1 9 5 7 – 1 9 6 9 (Australia)
60/120 minute episodes
This early Australian children’s TV series from GTV-9 in Melbourne was originally titled The Happy Show and hosted by a character called Happy Hammond (Harry Hammond, who had moved across to television from radio).
Broadcast each weekday afternoon, the series debuted on 21 January 1957 – only two days after the official opening of GTV-9 – originally for local (Melbourne) consumption only, but eventually to a national TV audience.
The show was sponsored by Tarax Drinks from April 1957, and after Happy Hammond departed to move to rival station HSV7, the series was renamed The Tarax Show. The new host was King Corky, King of the Kids (played by Geoff Corke).
Ventriloquist Ron Blaskett appeared on the show with his puppet Gerry Gee.
Blaskett (and his wife, Merle) also operated other puppets on the show, including Rags the Dog, Adolphus Twerk, Sandra Simpkins, Sammy the Snail, Hetty the Hen, Misery Marshall and the Lazybones Skinny Jones.
The popularity of the Gerry Gee character spawned its own self-contained five-minute-long live-action short films called The Adventures of Gerry Gee which aired within the show, with Gerry solving crimes, rescuing maidens in distress and similar tales of “Boys Own” derring-do.
The segment quickly became a regular and popular feature of The Tarax Show, running for three years with much Gerry Gee merchandise successfully marketed as a result of its popularity.
Other popular segments of The Tarax Show included Girl Next Door, Banjo Club, Pura Prize Time, Speaking Of Animals, TV Stars of Tomorrow, TV Gym, Stan Stafford’s Bunkhouse, Friends in Blue, How It Works, Dog Shop and Tiny’s Story.
Freddo Frog appeared both as a cartoon and a costumed character at different times. The animated version was one of the first Australian-produced cartoon series on TV.
Following the abdication of King Corky, Uncle Norman (Norman Swain) joined the show after a long radio career and eventually took over as host along with Joffa Boy (Joff Ellen) in 1963.
Geoff “King Corky” Corke died on 1 May 1993, aged 58.
Harry “Happy” Hammond passed away in April 1998, aged 81. Joff “Joffa Boy” Ellen died in December 1999, aged 84.
Ron Blaskett (ventriloquist)
John Field (live-action stand-in)
Ernie Carroll (1)
Denzil Howson (2)
Bernard the Magician
Speaking of Animals segment
Olivia Newton John