‘I’ll rip yer bloody arms off’: Grahame Bond, Garry McDonald, Rory O’Donoghue and Sandy MacGregor in The Aunty Jack Show. Photograph: LanternIn
In 1965, American primetime TV went all colour; the UK did the same in 1969.
But Australia couldn’t afford a war in Vietnam and new technology at the same time – so despite leading the world in TV firsts like nudity and sexual taboos, none of it happened in colour until the mid-1970s.
When colour came to Australian TVs, it came in a uniquely Australian way: ushered in by an outrageous comedy legend named Aunty Jack, whose catchphrase to “little kiddies” everywhere was: “If you don’t behave, I’ll jump through your set and rip yer bloody arms off!”
It’s no surprise that the show – one of Australia’s first and most surreal sketch comedies – caused howls of protest when it first hit the airwaves in 1972.
Aunty Jack (Grahame Bond) looked like a cuddly pantomime dame – until you noticed her moustache, boxing glove and baritone. Older viewers were horrified, but their kids loved her from night one.
It was their enthusiasm that kept the show on air, when many executives would have loved to have yanked it off as soon as possible. But The Aunty Jack Show became a phenomenon; a spin-off single, a re-record of its closing theme
Farewell Aunty Jack, stayed on top of the Australian music charts for 10 straight weeks.“Back then, we had to be wildly innovative to have a point of difference to British and American shows,” the producer Maurice Murphy says.