This week sees the conclusion of my interview with the legendary Pete Smith, and I should point out that this week’s post carries a language warning (of sorts). So if you’re offended by the transcription of a crow call that sounds a little bit like a certain rude word, I’d recommend only reading the first half of the post.
And now that that’s out of the way… Enjoy!
SH: One final question, if I may…
PS: I think you’ve short changed me a bit, Stephen.
SH: What do you mean?
PS: Well, I’ve been 54 years on Channel Nine and you’ve only devoted this much time…
SH: No, no please – I could talk to you all day!
PS: Maybe we can come back again.
SH: I would love to. Can we do another session? That would be fantastic.
PS: Here I am begging for more interview. I’m really jesting with you but thank you.
SH: I could listen to you for hours, but…
PS: I think what you’re doing is terrific, because in this business we love, this terrible business called television, history can get lost so easily. I admire what you’re doing, because it means that it’s going to be somewhere, someone’s going to pick it up.
SH: Oh, good. Thank you very much, Pete.
PS: So the more of that, the merrier. And to be able to pass on to young people like you, some of the things about the way it was – it’s a joy, it really is. Because you can’t be expected to know. You can’t be expected to know that it was 24 ½ minutes for a ‘Pal’ dog food commercial (on In Melbourne Tonight). I mean it’s trivial, but you can’t be expected to know that was the environment.
SH: But if you’re interested in all this stuff – as I am – then it’s wonderful to be able to go to the source; you were there!
PS: Well it is. Take Graham Kennedy’s infamous ‘crow call – that didn’t just happen in a minute, Kennedy had a death wish ; he wanted to get out. I don’t know why he didn’t go to management and say “look I want to finish up”. So he’d become very difficult, but the ‘crow call’ didn’t happen overnight. For over two years – maybe three, maybe more – Kennedy used to delight in sending us up to the audience while we were doing our commercials, which we had to memorise. One of my main ones was for Colvan Chips. The advertiser paid good money for the thing and one night you can see him out of the corner of your eye other side of the studio right in front of the audience, monkeying around. The bird calls, the crow calls started with Rosemary Margan, while she was doing live reads for Cedel baby powder or whatever, and he used to delight in doing it to her. He’d be going “Tweet, tweet, tweet….” Well, the audience of course are laughing and he’s