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
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: "Ive
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
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!
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.
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
"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
"The thing that impressed me most about Homicide
in 1973," said Bud Tingwell, "was that it proved that we could make a
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
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
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
Ive ever encountered," said Krummel, "I would have liked to have got my
teeth into it more but there wasnt time. Id be whipped into the make-up room
at 6:30 AM and transformed into one of the characters - do a scene - then Id 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 theyre 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 directors head and I said, I thought
this guy could ski. The director spun around, and of course hed 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, Ill 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 youve 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 weve 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 Mitchells 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 oclock 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
Grosvenors 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
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 detectives 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
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.
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 Igors work: "Igor used to do the weird ones. If they
werent 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
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
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 Sevens 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 didnt get Homicide. We were filming in
a Fijian village, and thats when it really came home to me what a silly way to make
a living this is, because youre 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Muriels 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. The entire series of Homicide has since been released on DVD. It is only available
for direct sale from the Crawfords website. Check here for further details:
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
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.
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.
Gary Day as Sen. Det. Phil
The opening titles reverted back
to the 'u-turn and climbing out of the car' sequence for the first eight colour
George Mallaby and Gary
Filming a fight scene for
the first colour episode, 376 'Initiation', with Terry McDermott and Gary
George Mallaby as Sen. Det.
Barnes receives his valour medal - complete with his brown suit and hat.
Investigating another murder - a
scene from episode 381, 'A Mothers Love'.
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.
The Homicide cast
at the beginning of 1973: George Mallaby, Bud Tingwell, John Stanton and
New opening titles introduced with
Bud Tingwell's first episode.
Commercial integration used on all
Rowena Wallace, John
Stanton and Charles Tingwell in a scene from ep. 393, 'Follow The Leader'.
Don Barker as Det. Sgt. Harry
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.
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.
The opening titles were changed only slightly when Don Barker joined the
John Stanton as Sen. Det. Pat
Filming on location at the Newport
Railway Museum for episode 420, 'The Artful Dodger'.
Dennis Grosvenor as Sen. Det.
Michael Deegan with Don Barker, Gary Day and Bud Tingwell.
A scene from episode 433, 'The
Jon English and Carla Hoogeveen in
the Homicide movie 'Stopover'.
Don Barker and Gary Day.
The final cast line-up: Bud
Tingwell, Don Barker, Gary Day and Dennis Grosvenor.
Bud Tingwell and Don Barker during
a break in filming.
The final opening titles, with
Dennis Grosvenor breaking his toe and a new shot of Don Barker.
Don Barker as Sgt. White and
Dennis Grosvenor as Det. Deegan.
Dennis Grosvenor and Gary Day in a
scene from episode 449, 'Thou Shalt Not Want'.
Natalie Bate and Craig Ashley in a
scene from episode 478, 'Wipe-Out'.
Bud Tingwell and Don Barker in a
scene from episode 485, 'The Sniper'.
Don Barker as Sgt. Harry White and
Charles Tingwell as Insp. Reg Lawson.
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
Jill Perryman and Leonard Teale in
a scene from the final episode, 'The Last Task'.
A newspaper cartoon by WEG (William Ellis Green) that appeared
after the cancellation of Homicide was announced.