Mar 1, 1975


National Archives of Australia

The unusual arrival of colour television in Australia

Cabinet Minute - Colour Television - Timing of Introduction, 1972-02-15, From the collection of: National Archives of Australia
A long time coming
Colour television was late to arrive in Australia. The USA, UK and most of Europe had adopted colour television in the mid-1960s. In Australia, however, it took years to decide firstly that Australia would adopt the German PAL colour television standard, instead of the American NTSC or French SECAM systems. It was not until 1972, after more deliberations, that the government finally set a date.
Cabinet Minute - Colour Television - Timing of Introduction, 1972-02-15, From the collection of: National Archives of Australia
Despite deciding on the PAL format in 1969, the deliberations and delays continued as conversion required testing and manufacturers needed time to adopt the Australian standard. For broadcasters the conversion was going to be expensive – it was predicted that for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) alone it would cost $46 million over six years. The 1975 date, later known as 'C-Day', allowed time for manufacturers, public and private broadcasters alike to participate in the excitement.
Canberra Day with Aunty Jack, 1974, From the collection of: National Archives of Australia
Colourful characters
While the officials were deliberating, local television productions were gaining popularity. The ABC produced a series of Australian comedy pilots called 'The Comedy Game' and in 1971, 'The Aunty Jack Travelling Show' burst onto the screen. Aunty Jack (played by her creator Grahame Bond) and her sidekicks Thin Arthur and Kid Eager became immensely popular television characters. In 1975 they made history as theirs was the first show to be broadcast in colour in Australia.

Aunty Jack Introduces Colour is a one-off television special broadcast on the ABC at three minutes to midnight on 28 February 1975, pre-empting the official commencement of C-Day on 1 March.

Instead of welcoming colour, Aunty Jack is terrified of the arrival of the 'colour monster', making fun of conservative elements of society resistant to change.

The ABC filmed the episode in colour, but transmitted the three minutes before midnight in black and white.

This clip is now a part of television history held by the National Archives of Australia.

You can enjoy the full clip here!

Credits: Story

The National Archives holds the largest audiovisual collection in Australia, including the vast Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) archive.

This clip is reproduced with the kind permission of Ms A Jack OBE (Old Bull Elephant) and the ABC.

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