'Don't run a mile, don't touch that dial.
Here's a programme that will give you a smile.
World Of Sport! Woof!'
Well, that may not have been exactly what Uncle Doug said
but you get the flavour of the time and the place.
If you were on the viewing side, your morning might have been a
bit of a sleep-in after a day at the footy or races and a late
night party, so you could be forgiven for being a bit groggy
when you woke up… But after something fizzy, maybe a cup or
two of coffee, some cornflakes and toast, and a shower you were ready
for a lazy few hours, priming yourself to mow the lawn in the late
afternoon of a bee-humming early spring day.
And that's when you hit the couch in front of your Bush Simpson, or
Phillips or a rental from Wally Peterson to watch World Of Sport, with
Ron Casey, Louie 'The Lip, Kiss of Death' Richards, Bobby 'Fair dinkum
unbelievable,' Davis and Captain 'He reaches up those arms like a pair
of giant testicles' Blood.
All that's needed is John Meillon's voice-over, 'Matter of fact I've got
it now!'to propel you from the couch to the fridge for a V.B. and back
to settle in for the next two plus hours.
And they often were two Plus hours because the running sheet was merely
a guide. I was talking to Penny Ronald the other day and she spent some
time working as a switcher-d/a for Dick Jones and confirms that not only
was it chaos on the studio floor but also up in the control room.
Now while you were surfacing from your Saturday night, so were we.
Sometimes with very little or no sleep. After I bought my first car, an
FB Holden with column shift (Stu Kinchin went guarantor for me.) Billy
Webb, Head of Staging, would occasionally button-hole me as his driver
for Sunday beverage pickup. In those days no grog could be bought at any
licenced venue. Pubs were shut as were wine shops. But I would drive and
Bill would direct me up some South Melbourne lane, we'd stop alongside a
door, it would open, Bill would load cartons of V.B cans in to my boot
and we'd head back to 7. The car went up the lane that ran between
Studio 1 and the ballet rehearsal and wardrobe building. 1's double
doors would open and the load would be taken directly through the
studio, into the corridor that led to Makeup and the Male Dressing Room
but would take the first, and only door on the right. This was the door
that led to that legendary Inner Sanctum… The Dungeon.
Every Sunday morning the sacred relics of Saint Victoria(Bitter) were
carried beneath ground-level to be reverently placed in the Holy
Sepulchre. Otherwise known as Webby's fridge. And Spider Webb was often
heard to utter the sacred chant, 'Twenty seven cents a can! Twenty seven
cents a can!
And in those far off days, now lost in the swirling mists of time,
before the wondrous invention of the ring-pull, there was one almighty
talisman; The Tinney Opener. He who was the keeper of that talisman was
grovelled before and those who gained his favour knelt before him and he
smote them gently upon the left shoulder saying. 'Arise and use your
tool, no not that one, and drink of the divine nectar.' And it was so,
again, and then also again… and generally quite often thereafter.
Ah, but lo! Upon a time, now recalled as that of a descended plague
which decimated the lands and the people thereof, the sacred Below
Ground was violated by those vengeful servants of The Sunday Oppressor
Sect, otherwise known as 'The Coppers.'
A humble disciple, now consecrated as Saint Nicholas of Degankamp, upon
uttering the chant 'Twenty seven cents a can,' was forthwith shackled
and led away, and with but fading voice managed to raise the alarm. 'The
Rozzers have got me!'
'Away sped the ear that had harked that faint cry, and upon delivering
his message, Webby of The Tinney Opener abandoned his Idiot Sheets and
made off in the direction of the scenery bay. Long and hard, the
pursuers toiled, and yet they did not avail; no sign was found of The
O.K. O.K. Back to reality. (Well, my reality.)
That particular Sunday, when the Dungeon was raided by the police, I
wasn't there. I was rostered on the late shift to strike W.O.S. and set
Fighting Words or whatever, and perhaps do camera on the news.
But when I arrived I found studio 1 empty, and ominously, the Male
dressing room deserted, and the Dungeon abandoned. I had no idea of what
had happened until a Techo filled me in. Seven on a Sunday afternoon
with an empty Dungeon was like The Mary Celeste.
Finally I located them: this shivering snivelling group, hidden deep
within the scenery racks, across the street in the old building that
housed the painter's workshop and scenery storage. There were just a few
fugitives, John D'Arcy, Sunday voice over man, and a few, sad others. We
spoke in hushed tones. Could this be the end of The Dungeon?
No. Of course not. It was, at that time, too much of an icon while
W.O.S. prevailed. Did those in power know of it? Yes. Some chose to
avert their eyes, some to tolerate, some to avail and some to use as a
tool to help create the mystique of World Of Sport and
it's unique atmosphere, its legendary status.