Magazine article Metro Magazine

Television and Celebrity

Magazine article Metro Magazine

Television and Celebrity

Article excerpt

WHEN actor, writer, and raconteur Graeme Blundell delivered the Keynote Speech on the second day, he talked about another Australian who towered over the industry, the King, Graham Kennedy. Kennedy, he said, had a way with women: 'he spoke to women as friends, providing them with the easy banter of a meeting on the nature strip'. His humour was a raucous blend of vaudeville and current affairs, Blundell said, but he spent his life hiding, never really had any friends, only an audience. His pride and joy were his two Clydesdale horses, Sara and Dave. '"Sixty is not old," he once snapped at Ray Martin, "not if you're a tree."' Blundell's address, peppered with Kennedy gems delivered with Kennedy's timing and delivery, ended with a film clip of his funeral which finished up with its own film clip of Kennedy singing 'Being a Chum is Fun', and the funeral attendees encouraged to sing along. The conference audience laughed, even cried, and some joined in.

The place of the presenter in the history of television has not been much documented, but Frances Bonner from the University of Queensland is working on a study that is being pursued despite a background of inadequate archival records and very limited critical studies of the area. She decided to use Maggie Tabberer to explore three aspects of the study: the place of the presenter in the historical study of television, changes in the deployment of celebrity over the last forty years, and the role of memory in the study of television and its audiences. Maggie Tabberer has been a celebrity for forty years--as a well-known model she was invited to take part in Beauty and the Beast in 1964, and stayed until 1969, when she commenced Maggie, a midday chat show broadcast five times a week. Although generally light-hearted it could deal with serious issues. Maggie shared the Gold Logie with Barry Crocker in 1970, and though Maggie was cancelled halfway through 1970, she again won the Gold Logie in 1971. Although her next regular television appearance was between 1990 and 1993 on The Home Show, she had appeared very frequently on television in the intervening years. Unusually, she has twice featured on This is Your Life, in 1976 and 1997. 'Sociability is at the heart of the relationship between the presenter and the viewer--it's a long-range friendship, with the viewer believing that the presenter is talking just to them,' Frances Bonner believes. She says that Maggie has always appeared completely at ease before the camera, and the sociability of her presence has been modulated over time:

When I talked to my colleagues about her, their feelings were warm, but interestingly, the strongest memories were of Beauty and the Beast, watching with Mum during the holidays. …

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