The Early Years of the Tarax Show

By Susan Gaye-Anderson

Excerpt from tribute written by former Happy/Tarax Show personality Susan-Gaye Anderson

I began my time in television at GTV9 in the 1950s and eventually found myself in the childrens show — The Happy Show as it was then called and later became The Tarax Show — with various comperes, including Happy Hammond, Geoff Corke and Norman Swain.

I was virtually a child when I joined the station and had no background in theatre or radio, but I came to the right place to be nurtured, taught, amused and to find real friendship and real support.

Denzil was responsible for the original concept of the children’s show at GTV9 and was executive producer with Ernie Carrol as producer. Ron Blaskett and Gerry Gee were the stars! It was a small family-like group in those early years, with Margot Sheridan at the piano and various regular guest segments.

The children’s show was really Denzil’s concept and had its humble beginnings in Myer’s window. Denzil is my first memory of being in the children’s show — I remember that beautifully modulated voice that I tried to copy. I remember how elegant he always looked and though he rarely laughed out loud, his sense of humour was wicked.

We had so much fun in those early days making hilarious episodes of The Adventures of Gerry Gee, filmed in the bush at Greensborough! There were delicious moments of things going very wrong, like in one episode I was trying to ride what was billed as a wild stallion, but no amount of urging from Denzil could get that horse to move. Or in another episode setting fire to a bush shack and all of us running away instead of bravely fighting the fire as was in the script. And of actors going in one door dressed in one outfit and seconds later coming out in another. The budget didn’t include a continuity person!

Each year we produced the Christmas Pantomime. We would spend long hours, usually over a weekend, in that big studio, while Denzil Howson and Ernie Carrol and Ron Blaskett’s exotic and complicated stories were acted out. With everything done live, those days were full of disasters and laughter, but they also taught us to trust each other and to always be on your toes.