Wonderworld was a magazine-style half-hour show created and hosted by Simon Townsend. It was the first Australian TV program to receive a “C” classification by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (now the Australian Broadcasting Authority). The coveted “C” allows programs to be broadcast in a children’s timeslot (nominally 4pm to 5pm weekdays), and such broadcasts count towards the children’s TV quota which all Australian commercial stations must fill.
Network TEN immediately bought Townsend’s show, and stripped it Monday to Friday at 4pm, thinking at first it would merely fill their quota. But it soon achieved much more for the network, eventually becoming one of the most popular children’s shows in Australian TV history and attracting a huge adult audience.
The first episode went to air in Sydney on 3 Sept 1979. As ratings soared, other network stations and affiliates added it to their schedule until it was airing every weekday afternoon throughout Australia. In addition to Simon Townsend, many famous media faces got their first break on this show – including Jonathan Coleman, Angela Catterns, Phillip Tanner, Maurice Parker, Wednesday Kennedy. Under producer Harvey Shore, the show won five Logie Awards as the most popular “C”-rated show in Australia. At one stage it was out-rating TEN’s evening news. Finally, after 2,000 episodes over eight years of top ratings, the last show went to air on 3 Sept 1987.
In 1990, the Nine Network licensed the series and launched it under the title Wonder World! Harvey Shore was again executive producer, and again the show rated well and launched the careers of its star reporters, including Pascall Fox, Tony Johnston, Jodie Young and Catriona Rowntree. Nine’s version finished its three-series run in 1992, although episodes were still being repeated in New Guinea and Fiji in 2003.
Australia / 10 Network / x30m-e / 3 September 1979 – 1988
Producer: Harvey Shore
Memorable TV would like to thank Harvey Shore for his contribution to this entry.