GTK (television series)

GTK was a long-running ABC television programme with a focus on the Australian youth audience. The ten-minute weekday magazine-style series debuted on 4 August 1969 and broadcast until 11 December 1975, and featured ground-breaking music clips, popular culture stories, and interviews.

History

GTK is an abbreviation of the phrase Get To Know. The concept of the series originated from ABC's Director of Television, Ken Watts, who commissioned producer Bernie Cannon and producer-director Ric Birch to develop a product which could capture the growing youth market after public criticisms that the ABC catered only for mature audiences, and did not represent all Australians. At the age of 22, Birch was the youngest director appointed in the history of the ABC, and had just completed a series with their flagship current affairs programme This Day Tonight. The ABC described GTK as being for 'new teens and twenties… to the world of trendsetting fashions, records, movies and events.' GTK was initially planned to run as thirty minute episodes, however a decision was made to shorten it to ten minutes before it debuted. The name GTK came about after the producers could not agree on a suitable title, and used the tag 'Get The Know' which appeared on the first can of completed film. The ABC commissioned a trial run of 10 weeks, but with encouraging viewer ratings and more filmed stories they could use, this was extended to 19 weeks and 76 episodes in its first season. The four 10 minute episodes were shown nationally Monday to Thursday at 6.30 p.m., usually before country drama Bellbird and for most of its run, after the American comedy series F Troop.

The theme song was composed by singer-songwriter Hans Poulsen. Each episode would feature interviews with either musicians, artists, actors, photographers, authors, poets, dancers, or designers, a story on a popular culture topic, a clip from an up-coming motion picture, present an in-house performance by an Australian musical artist, and film footage of an overseas musical act. During its six year life, GTK covered the Ourimbah Pop Festival, the Aquarius Festival in Nimbin, Tiny Tim's first press conference in Sydney, the Easybeats arrival in Australia after their success in the United Kingdom, interviewed Mick Jagger during the filming of Ned Kelly, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Pete Townshend, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, and Jim Morrison amongst many. The first Australian rock group profiled were Sydney band the Cleves. GTK broadcast an experimental colourized version of Daddy Cool's 'Eagle Rock', directed by Chris Löfvén, on 3 August 1971. Another groundbreaking episode was on 3 October 1972 with the broadcast of the experimental video Teleologic Telecast from Spaceship Earth: On Board with Buckminster Fuller by Australian film-maker Mick Glasheen. GTK also broadcast the first Pro-Am Coca Cola Skateboard contest at Aquatic Drive, Frenchs Forest, New South Wales, in 1975.

GTK's final year attracted controversy with complaints from concerned viewers about stories featuring two addicts advocating drug use while mocking the police, the easy availability of contraception being shown, and an episode which aired on 3 November 1975 which featured graphic imagery - a man bleeding over flowers on a grave interspersed with stock footage of death scenes from the Vietnam War. In February 1976, it was announced that a new series would replace GTK and that it would move to a late night timeslot under the name Funky Road, using the same GTK production team. With the youth audience already targeted with Countdown and Flashez, the 10.30 p.m. 30-minute per episode broadcast allowed for more adult content to be included.

Since 2001, select episodes of GTK have featured on Rage summer specials on ABC TV. Some of the controversial stories were highlighted on the ABC series Shock, Horror, Aunty!, in January 2013.

Production

An average of twelve items per week were filmed on location and in the studio. Local artists that performed for the series were filmed live on the drama stages at Studio 21, within ABC's Gore Hill broadcasting complex on Monday mornings starting at 8.00 a.m.. Four artists were recorded on the day for each of the episodes during the week - this included cover versions of the Hans Poulsen theme song. Up until December 1974 all episodes were filmed in monochrome, with the final remaining series filmed in PAL colour, with the anticipated introduction of colour television in Australia on 1 March 1975. It is estimated around 90% of the series survives, with the 1969 episodes wiped due to the ABC policy of reusing video tapes at that time.

Birch produced GTK from August 1969 to December 1970, with assistance from producer Mike Carson. Cannon produced the programme from January 1971 to December 1975. Stand-in producers included Albie Thoms, Bruce Wilson, and Bernard Eddy. Interviewers for the programme included David Elfick, Barry Sloane, Judith Rich, Graeme Blundell, Jeune Pritchard, Adam Bowen, Julie Clarke, Stephen MacLean, Marilyn McIntyre, and Garry Hyde.

Soundtracks

ABC in conjunction with EMI Records released the two CD set, The GTK Tapes Vol 1 & 2 in 1994, which included a selection of Australian artists who had appeared on GTK.

Bibliography

  • Birch, Ric (2004) Master of the Ceremonies: An Eventful Life. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781741144178 (OCLC 62549250).
  • Bowden, Tim and Borchers, Wendy (2006) 50 Years Aunty's Jubilee!: Celebrating 50 Years of ABC TV. Sydney: ABC Books. ISBN 9780733318405 (OCLC 77549053).
  • Cooper, Raymond (2005) Time Well Spent. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford. ISBN 9781412039574 (OCLC 60601264).
  • McIntyre, Iain (2006) Tomorrow Is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966-1970. Kent Town, S.A.: Wakefield Press. ISBN 9781862546974 (OCLC 83612241).
  • Mudie, Peter (1997) Ubu Films: Sydney Underground Movies, 1965-1970. Sydney: UNSW Press. ISBN 9780868405124 (OCLC 38224718).

External links

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