1 9 7 3 – 1 9 8 5 (Australia)
The Mike Walsh Show was originally launched on the Australian Network Ten in 1969. At the time it was a ground-breaking concept for daytime television, combining talk with variety and interviews with fun and frivolity.
Local and international guests were interviewed, songs were sung, and Mike charmed his way into the hearts of the Aussie viewing public.
He was assisted in his lunchtime endeavours by a cast of regulars including John Michael “Hollywood” Howson, musical director (and ferret fancier) Geoff Harvey, floor manager Mike “Shirley Temple” Williams, medico Dr James Wright, Jeannie Little, old-time rocker Jade Hurley, Jan Adele, and Maria Venuti.
Eventually, the live show would outlast six hosts, two timeslots, two axings and jump networks. It would revitalise careers, embarrass politicians and spark controversy. Along the way it became as essential to Australian lunchtime as vegemite sandwiches.
The Mike Walsh Show was dropped by channel Ten in 1972, given another chance in 1973, and eventually moved to rival channel Nine in 1977.
The noontime variety show bloomed at channel Nine, and until 1984, Mike amassed 24 Logie Awards and a devoted following amongst the “blue rinse” set.
Then ratings flagged again and Walsh abandoned the daytime format, moving to a 90-minute primetime talk/variety format on Channel Nine. His loyal audience, however, did not follow and in August 1985 – midway through its first year in primetime – The Mike Walsh Show was axed for good.
His concept of a daytime variety show refused to die, and in February 1985 the clone Midday With Ray Martin was born.
Midday was hosted by Martin (pictured at left) until 1993, and then subsequently by Derryn Hinch (1993 – 1994), David Reyne and Tracy Grimshaw (1995 – 1996), and Kerry-Anne Kennerley (1996 – 1998).
Regular personalities on the show were Musical Director Geoff Harvey, comedienne Jeannie Little, Floor Manager Mike ‘Shirley Temple’ Williams, singer/pianist Jade Hurley, movie guru John Michael “Hollywood” Howson, and family medico, Dr James Wright.
Old rocker John Hurley (nicknamed ‘Jade’ by rocker Johnny O’Keefe in the 60s because he wore green gloves when he played) made his original TV debut in 1960 on the ABC’s Six O’Clock Rock. Hurley had served as an alderman on the Deniliquin council and campaigned for Al Grassby in the 1972 Federal elections.