TV-history

/TV-history
TV-history2019-02-28T18:37:54+00:00

I have worked in television and radio for all of my life. I was blessed with perfect pitch and I started my creative work in music and by winning piano competitions across Sydney as a child before developing a great interest in broadcast and in particular factual programmes, news and current affairs. My whole life has been dedicated to producing, designing and presenting television and radio. In Sydney in 2018 I retrieved 470 hours of old tapes of my work which were then digitally converted. In my storage there is another box of tapes as yet to be discovered including a very rare 1-on-1 interview for radio with Mother Teresa of Calcutta (now Saint Teresa). It is probably the best I have ever done but it remains illusive. The material below is a small sample of what I have found, so far. The Australian Film and Television Archive now has possession of much of the collection for display at exhibitions related to the years and genre of the featured material. I hope you enjoy it.

TV/Radio Archive

FEATURE – KAKADU NORTHERN TERRITORY – (Qantas Image series)
We spent many days filming and it was burning hot but beautiful Kakadu National Park some 2 hours driving from Darwin was beautiful. I enjoyed more the conceptualising of the feature and working with the music that I used than thet actual shoot.

PIRATES DOCO-DRAMA – Beyond Group/Seven Network Australia/TF1
Most dangerous assignment of my career for a top-end budget docu-drama called Pirates & The Policing of the High Seas. I created the project for Beyond and spent 12 months in research, pre-production, production and post.  Many drafts of the production followed under various EP’s but the core interview with the Ali Muslim insurgent group remained. I interviewed its leader who confessed to a litany of killings and terror both at sea and perpetrated against remote villages.  The interview took six months to arrange and was very dangerous.  We met on a remote uninhabited small island in the South of The Philippines and two boats arrived with heavily armed men.  We drank Filipino gin neat in little shot glasses during the interview before we were all told to lay on the ground as the rebels made their exit back to their boats and their boats to return to wherever they came from.  We initially went to an New People’s Army base before being taken to the island by boat.  This is the “wild reel” of the full interview, re-takes and reverses. Hans Heinrich was the DOP, a lovely man and I wonder what happened to him. I remember having to carry sound gear as the Filipino sound technician was warned at the rebel base not to attend as they doubted he would return…

INTERVIEW – THE BEE GEES
I knew Andy Gibb who had taught me to ride a skateboard in Sydney during music TV days with Channel 7. His brothers warmed to the story and provided me with a lovely interview.  I also interviewed Andy for Channel 7 but it would seem this does not exist in my archive. Though there is still another box of tapes somewhere.

THURSDAY ISLAND – TOP OF AUSTRALIA
As a journalist one tells it as it is but for this programme there was a certain level of tourist promotion involved and I had been fascinated with Thursday Island since being a boy. 5 days staying in the one hotel on the island and the Johnny Cash song Boy Named Sue kept coming to mind and the lyric line: “Kickin’ and a gougin’ in the mud and the blood and the beer” as I awoke throughout the night to the sound of fights and mayhem occurring outside my window. I produced a report on “the finer side” of Thursday Island.

INTERVIEW – SAMMY DAVIS JNR. (Qantas Image series)
The Magic Man and I am proud of this interview. He liked it a lot, said goodbye and left the special room at the Sebel Town House Hotel in Sydney arranged for the shoot. 5 minutes later he was back. He walked up to me as I was taking off my mic clip from my lapel. “You know, man, I got back to my suite and I thought that guy is so good, just so so good! And when you feel that you have to say it, which is why I came back to tell you that you are great interviewer!” I was stunned. I hope he is right. What a gentleman.

INTERVIEW – HARRY TRIGABOFF, CHAIRMAN, MERITON (CNBC)
Harry is an icon in Australian business. The nation’s 2nd wealthiest man at time of writing (2019), he built the private powerhouse property company, Meriton. He very rarely gives interviews and I was able to secure this CNBC interview from 2009. Before the interview I was invited to meet with him for one hour in his Sydney headquarters as a condition of agreement to proceed.  I found a most engaging and interesting man. A very funny man. And we struck up a good chemistry. Though he was in a remote location for the interview, the chemistry works.

INTERVIEW – LINDSAY FOX, CHAIRMAN of LINFOX (CNBC)
Lindsay Fox is the founder of Australia’s Linfox transport empire.  One of the nations wealthiest men he began by purchasing an old truck so very long ago which he personally drove. Things changed.  He lives in Melbourne and I interviewed him in 2009 for CNBC.  I love the interview and his response to the referencing of the truck!  He was in Melbourne and we didn’t actually meet.  A pity.  A terrific man!

ANTARCTIC FLIGHT (Channel 7 Sydney)
Ancient television and on a 747 hired to fly over the Antarctic chartered by iconic Australian adventurer Dick Smith. A great man with ideas and money to make them happen. It is amazing that we can see the guys at the Antarctic station called Morson coming onto the roof to wave at us as we flew overhead in this giant plane.

VIETNAMESE REFUGEES (Statewide ABC)
Serious current affairs TV followed music and entertainment programmes made over many years and ABC’s Statewide was “serious” journalism with “serious journalists”. My approach was far more sensory and story-driven than the ideologues who glared at me at that time (remember Kel well) but I produced a few good and strong pieces. This piece on Vietnamese refugees I like, but don’t love it. It is from he 80s!

FEATURE DALE BUGGINS (Statewide ABC)
Dale Buggins was a legendary stuntman who tragically took his own life one year after this interview. He was about to become the new Evel Kneivel. I visited him at his home in the countryside far outside Sydney and I found him the counter to showy or brash. He seemed throughout my time with him that day somehow remote and reflected – perhaps troubled. Watch his eyes and body language. He was very nice.

INTERVIEW – PETER ALLEN (Qantas Image series)
What to say? A legend and I loved him and I heard from he and his Manager and Partner of that time several times after the interview. He liked my approach which is always to go in left whether you are interviewing a superstar,  a CEO or PM. Don’t terrorize, but surprise! He invited me to his show after the interview filmed at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel several days earlier.  He was outstanding.  Astonishing really.  The awful clip where he is sweating to death was the only piece we could gain rights to use. In watching it back we should have tried harder to access another piece but the interview is strong.

OLD STUDIO PIECE – END “MNOS” Channel 7 Sydney)
Mayhem and madness – year one with Channel 7 in Sydney hosting MUSIC N’ OTHER STUFF after finishing an awful awful gig with the legendary SOUND UNLIMITED and its gruesome EP.

CLIVE JAMES (Qantas Image series)
Clive James is one of the finest interviewers in history alongside David Frost and Tim Sebastian though so different to both. He was also allegedly the lover of Princess Diana and I hope he was… He was lovely and intriguing to me. AFter the interview my assistant heard him tell his manager that he found me “disarming” and that I was “very good”. He regretted several of the revelations of his dispassionate approach to interview subjects. The shoot was done at Broadcom which owned Channel 10 and whom I worked for in another lifetime and it was done at 10am after a sleepless night following a relationship break up for me! I remember being half dead and wanted to tell him MY story but alas, I was not Katherine Hepburn!

FEATURE – LORD ALASTAIR McALPINE (Qantas Image Series)
IIt was my honour to know the late Lord McAlpine and having been his guest to film the feature was invited to several meetings with him in Europe, one in his glorious staterooms in SE London where we took afternoon tea one afternoon in winter. He invited me to his home in Venice whilst I was in Cannes and I could not make it because of business commitments. He was Statesman-like, warm and thoroughly real. He had his own ideology despite having been one of the right-hand men of Baroness Thatcher. He was neither right nor left and his conscience and good heart guided his decisions. His passionate was thrilling! He was most elusive to the media and I was very lucky to get these brief on-camera moments with him.

INTERVIEW HONG KONG STAR, DANNY CHAN (Qantas Image series)
I loved Danny and knew him well in Hong Kong during my first news anchor gig with HKTVB. We saw each other most weeks at a club called Disco Disco. We spoke by telephone late at night and he was a complex lonesome character. At one particular time he was unhappy with me and whilst attending the same club nearby he descended a staircase for VIP’s secluded from the masses and in front of the whole club pulled out the back of my shirt and emptied a cone of popcorn!  He smiled and said nothing as he did it.  “Why did you do that? I asked him? “Because I wanted to”, he said. And he did. Then he bought me a glass of champagne. The interview may well be the ONLY he has ever done in English for television and he died so very tragically at a young age – a victim of his stardom and the indulgence which was his at every turn. He was in bad shape in Sydney despite a mesmeric concert for 5000.  A sensational talent – a true Asian superstar of a certain era. I saw his concert in Sydney two days following this interview and he promised to “sing me a song in English” at that concert and he did. . The songs name?  A secret…

FEATURE – ANTIQUES (Money Show – TVNZ)
Richard Matthews, a a most distinguished gentleman and friend during my two years spent in Auckland for Communicado and TVNZ where I hosted “MONEY” whilst serving as EP – International Development for Communicado.

FEATURE – MISS SAIGON PRODUCTION SYDNEY (CNBC)
Business became theater or theater became business one morning as I profiled the business of big musicals and my favorite musical Miss Saigon. I had for a long time been involved in discussions with Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s people in London to produce a documentary on their sourcing Filipino cast for the musical which was then playing worldwide in multiple languages in multiple cities. All go ahead including music rights clearance before the Sydney star suddenly pulled out of the show! It spoiled my beautiful day…

SHOW REEL – DEUTSCHE WELLE (DW-TV)
Great times at this iconic network where I was a very popular presenter of business television worldwide to the largest audience I have ever enjoyed.  I am still recognized for it to this day for my work at DW!  The old public broadcaster was massive in both space, facilities and the amount of employees. Its art direction was exquisite and still is. Only CNBC could beat this. I had a great time and lived in London and spent 2 weeks each month in Berlin for 6 years!

Interview Lee Tsien Loong
Lee Tsien Loong was a fascination to me as is the creation of Singapore by his Father, Lee Kwan Yew.  And so for CNBC one morning during APEC we met on t he top floor of the Park Hyatt where the Prime Minister and his minders occupied the entire floor.  AFter taking refreshments in a large room provided for the interview all of my crew were searched by Singapore marines who travel with the Prime Minister.  The camera was dismantled and inspected.  I was not searched. There were 40 people in the room when Mr. Lee entered and he is a towering presence with the warmest manner and the kindest of eyes. He sat down and I watched as water from a silver jug was poured into a glass tasted by an assistant who nodded before the Prime Minister’s glass was filled.  We talked for 10 minutes before we started filming and his opening line astonished me:  “Jeffrey, you are the first face I see every morning when I wake up in Singapore at 6am”.  He explained that that was when his alarm rang and he turned on his television to see how the US markets had finished overnight and the show was Squawk Australia.  If only the camera had been filming!  The interview was long and was edited considerably for time constraints. We spent ten minutes at the end chatting and I asked a number of off-record questions including if he ever had the fantasy to not be recognised – to be able to walk the streets – to find a nice bar with nice music and people and just be nobody.  I won’t tell you how he answered…

RADIO INTERVIEW ROD McKUEN (2SM Network Australia)
I knew Rod well and over many years and I adored him from hearing “The Sea” at age 12. He inspired me from that day and does to this day. His writing style and his manner of speech inspired me always. He died a few years ago and I was very sad. The interview was followed by sinking one and a half bottles of Gin together in the penthouse of the Sebel Townhouse in Sydney as he played me the first mix of a brand new album recorded in Moscow as we sat on the floor listening to his beautiful words and voice through these huge speakers. I can still feel the hangover.

RADIO FEATURE – BURGLARY (Newsfront – 2GB Macquarie Network Australia)
I have not been to jail nor been arrested for anything thus far but this got close as my investigations for this NEwsfront series on burglary lead me to source an actual house burglary gang who I interviewed about their mission one night then waited in a Sydney pub for them to return with the loot. I risked the considerable prospect of being charged as an accessory as I would not reveal any details to the cops. The NSW Police Assistant Commissioner personally called me warning me not the “pull a stunt like that again!” I did years later in proving that crack cocaine was available on Sydney’s streets and again a different Police chief was unimpressed with my lack of cooperation in revealing sources. But listeners loved it all – especially my gaining the thieves advice on how to keep your home protected!

RADIO FEATURE – CHILD PROSTITUTION ( (Newsfront – 2GB Macquarie Network Australia)
It was the 80s and one of my earliest serious broadcast works and Gary was 15-16 and selling himself to older men for sex.There were many who operated out of 2 bars in Sydney’s Kings Cross. It was Robert Askin’s Sydney and it may well have been Duterte’s Manila. Graft and corruption were everywhere under a conservative Anglo-Saxon veneer. Drugs, need and abandonment had created the very angry Gary. I spent considerable time with him and his friends learning their stories.

RADIO FEATURE – HONG KONG 1997 HANDOVER – (Nominated for (Nominated for Australia’s Walkley Award – Newsfront – 2GB Macquarie Network Australia)
I was nominated for a Walkley award by Macquarie for this and I am very proud to have scored the first interview with the lead Chinese official to Hong Kong in 1995, Li Chu Wen. I have loved China always since my first journey at 23 from Hong Kong to Shanghai. It remains the most amazing country on earth and the handover was a mere blip on 5000 years of incredible history. Mr. Li was a Statesman and charming and he seemed as surprised that he granted the interview as I was in getting it! His declaration of China’s grand plan to take back the entire territory of Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty was the first time it had been confirmed by any official.

RADIO FEATURE – INTERVIEW SCREEN-STAGE STAR – THE LATE COLLEEN CLIFFORD (2SM Network Australia)
Colleen died at 98 and I knew her until close to the end and her vivacity and love for life and belief in God and Heaven and a re-uniting with her beloved one love in her life inspired me. She was a great actress and teacher and I studied speech and drama with her from age 13 on-wards. She opened my eyes to the magic of the SPOKEN WORD and she was an icon of her time both in The West End and later in Australia.