2018 has been a big year for the team at Twisted History!

And we could not have done it without our customers who come week in and week out to our range of tours across Victoria.

In November we were extremely proud to take away the bronze award for Cultural Tourism in the Victorian RACV Tourism Awards.

We continued to be accredited for the third year, one of only 2 “ghost” tour companies in Australia.  This means we maintain a business standard that allows as to use the national tick.

2019 will see the introduction of at least one new tour with the Castlemaine Cemetery tour beginning in mid January with our miner Andrew O’Reilly and schoolteacher, Miss Myrtle!

We have already locked in a range of dates for our haunted hotel tours, with negotiations continuing with a couple more.

Our murder tours will see Chinatown take on a more “ghostly” focus and will see the introduction of a new guide.  Carlton and Melbourne tours will continue as required.

Geelong Gaol will be back with a ghost tour and an investigtion tour tomorrow night (26/12).  We have a new longer investigation planned for later in the first half of the year.  We will also be expecting some special interstate guests around Easter – now to find a cool location to investigate near Geelong!

Besides all this, with our newly vamped website up and running, we are hoping to bring back our regular blog – not daily unfortunately as we have been too busy!  But we will have some new content up in the new year!

But thats enough from me for now!

So the team at Twisted History would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We hope to see you somewhere on a tour in 2019!

Ossie Ostrich is an Australian television character, firstly on the Tarax Show, and then on the long-running program Hey Hey It’s Saturday which started as a Saturday morning cartoon show for children in 1971. In 1984, he also hosted an after-school children’s show called The Ossie Ostrich Video Show, with co-host Jacki MacDonald. In October 2009, Ossie appeared on the second Hey Hey It’s Saturday reunion special and made regular appearances during the show’s 2010 revival series.

Producer Ernie Carroll, an experienced comedy writer who had worked for Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, resurrected a puppet used for an earlier GTV-9 children’s program “packed away in a dusty suitcase in the GTV props bay.”

Typically, Ossie would provide the comic foil to Somers’ straight man. Daryl Somers sometimes retaliated by calling Ossie names like ‘Fiberglass Head’, but he also had more affectionate names, like his ‘pink, feathered beakie’. The comic skill of Somers and Carroll was instrumental in leading to the wider appeal of the show and its move to a prime time spot on Saturday evening.

Ossie wasn’t a part of Hey Hey It’s Saturday for the entirety of its 28-year run – he replaced footballer Peter McKenna as co-host after the show’s first eight weeks, and his retirement in 1994 was arguably a key factor in the demise of the show – but he was one of the most recognisable puppets in Australia for more than two decades.

Over time, Ossie’s head had to be replaced due to mishaps. Lipstick marks from over-amorous admirers were very difficult to remove. Other members of Ossie’s family were represented using the same puppet with different accessories. The Ossie Ostrich puppet is now on display at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.

On the Tarax Show, Ossie’s theme song was “Here comes Ossie Ostrich”. This was also occasionally heard on Hey Hey.

 

Plucka Duck is a character on the popular Australian television program Hey Hey It’s Saturday. The character “presented” a segment on the show, along with Daryl Somers, which was a self-titled segment of Plucka Duck. Plucka was on the show until the show ended in 1999. In 2009, Plucka returned to the show when it returned to the screens as “Reunion Specials”. In 2010, the show returned as a series, with Plucka appearing in every episode. According to an interview given by John Blackman in 2009, Plucka was originally played by Mark McGahan, but was replaced by “Sim” for the reunion specials. “Sim” appears to refer to Simon Lefebvre. Also, Plucka Duck had its own show, Plucka’s Place. This show aired in 1997, with Livinia Nixon and Daniel Kowalski as co-hosts. The show lasted one season. In 2005, Plucka appeared with Daryl Somers at Carols by Candlelight. In 2008, Plucka made a long awaited return to television. Plucka (along with Dickie Knee and Daryl Somers) did a skit at the Logies. In early 2016, Plucka Duck appeared in an ad campaign for KFC riding a skateboard down a mountainous road in New Zealand.

 

Happy 50th Birthday Play School

In 1973 Little Ted from Play School disappeared from set and was last seen on his way to Hong Kong in the arms of an ex-production assistant. Sad to say for Big Ted, Humpty and Jemima he has never been found. For Little Ted a new stand in was found and made to look old.

 

Around the World with Gerry Gee was the idea by director Denzil Howson and Ron Blasket ventriloquist in 1962. The idea was to film a show around Gerry Gee travel adventure around the would filming in Singapore, Italy and England.

Denzil Howson got sponsorship assistance of Air India, the Australian Department of Trade, and Tarax, which financed a six-week world trip to produce this series.

On our later arrival in London, Customs at Heathrow insisted on me opening one of my cases. It was the one containing Gerry Gee and soon the whole Customs hall was in uproar as Ron Bladkett brought him out talking.

Gerry was filmed in London at all the famous locations and with Cornel Wilde (the film star) at Pinewood Studios.

The Adventures of Gerry Gee was the idea by director Denzil Howson to give the children’s audience a more realistic feel of Gerry being a living moving boy. In these story lines Gerry was seen driving Puffing Billy Steam Train, flying a real aeroplane and other clever story line.

This was accomplished by using a boy, John Field a 9 year old boy wearing a face mask of Gerry and dressed the same as Gerry in all the long shots, cutting these with close-ups of the real Gerry Gee puppet.

One of the most popular story lines was “Pimpernel Gee”, in which Gerry played the part of the French Scarlet Pimpernel, based on the book by Baroness Orczy. Gerry wore a coiffured wig and velvet frock clothes of the period and had available a coach and horse which we used to simulate the saving of the French aristocrats from the guillotine.

Fans of Baroness Orczy’s series will recall the English lord, Sir Percy Blakeney (who was made out to be a thick, foppish English aristocrat, but was in reality the Scarlet Pimpernel), whisking away people to the sanctuary of England from the French Revolution. The story was originally made on film with Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey as the villain, “Citizen Chauvelin”, a part played by Frank Rich in our version. Gerry, acting as the English lord Sir Percy, was a riot. Raising the monocle to the eye and reciting the famous lines:

They seek him here
They seek him there
Those Frenchmen seek him everywhere
Is he in heaven?
Or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel!

Denzil Howson wrote, directed and produced all of these films and they were a success due to his effort and talent.

In October 1991, Denzil Howson and Ron Blaskett were called into channel 9, because lost film archives of The Adventures of Gerry Gee was found. The footage had been missing for 25 years.

On this day …….. 1st of July 1959

“Mr Squiggle and Friends” was a long-running children’s television series on Australia’s ABC. It featured a marionette with a large pencil for its nose. Mr Squiggle regularly flew to Earth from his residence at 93 Crater Crescent, The Moon on his spaceship named Rocket. In each episode, Mr Squiggle would create imaginative and creative drawings from squiggles sent in to the programme by children from across Australia, accompanied by their letters. The concept of Mr Squiggle was created by puppeteer, cartoonist and illustrator Norman Hetherington. Mr Squiggle first appeared on the Children’s TV Club on ABC TV, but developed into a regular series of short, five minute slots, with occasional longer special programmes. Hetherington manipulated the marionette from overhead: drawings were usually completed upside-down, so would remain largely unrecognisable until Mr Squiggle called out “Upside down! Upside down!” and the sketch was turned around. Scripts were largely written by Hetherington’s wife Margaret. A female helper assisted Mr Squiggle each time, variously Miss Gina, Miss Pat, Miss Jane, Roxanne and Rebecca. Other characters included the grouchy Blackboard; Bill the Steam Shovel; and Gus the Snail, who sported a TV for a shell, then a flower pot. The first Mr Squiggle episode appeared on the 1st of July 1959, and the show continued to run for forty years. The final episode, which was produced in 1996, was aired on the 9th of July 1999.

 

Solo One was an Australian television series made by Crawford Productions for the Seven Network and premiered on the 18th of June 1976. There were 13 half-hour episodes. The series was a spin-off from the police show Matlock Police with Paul Cronin reprising his role as Sen. Const. Senior Constable Gary Hogan is the officer in charge. In fact, he’s the entire staff of Emerald Police Station. In this Victorian country town, in the Dandnong Rangers, Snr. Constable Gary Hogan becomes involved in the good times and bad that the people of any town go through. He’s sympathetic, but can rough it with the best of them. If there’s a problem in town, just call for Solo One. The show used the original Emerald police residence and police cells – 15 Kilvington st, Emerald. (Both are still standing 2016)

Hating Alison Ashley is a 2005 Australian comedy film based upon the 1984 novel of the same name produced by Elizabeth Howatt-Jackman and directed by Geoff Bennett. It was filmed in Kinglake West,Victoria, Australia and Docklands Studios Melbourne.The film stars Saskia Burmeister, as Erica “Yuk” Yurken, an adolescent brunette who fantasises about a better life and stardom; and Delta Goodrem as her school rival Alison Ashley. At school, Erica is not very popular. She sits alone in class, but when Alison arrives, it all changes. Erica at first is desperate to be Alison’s friend but soon changes her mind, and they then become rivals. However, when a school camp comes up, Erica realises Alison doesn’t have the perfect life as she imagined. Erica house was filmed at 46 Leslie Street Richmond.

Knowing is a 2009 science fiction thriller directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage. The project was originally attached to a number of directors under Columbia Pictures, but it was placed in turnaround and eventually picked up by Escape Artists. Production was financially backed by Summit Entertainment. Knowing was filmed in Docklands Studios Melbourne, Australia, using various locations to represent the film’s Boston-area setting. The film was released on March 20, 2009, in the United States. The DVD and Blu-ray media were released on July 7, 2009. Knowing met with mixed reviews, with praise towards the acting performances, visual style and atmosphere, but had criticism over the implausibilities. In the final scenes as the world is exploding Nicolas Cage returns to his parents house at Medley Hall, 48 Drummond St, Carlton.

On This Day – April 9, 1934

On board the Orama, due at Melbourne on April 9, is George Thirlwell, a well-known English actor, who has been engaged to appear in the first production in Australia of “Ten Minute Alibi” to be given in Melbourne in the middle of April. Mr Thirlwell was in the cast of “Overture” and “The Little Napoleon” in London, where he also appeared in “Othello.” He played a prominent part, too in the Fox picture, “The Laughter of Fools,” based on the stage play of the same name, in which the late John D. O’Hara appeared in Australia.

ON THIS DAY – March 30, 1929

Two elaborate musical productions are among the Easter attractions at Melbourne theatres. Both will open on Saturday. March 30. At His Majesty’s “The Vagabond King” will take the place of “The Desert Song.” now concluding its record run of seven months. The new musical comedy has had a long run in Sydney. Miss Strella Wilson and Mr. James Liddy are at the head of a strong company, which also includes the popular comedians. Arthur Stigant and Cecil Kellaway. The Noel Coward revue, “This Year of Grace.” will make its appearance at the Theatre Royal. Miss Maisie Gay, one of the most popular comedians in England, and a member of the original London cast, is leading lady.