In Melbourne Tonight

In Melbourne Tonight, also known as "IMT", was a highly popular nightly Logie award-winning variety television show produced at GTV-9 Melbourne from 6 May 1957 to 1970.

In Melbourne Tonight
Written byMike McColl-Jones, Fred Parsons
Directed byNorm Spencer, Rod Kinnear, Peter Faiman
Presented byGraham Kennedy
Voices ofPeter Smith, Paul Jennings
Opening themeIn Melbourne Tonight
Gee, But You're Swell
Country of originMelbourne, Australia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons14 (1957–1970)
3 (1996–1998)
Running time75 minutes
Original networkNine Network
Picture format4:3 Black & White (1957–1970)
4:3 PAL (1996–1998)
Audio formatMono (1957–1970)
Stereo (1996–1998)
Original release6 May 1957–1970
27 November 1998


Graham Kennedy was the show's main host and star attraction but other presenters were often called on to present the show on certain nights. In Melbourne Tonight had as many as 50 different presenters over its 13 years on air. The format of the show was inspired by the American Tonight Show on NBC, but Kennedy's exuberant charisma was the key to the success of IMT.

The show originally had its own self-titled theme song, written by IMT's first band leader Lee Gallagher, but for most of its run, it adopted the tune of Gee, But You're Swell, written by Abel Baer and Charles Tobias in 1936.

Geoff Corke was Kennedy's offsider until 1959 when Bert Newton joined GTV-9 from HSV-7 to become Kennedy's straight-man. This began a professional partnership that continued for many years and a friendship that continued until Kennedy's death in 2005.

Other In Melbourne Tonight regulars included Joff Ellen, Val Ruff, Panda Lisner, Anne Marie Fabry, Mary Hardy, Rosie Sturgess, Patti McGrath (later Patti Newton), Toni Lamond, Philip Brady, Johnny Ladd, Noel Ferrier, Elaine McKenna, Bill McCormick, Ted Hamilton, The Tune Twisters and the Channel 9 Ballet.

The ballet troupe was known as the Royal Dancers. Performers included Denise Drysdale and Roma Egan, directed by Valmai Ennor, a former dancer with the Sadler's Wells Ballet.

From 1960, a Friday night syndicated "national" edition of the program aired under the title The Graham Kennedy Show (later The Graham Kennedy Channel Nine Show), with highlights packages being shown as The Best Of IMT and The Best Of Kennedy.

On 7 July 1965, IMT featured a then-innovative interstate live split-screen link with The Tonight Show on TCN-9 Sydney, via the recently completed co-axial cable linking Melbourne and Sydney.

Kennedy signed off from In Melbourne Tonight on 23 December 1969 after twelve years. On his final program, he was given a crown - made by the GTV-9 props department - symbolising his reign as King of Australian television.

The following year, IMT continued with four hosts, each on a different night of the week - Jimmy Hannan, Ugly Dave Gray, Bert Newton and Stuart Wagstaff. The program was gradually scaled back from four nights a week to three, then two, with the remaining shows renamed as The Ugly Dave Gray Show and Tonight With Stuart Wagstaff until they were finally axed in March 1971[1]

On 20 October 1970, during one of the final programs under the IMT banner, actor Patrick Wymark was scheduled to appear as a guest to promote a theatre play and a TV special. His non-appearance prompted jokes between host Stuart Wagstaff and guest Richard Deacon until news reached GTV-9 that Wymark had collapsed in his hotel room. His death was announced at the end of the program.[2]

In Melbourne Tonight created a long-standing legacy of live variety programs for several decades from GTV-9. Most of the videotapes were erased and reused after broadcast and consequently less than 100 episodes survive today out of the thousands produced and broadcast.

When Kennedy returned to GTV-9 in the early 1970s, he launched his own weekly variety show for the Nine Netowrk, The Graham Kennedy Show - it did not recapture the success of the original In Melbourne Tonight, and was latterly succeeded by The Ernie Sigley Show and The Don Lane Show.

Late 90s version

In 1996, the format was revived under the title IMT, hosted by Frankie J. Holden and screened as a Monday night variety show. Featured on the show were the comedic stylings of Steven Jacobs, Denise Drysdale, Ann-Maree Biggar and Julia Morris, who was best known for presenting "The Morris Report", a comedic take on the news events of the previous week. The show ran until 27 November 1998.

See also


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