The National Library in Canberra has a very good collection of editions from different States, but they don't lend periodicals and Canberra itself is a three hour drive from where I live. I had good intentions, about which I did nothing for months, then I found out that jaycat would be in Canberra in the week after Easter! Oh, happy coincidence - I had planned to attend a reenactment event near Braidwood over the break, so I wouldn't have as far to travel. I had other excuses - the Ballets Russe costume exhibition at the National Gallery which I thought I'd missed, then found out it had been extended until the end of the month, but that was really just the icing... Pros meetage and research! Whee!
We began on the Tuesday after Easter, which was a Public Holiday in place of Easter Monday, which had been shunted aside to make room for ANZAC Day *g*. I'd already obtained a Reader's Card and booked some items on line, so while Jaycat collected her card I started in on the missing issues from my last hunt - but not the NSW ones this time. I’d decided to try another state in case the airdates were different, and so went with the Tasmanian edition (purely because they had a good run of issues from the early 80's). We found traces of Pros, but little that pointed to a definitive start date, until Jaycat came across a two page spread in the edition for February 7th 1979 advertising a number of programmes that Channel Seven had been holding back with a view to broadcasting in coming months - including The Professionals.
Aha, we thought. That's as good an indication as any - and we split our forces somewhat. Jaycat took another look at Sydney before going on to the Perth editions, chasing her early memories of seeing the show. Meanwhile I worked through the Tasmanian ones. I found what I think was the start date for that state:- 28 July, 1981 on Channel HSV 7. The episode was 'Old Dog, New Tricks' and the slot was marked 'Debut'. That was pretty much in line with Sydney, where we eventually tracked the screening of 'Private Madness Public Danger' back to Tuesday, 25 August 1981. However we'd already found other indications of an earlier transmission somewhere, articles and comments in the magazine that suggested audience familiarity with the actors and the show.
Along the way I discovered that a regional station in NSW (Newcastle) had shown Pros episodes in March 1980, significantly earlier than Sydney.
Jaycat found the next piece of the puzzle too. Now I can't quite remember if this was on the Tuesday, or after we'd regrouped for a second session on Wednesday morning... anyway, the clue was buried deep in the Perth collection, which for some reason contained a lot of Brisbane articles. This one, from TV Week, Feb 7 1981 was headed, "The Year of Cops and Comedy":
"Brisbane Television will be dominated by comedy and cops in 1981…Capitalising on the 1980 success of The Professionals, Seven has bought a new series of the English police program The Sweeney, starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman."
There was more aha-ing and a feeling of mounting excitement as we began to sense that we were on the right track. Jaycat continued with the WA issues while I ordered up all the 1979 and 1980 Brisbane ones. I opened the first volume for 1980 and there it was - 'Longshot', on the 2nd of January, with fairly continuous runs following, through 1980 and 1981. Surely this had to be it? Except... there was no 'debut', and Longshot had not been shown first anywhere else that we knew about. Back I went, to 1979. There was nothing at the end of December, but going back a month or two more I came across another run, one that finished with 'Longshot', and this time that episode and those aired in the weeks beforehand were labelled (R) for repeat. What was going on? Further and further back I went, until I got to February. On March 1, 'Heroes' had aired, and there was no (R) mark - but the issues for the 15th and 22nd of February were missing, and before that 'Streets of San Francisco' had the timeslot.
Was our quest doomed? Would we ever find an answer? At this point Jaycat unfortunately had to leave to attend to family matters, but I promised myself one more session, this time on the 1978 series, and it was when I came back to the library the next day that I found it. *cue drumroll*
'The Professionals' first aired in Australia on BTQ 7 (Brisbane) on Tuesday 27 June, 1978, almost six months to the day after its UK debut.
So here's the first run list:
Private Madness - Public Danger (27 June 1978)
Female Factor (4 July 1978)
Old Dog with New Tricks (11 July 1978)
Killer with a Long Arm (18 July 1978)
Where the Jungle Ends (1 August 1978)
Close Quarters (8 August 1978)
Everest was also Conquered (15 August 1978)
When the Heat Cools Off (22 August 1978)
Stake Out (29 August 1978)
Long Shot (5 September 1978)
Look after Annie (12 September 1978)
Klansmen (19 September 1978)
This series at least was shown in production order, although with one episode missing. The 5th episode, 'Heroes', was presumably originally scheduled to be shown on July 25, but an episode of the miniseries 'Holocaust' was broadcast instead. 'Heroes' was not seen until 1 March the following year.
The NLA is missing the issues for the weeks of the 15th and 22nd of February 1979. However it is likely that 'Hunter, Hunted' (for some reason this episode is often listed in program guides as 'The Hunter and the Hunted') was shown on one of these weeks. The first episode of Series 2 that I have a confirmed date for is 'Man Without a Past' (8 March 1979). This was followed by:
In the Public Interest (15 March 1979)
The Rack (22 March)
First Night (29 March)
Rogue Thurs (5 April)
There was no episode shown on 12 April, instead Channel Seven showed the Brisbane Children's Hospital Telethon Appeal
A Stirring of Dust (19 April 1979)
26 April - no episode - showing "The Word" - 4 part Miniseries
3 May - no episode - showing "The Word" - 4 part Miniseries
Not a very Civil, Civil Servant (10 May)
Blind Run (17 May)
Fall Girl Thurs (24 May)
31 May – no episode - showing Monty Python (debut)
Monty Python continued to be shown through June and July. Then came a short run of episodes starting with a repeat of ODNT on 6 August and including:
Servant of Two Masters (13 August 1979)
Stopover (20 August ‘79)
There were repeats of ODNT and Longshot in subsequent weeks.
Longshot was again shown to herald the return of Pros on 2 January '80, followed by WTJE, The Rack and First Night. New episodes started in February:
Backtrack (20 Feb 1980)
Runner (27 Feb)
Dead Reckoning (5 Mar)
The Purging of CI5 (19 Mar)
Mixed Doubles (26 Mar)
Fugitive (2 Apr)
Then TV Week got lazy, because no episode titles were given for the rest of the run, which lasted until the end of May before being replaced by Quincy M.D. Returning on 5 July, the next four and a half months were all repeats, except (possibly) for The Madness of Mickey Hamilton on 19 July.
1981 was a combination of repeats (lots of them), untitled listings and the occasional new episode, including:
Black Out (10 Mar 1981)
It's Only A Beautiful Picture (17 Mar)
Weekend in the Country (26 Sep)
From 1979 to 1981 a number of episodes were broadcast earlier in Brisbane than in the UK (thanks to inamac, I think, for prompting me to check this):
Servant of Two Masters (Brisbane 13 Aug 1979, UK 15 Dec 1979)
Stopover (Brisbane 20 Aug 1979, UK 10 Nov 1979)- less than 4 months after filming!
Mixed Doubles (Brisbane 26 Mar 1980, UK 7 Dec 1980)
Fugitive (Brisbane 2 Apr 1980, UK 21 Sep 1980)
Operation Susie (Brisbane 16 Jun 1981, UK 14 Nov 1982)
The Untouchables (Brisbane 18 Jul 1981, UK 16 Jan 1983)
1. I only had time to search holdings up until December 1981 so I don't have dates for several of the later episodes. Also, National Library holdings of Brisbane TV Weeks are missing for the following dates: 30 January 1980, 12 March 1980, 12 July 1980, 2 August 1980 and 23 June 1981. A research opportunity for someone up in Queensland, perhaps?
2. It seems the local stations (including, in Tasmania, a Channel Seven that wasn’t part of the larger Seven Network) had a lot of control over their programming. It probably says something that the southern metropolitan areas were slow to air it, despite the network owning the rights and the show doing well in Brisbane. How else do you explain it showing in Newcastle before Sydney? I’m afraid it may have been pigeonholed as "just another” cop show in an already saturated market.
3. Missing data – I haven’t checked out Melbourne or Adelaide yet, although I don’t expect that I’ll find any transmission dates that beat Brisbane. Jaycat has W.A under control and I hope she adds her own findings to this once I’ve posted (and corrects any errors due to memory failure on my part).
This entry was originally posted at http://kiwisue.dreamwidth.org/126554.html. Comment there or here, as you will.