Hunter (Australian Crawfords TV series)
|Created by||Ian Jones
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||65|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Crawford Productions|
|Original network||Nine Network|
|Original release||Tuesday 4 July 1967 – 1969|
Hunter was an Australian espionage adventure television series screened by the Nine Network from Tuesday 4 July 1967 to 1969. The series was created by Ian Jones and produced by Crawford Productions.
The title character, a dashing spy, was played by Tony Ward. However he was quickly overshadowed by the show's main antagonist, Kragg, played by Gerard Kennedy, the show's breakout character. Kennedy won a TV Week Logie Award for Best New Talent for his portrayal of the character.
Scripts were written by Ian Jones and Terry Stapleton. The series became extremely popular rating in the top-ten most popular programs in Australia for 1967, and had a run of 65 one-hour episodes; it also achieved a limited number of international sales. It was shot in black and white, with interior scenes shot on videotape in the GTV-9 Richmond studio and outdoor scenes shot on location on 16 mm film. Compared to Australian drama series of the day, the series featured an above-average quota of location-shot action footage. It featured a sophisticated jazz score by reed player Frank Smith. The Melbourne-based show filmed some episodes in Sydney and in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, on the Gold Coast, Queensland, in South Australia, and overseas in Singapore.
Initially stories were serialised over three and four-episode story arcs. Soon the decision was made to switch to stand-alone episodes. After episode 15 episodes largely featured a self-contained story, apart from two subsequent two-part stories.
As the series progressed the immense popularity of the villain Kragg presented several problems. Apart from apparently being more popular amongst viewers than the show's title character, in the stories the villain invariably had to defeat the ostensible hero in order to still be around for the next episode. In a concession to the character's popularity, Kragg ultimately defected to the side of good. Series star Tony Ward had been somewhat dissatisfied with the direction his character was taking and the increased emphasis on Kragg, and late in the show's run suggested that the high output of episodes by this stage had outstripped the ability of the writers.
Late in the show's run and after some disagreements with the show's producers, Ward left the series to pursue movie options. A new lead spy, portrayed by Rod Mullinar, was introduced. Mullinar completed eight episodes of the series before it was cancelled. Keen to retain the services of Kennedy, Crawford's decided that new police series Division 4 was a better vehicle for his talents. They convinced the Nine Network to cancel Hunter and proceed with Division 4, which indeed emerged as a popular success. Mullinar subsequently took the lead role in another Crawford's adventure series, Ryan (1973).