he Tarax Show was the first regular live children’s show on Channel Nine in Melbourne. Launched as The Happy Show in January 1957, it ran for one hour every weekday afternoon.
This popular children’s show was hosted initially by Happy Hammond, then by “King Corky King of the Kids” (Geoff Corke) and finally by “Uncle Norman” (Norman Swain). Always present as co-host was the cheeky and loveable Gerry Gee — together with ventriloquist Ron Blaskett.
The Happy/Tarax Show featured a mix of variety, music, dance, educational segments, comedy, stories and drama from a resident cast of Channel Nine personalities who included: Ron Blaskett and Gerry Gee, Susan-Gaye Anderson, “The Girl Next Door” (Elaine McKenna), “Professor Ratbaggy” (Ernie Carroll), “Bernard the Magician” (Alf Gertler), Patti McGrath and “Joffa Boy” (Joff Ellen). The musical director was Margot Sheridan.
Tarax Show Photo Gallery
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Memories of the Tarax Show
Denzil Howson was the originator of the Tarax Show and co-produced it from 1957–1963. He also wrote and produced “The Adventures of Gerry Gee”, “Around the World with Gerry Gee” and the Tarax Show Christmas Pantomimes.
Gifted ventriloquist Ron Blaskett introduced Gerry Gee to Melbourne audiences on the Tarax Show. Gerry was cheeky, loveable, quick-thinking and smart. He became a star in his own right.
Susan-Gaye Anderson was seen regularly on the Happy/Tarax Show. She also appeared in The Adventures of Gerry Gee and in the Tarax Show Christmas Pantomimes.
Nigel Dick began at GTV9 in the late 1950s and went on to become General Manager.
As a child, Paul Howson watched the Happy/Tarax Show on TV and visited GTV9 with his father, Denzil Howson. He went on location for filming of “The Adventures of Gerry Gee” and witnessed the recording of the Christmas Pantomimes.
As a schoolboy, John Field lived in East Malvern, next door to the Howson family. He appeared as Gerry Gee’s double in “The Adventures of Gerry Gee”.
Denzil Howson takes a more detailed look at The Adventures of Gerry Gee, how the series was developed and the innovative qualities of this early children’s adventure series produced on film.
Garry Stewart was on the staff of GTV9 and appeared in a number of the Tarax Show Christmas Pantomimes, doubling in the role of studio Floor Manager.
Frank Pagram watched the Tarax Show as a child and was in the studio audience twice.
The Tarax Show Christmas Pantomimes
Every year from 1957 to 1963, Denzil Howson conceived, wrote and produced a children’s Christmas Pantomime. These became an annual highlight for many of the staff at GTV9. They brought together not only the children’s show team, but other GTV9 personalities and Melbourne performers. Here you will find story synopses, photos, video clips and cast and crew lists.
The first Christmas Pantomime was called “Princess Joybelle”, broadcast live to air in December 1957.
The Tarax Show cast fly to the North Pole to help Santa with his Christmas orders. Performed in front of a studio audience and broadcast live to air.
The Tarax Show regulars travel to Make Believe Land with miserly Uncle Silas (Jack Little), who learns some important lessons about love and kindness. A more ambitious production that was pre-recorded on videotape.
A re-telling of the story of Dick Whittington and his Cat, featuring a marionette in the role of the cat.
1961The Magic Mirror
A mysterious magician gives Mary (Patti McGrath) a Magic Mirror and with the help of Ron Blaskett and Gerry Gee she realises her dream of becoming a fine lady in the King’s palace. Set in a studio re-creation of Petticoat Lane in London.
Ali Gerry Gee and Blaskett Al Tisket A’ Tasket arrive in Bhagdad where they meet Pasha the Dasher (Joff Ellen). The trio befriend Princess Fatima (Patti McGrath) and save her from a spell cast by the evil Caliph’s magician.
Fritz Hoffle (Frank Wilson), the toymaker in the Swiss mountain village of Tiefencastel is given an ultimatum by the Mayor, Herr Zeidler (Frank Rich) to repair a doll belonging to his daughter Mari-Anne (Patti McGrath) by the next day. Ron Blaskett and Gerry Gee find themselves in Toyland where they help the toys to save the day.
Restoring These Pioneering Productions
The family of Denzil Howson is working on restoring and releasing some or all of the surviving Christmas Pantomimes — a unique and rare glimpse into the early days of children’s television in Melbourne. Find out more on the Tarax Show Christmas Pantomimes Restoration page.
Tarax Show Blog
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New photos, articles and blog posts are being added to this website periodically. Work is also progressing on restoration of the Tarax Show Christmas Pantomimes. Let us keep you informed by subscribing to our mailing list. We will send an update email once or twice a year and will not share your details with anyone else. To subscribe, please send an email with your name and details to Paul Howson at firstname.lastname@example.org