John Williams On Finding Flashez

The late 1970s was an exciting time to be a teenager and chronicling all that was cool about the era was Australian youth show Flashez.

During its short lifespan (August 1976 – December 1977), Flashez showcased the best rock, pop and soul acts from around the world, as well as providing a national platform for up-and-coming bands to get noticed.

In addition to music clips (some specially created for the show), the show featured interviews with musicians, actors, celebrities and sporting heroes such as Diana Ross, Star Wars‘ Mark Hamill, The Beatles’ Ringo Starr and Australian surfing champion Mark Warren.

Aimed at a teen audience, the magazine-style programme – produced by ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) – also looked at wider issues of interest, such as teenage drinking. Aired Monday – Friday, 4.30pm, Flashez concentrated on a different theme each day.

Shockingly (for such an influential and popular programme) no full episodes were retained in the archives – as ABC researcher John Williams discovered to his horror in 2006.

Wondering if there might be missing material floating around, John began a search that would lead to the recovery of several episodes.

John, who has also uncovered material missing from other shows such as Monty Python precursor At Last The 1948 Show, has kindly written about his search, and what he uncovered, exclusively for Wiped.

Music To My Ears: Rediscovering Flashez

In 2007, series’ host, Ray Burgess (also a former Australian top 40 pop star) generously donated four complete episodes of Flashez to the ABC.

Up until that point, the ABC did not have a full episode in its collection. I was researching for a number of 50 years of ABC TV documentaries/programmes in 2006 and could not trace any full episodes of the show, but as the remaining film inserts for Flashez had just been transferred I managed to check what was on the digital-betacam.

Some really interesting material remained in the vaults from Flashez that surprised even the most jaded of researchers. There was a lengthy interview with Little Feat (Lowell George in fine form), an interview with Charlton Heston to promote his [then] latest film (The Midway) and a ridiculously young Mark Hamill discussed his latest role in a film called Star Wars.

We even had the original, elaborate, collage/pop art style opening credits in the archives, but frustratingly not a whole episode.

Then we recovered Ray Burgess’ copies for donation and we could stop guessing as to how the show looked and how it was presented.

After this happy development I was inspired enough to begin checking with past Flashez crew members and it paid off. The former executive producer for Flashez, George Pugh, had two further full episodes and donated them to the ABC.

The two episodes I recovered had the following material on them:

(1)
Flashez – 23/05/1977

Stories: Grass Skiing report

New York Report (Flashez reporter Stephen MacLean asks New Yorkers “what do they know about Australia?”)

Teen drinking/alcohol voxpops

Music clips: Supertramp ‘Lady’, Deaf School ‘What A Way To End It All’, Ross Ryan ‘Who Am I?’

Album reviews (by show’s co-host Mike Meade), Supertramp ‘Even In The Quietest Moments’, Deaf School ‘2nd Honeymoon’, Ross Ryan ‘Smiling For The Camera’

Interview in studio with Jamie Redfern (a former member of and performer on a highly popular Australian television variety program called Young Talent Time)
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(2)
Flashez – 22/08/1977

Music clips: Ritchie Family ‘Life Is Music’, Ted Nugent ‘Just What The Doctor Ordered’, Supercharge ‘Get Up & Dance’

Stories: Tattoos/tattoo parlour visit

Interviews: Ray Burgess interviews Supercharge (Gaskell & Donnelly) in Sydney

Mile Meade interviews Emanuel Cheraskin; internationally recognisednutritionist & author of Psycho-Diatetics (an international bestseller at the time) live in the studio.

Book Reviews: for Psycho-Diatetics & Confessions Of Idi Amin

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I have also managed to trace footage recorded for the the Flashez 1st anniversary special (2/08/1977) that features the show’s principal host Ray Burgess performing his hit single ‘Gloria’ for a live audience and a full live studio interview with a popular Sydney model ‘Melanie’ from 2/03/1977.

The four episodes donated by Ray Burgess are as follows:

Flashez episode 1 – 2/08/1976

This episode was the series’ premiere and basically the vehicle to explain the format of the show (e.g. host explains theme of the day etc)

Music Clips: John Paul Young ‘I Hate The Music’ (excerpt), Ray Burgess ‘Sad Rock & Roll’

Interview/in-studio appearance: John Paul Young (who might be better known to an international audience as the performer who recorded ‘Love Is In The Air’: He was a teen favourite for most of the 1970s)

Interview with Australian motorcycle champion Warren Willing

Serial: B&W 1939 ‘Batman’ serial

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Flashez – 1977 unspecified date (paperwork missing & no slate, approximate date taken from year of production details found on film inserts used for this episode)

Music clips: Mark Holden ‘Hey My Love’, Barton Cummings ‘Stand Tall’

Stories: Report on popular Australian rock music magazine ‘RAM’

Interviews: Ray Burgess interviews George Benson in NYC, USA, includes clips of Benson playing at unspecified outdoor event.

Burgess also interviews popular Australian performer Mark Holden live in studio

Live studio interview with champion Australian surfers Mark Warren, Peter Townend and Ian Cairns
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Flashez – 8/11/1977

Music clips: Trevor White (who found fame for his performance as ‘Jesus’ in Jesus Christ Superstar) ‘Just Another Night’, Ike & Tina Turner ‘Working Together’, Ol’ 55 (1950s pastiche type of band in the same vein as ‘Sha Na Na’) ‘While The Night Is Young’

Interviews:

Trevor White in studio

Bill Collins, a well known (in Australia) film critic live in studio, the film ‘New York, New York’ is discussed with interviewer Ken Stevens

Report: Voxpops on junk food
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Flashez – 2/12/1977 – episode 425

Music clips: Richard Clapton ‘Deep Water’, Mike Mead (show’s co-host) ‘You’ve Got To Make It Alone’

The hosts present program live with various Australian music luminaries (John Paul Young, ‘Shirley’ Strachan from Skyhooks, Trevor White and several members of New Zealand band Mother Goose)

Final ‘New York Report’ from ‘Flashez’ reporter Stephen Maclean that features excerpts & clips from..

Punk Rock fashion (includes grabs from Vivienne Westwood)

Peter Allen interview

Andy Gibb interview

Dolly Parton interview; report

Diana Ross doorstop

Little River Band interview

Brian Ferry interview

Deborah Harry interview

This episode concludes with a mock funeral for ‘Flashez’ featuring many Australian musicians following a horse-drawn hearse taking a ‘coffin’ (with ‘Flashez’ emblazoned on it) to a nearby cemetery.

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Other notable clips/interviews from Flashez from a largely intact collection of stories, interviews and music clips collection on film (in the ABC Archives, all transferred to digital-betacam) include:

From a Flashez punk rock special’ tx 21/03/1977 (full episode sadly wiped
though the two important interviews from the episode survive)

(1) Sex Pistols interviewed by Stephen Maclean

(2) The Saints interviewed by Kate Fitzpatrick

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Dennis Wilson interviewed by Stephen MacLean at Brother Studios (DW speaks briefly about the prospect of touring ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’), Los Angeles tx 24/11/1977

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Australian band Midnight Oil’s first music clip and television appearance tx 21/10/1977

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Ringo
Starr interview (Flashez correspondent Peter Rubinstein) in Los Angeles. Starr previews cover of Ringo’s Rotogravure album and discusses contributions to album by other ex-Beatles – tx 13/10/1976