GTK (TV series)

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GenreMusic, Arts
Presented byNo presenter[1]
Opening themeGTK theme (composed by Hans Poulsen[2])
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes1000+[3]
Running timeten minutes (daily from Monday to Thursday, at 6.30 pm)[1]
Original networkABC
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Original releaseAugust 4, 1969 (1969-08-04)[4] –
Followed byFunky Road[5]

GTK was an Australian popular music TV series produced and broadcast by ABC Television.


The series title was an acronym of the phrase "Get To Know". GTK is one of several popular music programs produced by the ABC, and like the later establishment of Double Jay, the official story is thatGTK was created to address the perception that the Australian youth audience was being poorly served by commercial radio and TV and that international music and especially Australian popular music was allegedly being ignored by commercial TV and radio at that time. In fact the real reason GTK came into being was because Ken Watts, the ABC Director of Television, had a problem at 6.30pm. Because ABC-TV was non-commercial, thirty-minute American programs only ran 24'30" without ad breaks, which created a programming problem at 6.30pm when the commercial networks started their news broadcasts. Originally, ABC-TV ran an American sitcom across the 6.30pm "common junction" leading up to the 6.40pm timeslot when Bellbird, a very popular soap opera about an Australian country town was aired. Bellbird finished at 6.55pm and across Australia, each state would then insert local news into the schedule until 7.00pm when the ABC's iconic national news started, followed by the extremely popular current affairs show, "This Day Tonight". Ken Watts understood that if ABC-TV started a program at 6.30pm, viewers would have an alternative to watching the commercial news broadcasts and it would of course lead them to watch Bellbird, then ABC news and This Day Tonight. Ken's problem was to come up with a program only ten minutes long that would run Monday to Thursday (because Bellbird didn't screen on Fridays). He approached Ric Birch, aged 24, the ABC-TV network's youngest ever television director, and challenged him to devise an original ten-minute program that would attract teenage viewers (and bolster Bellbird's ratings among younger audiences). in less than six weeks, Birch made four pilot shows to represent a week on air, and Watts gave him the go-ahead to start production and continue until the end of November when the network went into summer break programming.

GTK premiered on 4 August 1969[4] and was an immediate success on the network, achieving higher ratings than Bellbird within three weeks, much to Watts' delight and he quickly authorised the show to continue running throughout the following year. Birch produced and directed GTK until the end of 1970 when he moved to the USA and then to the UK, from where he conducted interviews and sent the filmed material back to GTK in Australia. GTK ran until 1975, after which it was superseded by Funky Road. GTK and it successor Funky Road co-existed with the weekly show Countdown for a period of time.[6] Because full-time colour television transmissions was not introduced in Australia until early 1975, most of GTK was shot on black-and-white film or videotape, although some segments of programs in c. 1974 are known to have been shot in colour.

GTK's magazine-style format included interviews, reports, music film-clips (music videos) and occasional footage of local and visiting international acts in concert.

Production and broadcast[edit]

A feature of every episode was the daily live-in-the-studio performance segment, especially recorded by GTK. These segments featured notable and lesser-known Australian acts of the period. The band chosen as featured group for the week would often record their own 'cover' version of the GTK theme (composed by Hans Poulsen), which was played at the start of each of the programs.

These live performance segments were recorded to videotape in Studio 21 at the ABC's Gore Hill complex, which had originally been used for drama during the early days of live-to-air production. Groups were called in early on Monday mornings, and four songs/pieces were recorded, with one segment broadcast each day. Another aspect that makes this GTK footage important is that many of the bands were asked to play material from their live repertoire—including cover versions—rather than their current or recent hit song/s, since it was felt that the groups would perform these better, and because it would show off other facets of their music.[citation needed] Because these live performances were videotaped and later transferred to film for broadcast, many of these performances were preserved, despite the fact that all of the broadcast master tapes were later erased.

It was thought for many years that most of the videotapes of the program had been erased during an ABC economy drive in the late 1970s, but recent discoveries at the ABC, notably during and after the closure of the old Gore Hill studio complex in Sydney, have revealed that much of the series (including location pieces and in-the-studio performances) had been preserved on "telerecordings", which were film recordings transferred from videotape. Telerecordings were used because of an odd quirk of ABC TV programming. Bellbird was distributed on videotape, and the news programs that followed needed videotape machines for editing their stories right up to on-air time - which meant that there simply weren't enough machines available to show GTK on videotape in all cities. (This was of course long before satellite television was widely available - in 1969, a satellite broadcast required the receiving equipment at Tidbinbilla to operate at very cold temperatures close to absolute zero in order to receive the weak satellite analogue signals that were generated in those days. This meant that satellite broadcasts were not only very expensive, but also had to be planned days ahead so that the receiving stations could prepare the equipment.) Even sharing live productions between Melbourne and Sydney required the use of a bandwidth-limited and expensive 'co-axial cable' between the capital cities. For these reasons, GTK has survived where most other programs of the time have not. Recent estimates from the ABC indicate that almost 100% of the series has been saved, which provides an invaluable record of Australian musicians of the period. Recent discoveries have included GTK interviews with Pete Townshend and Marc Bolan and colour footage of Lou Reed's 1974 Sydney concert (including one of the earliest known films of Reed performing "Walk on the Wild Side") and his disengaged Sydney press conference, which features noted Australian television journalist Ian Leslie.[citation needed]

In 1976, GTK was repackaged as Funky Road which had the same producer Bernie Cannon, in addition to Stephen McLean and Albie Thoms. It ran for 30 minutes instead of the previous 10 minutes and moved to a 10:30 pm slot.[6]


  1. ^ a b Page 204, Dig: Australian Rock and Pop Music, 1960-85, By David Nichols, ...Germaine Greer spoke to Led Zeppelin on a Sydney Harbour ferry in 1972....
  2. ^ "Television for teens and twenties". The Canberra Times. 43, (12, 381). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 4 August 1969. p. 13. Retrieved 24 November 2016 – via National Library of Australia., ...Other features include...a segment with Melbourne singer and composer, Hans Poulsen, who wrote the bright GTK theme...
  3. ^ GTK's 1000th episode., Flickr, Teenage rock program 'GTK' celebrated its 1000th episode on 1st May,1973. (From left): John Hollands (film editor), Bernie Cannon (producer), Stephen McLean (interviewer), Adriane Hewson (production assistant), Albie Thoms (associate producer) and Violet Hamilton (interviewer). ABC Reference ID:
  4. ^ a b "Australian film and television chronology". Australian Screen. National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  5. ^ Rewind - Funky Road Follows Lindsay Kemp, 1971, ABC iview, In 1976, GTK was reincarnated as the longer, later Funky Road. This footage profiles Lindsay Kemp, the director, performer and muse of David Bowie's, during the production of his brilliantly bizarre Glebe show, Flowers.
  6. ^ a b "New Look For GTK". TV Week. 21 February 1976.

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