Blue Heelers: articles

Night of nights… or not

Gold, gold, gold! It's almost on us. Not the Olympics, a marathon of another sort. The glittering night of a million stars. TV's night of nights! The 45th annual Logie Awards.

Actually, there's really only a couple of stars (one of them is Bert), a few minor celebrities and a whole host of people most of us minor celebrities have never seen before, but suspect of being some sort of executive. Or a sponsor. Perhaps a journo. Who knows?

But there they are, like the rest of us, black-tie-bedecked and fully frocked members of the Australian television community, gathered at a gambling den to make the longest TV show of the year.

I really don't understand what pleasure the viewing audience derives from watching awards shows. Personally, I find them rather tedious and can't remember the last time I watched the Academy Awards. I've never seen the Golden Globes.

But they can be a lot of fun to be at, especially if you're not nominated for anything, because you can just relax and enjoy the food, wine and commercial breaks. Because the commercial breaks are when you're allowed to enjoy the company, have a chat, replenish your wine, duck out to the loo, and get locked out until the next commercial break when you'll get another chance to replenish your wine and have a chat.

I really enjoyed being at Tamworth this year for the Country Music Awards. All the awards seemed to be deserved and the entertainment was first-class, with fabulous performances from Paul Kelly, Troy Cassar-Daly and Lee Kernaghan to name but three.

I'm not convinced, though, that all Logies are deserved. And entertainment? We often get entertainers who forget what it is as they ramble through a speech thanking everyone from the mother who bore them, then foisted them on the industry so they could bore us with a litany of names of everyone they've ever met. So you just thank your lucky stars it's not going to be me, because I'm quite old now and have met an awful lot of people.

When I heard I'd been asked to write this, my first thought was, God no. Whatever I say will be taken down and used in evidence against me. A line I've used to great effect many times over the past 10 years, usually evincing a confession from some hapless crim, and Mt Thomas's finest solve yet another insoluble case.

In fact, in the time it takes you to watch the Logies, we could have solved close to five cases. Then I thought, bugger it, why not?

As with almost everything about being a minor celebrity there's an awful lot of misinformation. For example, last year I didn't turn up, though I was nominated for the gold! I didn't even see the telecast, but I've heard about all the jokes about where I may have been hiding, too frightened to show my loser's face. The simple truth is that we'd already accepted a prior invitation long before the Logies invite (inviting only me) arrived.

Leslie and I were the last guests to stay at Mietta's Queenscliff Hotel that night, farewelling our good friend Patricia O'Donnell from the place we'd enjoyed so many family holidays, where I'd read poetry at lovely Lisa McCune's wedding to Tim Disney. Given the choice, I think I'd still go there with Leslie rather than to the Logies alone.

But I do enjoy going. It's like Christmas, catching up with a lot of mates you don't see at any other time.

And here we go again. We've done the big Logies cover shoot, which was a bit of fun. Georgie Parker and Libby Tanner make almost as much noise as Jane Allsop on one of her quieter days, and she doesn't need any egging on from Rove, she's just naturally noisy. Lisa Chappell I've never met, because, believe it or not, she was never there. That was a /TV Week/ sleight of hand.

A bit like the Logies really. The fact is that /Blue Heelers/ outrates all three of the other shows by a Mt Thomas country mile, and has done so for years, but it's not been winning many Logies of late, and I suspect won't be winning any this year either. I imagine Georgie's going to win gold again, and why wouldn't she? I don't honestly know, but I'm pretty sure it won't be me, I'm too old for the /TV Week/ readership, certainly the ones who vote. I understand that and it really doesn't worry me. I'll be there, in my prearranged seat, waiting patiently for the cameras to catch my bitter disappointment.

Who even knows who votes for the Logies? Perhaps some investigative journalistic detective will find out one day and tell us.

In the meantime, the vote that really counts is the one made every week by those million-and-a-half viewers around Australian who regularly turn us on.

So I'd really like to thank them. Every blessed one of them… firstly my Mum… oh no, she's dead… oh well thanks anyway, Mum, and Auntie…

By John Wood
May 10, 2003
The Age

Heeler loses faith in Gold

The fine crime-solving folk of Mt Thomas should be dispatched forthwith to a case that has television town talking. Blue Heelers star John Wood has been nominated seven times for a Gold Logie, but the mystery is: why can't he ever steal it from the women who have held on tight since 1997?

Wood, the personable Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon, faces the seven-year itch in vying for the ultimate prize as judged by TV Week readers and televised on Channel 9 tonight. The esteemed statuette has been won by Channel Seven actresses since 1997, when former Blue Heelers star Lisa McCune won her first of four before passing the baton in 2001 to All Saints star Georgie Parker, who made it two in a row last year.

While it has been a publicist's dream for Seven to have the Gold Logie stay in-house, the Wood predicament has long been a running joke. Should he be chuffed to be nominated so many times, or embarrassed that he has never won? A male contender who may upset the run of the women is the "What The…?" man, second-time nominee Rove McManus.

Since the awards began in 1959, most Gold Logies have gone to men: Graham Kennedy (six), Ray Martin (five), Bert Newton (four) and Daryl Somers (three), followed by Lisa McCune (four) and Georgie Parker (two).

Wood already has three Logies to his credit, but the Gold has eluded him and—shock! horror!—it, appears he has no chance of winning given that the readers of TV Week are not the same people who watch Blue Heelers. Industry data show that 60 per cent of TV Week readers are aged 14 to 39, whereas 59 per cent of Blue Heelers viewers are 40-plus.

The voting process is shrouded in as much mystery as a Blue Heelers plot. The 12 "most popular" awards are judged by TV Week readers, and the 10 "most outstanding" awards are judged by 50 people including industry experts, networks and TV Week judges.

The magazine does not reveal how many readers vote, but an industry source said that between 5 and 10 per cent of the 255,000 circulation took part in the ballot.

Wood shares the pessimism about one day holding the Gold. When the Logie nominees were announced last month and he was asked if this year was going to be his, he declared: "I would doubt it very much," adding later that he was resigned to the fact that he did not appeal to "the 250 12-year-olds" who voted.

Given that the popular awards are judged largely by the lip gloss and hipster-jean-wearing teeny-boppers that are TV Week's readers, the industry-voted awards have more clout. So, to win the Silver Logie for most outstanding actor/actress is a proud moment indeed.

Stars have been known to sneak out of Crown Casino's Palladium room during the telecast for a prolonged smoko when the popular awards are in progress. But not this year: organisers have slapped a ban on smoking and drinking in the foyer.

It is also lamented that the Logies do not equate with popularity as judged by television ratings—Blue Heelers is consistently in the top 10—nor are the Logie winners mirrored in the more highbrow AFI awards.

The six-year domination of McCune and Parker reflects the changes in society's attitude to women and the eschewing of traditional male traits, says TV buff Alan McKee, media studies lecturer at the University of Queensland.

He said the community was rejecting masculine notions of strength, arrogance and force in favour of women's skills in persuasion and winning consent.

"The new image of Australian culture is a feminine image," McKee said, noting that the face of Australia in the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony was Nikki Webster.

"It's not surprising that the most popular icons of Australian identity, which is obviously in some way what the Logie winners are, are the people who are not just women, but you look at the kind of images of people winning them. It's Lisa McCune, it's Georgie Parker—they're nice, kind, sweet, generous, they bring people in, they listen to them, they understand them. These are the qualities that we are celebrating."

McKee said Wood was still in with a chance because his character shared the same characteristics.

"He's actually quite feminine in the sense that he appears attentive to people's needs, he's quite sensitive and quite empathic."

TV trend-spotter David Castran (managing director of Audience Development Australia), who researches viewer attitudes to TV programs and stars, said Wood was a "very, very popular actor" but did not appeal to TV Week readers the way McManus did.

"My hot tip is Rove," Mr Castran said. "He's been one of the fastest-growing talents and he is the number-one talent for people 16 to 39. Rove is the go and John Wood—sorry, another bridesmaid."

By Suzanne Carbone
May 11, 2003
The Age