1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 8 (Australia)
1 9 8 8 – current (Australia)
An Australian magazine programme that started life as a bona fide current affairs news show (hence the name) but degenerated over the years to the point where it almost exclusively broadcasts “sensational” stories on things such as diet fads, welfare cheats, warring neighbours, miracle drugs, negligent doctors and dodgy builders. The programme has been successfully sued a number of times for defamation.
It’s not news. It’s not current affairs. It has become tasteless, boring, irrelevant and bordering on illiterate – but it’s a massive ratings winner year after year. That says quite a lot . . .
A Current Affair was first broadcast on 22 November 1971 with Mike Willesee hosting. It screened at 7:00 pm on weeknights on Channel Nine and comedian and actor Paul Hogan had a comic social commentary segment on the early shows.
When Willesee left the network in 1974, journalist Mike Minehan took over as the presenter. The show was cancelled on 28 April 1978.
ACA returned in 1988 with former 60 Minutes presenter Jana Wendt (pictured at right) at the helm until she resigned in November 1992, unhappy with a story showing topless women.
Original presenter Mike Willesee took over for a year and in February 1994, Ray Martin became the presenter and remained until the end of November 1998, when he was succeeded by Mike Munro.
The show came under fire in 1993 for its role in a police siege in NSW where Mike Willesee interviewed the child hostages mid-siege by phone. And in 1996, ACA, then anchored by Ray Martin, sparked a nationwide outcry when it covered the Paxtons – a family of “dole bludgers” who refused to work. The follow-up by media maverick John Safran, in which he and one of the Paxtons door-stopped Ray Martin and went through his rubbish bin became equally famous.
When Munro was axed from the programme in 2002, Martin returned until December 2005. The show was re-launched in January 2006 with new presenter Tracy Grimshaw, who has remained with the show since.