been feted around the world performing for me ( and later the local tv audience) for free, and he was loving it.

One of the Pacemakers biggest hits was I’m The One (who cares about you). I said to Gerry it was sort of similar to Channel Nines  “Still The One” theme.

So Gerry  did a quick rework of the song and we had a full version of  Still the One (who cares about you) which for a time TNT 9 used as their signature theme.

I had my 30 minute Gerry and The Pacemakers special  “Just for You “ in the can.

Needless to say I was front row at the concert that night and screamed and shouted louder than anyone else.

After the show Gerry invited me and my girlfriend  Eve (later to become my wife) back to have drinks which continued on into the wee small hours. He was great company sharing stories about all the big rock stars of the time.

Graeme Goodings, Gerry Marsden, unknown band member, Jim Cox

Although I was only in his company for less than 24 hours it was a memory I always will treasure.

Gerry Marsden – you’re Still the One.

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Frogs invade TV station

In regional TV and radio you get to do lots of different things. At TNT 9 Launceston as well as being an on the road reporter I also read the news at night.

But it didn’t end there – the channel decided to broadcast the trots on Saturday nights but what sort of program could you put around a race every 25 minutes or so.

Live variety was the answer and fellow presenter Jim Cox (later to enter politics and become Police Minister) and I were enlisted to co-produce and co host this two hours of “fun filled” entertainment.

I think the weekly budget for the show was $300, so sets were far from lavish and guests were expected to perform for cab fare.

It meant we had to be very innovative – I wrote and performed comedy sketches – and local “talent” got to display their distinct lack of it.

All performed in front of a live audience

Every week we tried to come up with something that would involve the audience at home. Sometimes it worked and it was very entertaining, other times it was quite cringe worthy.

However, the most unforgettable stunt upset the viewers and outraged the RSPCA.

Not all frogs rode motor bikes

Running low on ideas someone suggested a frog race in the studio.  At the start of the show we called on people at home to bring in a pet frog (if they had one) and we’d have a race in the studio.

We expected maybe 5 or 6, ten at most.  When more than 200 people turned up with frogs, toads, newts the alarms bells went off.

There we were trying to organise the race on live television.  The studio floor covered with a writhing amphibian mass.  There was  a winner, but that meant there were many, many, many, losers and most of the owners seemed less than keen to take them home.

Some took delight throwing their frogs against the studio wall, others did worse.

The more humane just walked off and left the station crawling with frogs of all shapes and sizes.

For weeks after frogs kept turning up in all sorts of strange places, not surprisingly the toilets were popular.

After the RSPCA inquiry into claims of animal cruelty we agreed never to involve animals in our broadcasts again of course other than the trotters.

In spite of that less than glorious performance The Saturday Night Show went on to win a TV Logie Award for the best live variety show in Tasmania

If there’s a shortage of frogs in Tasmania to this day now you know why.