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June 2004
Busy Times
May 1st, Jamal and I headed off on our long planned 2 week trip to Thailand. Royal Brunei Airlines were fine, the aircraft were all new and very clean, however the seat spacing was a bit cramped. 
The train trip to Kanchanaberi over the river Kwai bridge and on to Nam Tok was most interesting, but so sad to think of how many perished there. The bus trip to Sukhothai via Nakon Sawan and on to Chaing Mai was a chance to meet the locals and see the counrtyside. Thailand has an excellent modern free-way system.
We totally enjoyed the trip and hope next year to do southern Thailand.
Now I'm off to Australia for 3 weeks (May 21-Jun 09) and will return here with my mother Nancy, who will stay with us for 3 weeks and celebrate her 85th birthday in Bali.
We flew Royal Brunei Airlines via the Brunei capital , then on to Bangkok, where we were met by friend Geof, who accommodated us in his magnificent teak house.
Welcome drinks with Geof
Bangkok is easy to navigate around, public boats ply the river 
with all stops clearly marked at each pier, fares around A$0.70 per ride. Then there is the Skytrain
Geof's maid briefs us on getting around Bangkok city.
which meets the boats at  Station Pier and carries you inland. There is also an extensive bus service throughout the city. We spent the first 2 days in Bangkok visiting the sights as well as spending an evening in Patpong, Bangkok's famous night life area.
On-board a river boat
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We exhausted out selves in the 38 deg. heat visiting the Royal Palace and the reclining Buddha.
Jamal checks out the Sky-train
Skytrain flyovers
The Royal Palace - Bangkok
The reclining Buddha
Nakon Pathom
Next it was off on our train excursion, to ride the Burma railway where over 2500 Australians and 150,000 Asians died during it's construction. The line starts just before Nakon Pathom, where it connects to the Bangkok to Singapore line. Originally it went to Moulmein, Burma, now days it only goes as far as Nam Tok.
First stop, overnight at Nakon Pathom to see the world's largest Pagoda.
Tour Map
Then onto Kanchanaberi where the famed "Bridge over the river Kwai" crosses the Kwai river.
3rd class to Kanchanaberi
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The River Kwai bridge from the restaurant where we lunched
After bombing during WWII
After the Battle of Midway, the Japanese could no longer get supplies to their armies in Burma and India. The British had surveyed a rail line to Burma from Thailand in 1910 and decided it 
Route Map
was totally impractical due too the mountainous terrain and pestilence ridden jungle.
However to the desperate Japanese cabinet, sitting in Tokyo it looked, on the map, to be feasible, so they ordered it's construction at all costs.
Wooden Viaduct - WWII
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John relaxes on the Burma train
In Kanchanaberi we stayed at the Sugar Cane Guest House, nice rooms with a fan and inside bathroom for A$14 p.n..
(Right) The Houseboat. (Below) View from our houseboat room on Kwai river, Kanchanaberi 
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The River?
There is a small technical problem with the Bridge over the River Kwai:  It doesn't actually cross the River Kwai..! Pierre Boulle, who wrote the original book, had never been there.  He knew that the 'death railway' ran parallel to the River Kwae for many miles, and assumed that it was the Kwae which it crossed just North of Kanchanaburi.  He was wrong It actually crosses the Mae Khlung.  When David Lean's blockbuster came out, the Thais faced something of a problem.  Thousands of tourists came flocking to see the bridge over the River Kwae, and they hadn't got one..!  All they had was a bridge over the Mae Khlung...  So, with admirable lateral thinking, they renamed the river.
Nakom Sawan
Next on to Nakom Sawan, just an overnight bus stop on our way to Sukhothai. Stayed in a very reasonable 4 star hotel for A$26 including a buffet breakfast. The hotel room not only had a Gideons Bible,  tucked away in a drawer, it also had "The Buddhist Way" - Buddhism explained
John gets enlightened
Jamal steps off the bus
John and the bus crew
The air-conditioned bus from Nakon Sawan to Sukhothai took 5 hours and cost A$6.50. The country side is very flat and a 
rich agricultural area. Thailand's biggest export earner is rice and farm products, manufactured goods, followed by tourism.
Sukhothai consists of 2 towns, the new and the old historical city, now a World Heritage Site. The old city was Thailand's first capital, founded in 1257. It remained the capital for a hundred years, until the court moved to Ayutthia near Bangkok.
One of the 700 year old Wat's
The old city is 12 km from new Sukhothai and easily accessible by local transport.
Local Transport
Jamal at the old city
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Last dinner in Sukothai
Chaing Mai
I could not believe how modern Chaing Mai has become since I was last there 30 years ago. There are huge modern shopping centres and the famed night market where Jamal bought more than 30 T-shirts for family and friends.
Most shopping centres have food courts with excellent original 
Thai food - quite different from the Thai food offered in tourist restaurants and in my opinion far nicer and of course cheaper.
On entering a food court you buy a cash card, 100 bart (A$3.50) more than enough for a meal for 2 including drinks. At each food outlet your card is debited and you receive a receipt showing the transaction and how much remains in the card.
The card can be topped up and when you are finished you receive 
a refund for the amount remaining on the card.
We stayed in the very nice Roong Ruang Hotel in the city centre. The hotel offers air-conditioned room with fan, fridge, Tv and bathroom for A$20 per night.
Outside our room at our poor-man's Raffles hotel in Chaing Mai
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Homeward Bound
From Chaing Mai we took the overnight sleeper train to Ayutthia 80 km north of Bangkok. The cost was A$15.71 for a lower berth and A$15 for the upper berth.
Farewell drink before the train
Sleeper train interior
Ayutthia was the Thai capital from 1350 until it was demolished by the Burmese in 1767. Much has remained and has been restored.
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If you missed last month
Episode 3
Friday was a big day. The band came in early in the morning to audio record the production numbers for the Sunny Side Up  show. The even smaller studio 2 next door was hell, not only presenting live commercials, but recording on the stations 1 video-tape machine commercials for re-play over the week-end. 
We also recorded Sunday Magazine a Catholic program for Sunday morning replay, featuring the one and only Bob Santamaria.
After we recorded a religious program for the Church of England who were given equal time. The program was hosted by a young Peter Hollingworth
In Studio 1 frantically camera rehearsals for Sunny Side Up, which went to air at 7.30 friday nights and ran for many years. (more in later episodes)
Next live, was the midday news and it was time for lunch. After lunch it was time to set up the Happy Show in Studio 2, what a squeeze Pianist Shirly Radford and the drummer hid under the stairs. The show starred Happy Hammond Along with Panda, who had become a household name appearing with Graham Kennedy on Channel 9 on "In Melbourne Tonight." (IMT)
GK, Panda and the wheel on 9
Panda had also moved from channel 9 to 7 and a regular on The Happy Show, became known as Princess Panda.
Happy Hammond
Happy, real name Harold. During W.W.II worked in a troop entertainment group with old friend Keith Glover. Later he worked in radio at 3GL Geelong 
Happy Hammond
before moving to Melbourne's top rating radio station 3UZ in the 50's. He moved to GTV9, when Tv began and appeared in the very successful kids show The Happy Show. When Frank Packer bought GTV9 many stars and production personnel defected to HSV. Happy Hammond and the The Happy Show amongst them.
Also appearing in the show were, Vic  "Funny Face" Gordon, "Lovely" Anne and "Uncle" Roy Lyons. 
The show was at the height of it's popularity when "Lovely" Anne married cameraman Brendon McKenner.
Myself and John Gilby, who went on to run the television centre at Monash University. Photo taken by Princess Panda. c1961
At the 2003 reunion
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Saturday was a big day at the station, not only was there the football broadcast, the studio's were hard at work.
At around 11 am a whole gang of talented kids would arrive for the "Brian and the Juniors" show hosted by a young Brian Naylor, who was actually on 3DB radio station staff and had not yet moved to channel 7. The show was the forerunner to Johnny Young's "Young Talent Time" and ran for many years. When I first started the show went to air live, later it was taped and became national. Many stars owe their start to the show. people like:- Jamie Redfern, Anne Watt, Peter Doyle, Rod Kirkham, Phillip Gould, Debra Byrne , Jan Scali, Debra Byrne & Vikki Broughton. The show was produced by Mac Irvine who owned an Advertising agency who had the Swallow & Aerial Biscuit company account, who naturally sponsored the show. The earlier live shows were done in Studio 2 at Dorcas street, with the 2 remaining camera from the 3 that had gone to the football. I was audio engineer on the show for a number of years.
Brian Naylor
Peter Doyle
Rod Kirkham
Jamie Redfern
Debra Byrne
Zig & Zag
Meanwhile in camera less Studio 1 the sets were being set and rehearsals attempted for Peters Fun Fair featuring Zig (Jack Perry) and Zag (Doug Makenzie)
The show went to air straight after Brian and the Juniors at 5.30 pm. That gave them 2 minutes of commercials to drag the camera's through to Studio 1. The Zig and Zag show was pure slapstick, they made the story us as they went along, only stopping at regular intervals to do their own commercials for Peters Ice cream. Then straight back into the story, if there was one, no problem, just throw some cream 
pies at each other  and at the ever suffering Uncle Roy and no body could remember if there was a story anyway.
Jack Perry played Zig
Straight after Zig & Zag, it was time for the news, back in the now reset studio 2, As before the 2 camera's were dragged back from Studio 1 to Studio 2 during the station break. News in those days relied heavily on film footage, either shot by seven's cameramen, or syndicated film rushed from the airport. Most interstate stories were a day or so late as the cable had not yet been put through to Sydney. 
International stories could be up to a week old. Stories were often just illustrated by photos send down from the stations owners, The Herald and Weekly Times. These were mounted on a Flip-stand and the camera pointed at it. A good flipper could flip the card forward so fast that you would believe you were seeing a cut to another camera.
Flip card operator Ken Fitzgerald
We couldn't even put reporters phone calls on air. These were the days before Talkback Radio and the Postmaster generals department (PMG) strictly forbad the broadcasting or recording of phone calls. Sometime we did voice interviews on location with a spring wound, battery valve tape recorder, then play overlay film shots showing the interviewee in wide shot only.
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Station Anatomy C1963
Ground floor Dorcas St Studios
 1 Main Entrance, reception
 2 Switchboard / PABX
 3 Make up & Dressing room
 4 Stairs to "The Dungeon"
 5 Talent entrance to Studio 1
 6 Public entrance to Studio 1
 7 Studio 1 loading door to lane
 8 Office, originally managers office
 9 Camera Control Unit (CCU)
10 Electronic Maintenance
11 Video Tape 
12 OB Microwave links
13 Stairs from studio to control
14 Master Control
15 Throughway for cameras
16 The Equipment Rack Room
17 Studio 1 scenery door
18 Studio 2 scenery door
19 OB van garage
20 Stairs and notice board
21 Scenery Bay
22 Technical workshop
23 Canteen
24 Props office
25 Goods entrance
26 Props cage
The Second floor 
27 News Room
28 Film camera equipment
29 Still Photography Department
30 Sound dubbing room
31 Theatrette
32 16 mm projector booth
33 Film Department
34 Telecine
35 Studio 2 audio control
36 Studio 2 video control
37 Voice over booth
38 Microphone storage
39 Studio 1 video control
40 Studio 1 audio control
41 Client viewing room 
42 Record library
43 Production conference room
44 Chief engineers office
45 Engineering & roster office
46 Commercial traffic department
47 Sales office
48 Managers office
49 Mail room
50 Production office
51 Film librarian
52 Production offices
The lower ground floor  referred to as the Dungeon
The third  floor
53 Man hole and Microwave links
54 Dark room and Kine machine
55 Air-conditioning Plant
 4 "The Dungeon" was aptly named, it was a dingy basement below the dressing room. This area was out of bounds for management and a relaxation area for the staff. It was complete with a fridge to keep beer cold. 
14 Master control co-ordinated all the program sources and sent them to the transmitter.
15 If there was an outside broadcast the number of cameras were reduced to 2, so it was essential that the cameras could be dragged from one studio to another quickly.
30 The sound dubbing room had 3 turntables and was used to add sound effects and music to the news stories. 
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Eric Pearce reading the news
The dubbing room was very important for the news as we could play live from disk, sound effects and atmospheric music. I often did this. It involved coming in an hour before the news, getting a copy of the news rundown, then going to the record library and picking out suitable tracks for the stories. We were suppose to preview the film footage first to get a feel for the story. But this never happened as often they were still splicing the film seconds before the news went to air. I always loved working on the news, a better adrenaline rush I have yet to find.
Many pranks were played on news readers. There was no way they could laugh or smile, immediate demotion would result. Especially if the Chairman of the Herald Sir John Williams or station manager Keith Cairns were watching. I remember one time Geoff Raymond was reading the evening  news. It was a Melbourne summer heatwave. The heat of the studio lights unbearable.  On this occasion Geoff read the news only wearing shorts and thongs below the desk out of the cameras view. Naturally he had a jacket, shirt and tie above. One of the floor boys crawled under the news desk and proceeded to squirt Geoff's bare legs with a water pistol whilst Geoff read a serious story. Geoff being the professional he was showed now emotion and kept reading. However the expletives that emanated from the studio once we 
went to a commercial break had to be heard to be believed. A memorable prank was played on the public by the  Dan Webb. Dan and a cameraman were in Mildura shooting a news story on a vineyard. Dan decided to do another story, he draped the vines with cooked spaghetti, then standing in front, Dan told us of the plight of the Mildura spaghetti growers and how their crop had failed. It included an interview with an Italian mumma, emotionally explaining they would be ruined. On April 1 the story was put to air, on the news, with no explanation or back announcement as to it being a joke. The whole studio was in fits of laughter as no one had been pre-warned. Then the joke backfired. The switchboard lit up like never before. Hundreds of viewers wanted to donate money to the stricken families. An official apology had to be given to the 
public and Mr Web was severely reprimanded. 
I think the moral is never underestimate the kindness or the intelligence of the public.
Dan Webb at the 2003 reunion - still laughing
Next Month
The grand opening of the Fitzroy Theletheatre and much more......
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