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.

Animal Kingdom is a 2010 Australian crime drama film written and directed by David Michôd, and shot on location in Melbourne with a budget of A$5 million from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen NSW and Showtime Australia.  The film premiered at the 26th Sundance Film Festival on the 22nd of January 2010. 

Michôd’s script was inspired by events which involved the Pettingill criminal family  of Melbourne, Australia. In 1991, two brothers Trevor Pettingill and Victor Pierce (along with two other men: Anthony Leigh Farrell and Peter David McEvoy) were acquitted in the 1988 shooting murder of two Victorian police officers.

After his mother overdoses, 17-year-old Joshua “J” Cody (James Frecheville) asks his estranged grandmother, Janine “Smurf” Cody (Jacki Weaver), for help, and she invites him to move in with her.

Smurf is the affectionate matriarch of a Melbourne Crime family that uses her home as a base. Her home is also being watched by cops who are looking for the oldest son, Andrew “Pope” Cody (Ben Mendelsohn), who is in hiding. The volatile middle brother, Craig (Sullivan Stapleton), deals drugs successfully enough to have bought the house for his mother.

The youngest brother, Darren (Luke Ford), follows the lead of his siblings, while family friend “Baz” leads the gang, which specializes in armed robbery. Craig takes J along to meet with a crooked cop from the drug squad, who tells him that renegade cops on the armed robbery squad are on the look out for all of them.

Later, Baz goes to meet Pope at a shopping centre, where they discuss quitting crime and going straight. As Baz gets in his car to leave, police approach and shoot him dead. Angry and distraught, Pope and Craig want revenge, and ask J to steal a Commodore and bring it to Darren’s place.

The car is then planted in the middle of a night-time street as a lure. Two policemen are soon drawn to the scene, where they are ambushed and shot dead by Pope and Craig. The next day, Pope, Darren and J are taken in for questioning, where J meets Detective Senior Sergeant Nathan Leckie who also leads the armed robbery squad. Leckie, one of the few non-corrupt police officers, recognizes J’s predicament and begins to lean on him. The three are later released from custody, but J returns with his girlfriend Nicky to her parents’ home.

Craig, who has avoided being picked up by the police, Pope, Darren and Smurf meet at a diner, where they recognize J as the weak link. When told by Smurf to give himself up for questioning, Craig panics, and meets a friend in rural Bendigo. He learns that the house is already being monitored, and as the police arrive tries to flee through a field but is gunned down.

Pope and Darren take J to meet their solicitor Ezra. He coaches him to not tell the police anything and pressure him to break up with Nicky, which he does. Leckie takes J into custody again, where he proposes that J be moved to witness protection, but J turns down the offer. Meanwhile, Nicky, unsure what to do, shows up at Smurf’s home, where Pope gives her heroin, questions her, then smothers her to death to keep her silent.

When J returns to Smurf’s house the next morning he discovers Nicky’s bracelet outside the house. He calls Nicky’s phone, and realising something is not right, flees to Nicky’s parents’ house. Pope gets Nicky’s address from Darren and arrives in time to intercept J. J flees on foot and is taken into a safe house. With Craig and Baz dead, Pope and Darren imprisoned, and J potentially being the star witness for the prosecution, Smurf decides, “J needs to go”.

Smurf uses her connections to procure J’s address, and persuades the corrupt cop to help her. Police from the drug squad then raid the safe house. J jumps a fence and returns to Smurf’s house, saying he wishes to help free Pope and Darren from jail. To do this, the family’s barrister then coaches J’s answers.

After his day in court, Leckie sees J before his departure from the safe hotel, and asks him if he has found his place in the world (a reference to Leckie’s animal kingdom metaphor for J’s predicament). Pope, Darren and Smurf celebrate with champagne while being interviewed after their controversial acquittal. Smurf later sees Leckie in the supermarket and taunts him. Later again, J returns to Smurf’s home asking to stay, before going to his room.

Pope enters and begins to talk to him, but is cut off when J shoots him in the head. In the final scene, J returns to the living room and embraces a now silenced Smurf.

Animal Kingdom received 18 nominations for the 2010 Australian Film Institute Awards, across all major feature film categories – a record achievement. On the 11th of December 2010, Animal Kingdom won a record 10 awards.

The film received several other film awards to Jacki Weaver who was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Weaver was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. It was also named one of the Top Independent Films of 2010 at the National Board of Review Awards.  All up the film received 36 awards and 39 nominations. 

Quentin Tarantino listed Animal Kingdom as his third favourite film of 2010, behind Toy Story 3 and The Social Network. 

Bad Eggs is an Australian comedy movie, written and directed by Tony Martin and Producted by Macquarie Film Corporation with a budget of A$4.5 million. The film was released on the 25th of July 2003.

Ben Kinnear (Mick Molloy) and (Bob Franklin) Mike Paddock are detectives with the Melbourne Police force’s elite Zero Tolerance Unit. When a freak accident involving a dead magistrate  named Poulgrain lands them on the front page of the local paper, Ben and Mike are busted and demoted down to uniformed duties. Things get worse when they pay a visit to the Magistrate’s widow Eleanor (Robyn Nevin) and accidentally burn her house down. Thinkings become more complicated when Julie Bale (Judith Lucy), a journalist and a former police-officer and onetime partner of Kinnear’s, is arrested on a charge of blackmailing the Magistrate. But when Ben discovers a strange link between the accident and the business affairs of a shady casino boss he and Mike have been investigating, the pair decide they can no longer turn a blind eye to the corruption rife amongst their own colleagues.

Interesting filming fact about Bad Eggs, Peter Aanensen is playing “Arthur Ferris”, the same character he played in the classic Aussie police television drama Bluey (1976). Ferris, who was Bluey Hills’ superior in the third series, is in this film seen working as a security guard at Victoria’s Parliament House.