A Cross-Reference of Known Remaining Episodes of The Adventures of Gerry Gee

The previous four articles on this blog have catalogued an investigation into the fate of the film reels of The Adventures of Gerry Gee. These were:

  • A Peek into “The Adventures of Gerry Gee” Episodes Not Seen for 60 Years.
  • Another Episode of The Adventures of Gerry Gee Turns up in Private Hands.
  • A GTV9 Tipoff Regarding the Missing Episodes of The Adventures of Gerry Gee.
  • Missing Gerry Gee Episodes Re-Discovered at the NFSA.

A Discovery Timeline

A timeline of my discoveries about these film reels is:

  • The Adventures of Gerry Gee were made at GTV9 circa 1959–1960 and shown on The Tarax Show. Circa 1967 Denzil Howson arranged for all the reels to be sent to STW9 in Perth, where he was then working, and shown on The Channel Niner’s Club. Denzil packaged up and returned the reels to GTV9.
  • In October 1991 Denzil Howson and Ron Blaskett were alerted by Wally Ritter at GTV9 that a numerous 16mm film reels of The Adventures of Gerry Gee were present in the GTV9 vault. The films were apparently borrowed by Denzil at that time, poorly copied onto VHS tape and then returned to GTV9. After that nothing more was heard of them.
  • When Denzil passed away in 2005, his private collection of films contained a few reels of The Adventures of Gerry Gee.
  • In January 2006, Dot Howson, reported on a recent phone call with Wally Ritter. She confirmed that Wally was the person who sorted through the archives at GTV9 and gave stuff to Denzil. Wally had recalled The Adventures of Gerry Gee and thought that he might have loaned it to Denzil to copy and it would have been returned to GTV9. Wally thought some material from the GTV9 archive was sent to Ross Sellars at TCN9 in Sydney. He also thought material might have gone to the NFSA in Canberra.
  • In May 2007 former GTV9 producer Bob Phillips told Paul Howson that at some stage Wally Ritter started cataloging and organising the stuff in the GTV9 basement (“the vault”) and eventually set up a computer catalog. Before that, stuff was just thrown out. Bob said that people like Bill Beams, Gary Stewart and Ron Davis started to take stuff that GTV didn’t want anymore in order to save it for posterity.
  • In a call with Ron Blaskett in May 2007 he recounted how a chap at one of Ron’s talks had provided him with a single reel of Tarzan Gee, discovered on a nature strip, which Ron had loaned to Mike Browning for copying, without sound, onto DVD. The film was then returned to Ron.
  • I contacted the Nine archives in Sydney in 2007 and again in 2016 and on both occasions they stated that material prior to 1984 was not in their catalog and they had no way of knowing whether they had it. They concluded their 2016 reply by stating “At present our archives are packed up and in the process of being moved to a new location so any uncatalogued material is a mystery at the moment”.
  • In August 2012, Ron Blaskett confirmed that Wally Ritter had found the Gerry Gee reels in 1991. (Ron said “the Packers weren’t interested in running a museum”.)
  • In June 2012, a reel of Tarzan Gee was offered on eBay. Paul Howson purchased this for $100.
  • While visiting the NFSA Melbourne office in 2018, Paul Howson was told by Helen Tully about a 16mm film reel newly acquired from a private collector. The footage had been scanned at the NFSA in Canberra and Helen previewed some of it, which turned out to be excerpts from an episode of the story “Gerry at Gigantic” (the “Gigantic” referring to a fictitious film studio).
  • A lady named Evelyn contacted Paul Howson in 2019 and arranged to loan for copying a reel of the story “Gerry’s Big Show”. This was subsequently scanned and returned to Evelyn.
  • In August 2020 Peter McBain, formerly at GTV9, emailed me to say that in the late 2000s “the films were all there in the dungeon (vault) — the Gerry Gee shows, cans of 16mm film, lots of them”. He said that “They were definitely still there but nothing was catalogued because the old cataloguing system was unable to be transferred across to any sort of modern system. The cans were still there but any information about what was in the archive was lost sometime in the mid 2000s.” Peter suggested I contact Peter Corrigan or Guy Le Couteur.
  • In September 2020, former GTV9 employee Guy Le Couteur replied to my email: “I believe the people left at GTV when it moved packed up the archives and sent in-house material to the National Film and Sound Archives… especially the sort of kinescope material you’re talking about. Whether or not they have been fully catalogued by GTV or the NFSA is another issue: GTV had numerous outdated catalogues, each meant to replace another, none of them complete. Ten years ago, the Gerry Gee kines were stored adjacent to the many Graham Kennedy shows, so they would have been hard to miss for whoever was in charge. If the reels did not end up at the NFSA, GTV may have sent reels to TCN archives but it seems unlikely. All the very best.”
  • I was able to contact Peter Corrigan in October 2020, who was still on the GTV9 staff. Peter made enquiries and, with the help of a colleague, Michael Egan, who knew about the archives, was able to find a list of reels sent to the National Film and Sound Archive prior to the move from Bendigo Street to Docklands. There was an NFSA acquisition number, 36200. Peter also said that two Gerry Gee reels (opticals only) dated 1960 were listed as being at the Nine Knox storage facility. One was marked as damaged by sewage.
  • Thorsten Kaeding from the NFSA confirmed in November 2020 that reels had been received from GTV9 and in March 2021 informed me they were “queued for assessment by our conservation people”. Update: As of October 2022 I’ve had further correspondence with Thorsten and I’m expecting to get an update soon on their status.

Episodes Confirmed to Exist

Here is a table listing the episodes that I have been able to confirm still exist.

“Adventures of Gerry Gee” Story (each story consisting of multiple episodes) Denzil’s 1991 List of Reels Transferred to VHS Tape Reels Transferred from GTV9 to NFSA circa 2010 Reels from Denzil’s Collection (held by Paul Howson)
The Voice From Nowhere Ep 1, 2, 3, 4 Ep 4
Big Top Ep 1, 2 Excerpts
Ali Gee Ep 1, 3 Two episodes
Smuggler’s Secret Complete Two episodes
Gerry Flies Through Ep 3 Listed
Gerry at Gigantic Ep 3 Listed (also excerpts received from private collector in 2018)
Tarzan Gerry Ep 1, 2, 3, 4 Listed Ep 4
The Visitor Two episodes
The Mystery of Muzzletwerp Manor Four episodes Excerpts
Gerry Hood One episode
Pimpernell Gee Ep 1, 2
Gerry’s Big Show Four episodes Ep 1, 4 Ep 2 (borrowed and scanned)
Big Circuit some Ep 1, 2, 3, 4
The Rebel some
Big Dipper Gerry Listed

Conclusions We May Draw

What can we conclude from the above list of events and the table of known episodes?

  1. After the broadcast of the series on GTV9 and STW9 in the 1960s, all the reels were returned to GTV9 and placed in the underground “vault” (aka “dungeon”). At that stage most if not all reels were intact and together.
  2. Denzil’s typed list of reels transferred to VHS tape circa 1991 indicates that in the 25 years since the return of the complete series from Perth to GTV9, some reels had gone missing, either having been thrown away to clear space or perhaps souvenired by staff members.
  3. Fast forward nearly another 20 years to 2010 and we have Peter Corrigan’s list of reels sent to the NFSA. Comparing that to the 1991 list, we see that even more episodes had gone missing.
  4. The claim that some materials were sent to TCN9 may also be relevant. Perhaps some Gerry Gee reels were included? But why would only some be transferred? Still, it’s possible.
  5. The fact that (i) Bob Phillips noted that people started to take stuff from the vault and (ii) a reel of Tarzan Gee was offered on eBay in 2012 and (iii) the NFSA received a reel from a private source in 2018 which had pieces of an episode and (iv) in 2019 Paul Howson was loaned an episode of Gerry’s Big Show for scanning from a private collector — suggests that, over the years, there has been a gradual attrition of reels finding their way into private collections or having been disposed of and destroyed. No doubt there are more episodes out there and more may yet be discovered.
  6. At best there is a diminished collection of episodes still in existence, the largest number probably being those now in the hands of the NFSA in Canberra.

A Lesson About Who Can Best Look After Things?

In later life Denzil Howson regretted returning the reels to GTV9 after their showing on Perth television. In all likelihood nobody would have noticed if they were not returned. Denzil was the one person with the most personal interest in those productions — he conceived, wrote, directed, and from time to time filmed and appeared in them. If he had held onto them, they would all probably be intact and together in one collection to this day. There’s a lesson in this.