1 9 5 7 – 1 9 7 0 (Australia)
Australian variety show In Melbourne Tonight debuted on GTV9 in 1957 and quickly became a way of life in Melbourne.
A kind of Antipodean Johnny Carson, Graham Kennedy hosted the five-night-a-week show, even hosting the show from his sickbed when he was ill. IMT followed the popular American format with guests, comedians, dancers and banter between Kennedy and his straight-man sidekick, Bert Newton.
These were the days of on-air advertising spots where the host of the programme would read out a promotional blurb or actually demonstrate a product live on air. Most simply got on with it. But Graham Kennedy decided the advertorials were something that should get the Kennedy treatment.
His twist on the spots became legendary. In a live advert for Pal dog food, he brought his own dog, Rover, onto the set to eat the food. Rover ignored the food before heading off around the studio, finishing up by urinating on one of the studio cameras.
Kennedy also seemed to have a particular aversion to Raoul Merton shoes. One time, he simply ended up in a fight with Newton, the pair flinging shoes at each other. In 1960, he attacked Merton again, proclaiming, “If it weren’t for Raoul Merton shoes, my feet would not be in the condition they are now. Truly, it’s only because of Raoul Merton that I have ingrown toenails, for instance”.
Perhaps the oddest one was for Colvan Potato Chips. Looking at the packet, he appeared to take great umbrage to how empty it appeared and commented, “Well, it’s got nearly a quarter of a potato in it . . . and they’ve got the hide to charge twenty cents. Now that’s terrible”.
By 1965 In Melbourne Tonight had become the longest-running Australian TV show, airing in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, and on country channels as Kevin Sanders Presents the Best of IMT.