The Happy Show Gets a Sponsor

By Nigel Dick

Excerpt from tribute written by former GTV9 General Manager Nigel Dick

I well remember and appreciate Denzil’s recognition of the importance of advertisers. Bednall* had accompanied me to an appointment with Noel Satchwell of Robert Hughes Advertising, the agency handling the Tarax account. I had told Bednall that I felt they were a prospective major sponsor for our children’s programme. Sponsors were scarce in those early days and to get one to underwrite a children’s programme, let alone, a peak-time programme, wasn’t easy.

At the meeting Bednall, out of “left field”, asked Satchwell whether Tarax would like to sponsor our Happy Show, as the children’s programme was to be called, from a window in the Myer Emporium Lonsdale Street store. Satchwell picked up the phone, spoke to Tarax, and we had an instant order. Only one matter remained unresolved. Myer hadn’t been formally approached! We arranged an urgent meeting with Stanley Hunt, the then managing director of Myer, and the deal was quickly sealed.

The amount of planning such a production entailed was mammoth. The Happy Show hadn’t then been produced in a studio let alone in a shop window. The production crew, led by Denzil, never once complained. They all understood the importance, not only of a sponsor, but also the immense publicity value for the Happy Show and GTV9 in such a venture.

Denzil loved and nurtured the Happy Show. It was a tribute to him and his team that the Tarax sponsorship continued when compere Happy Hammond deserted the show. In 1960 he followed Norman Spencer to HSV7. This followed Sir Frank Packer’s take-over of GTV9 from Sir Arthur Warner’s Electronic Industries.

Denzil created the zany, absent-minded Professor Nitwitty. Professor Nitwitty was the first of the mad professors in the children’s programme. Ernie Carrol’s Professor Ratbaggy was the second.

Denzil was a mentor to both Uncle Norman and King Corkie who compered The Tarax Show, as the programme was called after Happy Hammond’s departure.

Denzil always recognised the importance of teamwork, giving great credit to the programme’s many personalities and production crew. Denzil properly saw them as being just as important to the success of the programme as the comperes.

One of GTV9’s highlights was its yearly Christmas Pantomime. Denzil wrote them, produced them, at the beginning directed them and played a part in one or two of them. He worked with musician and pianist Margot Sheridan on the music, writing many of the lyrics. Testimony to Denzil’s enthusiasm was that GTV9 performers wanted to take part in Denzil’s pantomimes and other productions.

Denzil won the respect of all who worked with him. He was not only personally involved in many GTV9 activities but he ensured the children’s show played a major role in GTV9’s programme line-up.

*Colin Bednall was the General Manager of GTV9 — Ed.