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This Australian daytime panel discussion show featured a male host (the “beast”) and four women panellists who took turns responding to letters from viewers seeking personal advice and guidance.
The women would try hard, but they were frequently undermined by the male beast, who was frequently rude, sarcastic, dismissive, insulting and generally controversial.
The show was first produced in Sydney by ATN-7 with well-known radio commentator Eric Baume in the chair and panellists including Pat Lovell, Pat Firman, Irene Elfert, Ena Harwood, Sheila Scotter, Dita Cobb, Maggie Tabberer, Sandra Jobson, Noeline Brown, Anne Deveson and Hazel Phillips.
After Baume’s death in 1966, a succession of other beasts hosted the show: Stuart Wagstaff, Noel Ferrier, radio host John Laws, Rex Mossop, Ron Frazer, Don Lane and actor Alwyn Kurts. The show finally ended in 1973.
Beauty and the Beast was revived in 1982 on both Channel 7 and Channel 10.
The 7 version had Derryn Hinch as the beast, with “beauties” including Denise Drysdale, Noeline Brown, Freda Lesslie, Geraldine Turner, Suzie Jarrett, soap actress Bernadette Hughson, Vilma Ward, Andy Thorpe and Jane Priest (whose claim to fame was kissing Prince Charles on a Perth beach). The series died in December 1982 with barely a whimper.
The Channel 10 offering was hosted by John Laws with a panel including Anne Wills, Bettina Arndt, solicitor Helen Coonan, Barbie Rogers, Margaret Throsby, Di “Bubbles” Fisher and a returning Ena Harwood.
Laws handed the series over to Clive Robertson in September 1982, who hosted the show until 1984.
The last “beast” on free-to-air Aussie television was extreme right-wing radio broadcaster Stan Zemanek in 1996 before he and the show transferred to pay TV.
Zemanek was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in May 2006 and passed away in 2007, aged 60.