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Memento : Issue 31
Contrary to rumours that original episodes of The Aunty Jack Show had been lost, this cult comedy has survived and was recently released on DVD – with the help of the National Archives of Australia’s audiovisual preservation team. The National Archives worked closely with the ABC Archives, producer and director Maurice Murphy and actor Grahame Bond – Aunty Jack ‘herself’ – to create the DVDs of the two series. The Aunty Jack preservation project had two goals: to preserve the original materials by copying the original film and video materials, and to provide the ABC with high-quality video copies for the production of the DVDs. To create the DVDs, the preservation team copied the existing 1-inch video masters of all the episodes to Digital Betacam. Colour television was not introduced to Australia until 1975, three years after Aunty Jack made her first appearance on the air. However, some segments of The Aunty Jack Show were filmed on location with colour film, before being broadcast in black and white. When preservation staff examined the original 16mm colour footage preserved in our custody, they found that it was in excellent condition. We provided the ABC with copies of the footage, allowing the segments to be seen on the DVD in colour. Viewers can now fully appreciate that blue velvet dress! The National Archives also holds the original black-and-white film negatives, known as a kine or telerecord, which captured the original broadcast on film. Preservation staff copied these film negatives, along with the 16mm magnetic film soundtracks, to produce high-quality film copies. This process ensures the long-term preservation of the original film materials. This year marks 50 years of television broadcasting in Australia. The National Archives hopes to work further with the ABC to preserve and restore more television favourites like Aunty Jack so they can be enjoyed for years to come. Jane Adam [far left] Grahame Bond as Aunty Jack, in that famous blue dress. [above left] Preservation staff Rahnee Alvarez and Peter Humble show Grahame Bond the condition of magnetic film in the National Archives’ film laboratory. [above right] Aunty Jack and Thin Arthur, played by musician and actor Rory O’Donaghue. The video master copies and the original 16mm film were deposited in the National Archives’ Sydney repository in the mid-1980s, which now houses over 350,000 film, video and audio items. Our moving image and sound collection includes ABC and SBS programs, government advertising campaigns, and documentaries by Film Australia. Following the success of our partnership in releasing Seven Little Australians on DVD in 2004, the ABC Archives and ABC Enterprises approached the National Archives to discuss bringing back Aunty Jack, Thin Arthur, Flange Desire and Narrator Neville. The Aunty Jack Show was first broadcast on ABC television in 1972 and was followed by a second series in 1973. The gravel- voiced, motorbike-riding Aunty Jack proved a hit, winning a Logie Award for best comedy in 1974. Viewers were obviously not put off by Aunty Jack’s threat to ‘rip ya bloody arms off’! In the same year, the theme song, ‘Farewell Aunty Jack’, reached number one and stayed on the Australian music charts for 22 weeks. Photo:EmmaScott MEMENTO WINTER 06 7