This Day Tonight
This Day Tonight (commonly abbreviated as "TDT") was an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) evening current affairs program of the years 1967 – 1978.
When TDT premiered in 1967 it was the first regular nightly current affairs program on Australian TV, and it extended ABC's award-winning coverage of current affairs, which had begun in the early 1960s with its flagship weekly program Four Corners.
TDT was hosted for the first eight years by journalist Bill Peach. The original on-air team was Peach and reporters Peter Luck, Paul Murphy, Tony Joyce and June Heffernan. Noted Australian journalist, author and filmmaker Tim Bowden also worked on the show as a producer. Other producers included Stuart Littlemore and John Crew.
It was a training ground for a generation of leading Australian TV journalists, including Gerald Stone (later the producer of the Australian 60 Minutes), Richard Carleton, Caroline Jones, Sonia Humphrey, Mike Willesee, George Negus, Mike Carlton, Allan Hogan and Peter Couchman.
TDT was renowned for its hard-hitting interviews, a craft brought to a high degree of perfection by Carlton and Negus; the program subjected Australian politicians to a novel degree of questioning and raised the hackles of politicians on both sides who were unused to being placed under such scrutiny. It also broke new ground with its famous "empty chair" tactic, naming politicians who had declined to appear on the show and showing the empty chair where an absent invitee was supposed to be seated.
However TDT sometimes took a more irreverent approach to stories. One notable example of its sometimes controversial editorial approach was a musical comedy sketch that satirised the actions of then-NSW Premier Robert Askin, who was reported to have ordered his driver to "run over the bastards" when anti-war demonstrators threw themselves in the front the car in which he and visiting U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson were travelling.
TDT also ran annual April Fool's Day stories, including the "Dial-O-Fish" (an electronic device attached to a fishing rod that could be set to catch any desired species), a story alleging that the Sydney Opera House was sinking into the harbour, and a bogus report about the supposed abolition of the 24-hour clock and the introduction of a metric (or decimal) time system. Each of these reports generated considerable feedback with hundreds of viewers reportedly taken in by the hoaxes.
TDT won many awards during its run, including Logie Awards for "Best New Program" in 1967, "Most Outstanding Coverage of Political Affairs" in 1971 and "Outstanding Contribution to TV Journalism" in 1977.
The show was axed in 1978 but the format was revived in the mid-1980s by The 7.30 Report, ABC-TV's current program of this genre hosted for many years by Kerry O'Brien. In 2011 it was rebranded 7.30, which screens Monday to Thursday nationally with a state-based edition each Friday.
- "About the ABC - History of the ABC". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Brian Davies (9 January 2008). "Newsman of a different age: John Crew (1927-2007)". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Daniel Creech (8 February 2011). "Journalist championed anti-discrimination". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Janet Bell. "This Day Tonight (1967 - 1978)". ASO (australianscreen).