1 9 7 0 (Australia)
7 x 30 minute episodes
Every so often, something comes along on TV that is so sub-standard there can be no doubt that THIS must be rock-bottom. Then along comes something even worse and we adjust our perception accordingly. But it’s hard to imagine anything likely to ever take the barrel-bottom-scraping award from The Acid Test.
Airing on Thursday nights at 8.00 pm on Melbourne’s GTV9 (Channel 9 in Sydney aired it late on Monday nights at 10.00 pm), the show was hosted by the unlucky Bert Newton.
This journey into embarrassment was an invitation to chortle at the serious efforts of amateur actors bumbling through an alleged play at the end of which judges Michael Pate and John Forgeham dismantled their performances verbally and awarded points in the manner of New Faces.
Perhaps the idea was that the worse the performances were, the more successful the show would be. The more fluffed lines and wrongly emphasised words, the better we would like it. Maybe.
But whether viewers were supposed to take this appalling stuff seriously or accept that they were sufficiently insensitive to relish a big laugh at someone else’s expense, the result was woeful. The amateurs took puerile scripts and raised them to the heights of almost professional mediocrity.
There may have been some genuine unconscious comedy in the remarks of the two judges as they analysed results, in all apparent seriousness, at the end of the torture trail, but having suffered the thing thus far, the sensibilities of viewers had taken such a beating that nothing looked normal.
The Actors Equity union objected to The Acid Test as being not in the interest of its members, many of whom were finding it hard getting work on Australian television and insisted that anyone taking part in the competition must be a financial member of Actors Equity, despite the fact that most were purely amateurs who had no intention of becoming full-time entertainers.
GTV9 cancelled the show after just seven weeks.