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HOMICIDE

Part 3

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Copyright © 2013 Don Storey.  All rights reserved.


HOMICIDE
FEATURE ARTICLE

Part 1
Part 2

 

HOMICIDE
EPISODE DETAILS
Part 1: Eps 1 - 50
Part 2: Eps 51 - 100
Part 3: Eps 101 - 150

Part 4: Eps 151 - 200
Part 5: Eps 201 - 250
Part 6: Eps 251 - 300

Part 7: Eps 301 - 350
Part 8: Eps 351 - 400
Part 9: Eps 401 - 450
Part 10: Eps 451 - 509

 

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CHRONOLOGICAL
OVERVIEW

 

F.A.Q.

 

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Speculation that Nick Tate would take Preston's place proved inaccurate, and Gary Day joined the cast as Sen. Det. Phil Redford in the next episode, 'Initiation'. Redford served in Vietnam and has strong ideas against violence, and is studying law part-time at university. Gary Day spoke of the role in a TV Eye interview: "I’ve jumped over every back fence in Richmond in my time. I think I took more sandshoes to Forensic than anyone in police history - that was my job, I was always fourth cop in the rank".
82

At this point, from episode 376, 'Initiation', the series shifted into colour, all-film production following signing of a million-dollar contract with the Seven Network. Hector Crawford said colour Homicide episodes would cost "about double".83 Colour episodes meant the opening title action scenes had to be dropped, as there was no available colour footage from past episodes to draw from. And as contracts for three of the cast were due for renewal, it was decided as an interim measure to revert back to the well-known ‘u-turn and detectives climbing out of the car’ opening sequence.

13-year-old Sigrid Thornton had her first television role in episode 382, 'The Other Man'. "Homicide was my first ever professional job," said Sigrid. "I was living in Brisbane, and it was a big event to get this role at such a young age. It was a bit intimidating, but I remember one funny aspect was that I learned the whole script cover to cover literally, unlike later acting roles of course, and even corrected some of the others with their lines! It was a great experience, and I feel that Crawfords was in fact my professional training ground. I did the rounds of the cop shows at Crawfords as did many other actors, directors and technicians who, due to that training, make up the mainstream of the Australian film industry today."84

Agreement on contract renewals, due in December, was proving difficult with Alwyn Kurts, Leonard Teale and George Mallaby. The point of contention was the salaries and conditions for the extra overtime that would have to be worked in all-film production. Hector Crawford expressed regret, saying his company could not meet the actors demands: "Homicide has its budget and although I don't blame the trio for wanting more money there has to be a limit. I am hopeful we can retain their services because they are fine artists. They are good fellows and often have done more than they have been asked."85

Leonard Teale was the first to make a decision and chose to leave the series. He said the reason was not money: "There has never been a dispute over basic pay rates; the dispute has always involved the massive overtime that Crawfords want me to work in the new year. In the end it became a simple choice between my marriage and Homicide. I chose my marriage."86

The following day Alwyn Kurts opted to leave the series after failing to negotiate satisfactory overtime conditions. "After Mr. Teale quit we reached agreement with Mr. Kurts and Mr. Mallaby in front of witnesses," said Hector Crawford. "Now Mr. Kurts' plans have come unstuck over conditions he has imposed which are unacceptable to us."87 George Mallaby signed a new contract with a 13 week ‘escape’ clause.

There was concern that Homicide might not survive the cast changes, but Hector Crawford said the show would go on: "We've had changes in the past and each time we've had hundreds of letters from people saying they will never watch the show again. But the ratings have always gone up. The plain fact is that the play is the thing. It will go on."88

Leonard Teale and Alwyn Kurts both made only eight colour episodes, their final appearance being in No. 383, 'Assassin'. Speculation was rife on how they would be written out, and to help preserve the secrecy two versions of the script were published. TV Times ran a competition inviting readers to suggest a suitable exit for the two detectives - responses ranged from having them win the lottery, being lost at sea or tumbling over a cliff after a fight!89 ‘Assassin’ did not go to air until July 1973 - Fox was shot dead by a sniper, and Mackay was promoted to Inspector and transferred to Ballarat. The exit of the detectives was such a well-kept secret that guest actor Paul Karo, who played the assassin, was up on a rooftop with his rifle ready to film the scene still not knowing who he was supposed to shoot!

In a significant casting coup, the new leader of the Homicide squad was played by Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, an expatriate Australian actor with an international reputation. Bud played Inspector Reg Lawson, who had been serving with the United Nations peace-keeping forces in Cyprus and was at Scotland Yard when recalled to Melbourne. "Viewers won't be seeing just another dehumanised cop," said Bud. "Like many real-life cops, this fictional one will be a husband and father faced with domestic problems which may have nothing to do with his being a policeman."90

Bud worked in quite a few Australian post-war films, and had the lead role in the 1952 pilot for a proposed television series, Al Munch, which was to be filmed in Australia for overseas release.91 Later Bud left for London, where he worked in many British productions, including a long stint in Emergency Ward Ten and voice-over work on several Anderson puppet series. When Tingwell was on holiday in Australia he was asked to appear in a Division 4 episode. "While I was filming the episode, Alwyn Kurts resigned from Homicide, and Hector asked if I'd be interested in staying for a year and replacing Alwyn," said Bud. "It came out of the blue. We were only here for a few weeks. So we held a family conference, decided to give it a go, and I never went back."92 As Bud had to return to England to put his affairs in order before taking up the Homicide role, the opportunity was taken to film some scenes for his first episode in London.

Sgt. Mackay was replaced by promoting Sen. Det. Barnes to Detective Sergeant. This created a detective vacancy which was filled by Sen. Det. Pat Kelly, a tough no-nonsense cop played by John Stanton, who had just completed a run as Leo Hill in the ABC soapie Bellbird. Executive Producer Henry Crawford later said, "Stanton probably looked more like a cop than anyone we'd had before and we set him up as a rough, tough anti-hero. However, because of public attitudes we couldn't take him as far as we would have liked. From letters we received we think the public didn't feel very comfortable with Stanton's character because they like to see the police shown in a reasonably good light."93

These changes all took place in the one episode, No. 384 'The Kooranda Killing', and new opening titles were introduced showing the cast members involved in different aspects of police work. In addition to the London sequences, there was extensive filming on location in the Victorian country town of Kyneton.

"The thing that impressed me most about Homicide in 1973," said Bud Tingwell, "was that it proved that we could make a film - very quickly and very efficiently."94 After experiencing the lack of development in the Australian film industry in the 1950's, Bud believed Homicide had demonstrated that film production was viable, and that Australia could now become a very exciting film making country. "When I returned to Australia for Homicide, I must admit that I was very keen to teach everyone a thing or two about film-making, having worked in quite a few in England. But I found out they knew it all. The Crawford crew's use of film as a production medium is first class, so I was able just to relax and enjoy working with them as an actor. Quite seriously, Crawfords have got as experienced and talented film-makers as you would find anywhere."95

Fred 'Cul' Cullen won two Logie awards for episode 385, ‘The Friendly Fellow’: Best Script and Best Single Acting Performance. Cullen wrote the lead guest role of Buddy Rand specifically for John Meillon, but Meillon had appeared in the previous Homicide episode and could not be used again, so Cullen played the part himself. "I was determined to write a Homicide without a car chase," explained Cullen, "and one that went into the characters of the criminals."96 Bud Tingwell considered this his favourite episode: "We saw it about a week or so after we finished and I was staggered - it really was very, very classy."97

George Mallaby opted to use the ‘escape clause’ in his contract and left the series after a 13 week period because of excessive overtime. "It has just got to be too much," said Mallaby. "I did sign again with the full intention of staying the whole year but it is impossible. It's just taking up too much of my life."98 Det. Sgt. Barnes had a nervous collapse due to the strain of investigating endless murder cases, and left the Force in episode 395, 'One Too Many'. Mallaby later said his final episode was his best performance in Homicide: "By the end of the six-day shoot I felt as though I really had gone through a nervous breakdown. That episode placed demands on me that had never been placed on me before and I was rather pleased with the result."99

Mallaby expressed regrets about leaving Homicide, but he felt an "odd man out" because of the other three cast members leaving. "No reflection on the new members of the cast," said George, "they're good to work with and thorough professionals. I think I may have been working even better with them. But something has gone out of the show for me that nobody, however professional, can replace. In the past, when a cast member left, the replacement joined our team. This year, three new members have created a team of their own, and it made me feel a little ill at ease. When Don Barker takes over from me, they will have a completely new team. And I think the series will benefit."100

It was reported that Norman Yemm was asked to return to the series, but he had to reluctantly turn the offer down due to already accepting other commitments.101 Maurie Fields was also under consideration, reprising the role of Det. Sgt. Arthur White that he played in ep. 385 'The Friendly Fellow', but he was unavailable due to his on-going role in Bellbird.

Mallaby was replaced by Don Barker as Det. Sgt. Harry White, a family man, good-natured joker and incessant talker, but with a tough edge which came to the fore more often as the series progressed. Bud Tingwell spoke of the character when the series finished: "White has become a stronger character as he has developed, and to me is a very rounded and realistic person. Don has never tried to flog Harry White as a nice guy. He has never compromised or cropped the character of its edge."102

The future of Homicide could have been in jeopardy if it were not for Mike Preston wanting to leave early, or for George Mallaby staying for another 13 weeks. Otherwise, Crawfords could have been faced with three or possibly all four cast members wanting to leave the show at the same time. As it happened the total cast change over a relatively short period of time (20 episodes) was accepted by the public, and the ratings continued at their high level.

John Waters had a guest role in ep. 398, 'Mad Dog Kelly', and it was his performance in this episode which led to him being cast as the brooding Sgt. McKellar in the critically-acclaimed ABC series Rush. Waters, who had made several guest appearances in the Crawford police dramas, thought 'Mad Dog Kelly' was the best: "It was a brilliant script on the theme of police brutality and was tremendously satisfying to act because much of the story involved face to face confrontations between myself and John Stanton."103

For episode 401, 'Jingles', Art Director Les Binns was asked to find a circus to be used for location shots in this episode. Discovering that all local circuses were on tour in other parts of the country, Binns set about building a carnival. In three days Homicide had its own custom-built Big Top, complete with animals, merry-go-round, ferris wheel and side-show alley.

Episode 405, ‘Time And Tide’, featured extensive location filming in Sydney. With Jack Thompson in the lead guest role as a New South Wales detective, the episode had a strong message about the use of fire arms in crime prevention.

Episode 406, 'Jill The Ripper', featured a marathon performance from guest actor John Krummel, who portrayed seven different roles, all as a retired actor in various disguises. "I found the script the most challenging I’ve ever encountered," said Krummel, "I would have liked to have got my teeth into it more but there wasn’t time. I’d be whipped into the make-up room at 6:30 AM and transformed into one of the characters - do a scene - then I’d have to go back and be re-done as another person."104 Crawfords sought advice from an American make-up expert who read the script and told them no way - it could not be done. Undaunted, Crawfords own make-up lady Jan Gash performed the task herself, and did an excellent job.

Episode 407, ‘Otto’, was filmed on location at the Mt. Buller snowfields. Gary Day related a story in a TV Eye interview: "They wanted someone who could ski for this episode. Of course, everyone lies to get a job, and this guy said he could ski. So they’re going to film a sequence with this actor on skis with a little slope about 20 foot long in front of him. The director says ‘action’, and he goes about two yards and ‘flop’, he falls down on his side. I could only see the back of the director’s head and I said, ‘I thought this guy could ski’. The director spun around, and of course he’d been getting this all day, it was snowing, he had a white parka on with a white hood, everything was white except for these two blazing red eyes, and he exploded with, ‘If another person says that to me, I’ll vomit!’"105

Episode 408, 'As Simple As A.B.Z.', featured a rare 'crossover' in Australian television. The Ryan cast, Rod Mullinar, Luigi Villani and Colin McEwan, appear in this episode when private eye Michael Ryan clashes with the Homicide squad while investigating blackmail connected with a massage parlour. At the time 39 episodes of Ryan had been completed, and no decision had as yet been made about a second series, so to bridge the gap Ryan made a guest appearance in Homicide. (Pamela Stephenson did not appear in the episode, presumably because she had already resigned from Ryan and would not have appeared in a second series if production had continued).

To avoid retrenchments and make use of both film crews, production of Homicide was doubled up, using the normal Homicide crew and the Ryan crew, with two directors and two sets of guest actors. "For a while we were doing two episodes a week," said Gary Day, "we had a green script and a yellow script, and the organisation to do that with two crews working was a nightmare. There would be a driver waiting for you here, to rush you to location there, but then you’ve forgotten your gun - they never had enough guns - and the gun would have to be at the Matlock set by 3:30 in the afternoon!"106

Bud Tingwell thought they were probably guilty of setting the precedent for the later 'soap opera' practice of shooting two hours per week, although they didn't know it at the time. "Sometimes we actually ran from set to set to do it," said Bud. "We did some of the best episodes we ever did in that time, but it was a blur, because we were doing a six day shoot. But it did prove that you could do two 48 minute episodes in six days."107 (Later soaps, such as Cop Shop and Skyways, had a much larger cast to share the load of two episodes per week). Homicide production reverted to normal when the decision was made not to proceed with another series of Ryan.

The subject of episode 411, ‘A Crime Against Nature’, was ‘poofter bashing’, and HSV-7 screened it at the later time of 9:00 PM. Programme Manager Gordon French said, "We believe it is an episode of great social significance. It delves so deeply into the attitudes of all ages towards homosexuality that we’ve chosen a much later showing time for it."108

Episode 414, ‘Twelve Bar Blues’, won a Logie award for Best Script for writer Fred ‘Cul’ Cullen. He wrote the episode for his brother Max Cullen, who played a broken-down jazz trumpeter. Max, also a horn player, said, "I had to play the trumpet and sing - it had to be for real." Sydney jazz singer and recording artist Jean Lewis also had a role, and an actual concert was staged for the final sequence in which Jean was backed by a jazz group. "The story said a lot of things about derelicts, drunks and why society allows these things to happen," explained Fred ‘Cul’ Cullen. "Jean Lewis was worried about saying her lines. I told her they were not lines; every word she had to say was the title of songs written between 1927 and 1942. The whole thing came up pretty well."109

Two episodes at this time had segments filmed interstate: No. 427, ‘Tom Mitchell’s Money Box’, had some scenes filmed in Tasmania, and No. 429, ‘The Transhipment’, featured extensive filming in Canberra.

The final cast change occurred when John Stanton left the series - for personal reasons he wished to return to Sydney, and did not renew his contract when it expired at the end of 1973. His final appearance was in episode 432, 'The Fellas Send Their Regards', in which Det. Kelly became crippled after an accident during a car chase. For the scene they hauled an 'old bomb' car out of a wreckers yard and leaned it up against a pole, but one of the takes had to be filmed again when a bird flew out of the boot!

Discussions were again held with Norman Yemm about a possible return to the series, but nothing came of it. Dennis Grosvenor joined the team from the next episode as the motorcycle riding, martial arts practicing Sen. Det. Michael Deegan, who was transferred to the Homicide squad from Ballarat, where he had worked under Inspector Mackay. Dennis commented on the filming of the opening titles sequence, where he kicks a punching bag, which resulted in his breaking a toe: "Here I am about to do an opening sequence to be shown every week, so what do I do? Bright boy goes out the night before and has a curry with friends and too much wine to drink, and gets into bed at 3 o’clock in the morning. Then I had to be on set at 7:00 AM and consequently I broke my toe - it served me right!"110

Grosvenor’s first episode, No. 433 ‘The Fireworks Man’, won Igor Auzins a Logie award for direction, and Crawfords entered it in the television section of the Cannes Film Festival. Segments were filmed during the Moomba procession, and one scene featured a shot of the Class Of 74 float with Leonard Teale and Carla Hoogeveen.

Grosvenor was a bit concerned that his character did not have enough to do. "I would like to be involved in a bit more physical action," he said, "and I'd also like to see the character of Deegan developed a bit more. I wouldn't mind playing only minimal parts in several episodes if it meant the writers could make an episode which delves a bit deeper into the character." Dennis was willing to try any changes if it would project the character better: "Often when reading the script I see things that need changing. Sometimes, if it is only a minor change, I do it without consulting anyone. No-one notices and it makes me feel better. But if it is a major change I'll suggest it to the Producer and he'll usually say, 'OK, we'll try it that way'."111

Episode 434, ‘The Graduation Of Tony Walker’, examined the factors that contribute to unmotivated bashings, and won an Awgie award for Scriptwriter Peter Schreck. Episode 436, ‘Coup De Grace’, was based on an unsolved murder case in England that was used as an investigatory exercise by the British Metropolitan Police.

Scriptwriter Jim Simmonds, who holds a black belt in Taekwondo, had been wanting to write a Homicide episode featuring the martial arts for three years. His opportunity came when Dennis Grosvenor, a brown belt in karate, joined the cast. The result was ep. 455, 'Pointing To The Moon', in which a brutal killer - Tate, a martial arts expert - is on the loose and must be stopped by the Homicide squad. In addition to writing the script, Simmonds choreographed all the fight scenes, and was eventually cast in the role of Tate.

Initial discussions took place between Crawfords and Seven in November 1974 for a two-part Homicide episode. The plan was for the second part to be able to stand alone if a viewer missed the first part. The second part would concern a series of murders which take place over a period of 4-5 days, and the first part would concern crimes committed some four years prior, the link being that both series of crimes are carried out by the same criminals. Nothing came of the proposal.

Quite separate to the 1972 film project, a Homicide movie finally came to fruition with episode 504, 'Stopover'. Originally titled 'Paying My Dues To The Blues', it dealt with the death, by drug overdose, of a rock musician at Tullamarine airport after a long overseas flight. Subsequent investigations take Inspector Lawson to England, where there is a related death. The episode is a good ‘whodunit’, with twists and turns right to the end, and takes a probing look into the world of drugs, musicians and groupies.

There was some indecision on what form the final product would take. It was originally conceived as a standard one-hour Homicide episode, which was later expanded to 90 minutes. Concerns arose that it may be too long, and it was proposed to cut it back to standard length, but instead it expanded even further, ending up as a two hour movie (2˝ hours with commercials).

As Bud Tingwell was holidaying in England at the end of 1974, Crawfords took the opportunity to film some scenes in London. Actor/writer John Drew was also going to London for holidays, and suggested that he could do scenes there as an extra if required. Instead a major role as an English police Inspector, who would liaise with Lawson, was written for him. Gary Conway also happened to be in London at the time, and he directed the scenes.

Igor Auzins was both the Producer and Director of the movie - hardly surprising considering it has a completely different look and feel to a regular episode. (Unusual Homicide episodes were usually the province of either Luis Bayonas or Igor Auzins). It does not feature the standard opening titles, and in fact the title 'Homicide' does not appear at all. The familiar detective’s office is seen in only a few brief scenes, and the interior airport scenes were filmed on the set which was used for The Box movie, suitably redressed. The camera work and editing is quite imaginative; one reviewer described it as "Igor using a camera to weave photographic images into musical patterns."112

The soundtrack music came from the album 'It's All A Game' by Jon English,113 who also had his first television acting role with the lead guest part of musician Gordon Haynes. The movie’s theme tune 'Turn The Page' became a top 40 hit for English.

Guest actor Carla Hoogeveen described 'Stopover' as exciting. "I really enjoyed doing that," she said. "Danny Burstall did wonderful hand held camera shots. Jon English was excellent in it. It had those nice scenes with Bud in London - it actually felt quite different, it had a different rhythm. What was going to be initially a normal Homicide episode suddenly became this two and a half hour telemovie almost under their very noses, and at first they didn't know how to deal with it because it was about drugs and all of that stuff. You don't see many 'tripping' scenes in films, so it was quite bizarre for the time. I think Hector was actually quite embarrassed about the whole thing, but in the end he had to collect some awards for it."114

‘Stopover’ was screened by HSV-7 Melbourne on June 7, 1976, as an ‘Australian Movie Special’, in the regular Monday night movie timeslot. (The usual Tuesday night Homicide was in recess at the time). ATN-7 in Sydney screened it as part of the normal Friday night Homicide run. Although numbered 504, ‘Stopover’ was actually filmed between episodes 470 and 480 in early 1975.

‘Stopover’ won three Sammy awards in 1976: Best TV Play; Keith Thompson, Best Writer Of A TV Play; and Igor Auzins, Best Direction For TV. Opinions of the episode differ - some say it was a brilliant film, innovative and advanced; others regard it as a failed experiment.

The Broadcasting Control Board deemed four episodes as unsuitable for screening before 8:30 PM due to revised regulations about violence in peak-time programmes. They were No. 440, ‘The Animal That Has To be Fed’; No. 451, ‘The Last Bastion’; No. 459, ‘Starring Joan Kendall’; and No. 461, ‘Long Weekend’. The latter was taken off the schedule for Melbourne, and was eventually shown in June 1977, six months after the final episode had been played.  ‘Starring Joan Kendall’ was screened in Adelaide as part of the original run, but in Melbourne and Sydney it first went to air in subsequent repeat screenings of the series.

Serious fans of Homicide noticed that many of the 'different' or 'out there' episodes usually had significant influence from either Luis Bayonas ('The Superintendent', 'Blue Moo', etc) or Igor Auzins ('Stopover', 'The Sniper', etc). 'Starring Joan Kendall' is considered to be one of the weirdest - hardly surprising, as it was written by Bayonas and directed by Auzins.

Igor Auzins commented on the new angles of some episodes: "One always benefits from a change and I have many new thoughts and ideas about Homicide. Every long-running series has got to present a new aspect of itself from time to time. It has to be fresh for viewers."115 Dennis Grosvenor praised Igor’s work: "Igor used to do the weird ones. If they weren’t weird Igor would make them that way!"116

The problem of baby bashing was tackled in episode 463, ‘The Life And Times Of Tina Kennedy’. After the programme, HSV-7 screened a message referring anyone with a potential problem to Parents Anonymous, a counselling group, which received over a dozen calls. A spokesperson for the organisation said the episode put them in touch with a wider group of people than they could have envisaged through advertising. Maggie Millar had the lead guest role of Betty Kennedy, a pregnant, harassed, aggressive and downtrodden mother, and said she approached the part from Betty's point of view: "I tried to work it out. She had a reason for what she did. She might not be aware of it but I felt I needed to be. She had obviously had a rotten life herself, which was a cause. Strangely, it wasn't until I viewed the episode a second time a year later, less dispassionately, that it had a great impact on me. In fact I was appalled. At the earlier viewing I was still involved with her character."117 Millar won a Logie Award for Best Individual Acting Performance (1975) and a Sammy Award for Best Actress In A Single TV Performance (1975) for this episode.

Set against a backdrop of ruthless inner suburban development, episode 474, 'Free Enterprise', was written by George Miller to capture the spirit of the many resident action groups that had sprung up in Australian cities. "I had been in Sydney at the height of the the so-called 'green ban' controversy," said Miller, "and thought at the time that such an emotionally charged atmosphere would be a good setting in which to pitch a Homicide episode."118 Miller was also keen to have Kevin Dobson direct the episode, and Dobson accurately captured the feel of the situation, even to the point of using actual residents for some of the demonstration scenes.

‘Poofter bashing’ was treated again in episode 475, "Why All The Fuss". It screened at 7:30 PM in Sydney, but in Adelaide it was considered by Seven’s Programme Manager to be "too hot" for the early evening timeslot.119 It was re-scheduled a couple of weeks later in a 9:00 PM timeslot. It was not shown at all in Melbourne, and has only appeared in late night or daytime repeat screenings. The title is taken from a statement of a youth actually charged with a crime of this type.

Episode 482, 'I Had A Dream', featured extensive filming on location overseas in Fiji. "Here we were in a place where nobody knew you," recalled Gary Day, "because they didn’t get Homicide. We were filming in a Fijian village, and that’s when it really came home to me what a silly way to make a living this is, because you’re standing there behind a tree with a gun going ‘bang, bang’, and all the villagers are falling over themselves laughing!"120

During 1975 Seven was losing interest in Homicide; in fact, all three commercial networks were becoming hostile towards Crawford Productions. With repeats being slipped in with increasing regularity, new episodes were stockpiling and the time lapse before airing was growing to almost a year; in addition episodes were being shown wildly out of sequence. The other networks were also screening Division 4 and Matlock Police two or three times a week, so inevitably the Crawford cop shows ended up competing against each other. Division 4 ceased production in May 1975; Matlock Police was to cease production in June, but won a reprieve until September 1975, and there were numerous rumours that Homicide would shortly follow them into oblivion.

In June 1975 an episode titled 'Covet Thy Neighbour' was scrapped before completion at the request of HSV-7, who, under their contract with Crawfords, had the right to 'peruse and reject'. Some sources suggest the reason was because the episode, which concerned a 14-year-old girl who had seduced a number of men and blackmailed them, was considered unsuitable for a 7:30 PM timeslot. A Crawford executive estimated that about $4,000 worth of filming had already been done, and in addition actors contracts would have to be paid off. Guest cast for the episode included Judy Morris, Briony Behets, John Waters, Tony Bonner and Tristan Rogers. Scriptwriter Peter Schreck said he was bound by contract not to make any public comment about the controversy.121

In July two further scripts were rejected by Seven before filming commenced, which cost Crawfords at least $4,000, plus a lot of time and effort. There was also a report that Seven had ordered Homicide to be 'spiced up' by weaving love interests into the lives of the detectives. This caused some strong objections from Crawfords, who were concerned that publicity-grabbing plots would cheapen the series.122

Episodes 502 & 503, 'Third Generation' and 'Leader Of The Pack', were both 90 minutes in length. Plans to produce further 90 minute episodes were formulated and then dropped; in fact work advanced on episode 497, ‘On The Run’, to the extent that the script was completed as a feature length episode before the decision was made to produce it at standard length.

There were plans to film an episode in New Zealand in October 1975. The script required Det. Redford and Det. Deegan to interview suspects in New Zealand concerning a murder in a Victorian country town. The series was axed before this episode could proceed.

In August 1975 Seven announced that it was cancelling Homicide, and production ceased in December. New episodes were ‘thrown away’ for screening in the 1975-76 summer non-rating period, and in Melbourne the series had a long recess after April 1976, during which only the feature length episodes were screened as ‘specials’.

Homicide returned for the 1976-77 non-ratings ‘silly season’, and the final episode, No. 509 'The Last Task', was shown on Tuesday, January 25, 1977. In Sydney, and in many country towns, the last episode was screened in mid-1976. The occasion was marked by Leonard Teale returning to his former role as David Mackay to assist the Homicide team with a case. The final scene had the cast looking through a doorway into the lens of the camera, ostensibly farewelling Mac, but actually saying goodbye to the viewer.

Don Barker reprised his role of Sgt. Harry White in the final episode of Bluey a year later. The episode, 'Son Of Bluey', concerned the attempted murder of Det. Sgt. Bluey Hills, and the Homicide squad is called in to investigate.

The reasons for the cancellation of Homicide vary according to whom you ask. Some claim it was falling ratings, yet the show was still very popular. Some say it was the proliferation of repeats - in later days there were first run episodes in prime time, repeat episodes also in prime time as The Best Of Homicide, plus the early episodes on 5 days a week at midday. The Nine and Ten networks were also playing first run and repeat episodes of Division 4 and Matlock Police in prime time, causing a saturation of Crawford cop shows.

Some say it was because the public didn't take to the smooth, sophisticated social comment episodes of the colour era. The Seven Network even cited the success of the period adventure Cash & Company as a factor, claiming they could not afford to keep both shows.

However, the fact is inescapable that the cancellation of Homicide came virtually at the same time as the cancellation of Division 4 and Matlock Police. The most widely held theory - and the most probable - is that it was a deliberate attempt by the three commercial networks, acting in collusion, to wipe out Crawford Productions and consequently cripple Australian drama production.

The basis of this theory is that Crawfords were at that stage by far the most important packager of drama, and the company had always been vocal about Australian content (in fact, Crawfords were unsuccessful tenders for the licence for Melbourne's third commercial television station in 1964). At this time also, the 'TV: Make It Australian' campaign was in full swing and Crawfords became a centre of political intrigue - the company allowed, even encouraged its facilities to be used to further the aims of the campaign.

The networks fought back, though - with their preference for bringing in cheap American imports they did not want Australian content forced upon them by government regulation. They spent a lot of money on threatening newspaper advertisements listing all the overseas programmes that could be lost if they had to provide more Australian content.

Bud Tingwell did a lot of research for the 'TV: Make It Australian' campaign to counteract the FACTS (Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations) arguments. Of the FACTS strategy to sabotage Australian production, Bud said: "They did it very successfully. They did it the simplest way possible - they put us all on in competition with each other, so you divide the ratings by three. One week you are all rating 30 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; the next week you are all on Monday each rating 10."123

"The three cop shows all fell in a heap pretty quickly," said Gary Day. "People were being laid off. The channels saw it as a chance to wipe out Australian production and bring in the cheap imports. Things never got better in terms of the quality of film - and it was all on film. We went from that to Cop Shop, which is all video. One would have thought there would be a progression, but things got worse."124

In TV Eye interviews, David Lee and Ian Jones were asked if they subscribed to the theory that the cancellations were an attempt to put Crawfords out of business. David put it succinctly: "I was there. I must. I do." Ian was adamant: "A thousand percent - it was a gang-up. It was a very dark day for Australian television - not just because of what it did to Crawfords, but because of what it meant."125 David said there was no way the cancellations were just coincidence, or just falling ratings: "I believe it is probably the only time, and probably will be the only time ever in the history of Australian television, where there was more than a hint of collusion."126

Crawfords only just managed to survive the onslaught, mainly because their soapie The Box wasn't axed. Australian content regulations remained in force, but the Networks were successful in achieving a 'dumbing-down' of local drama. Production shifted from high quality, one-hour a week series to lower cost and lower quality soap operas, churning out two or more hours per week and all shot on video. Although a number of excellent mini-series were produced, the vast majority of dramas through the 1980's and into the 1990's were 'cheap and nasty' soap operas. (The tide turned again from the mid-1990's, and series rather than serials once more became the mainstay of Aussie drama, although with much more 'soap' content).

And so, after eleven years Homicide ceased production, although the backlog of episodes kept it on air for a further year. Homicide won many, many awards (see the episodes section for details), and today is still well remembered and held in high regard.

The comedy team 'D-Generation' used their skills to good effect by dubbing new voices over Homicide video clips in their satire Degenocide, with Inspector Fox continually telling Det. Barnes to "get rid of that brown suit!" (They would later extend their voice-over talents to Rush as 'The Olden Days' and Bluey as 'Bargearse').

Leonard Teale, Alwyn Kurts and George Mallaby received a rousing ovation at the 1992 Logie Awards, indicative of the affection and esteem still felt for Homicide. A 30th anniversary special was produced in 1994 which rated extremely well, and was subsequently released on video.

The impact of Homicide is still evident in today's productions. Gary Day: "Homicide was the building block for the whole industry and Crawford Productions was the closest we'll ever get to having had an 'MGM' in this country. When things aren't going smoothly on a shoot, there's an unspoken code among crew who worked on Homicide. You see them catch each other's eye and you know they're thinking of how they would have solved the problems and got the job done in the old days."127

The success of Homicide led Crawfords into the production of many other series, and paved the way for latter day television successes such as Blue Heelers. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we would not have films such as Gallipolli or Muriel’s Wedding if we did not have Homicide. "The importance of Homicide can never be understated," said Ian Crawford. "It was the first successful Australian television drama series. People said it would not work because it was Australian, but ultimately it was because it was very Australian that it did succeed."128

Homicide enjoyed repeat runs until the early 1980s and then all but vanished from our screens. Five episodes were shown to commemorate the series 30th anniversary in 1994, one episode was screened in 2005 after the HSV-7 'Made In Melbourne' retrospective, and two episodes were released on video. The series returned to our screens briefly in 2010 when WIN-TV replayed the first 33 Homicide episodes. In November 2012 the first 26 episodes of Homicide was released on DVD, with other volumes following. They are only available for direct sale from the Crawfords website. Check here for further details: http://www.crawfordsdvd.com.au/

 

HOMICIDE EPISODE DETAILS

 

82. TV Eye No. 1, Sept 1993.
83. TV Times, Aug 5, 1972.
84. TV Eye No.5, June 1995.
85. Melbourne Truth, Oct 7, 1972.
86. TV Week, Oct 21, 1972.
87. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Oct 14, 1972.
88. TV Times, Oct 21, 1972.
89. TV Times, Dec 16, 1972.
90. TV Times, Nov 4, 1972.
91. This was a pilot for what would have been the first television drama series made in Australia, albeit for overseas audiences as Australia did not yet have television. When the series did not go ahead, it was released as a cinema short titled 'I Found Joe Barton'.
92. Melbourne Herald-Sun, Oct 12, 1994.
93. TV Times, Oct 26, 1974.
94. Interview: 'Homicide ...30 Years On' TV special, 1994.
95. South Australia TV Guide, Sep 28, 1974.
96. TV Week, March 16, 1974.
97. TV Eye No. 4, Feb 1995.
98. TV Times, Dec 30, 1972.
99. TV Week, Sept 4, 1976.
100. Melbourne Listener In-TV, May 19, 1973.
101. TV Week, Jan 20, 1973.
102. TV Times, Dec 6, 1975.
103. TV Times, Oct 26, 1974.
104. TV Week, March 30, 1974.
105. TV Eye No. 1, Sept 1993.
106. Ibid.
107. TV Eye No. 4, Feb 1995.
108. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Feb 2, 1974; Melbourne Age, Feb 1, 1974.
109. TV Times, 1973.
110. TV Eye No. 6, Sept 1995.
111. Melbourne Sunday Observer, Oct 6, 1974.
112. Ralph Broom, Melbourne Sun, June 7, 1976.
113. Jon English It's All A Game, Warm & Genuine Records 2907 902
114. TV Eye No. 8, May 1996.
115. TV Week, Aug 2, 1975.
116. TV Eye No. 6, Sept 1995.
117. TV Times, Dec 25, 1976.
118. South Australia TV Guide, Aug 30, 1975.
119. Adelaide News, Sept 4, 1975.
120. TV Eye No. 1, Sept 1993.
121. TV Times, June 14, 1975.
122. Sydney Daily Mirror, June 23, 1975.
123. TV Eye No. 4, Feb 1995.
124. TV Eye No. 1, Sept 1993.
125. TV Eye No. 5, June 1995.
126. TV Eye No. 8, May 1996.
127. Melbourne Age, Oct 13, 1994.
128. Ibid.


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Gary Day as Sen. Det. Phil Redford.

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The opening titles reverted back to the 'u-turn and climbing out of the car' sequence for the first eight colour episodes.

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George Mallaby and Gary Day.

HomInitiation.jpg (16126 bytes)
Filming a fight scene for the first colour episode, 376 'Initiation', with Terry McDermott and Gary Day.

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George Mallaby as Sen. Det. Barnes receives his valour medal - complete with his brown suit and hat.

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Investigating another murder - a scene from episode 381, 'A Mothers Love'.

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The new head of the Homicide squad was Insp. Reg Lawson, played by Bud Tingwell. Segments for his first episode were filmed on location in London.

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The Homicide cast at the beginning of 1973: George Mallaby, Bud Tingwell, John Stanton and Gary Day.

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New opening titles introduced with Bud Tingwell's first episode.

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Commercial integration used on all colour episodes.


Rowena Wallace, John Stanton and Charles Tingwell in a scene from ep. 393, 'Follow The Leader'.

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Don Barker as Det. Sgt. Harry White.

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John Krummel in some of the seven different roles he played - actually the one character in various disguises - for episode 406, 'Jill The Ripper'. Top from left: with make-up lady Jan Gash; as a German chauffeur; and in drag as 'Gloria Monday'. Bottom from left: as an old pensioner talking with Det. Redford; and as Phelby-Thomas with Insp. Lawson.

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Episode 408 featured a rare crossover in Australian television when Ryan met Homicide. Rod Mullinar as Michael Ryan enters a high-class club, with Belinda Giblin as the dancer.

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The opening titles were changed only slightly when Don Barker joined the cast.

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John Stanton as Sen. Det. Pat Kelly.

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Filming on location at the Newport Railway Museum for episode 420, 'The Artful Dodger'.
Hom0420c.jpg (31447 bytes)

 

HomFinalCastColour.jpg (29195 bytes)
Dennis Grosvenor as Sen. Det. Michael Deegan with Don Barker, Gary Day and Bud Tingwell.

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A scene from episode 433, 'The Fireworks Man'.

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Jon English and Carla Hoogeveen in the Homicide movie 'Stopover'.

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Don Barker and Gary Day.

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The final cast line-up: Bud Tingwell, Don Barker, Gary Day and Dennis Grosvenor.

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Bud Tingwell and Don Barker during a break in filming.

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The final opening titles, with Dennis Grosvenor breaking his toe and a new shot of Don Barker.

HomWipeoutDBDG.jpg (25462 bytes)
Don Barker as Sgt. White and Dennis Grosvenor as Det. Deegan.

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Dennis Grosvenor and Gary Day in a scene from episode 449, 'Thou Shalt Not Want'.

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Natalie Bate and Craig Ashley in a scene from episode 478, 'Wipe-Out'.

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Bud Tingwell and Don Barker in a scene from episode 485, 'The Sniper'.

HomBDB.jpg (7812 bytes)
Don Barker as Sgt. Harry White and Charles Tingwell as Insp. Reg Lawson.

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A scene from the last episode with Bud Tingwell, Gary Day, Leonard Teale and Dennis Grosvenor. Leonard Teale returned for the last episode reprising his role of Detective Mackay, now an Inspector.

Hom509LenJill.jpg (28432 bytes)
Jill Perryman and Leonard Teale in a scene from the final episode, 'The Last Task'.

HomCartoon.jpg (44134 bytes)
A newspaper cartoon that appeared after the cancellation of Homicide was announced.