Australia in the 1950s

Essay by sungkwoJunior High, 9th gradeB-, September 2008

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Perhaps the greatest revolution in the entertainment industry was the introduction of the television into Australian homes throughout the second half of the 1950s. As the number of television sets sold skyrocketed, Australians became accustomed to the new form of entertainment presented to them. The variety of material that was broadcasted drove television into becoming the most popular form of entertainment in the country. Sitcoms offered a paternalistic, conservative view of the stereotypical middleclass American life. Televised musicals attracted the largest of audiences with Broadway musicals such as “Peter Pan” gathering the best ratings for any single television program up to that time. In 1956 Elvis Presley made his first televised appearance on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’, while in the same year, the “Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland premiered, followed by ‘Cinderella’ in the year following. The Emmy-Award winning American drama; Lassie aired in 1954 to begin its 19 season run on Australian television, but this was merely the cream-of-the-crop for numerous children’s' programs that co-existed.

Quiz shows quickly gained popularity but the controversy of quiz show scandals rocked the nation because of revelations that contestants were secretly given assistance by the producers to arrange the outcome of a supposedly fair competition. News, music programs and sport made their way to the living rooms of more than 50% of the families in Australia by the end of 1959. Television gradually developed from being a grainy black and white screen that broadcasted a few hours a night into an entertainment gateway that delivered overseas television programs which exposed the Australian community to foreign cultures like never before. However, many believed that this influx of American and British culture threatened the development of the Australian identity. One such program that did not originate from overseas was “In Melbourne Tonight”(1957) hosted by...