Inside the Collection

Celebrating 80 years of the ABC with Bellbird

Bellbird poster
Bellbird poster. Gift of Jennie Small. 2003. Collection: Powerhouse Museum.

Next in our series of posts marking the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 80th anniversary, here is another object relating to Australia’s national broadcaster, from the Powerhouse Museum’s collection.

It is a colour poster promoting the much-loved ABC television serial Bellbird. The show looked at the daily lives of the inhabitants of a rural community around a small country town.

Created by Barbara Vernon, Bellbird had a devoted national audience during its ten years of production from 1967. It was screened for 15 minutes, four nights a week, after GTK and before the news. It was taped in the ABC’s Melbourne studios in Elsternwick, with some location work done in the Victorian town of Daylesford. Maurie Fields played John Quinney, the local stock and station agent. Lynette Curran was the show’s pin-up girl.

Charlie Cousens, the evil real estate agent, was played by Robin Ramsay, who decided to leave the show in 1968. The writers devised a suitably rustic way to kill off the character. In a memorably shocking sequence, he fell from a wheat silo. The death scene usually figures in retrospectives of great moments in Australian television.

This poster dates from the latter days of Bellbird in the 1970s.

Australian TV soaps had their origins in long-running radio serials such as the ABC’s Blue Hills (1949–1976). They have been a staple of Australian television since the 1950s. Bellbird was a precursor to later TV serial dramas set in country towns — A Country Practice (Seven network, 1981-1993) and Something in the Air (ABC, 2000-2002).

8 responses to “Celebrating 80 years of the ABC with Bellbird

  • I remember the show Bellbird, growing up at home with it on the TV. One of the characters, a young female, I believe had a serious car accident in real life, and was confined to a wheelchair. She eventually returned to the show, in the wheelchair. It was a big deal in those days, being in the newspapers and magazines. I didn’t recognise her name on the list of actors of the show. Do you know her name, and if she appeared in any other shows?

    Thankyou for your help.

  • Hi Chris
    That’s an interesting story. I’m not aware of a Bellbird character who used a wheelchair. Maybe somebody else will remember.

  • I met Louise Phillips after her car accident, I was in hospital with a broken leg when she was brought in, it was a terrible time, I wondered if she ever appeared in the show again. I loved the show.

  • My brother was in Bellbird not sure now if it was in & out just doing some parts …. His name is Keith Reid …. I would love to get the episodes he was in, as he isn’t alive now …. We as a family loved the show back then ….. We have been searching the shows he’s been in to show & give to his grandchildren as they came along after he died …. My name is Heather Anderson ….

    • Hi Heather,
      Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately we can’t help you there – this is the only item relating to Bellbird that I could find in our collection. You might try contacting ABC, who produced the show, directly.
      Best of luck in your search, and I do hope you’re able to locate the episodes your brother was in.
      Kind regards,
      Sarah Reeves, MAAS

  • John Quinney was the evil real estate agent from the nearby big town. Charlie Coussens was the nice real estate guy from Bellbird. After Charlie died Quinney became more and more of a Bellbird identity and became much better liked.
    Just felt the need to set the record straight on this.

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