Aunty Jack Introduces Colour

This clip shows a sequence from the first colour television broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). It is an excerpt from Aunty Jack Introduces Colour, a special one-off episode of The Aunty Jack Show featuring Grahame Bond (1943–) as Aunty Jack, Rory O’Donoghue (1949–) as Thin Arthur and Garry McDonald (1948–) as Kid Eager. The clip is set in Aunty Jack’s living room. Warnings of the ‘terrible colour television monster’ become a reality when the characters and their surroundings are gradually saturated with colour. There are colour-based sight gags, basic special effects and a 'Farewell, Black and White' song.

Educational value

  • This controversial and groundbreaking Australian series premiered in November 1972 and ended in 1973 – a period of great social and political change in Australia. Gough Whitlam's (1916-2014) Labor government was elected in December 1972 after 23 years of Liberal–Country Party government, and censorship laws had been eased, allowing stations to air the subversive comedy of Aunty Jack and nudity in the serial Number 96 (1972–77), pushing the moral boundaries of the times.

  • Aunty Jack, an obese cross-dressing bikie, created controversy as well as enthusiasm among ABC television viewers of the 1970s. An anarchic figure, she made many derogatory references to her home town, Wollongong, in New South Wales. Many Wollongong citizens rang the ABC to complain about the show when it began in 1972. Despite this, producer Maurice Murphy fought hard to retain the show’s integrity and its characters have since achieved cult status.

  • This special episode of The Aunty Jack Show, broadcast on 1 March 1975 two years after the series officially ended, was the first ABC program to contain a colour segment in its broadcast. The transition to colour was a significant development in television broadcasting and Australians quickly and enthusiastically adapted to the change. Almost 80 per cent of homes owned a colour television set within five years of its introduction.

  • The clip uses special effects to create a sense that the world the characters inhabit is gradually transforming from black and white to full colour. The ABC filmed the entire episode in colour, but transmitted most of the show in black and white. The final colour segments were created by overlaying the colour image in a gradient fashion to create the sense that the characters were gradually being saturated with colour.

  • Grahame Bond, who devised the series and played Aunty Jack, trained in architecture at the University of Sydney in the 1960s but found his way into musical comedy when he established the Architecture Revue at the university with writer Geoffrey Atherden (Mother and Son), director Peter Weir, composer Peter Best and Rory O'Donoghue (Thin Arthur). As of 2009 Bond has appeared on Better Homes and Gardens and Whose House is it Anyway? and continues to write musical comedy.

  • The Aunty Jack Show launched the career of Garry McDonald (Kid Eager). As part of the series he created the character of hapless television reporter Norman Gunston, whose nationwide appeal led to a spin-off television show. Since that time McDonald has established himself as a talented character actor, and he has appeared on stage, television and in film, including a starring role in the ABC series Mother and Son (1983–93). Both of McDonald’s ABC series won television awards.