Angel Baby is a 1995 Australian drama film written and directed by Michael Rymer. The film was produced in 1993–94 with a budget of A$3.5 million. 

The film is a love story of two people with schizophrenia.  Although the film did not do well at the box office the film swept the boards at the 1995 AFI Awards winning all the major categories as well as several major international film festivals.

Angel Baby tells the story of Harry (John Lynch) and Kate (Jacqueline McKenzie), who meet at an outpatient clinic in Melbourne for mental patients. 

Harry falls instantly for Kate when he sees her at the clinic, but she doesn’t hang around with psychos, she tells him, but her feelings change when she receives a sign from her guardian angel, named Astral.

His method of communication is the Australian version of “Wheel of Fortune.” As the letters are turned over and the underlying phrases are revealed, Kate takes careful notes; she learns she’s pregnant, for example, when the Australian version of Vanna White turns over letters spelling out “Great Expectations.”

She believes it is Astral who is residing in her womb.  She and Harry decide to move in together, despite the reservations of Harry’s protective brother Morris (Colin Friels) and his wife Louise (Deborra-Lee Furness).

Harry gets a job in a computer firm, they set up house and Kate becomes pregnant and seem for a time to be blessed with each other, and who then make the mistake of growing overconfident and discontinuing their medication, the results are disastrous, with both ending up back in hospital.

Harry re-stabilises himself, then rescues Kate from the mental ward. They hide in a tall building site and wait for their baby – called Astral – to enter the world.

This film is important as shows what it takes to overcome a mental illness and what affects they can have on your life and those around you. 

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All the Rivers Run II is an Crawford Production television 2 part miniseries which aired on Channel Seven on the 18th of March 1990.

Starring John Waters and actress Nikki Coghill who replaced Sigrid Thornton in the leading role.

The miniseries follows on where Nancy Cato 1958 novel, Australian historical finishes. The series was directed by John Power. 

Series II takes up the story of Delie (Nikki Coghill) and Brenton Edwards (John Waters) at the turn of the century, at a moment when bad times have struck the once thriving river boat trade.

New roads and railway lines threaten the very existence of the grand old paddle steamers of the Murray and striking shearers threaten the lives of their crews.

Into the explosive situation walks Cyrus James (Parker Stevenson), a charming, but mysterious overseas entrepreneur. He is immediately attracted to Delie, but backs off when he encounters Brenton.

The three become close to friends. Trying to mediate in the dispute between the shearers and the riverboat skippers, Brenton is framed on a charge of seriously injuring a local businessman Arthur Blackwell (Tim Robertson).

He is sentenced to imprisonment in Melbourne.  Without Brenton, Delie is faced with a custody battle over her children and the not altogether unwanted attentions of Cyrus. 

Alone she must fight to keep her family and the riverboat “Philadelphia”.  In a desperate attempt to help her, Brenton escapes. When trying to reach his children, a waiting policeman, the same man in the employ of the wealthy squatters who framed Brenton in the first place, shoots Brenton. 

Brenton disappears in the murky waters of the swollen River Murray, leaving only a trail of blood behind.  All the Rivers Run II has all the romance, adventure and even more intrigue than its internationally successful predecessor.

The series was shot on location in Echuca as well as locations in Melbourne.  The paddle steamer PS Pevensey was filmed as the PS Philadelphia. 

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All the Rivers Run is a Crawford Production television 4 part miniseries which aired on Channel Seven on the 4th of October 1983.

Starring Sigrid Thornton and John Waters. The miniseries is based on the Australian historical novel by Nancy Cato, first published in 1958.

The series was directed by George Miller and Pino Amenta with a budget of $3 million. The series was a massive ratings success in Australia and was sold to over 70 countries around the world.

The mini-series is marketed with the tagline A sweeping saga of one woman’s struggle for survival.

The plot starts with a storm off the Victorian coast in 1890, a young English girl Philadelphia Gordon (Sigrid Thornton) was shipwrecked and orphaned.

Rescued by the only other survivor of the wreck Tom Gritchley (Gus Mercurio), the girl is taken in care by her Uncle Charles (Charles Tingwell).

Known as Delie she is an energetic and high-spirited girl who wants to paint, and not conform. She finds it difficult to understand why her Aunt Hester (Dinah Shearing), a tart and unsmiling woman, seeks to impose her ideas of womanhood, femininity, even good housekeeping on a girl who needs nothing more than the freedom to lead her own life.

It is her cousin, Adam (William Upjohn), who truly awakens in Delie the feelings of young womanhood. Tom, the seaman who rescued Delie, arrives in Echuca on a paddle steamer he bought with his reward.

It is the beginning for Delie of a remarkable ten years in her life. Her investment of part of her inheritance in the riverboat is, without her knowing it, the first step towards a turbulent marriage to a riverboat man and, indeed, to the boats who ply their great trade along the mighty, unpredictable and perilous river.

In a riverboat ceremony, Delie marries Brenton Edwards (John Waters), a cavalier riverman, who wins and loses the girl on their way to the alter.

Their years together are as unpredictable as the river, and more than once Delie is attracted to bohemian Melbourne, and the patronage of Alistair Raeburn (Adrian Wright), the gentleman art critic, who falls in love with his protégé.

Yet Delie remains magnetically drawn to Brenton and the river, the crew of their paddle-steamer Philadelphia, and the river community of Echuca, friends like Bessie Griggs (Constance Landsberg), a merchant’s daughter, and George Blakeney (Don Barker), the bluff rival riverboat captain.

Their community has grown from the 1850’s when it was merely a river crossing, established by Henry Hopwood, an English convict.

Mobs of cattle and sheep were driven across the Murray at Echuca on their way to the stockyards at Melbourne. Proudly, Delie and Brenton race the Philadelphia in dangerously narrow waters, and for a wager they cannot afford. They dare the Darling River in drought, a dash which could go for nearly 1000 miles across outback New South Wales, in the hope that rains will wash down from Queensland and allow their escape.

In tinderbox conditions, they survive a fire which all but bankrupts them. They have a son, in a way many women did at the time…on the riverbank, in circumstances far removed from Echuca, when hardened riverman became midwives.

Brenton turns against the law to find a way out of their financial maze, and the couple part before coming together again. Brenton is critically injured in a riverboat accident. It inspires Delie to turn her talents towards being a riverboat captain, to winning her own Master’s Ticket. 

The series was shot on location in Echuca as well as locations in Melbourne.  The paddle steamer PS Pevensey was filmed as the PS Philadelphia. 

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In 1938, a double murder took place in the now defunct Windsor Castle Hotel in Dunolly.  One of the last sightings of the murdered men and their murderer was in the bar of the Railway Hotel in Dunolly.  Join Twisted History for dinner and a paranormal investigation here on February 23, 2019.

Noise Said To Have Led To Deaths

December 13, 1938

An alleged statement that he had killed a man because he was making a noise upstairs, and that he had killed another man because he did not want him to be a witness, was read in the Supreme Court today when Thomas William Johnson, 40, of no fixed address, was charged with the murder of the two men.

The victims of the tragedy were: —
Robert McCourt Gray, 73, returned soldier and pensioner
Charles Adam Bunney, 61, war pensioner

They were found in a padlocked upstairs room of the delicensed
Windsor Castle Hotel at Dunolly on October 6 with their heads battered.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to the charges of having murdered Bunney and Gray.

Mr Cussen said that on October 3 there were five people living in the hotel.  Gray and Bunney had lived there for years. On September 26 Johnson arrived there. He said that he was on sustenance and wanted to live there, but could not pay.

On Monday morning, October 3, Gray was seen alive and Bunney was seen alive about 5.15 p.m. by the postmaster.  After that neither of the men was seen until the Thursday. In the meantime Bunney’s room, although it was open, had not been used. Gray’s room was
padlocked.

Two men looked for Gray and Bunney on the Thursday. One of them
climbed to the verandah and saw the men lying dead side by side. When entrance was gained the two men were found with their heads battered. A bloodstained axe was found in the corner.

Johnson, on the Monday, had no money. On the Tuesday he was seen on the road to Maryborough, and got a ride, for which he paid 1/. He returned later, and this time paid 2/6.  When he walked into the Dandenong police station on the Friday he made a statement, although he was warned he need not make it.

Mr Cussen then read the statement alleged to have been made by Johnson. In it Johnson is alleged to have said that he was asleep on the ground floor of the delicensed hotel about 3 p.m. on October 3 when he heard Gray, who was on the top floor, hammering and making a loud noise. He took an axe upstairs and hit Gray on the head. Gray fell to the floor, Bunney came into the room, and he hit him on the head. He then locked the room with a padlock and
threw the key away.

His only excuse for killing Gray was because he was making a noise while he was trying to sleep. He had killed Bunney because he did not want him to be a witness.

He often became bad tempered, and he was in a bad temper when he killed Gray.  He stayed at the hotel for two nights afterward. He then walked to Maryborough, rode on a transport to Melbourne on October 6, stayed in the city that night, and walked to Dandenong
the next day.

One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Whelan, the licensee of the Railway Hotel in Dunolly who testified that Cazneau, Johnson and a man named Alexander and Bunney were in the bar on the Monday morning. Bunney bought Johnson two drinks and left.  Gray came into the hotel at 10.30 and bought a quart bottle of wine, but did
not drink it with the other men. He gave a £1 note and received his change in small silver. Gray took a quart bottle of wine a month.
Johnson had four pots of beer up to 11 a.m., when he left, and he had one again at 2 p.m.

Thomas William Johnson would be found guilty of the murders of Robert McCourt Gray and Charles Adam Bunney and was sentenced to death.

Johnson was executed at Pentridge Prison on January 23, 1939.  When asked by the Sheriff in the condemned cell whether he had anything to say, Johnson shook his head and indicated that he wanted the execution to proceed.

Alvin Rides Again is a 1974 Australia sex-comedy film sequel to Alvin Purple. It was directed by David Bilcock and Robin Copping, who were regular collaborators with Tim Burstall. It was rated M unlike its predecessor which was rated R. Alvin Rides Again still features a lot of full frontal nudity. And like the prequel was written by Alan Hopgood, with a budget of $300,000 Australian dollars. 

The premise of the movie is that Alvin Purple (Graeme Blundell) is unable to hold down a job because of his appeal to women. He and his friend Spike Dooley (Alan Finney) help a team of women cricketers win a match by playing in drag, and decide to spend their share of the prize money in a casino. Alvin discovers he is identical in appearance to gangster Balls McGee. When Alvin Purple, is introduced to his doppelganger, Balls McGee, a gangster from America. The gangster wants to watch his favourite TV show – “Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo”, and sings along to the theme music.

Graeme Blundell plays both roles with surprising panache – all the more surprising considering that the screenwriters contrive to off the Balls McGee character almost immediately so that we can be subjected to some tedious switcheroo gags as police come looking for Balls, find Alvin, Alvin goes to get dressed up as Balls, returns. This is funny by default, apparently.

Supposedly there was less nudity this time around, which makes sense considering the intelligence that apparently went into the making of both films. The only reason anyone saw the original film was for the nudity, so why not include less nudity in this installment? 

There is also a bigger budget, though unless you pay close attention during the more boring moments, you might miss this. The original movie was a big success in Australia, so of course the sequel has to have something to show for it…

The answer is, a pointless car chase at the end of the movie, featuring a car with guns mounted to the side. I don’t know if the driver was ever introduced, or if reasons were ever given for why he wants to kill Alvin, but no matter. The chase scene is as tedious as it is pointless, and it features two explosions – so THAT’s where the money went! – and ends in the surprisingly violent death of an innocent bystander. Yes, this is the sort of comedy where men impersonate women without shaving moustaches and sideburns and yet fool everybody, people run in and out of rooms chasing each other in fast forward while zany music plays, dwarven actors have their voices dubbed to make them sound as high pitched as possible, and forklift operators are violently machine-gunned to death. One of these things is not like the other.

Some comedies are so witless that they approach surrealism. “Alvin Rides Again” doesn’t quite reach that level, for while the violence is bizarre and completely out of place, its presence as an afterthought simply suggests the writers had no idea what to do with the budget they had or the movie they had to make. It is also portrayed so unrealistically that you could miss it pretty easily. There is, after all, perhaps the least painful meat cleaver to the face shot I have ever seen in a movie.

Tim Burstall, Alan Hopgood and Graeme Blundell weren’t particularly interested in making a sequel to Alvin Purple but the film was so successful, Hexagon Productions wanted a follow up. Blundell wanted to avoid being typecast so a story was created which gave him a chance to play a double role. Burstall, who claims he wrote most of the script with Al Finney, says that: When it came to the crunch, Blundell failed to differentiate between paying Balls and playing Alvin pretending to be Balls. In my view, the film fails for precisely that reason, i.e. Alvin is lost.

Alvin Rides Again was the recipient of some more controversy when it was released but was only rated M. It did not perform as well as its predecessor but still grossed $600,000 by the end of 1977 and ended up taking $1,880,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $12,690,000 in 2009 dollars.

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Alvin Purple is an 1973 Australian comedy film written by Alan Hopgood and directed by Tim Burstall for Hexagon Productions at a cost of $202,000 Australian dollars.   Filming and was shot on location in Melbourne over five and a half weeks in March and April of 1973.  

The film is a sex farce which follows the misadventures of a naïve young Melbourne man Alvin Purple, whom women find irresistible. Working in door to door sales, Alvin (unsuccessfully) tries to resist legions of women who want him.

Alvin is so worn-out he seeks psychiatric help to solve his problems. His psychiatrist is, of course, a woman. Alvin ultimately falls in love with the one girl who doesn’t throw herself at him. She becomes a nun, and Alvin ends up a gardener in the convent’s gardens.

Hopgood originally wrote Alvin Purple for the English production company Tigon Films, but they turned it down.  Hopgood’s story was originally half comic, half serious, and Burstall originally envisioned it as a 20-minute section of a multi story picture. However he then decided to make the story strictly comic and expand it to feature length. Burstall says he rewrote much of Hopgood’s script, adding many chases and the water bed sequence, and turning Dr McBurney (George Whaley)

figure into a sex maniac. The original script played more emphasis on the relationship between Alvin (Graeme Blundell) and his virginal girlfriend but this was cut in the final film.

The budget was provided by Hexagon, half from Roadshow, half from Burstall, Bilcock and Copping – apart from a short-term loan from the Australian Film Development Corporation, which was repaid before the film’s release. 

Tim Burstall remembers his choice of cast Graeme Blundell in the lead:

I remember Bourkie [Roadshow executive Graham Burke] saying, ‘You’ve got to cast somebody like Jack Thompson.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not. You’ve got to cast somebody who wouldn’t, on the surface, seem a stud or even particularly attractive’. I actually thought that Alvin wasn’t, that the comic element was connected with having a Woody Allen or a Dustin Hoffman figure who is not very obviously sexually attractive, and the girls rushing him. This becomes much funnier than if he was a stud figure.

The film was released on the 20th of December 1972 and received largely negative reviews from local film critics. Despite this it was a major hit with Australian audiences. Alvin Purple became the most commercially successful Australian film released to that time, breaking the box office record set by Michael Powell’s pioneering Anglo-Australian comedy feature They’re a Weird Mob (1966).  The film made $4,720,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $36,721,600 in 2009 dollars. This is 7th highest grossing Australian film of all time when adjusted for inflation.

A 1974 film sequel Alvin Rides Again toned-down the sex scenes and nudity, adding more camp comedy. This was followed by a 1976 ABC comedy television series titled Alvin Purple. Blundell reprised the title role in both, as well as in the 1984 movie Melvin, Son of Alvin.

The score and title theme were composed by iconic Australian singer-songwriter Brian Cadd.

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Against the Wind is a 1978 historical drama television mini-series based on the British rule of Ireland and the transportation of convicts to New South Wales. The  production was the most challenging historical series to be produced for television in Australian at the time.

The show was produced by Crawford Productions and Pegasus Productions and ran for 13 episodes, first airing on the 12th of September to the 31st of October 1978, on the HSV7 Seven Network. The series was the idea of Bronwyn Binns, who had grown up in President Road, Kellyville, New South Wales, where she had found old convict remnants on the family property. Kellyville is not far from the site of the colonial Vinegar Hill uprising also known as the Castle Hill convict rebellion. 

“As a child one heard stories of the convict days and the Castle Hill Rebellion’, Bronwyn Binns recalls. ‘I used to play among some old stone ruins near an orchard, where an iron ring was set in a crumbling wall. I now believe that this was all that remained of the Castle Hill prison farm”. She remembers her father working on their house at Kellyville and discovering some very old brickwork. On one of the bricks was the mark of a broad arrow. “During my research for ‘Against the Wind’, I discovered that the original house on the site had been visited by the Castle Hill rebels the night of the uprising”, she said.

Bronwyn worked as a researcher at Crawford Productions in Melbourne and had developed the project over a number of months,  Bronwyn teamed up with Crawford’s colleague Ian Jones and presented it to Channel Seven, who agreed to finance a series. The series was directed by George Miller and Simon Wincer. 

Set in Australia’s colonial era between 1798–1812, the series follows the life of Mary Mulvane (Mary Larkin), a daughter of an Irish school master. At 18, Mary is transported to New South Wales for a term of seven years after attempting to take back her family’s milk cow which had been seized by the British “in lieu of tithes” to the local proctor. Mary endures the trial of a convict sea journey to New South Wales and years of service as a convict before her emancipation and life as a free citizen. During the journey out she makes a lifelong friend of fellow Irish convict, Polly McNamara (Kerry McGuire), and in the course of the series we see their friendship continue, Polly’s relationship and life with taverner Will Price (Frank Gallacher) develop, and Mary’s relationship with Jonathon Garrett (Jon English) a fellow convict grow, leading to eventual marriage when both have served their term. Together they face the difficulties of establishing a farm and a young family in the new country, and must deal with the tyranny of the corrupt military running the colony.

The series was filmed at Old Sydney Town near Gosford, and at Belgrave Heights, Warrandyte, Colac, Geelong and Emu Bottom homestead at Sunbury.  It had a budget of over a million dollars. The series was a large ratings success, being the second most popular show on Australia in 1978, being seen by 2,174,000 people in four cities and was the first major Australian TV production to be broadcast in the United States market.

Further success was at the 1979 Logie Awards where Jon English won the “Best New Talent” for his role in the miniseries as “Jonathan Garrett”. 

A soundtrack for the series was released by Polydor Records, and the song Six Ribbons written by Jon English was released as a single. Six Ribbons entered the Kent Music Report on the 5th of December 1978, before peaking at number 5 on the Australian charts in 1979. The song peaked at number 1 in Norway and 10 in Sweden in December 1981.

Channel Seven released a remarkable 70-page book relating to Against the Wind, comprising historical background notes, character biographies, and the detailed storylines with drawings of props and costumes.

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A Country Practice was a television serial drama that ran on the Seven Network for 1,058 episodes at 7.30 pm Monday and Tuesday nights, from 18 November 1981 to 22 November 1993. 

Production was filmed both at ATN-7 at Epping, Sydney and on locations at Pitt Town and Oakville on the outskirts of Northwest Sydney. Several of the regular cast members became highly popular celebrities through their roles in the series. It also featured a number of native Australian animals adding to its enduring appeal both domestically and internationally. After the series was cancelled by the Seven Network in 1993 a reworked version of the series ran briefly on Network Ten and filmed on location at Emerald in Victoria, airing in 1994. 

The series followed the workings of a small hospital in the fictional rural country town of Wandin Valley as well as its connected medical clinic, the town’s veterinary surgery, RSL club/pub and local police station. The show’s storylines focused on the staff, and regular patients of the hospital and general practice, their families, and other residents of the town. Through its weekly guest actors, who appeared in the series portrayed differing characters, it explored various social and medical problems. The series examined such topical issues as youth unemployment, suicide, drug addiction, and terminal illness, as well as Aborigines and their importance in modern Australian society. Apart from its regular rotating cast, mainly among the younger personnel, A Country Practice also had a cast of semi-regulars who would make appearances as the storylines permitted. One of the more popular and frequent characters from its inception included the valley’s corrupt town councillor Alfred Muldoon (Brian Moll). 

The program as well would also showcase a number of animal stars and Australian native wildlife, most famously Fatso the wombat. Fatso was played throughout the series by three separate wombats, Fatso (1981–1986) replaced due to temperament issues with the cast, George (1986–1990) replaced due to early signs of wombat mange (a marsupial viral disease), and Garth (1990 through series end).  Originally “belonged” to Dr Simon Bowen but Shirley and Frank Gilroy took him in when Simon and Vicky moved to the U. S.

Iconic storylines over its lengthy 12-year run included the wedding of Dr. Simon Bowen, to local vet Vicki Dean, in 1983, and the later wedding of Dr. Terence Elliot to Matron Rosemary Prior amidst the series’ bushfire scenes that marked the final episodes. The death of nurse Donna Manning in a car crash, the off-screen death of longtime resident Shirley Gilroy in a plane crash, as well as the final undoing of town councillor Alfred Muldoon, which were highly watched. 

The highest rating episode however featured the death of beloved farmer Molly Jones from leukemia in 1985. After being diagnosed, receiving treatment and battling the terminal illness, Molly retires to her garden, watching her husband nurse Brenden and young daughter Chloe flying a kite and passes away peacefully as the screen fades to black. Molly’s death storyline was originally written for an 11-week script, but producers realized that her death was proposed in a week the ratings were not being monitored, hence the storyline lasted 13 weeks and an extra two episodes.

In 1994 the series briefly returned for 30 more episodes with Robyn Sinclair and James Davern as Executive Producers on the Ten Network but with wholesale changes made to the format and the location change from New South Wales to Victoria and the only original cast members to return were Esme Watson (Joyce Jacobs) and Matron Margaret “Maggie” Sloan (Joan Sydney) the show never really stood a chance, it went to just one episode per week, before being cancelled altogether.

Over A Country Practice 13 year run the show became renowned for its long list of guest cameos, totalling over 1000 stars.  Some actors became more prominent during the series runs, and were classified as semi-regulars, appearing as the storyline permitted, such as Baz Luhrmann, Smokey Dawson, John Meillon, Sir Robert Helpmann, Nicole Kidman, Paul Kelly, Toni Collette, Delta Goodrem, Peter Phelps and Simon Baker. At the program’s height even the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, appeared as himself.

When filming finished in 1994, A Country Practice was the longest running Australian drama. At its height the show attracted 8–10 million viewers weekly, when the population of the time was a mere 15 million, and was eventually sold to 48 countries.  A Country Practice is also the third most successful television program in the history of the Logie Awards, after Home and Away (1st) and Neighbours (2nd), having won 29 awards during its twelve years of production.

James Davern creator, writer and original executive producer of A Country Practice was inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame in 1991 and was honoured as an Order of Australia recipient in 2014.  A Country Practice was ranked 14th in the 50 Years 50 Shows poll in 2005. Read more

Acropolis Now is a cult Australian television sitcom set in a fictional Greek cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne. The title of the show being a play on the film Apocalypse Now. Its brand of cross-cultural humour still resonates today in such shows as Pizza and Here Come The Habibs.

The show was produced by Crawford Productions and ran for 63 episodes from 1989 to 1992, airing on the Seven Network. It was created by Nick Giannopoulos, George Kapiniaris and Simon Palomares, who also starred in the series. They were already quite well known for their comedy stage show, Wogs out of Work.  Each episode was 20 minutes in length and was filmed in front of a live audience. Although the Acropolis cafè/hotel was filmed at HSV-7 Studios the exterior is still standing and looks almost identical to the show, being located at 251 Brunswick Street, and corner of Greeves St, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria Australia.

The premise of the show is based around Jim’s father Kostas “Con” Stefanidis (Warren Mitchell) asking Jim to run the family business, the Acropolis café, when he suddenly leaves Australia to return to his homeland of Greece. The series centres on the activities of the cafe staff.  Greek Jim Stefanidis (Giannopoulos), is the immature owner and his best friend, Spaniard Ricky Martinez (Palomares) is the sensible manager (seasons 1-2 only). Memo (Kapiniaris) is the traditional Greek waiter, while Liz is the liberated Australian waitress. Skip is the naïve new cook from the bush and Manolis is the stubborn cook from the old cafe. ‘Hilarity’ prevails from the clash of cultures and beliefs.

Jim’s hairdresser cousin Effie, played by Mary Coustas, became a hugely popular and enduring character during the run of the show. Coustas later reprised the role for several TV specials and series including Effie, Just Quietly, an SBS comedy/interview show, and Greeks on the Roof, a short-lived Greek Australian version of the British talk Show The Kumars at No. 42.  Although the show itself did not win any awards, Mary Coustas won the 1993 Logie for Most Popular Comedy Performer for her role as Effie.

With the ethnic popularity of the show, Acropolis Now helped popularise the term “skippy” or “skip” to refer to Anglo Celtic Australians and others of European but non-Mediterranean descent. This term (inspired by the iconic 60’s TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo) became popular with Mediterranean-Australians, and to a lesser extent non-Mediterranean people, especially in Melbourne.

ABBA: The Movie is a documentary cult film about the Swedish pop group ABBA’s Australian tour in 1977. Directed by Lasse Hallström, who directed most of the group’s videos.  Its release coincided with the release of ABBA: The Album, the group’s fifth studio album, and features many songs from that album as well as many of their earlier hits, and one, “Get on the Carousel”, unavailable anywhere else.

The film has a very thin plot which is no more than a vehicle to link together the concert footage. Hallström indicated that the film’s script and plot concept was conceived on the plane on the way to Australia.

The plot centres around the adventures of Ashley Wallace (Robert Hughes), a DJ on a Sydney Radio station. Ashley normally presents a through-the-night country and western-themed show. In spite of this, he is sent by his boss (Bruce Barry) to get an interview with the ABBA.  Ashley, who has never done an interview before, singularly fails, mainly because he has forgotten to pack his press card, and is also unable to buy a concert tickets. Armed with his trusty reel to reel tape recorder, Ashley is forced to follow the group all over Australia.  From Sydney to Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, Ashley experiencing repeated run-ins with the group’s bodyguard (Tom Oliver).

During filming, the members of ABBA were not told of the storyline involving a journalist Ashley (Robert Hughes) seeking an interview. ABBA believed that the reporter was a real newsman trying to get a scoop.

Eventually, Ashley has a lucky chance encounter with the group’s manager, in the foyer of The Old Melbourne Motor Inn, 17 Flemington Rd, North Melbourne, where ABBA was staying.

The manager agrees to arrange an interview. But Ashley sleeps in and misses the appointed interview time. Just as Ashley has given up, a miracle occurs: he steps into an elevator and finds himself face-to-face with ABBA. They agree to give him an interview there and then in room 604, and he leaves Melbourne just in time to meet the deadline for the radio show to go out on-air.

He puts together the final edit in the back of a taxi on the way back from the airport, as ABBA depart Australia for Europe. With only minutes to go, Ashley makes it back to the radio station where, having set the tape up on the studio’s playback machine, he relaxes at his control desk to listen as the interview is broadcast.

The production shoot went for six weeks and encompassed ABBA’s 1977 Australian tour and included their live concerts, press conferences, private downtime, public receptions, meeting fans and traveling time. Mostly filmed in Australia, however additional filming was done during the of Summer 1977 in ABBA’s home country of Sweden after their concert tour of Australia had been completed. This filming included “The Name Of The Game” dream sequence and filming on streets in Sweden, doubling, ironically, for the streets of Melbourne and Sydney. Actors Tom Oliver and Robert Hughes had to fly to Sweden for these shoot. Noticeably different from Australia are the street signs and the traffic flowing on the right hand side.

Most of the concert footage used for this film came from their five Perth concerts in Western Australia. This was because the concert venue there, the Perth Entertainment Centre, was the only indoors stadium on the tour, and the conditions there were best suited for acoustic recording and would not be affected by any bad weather elements.  In these screens Agnatha Fältskog was frequently filmed above the neck in close-ups due to disguise the fact that she was pregnant at the time.  There is a brief scene shot at the Parmelia Hotel in Perth where a photographer asks for a smile, ABBA at the time was surrounded by various International stars that happened to be in Perth at that time of filming. They include Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, The Dubliners, Alice Cooper, Stephane Grappelli and British actor Robin Nedwell.  

The film had three simultaneous World Premieres all held in Australia on 14 December 1977, in Paramatta and Sydney New South Wales and Melbourne, Victoria.  At the time of this film’s theatrical release, Stig Anderson said ABBA’s enormous popularity in Australia, where this concert movie was filmed: “Australia is still the biggest market in the world for ABBA. People in the music industry all over the world have been stunned with what has happened here.”  The film was also released Scandinavia and several Eastern Blotic Nations, including the Soviet Union where it was screened at two movie houses in Moscow.

In 2003, The Swedish Film Institute restored the film to its original soundtrack after the original stereo sound had been lost for years. The film was premiered in its new version on the 2nd of December 2003, at Stockholm’s Film House with Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson attending. Bjorn said of this film: “They wanted us to make a film in Australia, but quite honestly I don’t think that films with pop stars work very well. Of course The Beatles are an exception and Tommy (1975) was a big hit but there have been lots of other pop films that have sunk without trace. Seeing the film came as a bit of a shock. It’s hard to recognize yourself up there on a giant screen in Panavision. But then we’ve had many moments when it has been hard to accept the things that have been happening to us.”

A theatrical re-release of the film occurred across Europe during July and August 2008 in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and Austria.

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!

On Saturday morning an accident happened, at the North Old Chum Company’s claim, on the Ironbark line of reef, resulting in the instantaneeus death of one man and the injury of another. The two men, named respectively Thomas Pearce and Steadman, were engaged working in the 250ft. level of the above company’s shaft, when a quantity of mulloch from a slippery place in the shaft fell and almost buried them in the debris. Both, on assistance arriving, were immediately conveyed to the surface, when it was found that the unfortunate man Pearce was quite dead, but Steadman was only slightly injured, and was able to walk to his home. The corpse was conveyed to Sterry’s Goldmines hotel, where an inquest will be held. Both men were experienced miners, and had been for a considerable time working together as mates. Pearce was about thirty years of age and was unmarried. — Bendigo Evening News.