Crikey is collecting tales of great TV newsreading stuff-ups and we’ve already got more than 70 excellent contributions.
I’ll never forget the valuable addition of the stump-mike to criket –
the TV coverage just isn’t the same without the grunt, thock, and Gilly
saying through his nose “Bowled Shane”. The World’s Greatest
Leg-Spinner tried to spice up the atmosphere after being belted for a
six by Staurt Carslile by complimenting the young Zimbabwean batsman as
a “F**king A*sey C**t”. It’s a pity that this hasn’t replaced Bill
Lawry’s catch cry of “oh what a wonderful/glorious/good shot that is
that’ll go for four/to the boundary/all the way”.
Chopper, KAK and the Parrot
I remember a few years back after Chopper Read’s infamous
appearance on the short-lived Elle McFeast Show (“So we kept stuffing
this guy into the cement mixer, and he kept climbing out!”)
Kerry-Anne’s Midday got Alan Jones on to bag Sir Chop Chop for being
such a bad influence.
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The fun started when Chopper actually rang up, and with the camera
suddenly pointing to a clearly bemused floor manager holding a sign
saying “Chopper’s on the phone” he came on air. After a couple of
minutes of verbal jousting where he pretty much made Jones sound like a
dickhead Chopper got tired of the conversation and yelled out “At least
I didn’t get arrested in a toilet in London!”
Jonesy went white, Kerry-Anne cracked it and cut the call off and
the Midday Show’s flirtation with hard hitting journalism died.
An absolute classic.
Never trust a sub
Back in the days of hot metal and tight deadlines, late subbed
copy for the Sydney Daily Mirror would often be sent down the chute the
the printing room without being checked, especially if the check sub
trusted the competence of the the sub handling the story. This went
terribly wrong one day when an old sub, handling the story of John
Wayne being diagnosed with cancer, wrote the page 2 lead headline: I’ll
lick the Big C, says John Wayne. The story actually made it past the
hurried proof-checking proces and got into print, a few hundred papers
getting out before an early batch hit the office of the editor, who
screamed frantically down the line to stop the intercoursed presses.
Sacking for an effing c
I too vividly recall the ABC news reader’s laughing fit at the
stallion and screens. My recollection, though, is that the reader was
John Hall, not Richard Morecroft. I remember noting at the time that
Hall disappeared from TV….although he reads, to this day, on ABC
The bush provides great examples of media lunacy. A radio reporter
in NSW country, in 1978, was pre-recording the cart for the next
morning’s news when he fluffed a line towards the end of a 5 minute
read. You f***ing c***, he exclaimed, and for good measure, you f***ing
c***. He removed the cart, inserted another and this time the read was
perfect. But which cart did he leave for transmission? You guessed it.
There was only one complaint (it went to air at 5am) but our hero found
his pay packet waiting for him when he arrived at work.
Another I was told by an old timer at Channel 9. Back in the 70’s
in a radio station in, I think, Townsville, the local sports reporter
had just completed a Q & A with the announcer. They rolled a
record, but forgot to kill their mikes. The conversation overheard by
the whole town apparently centred on what the sports jock had done with
the daughter of the local police sergeant the night before and the
result was the sportcaster left town, never to return, that very
day….as you would.
The following, while not a stuff up, boggles the mind. In about
1980 in a regional TV station one of the local journos had a bright
idea. Her children were attending a school with no assembly hall and
she was determined to redress this oversight. She not only organised a
parents and friends rally to demonstrate in favour of a new hall and
made placards for the kids to carry demanding this new facility, but
also covered the story at length in the local news. I clearly recall
her piece to camera, complete with arms around her kids, condemning the
Dept. of Education for not providing the vital infrastructure for these
deprived children. A great example of horizontal integration, I guess.
Musing about the boss’s Greek Christmas
This is quite funny – not really a stuff up but well worth of inclusion.
Clive Robertson and Jason Morrison were co-hosting breakfast on
2SM and across NSW (on something like 20 stations) last year and were
talking about how they will be celebrating Christmas.
Both were complaining they had to work while everyone else at the
station got the day off – and while the owner of 2SM (Bill Caralis a
greek man) would be living it up with his family in his penthouse.
This is sort of how it went :
Morrison : Robertson, we could always pop upstairs and celebrate with the boss when the show is over.
Robertson : Do you think ? Why would you want to do that ?
Morrison : Yeah I think it would be good for you .. you know .. Christmas Greek style.
Silence for 5 seconds. Microphones back on.
Morrison : (clearly trying to compose himself) I’m not sure I meant it that way !!
Robertson : (laughing) ouch
Morrison : (embarrased) Not quite my idea of a merry Christmas!
Robertson : Certainly one you would never forget.
I’m not sure if the owner took offence to the slip-up but both men no longer work at 2SM !!!!
Larry King’s Dalai Lama blunder
While watching Larry King interview the Dalai Lama on CNN early
this year I was astonished to hear King enquire of his guest what he,
as a leading Muslim, thought of the New Year’s celebration.
The Dalai Lama – leader of Tibetan Buddhism and 14th incarnation
of Avalokitesvara – politely sidestepped the Islamic label and moved
ahead with the discussion.
Fuckin hard work playin thugby league
About 1988, Queensland had a prop called Sam Backo. Sam was
substituted after playing about 60 minutes of a blinder, and was
accosted by the idiot running the line mike for Channel 9, who asked
the least inventive question of the night, “What was it like out there,
“Fuckin’ hard, mate,” said Sam and walked straight past him to a well earned XXXX or twenty.
Giant chocolate factory fires
An ABC newsreader in Perth in the late 70’s – early 80’s (who
later became a short lived liberal politician) was reading an item
about an overseas chocolate factory which had burnt down. The
dimensions of the chocolate factory was said to be X kilometers by Y
kilometers. After a brief pause with a quizzical expression, he then
said words to the effect of ” … they must have made large
chocolates.” I later heard he was hauled over the coals for this.
CRIKEY: Sounds like the corpulent Mr Cameron.
Killing the Queen mum early
Some years ago Crikey’s old mate Steve Price put the Queen Mother
into an early grave based on an errant wire report, if memory serves. A
couple of hours later he delivered a grovelling apology but was still
being razzed about the incident on air by his colleagues in his last
week at 3AW. Couldn’t happen to a nice bloke.
Snoring on air in Moree
Back in the late 60s on Radio 2VM in Moree, a broadcaster, Bob
Murray, was due to do the early morning breakfast shift on a Saturday
morning. As Bob had been out all night partying, he decided not to go
home to bed but to go straight from the party to work. During the first
half hour of being on air while a record was playing Bob decided to put
his head down on the console for a 3 minute nap. What he didn’t realise
was that he had left the microphone on and after the record had
finished all that could be heard was his very heavy breathing. An early
morning listener alerted the local police thinking Bob was being
strangled, and the police subsequently contacted the station manager
who arrived at the station a short time later to find Bob still sound
asleep on the console.
Classic moment on radio 5AN here in Adelaide last year . In the
early morning while listening to Tony Delroy suddenly the local
announcer started giving the local weather.
But curiously he stopped and started again. After a couple of go’s
it became apparent to listeners that he was doing the prerecorded
weather and had no idea that it was going to air.
His frustration grew and so did the listeners tension as we all
waited for the inevitable expletives that just had to come. Don’t
swear, don’t swear I said to my radio but it finally got the better of
him and it started with a “Bloody Hell!!” and went on from there. Aunty
would not have been impressed.
Harry Potter’s faceless face down body
My all time favorite was a story by Channel Ten’s Harry Potter.
Police had found a torso by the roadside. Harry’s story went like
” The headless body lay face down in the gutter….”
Feet on the desk, fag in hand
Former 3AW GM, Mike Peterson, still gets royalty cheques, I
believe, from bloopers shows when he was caught on TV – possibly during
an election coverage – with feet up on desk and fag in hand when he was
crossed to earlier than expected and responds with a surprised look and
a bit of a swear.
Singaporean election stuff-ups
The Singapore Broadcasting Service decided to dazzle viewers with
CNN style election night coverage called ‘Election ’84 – The Future for
Singapore’. They had all the equipment for live crosses to tally rooms,
analysts on the spot, men in suits – but rather missed the point that
interest is limited when the population knows darn well who’s going to
A live cross was made to interview one of the few opposition
candidates – an old trooper who LKY had gaoled for a decade. The
interviewer started with a non-directive question: ‘Everyone says you
lost today because you are not intelligent’.
“No, I lost because SBS is owned by the Government and is so biased”
Fantastic! Everyone thought at last we were going to get some real political debate on SBS.
Interviewer: ‘Er… no… you lost because you are no good…Let’s cross to the studio’
The cross failed.
Candidate: ‘Look you’re trying to cut me off now. You’re just puppets of the PAP brmmph…’
We watched amazed as the journalist put his hand across the mouth of the candidate and yelled ‘Please – over to the studio’
The camera turned and started filming a nearby drain and all you could hear was ‘Puppets! Puppets! Let me speak?’
Back at the studio the shocked Election panel moved straight on to
a penetrating story about a PAP candidate who was celebrating his
And that was the only time in Singapore I ever heard free political debate on the media!
Baring a Kiwi butt
From across the Tasman – years ago – before television – the NZBC
had an elderly and charming presenter Maude Basham – known as Aunt
Daisy – she had a mumsy little program that was meant to emanate from
her kitchen – she started the show each morning with the immortal words
“Good morning, good morning, good morning New Zealand. Isn’t it a
beautiful day? The sun is streaming right up my back passage.”
Cheers, Mary Ann
How Angela Catterns killed Doris Day
Angela Catterns declared Doris Day dead on ABC local radio on Jan
31, 2002 when she was a live and well and living in Carmel, California.
Several ABC listeners called the station just before 8am to query the
entertainer’s demise after Catterns introduced a song, Perhaps,
Perhaps, Perhaps, saying: “And here’s the late Doris Day, sadly.”
When the AM morning news went to air, a producer logged onto the
Internet and surfed for Doris Day Web sites to double-check the facts.
At 8.42am, after AM had ended, Catterns confirmed Day’s passing: “In
the first half of Breakfast I played a Doris Day track and referred to
her as the late Doris Day and we had a number of calls from people who
didn’t actually realise she had died. I’m sad to say that she did die.
She died on the 27th of October, 1999, and she was aged 88.”
King George’s stutter
My Grandfather, now aged 92, worked for many years for the BBC.
This is his contribution to the Crikey collection of media foul-ups –
and I don’t think there’s many who can beat this story.
In 1937, he was assigned to a team recording George V1’s first
radio Christmas Message to the Commonwealth. As history documents,
George V1 had a very bad stutter when he took the Throne following the
resignation of his brother for ‘that American woman’. My Godfather says
that King George was taking intensive speech therapy and he was being
taught to monitor the speed of his conversation by drawing rhythmic
circles on his thigh as he spoke. Rather off-putting to watch!
The BBC team spent the whole day recording sentence after sentence
with the vague hope they may be able to splice a speech together
without the stuttering. Finally they got to the last paragraph where
George was supposed to say, ‘Goodnight and I wish you a very Happy
Christmas and Prosperous New Year.’ George simply could not say it.
Words were amended. Every change of inflection was tried – but King
George could not say the greeting without stuttering badly. Finally the
team were amazed to hear George yell out in a final take, ‘Goodnight
and a Wub-a-Dub-Ducky to you all’. With that King George stood up and
left the BBC studios.
The team were stunned. Even if they could splice together a taped
message without stuttering, they did not have the crucial ending of the
King wishing the Commonwealth a Happy Christmas. They tried getting a
few announcers to say the words ‘Happy Christmas’ – but no one actually
sounded very much like the king. With the date of broadcast drawing
near, the BBC team decided static on the tape was their only option and
people across the Commonwealth found they had very bad wireless
reception at the end of the ’37 Kings Christmas Address.
And the tape of George V1 wishing everyone a ‘Wub-a-Dub-Ducky’? It
apparently survived at BBC Christmas parties for a few years, but one
day someone went to get it off the shelf – and it just wasn’t there.
John Blackman’s incorrect correction
A few years back I worked as a media monitor for our friends at
Rehame. This was the only time in my life I have ever listened to John
Blackman on 3AK. One morning, Blackman was reading a quote from Derryn
Hinch. I don’t remember the topic but I remember the following sentence
Quoting Hinch, Blackman said: “Maybe I’m being Don Quixote,
jousting at windmills.” He then snorted: “I think he means tilting at
windmills.” Why is this so funny? Because Blackman took it upon himself
to correct Hinch phrase, straight after reading ‘Don Quixote’
phonetically as ‘Don Quicksote’.
Ian Chappell’s swearing
Forgive me if you’ve already printed this but so far I’ve been
unable to find any reference to this blooper. I watched it live on a
sports show, and it was the most shocking and hilarious blooper I’ve
It happened back in the early eighties- well before the f word was
used on telly.) It was Ian Chappell on Channel Nine’s Wide World of
Sports. My husband and I were totally stunned to hear him let loose
with “Jesus Fucking Christ”.
They went immediately to a commercial (as you would) and returned
with only one commentator and no Chappell in sight, and no mention of
what had happened or where the missing Chappell was.
More on Chappell’s fine effort
The words ‘Jesus Fucking Christ’ bellowing from the TV are fondly
remembered by me. Twas 1981 (I think) and I was bored watching Wide
World of Sport on a typical Sunday. Ian Chappel was about to throw to
some sport injury-like footage of a skier going arse over head. When
the footage rolled showing the skier welcoming a new broken bone that a
voice enthusiastically exclaiming ‘Jesus Fucking Christ’ could be
heard. When Ian did appear back on screen (with that other dork with
the mo) they were both red faced and nervous. They then claimed that a
radio mike was left on in error.
There is a guy I know who claimed to be watching a boxing match
that Gus Mercurio was commentating on (Back when Channel 10 took a
fling on budget sport shows in late 80’s) which Gus referred to a boxer
as ‘Looking like a real mean cunt’. A tale that in TV folk law is
Emulating Robin Gray on air
This happened some years ago in Tasmania. The Saturday morning
newsreader, based in Hobart, was pre-recording a weather break for
Launceston to be played out the back of a news bulletin networked
around the state. He was talking up the line to the Launceston studio.
Unaware the news booth was actually on air and we could hear the banter
between the studios, he then proceeded to do a ripper impersonation of
then Liberal Premier, Robin Gray. Gray, aka the whispering bulldozer,
had a distinctive sound, which the newsreader was doing his best to
emulate, live to air, across Hobart. The event went almost totally
Cheers, Name Withheld
George Donekian’s pre-record
Driving on the way to work I heard George Donikian filling in on
5AA Radio in Adelaide a year or two ago! ( I Pissed myself laughing!)
“We now welcome to the program the managing director of Le’cornus
Furniture, Mr Le’cornu” (response-)” Sorry George what are we going to
talk about?” (George-) “Sorry mate that’s ok I ‘ll start again, In five
four three two one We now welcome to the …… (Ten minutes later)” in
five four three two one”. By this time I had arrived at work and was
still listening to take after take and by now in complete shock as this
was 1 o’clock in the afternoon on a weekday! I never did hear them come
back on live and can only presume a somewhat embarrassed George did
eventually return. Funny thing he didn’t last that long after that! (it
would take far to long to print all the takes but you get the gist!)
TV Employee Adelaide (ABC)
Psychic stuff-ups in banana country
Local Sunshine Coast radio station 92.7 MIX-FM carried an evening program last year where a “psychic” appeared regularly.
Usual thing – calls from listeners (usually younger women) wanting
forecasts of their lovelives, jobs, happiness etc. followed by soothing
replies from the “psychic” together with background clucking noises
from the credulous anchorentity.
Caller: “Will I meet someone?”
Psychic: “Yes of course you will, darling. I see you dancing – you
dance so well – and meeting that man and dancing through life together,
you know what I mean?”
Caller: “But I’m confined to a wheelchair…”
Cheers, The Sunshine Coaster
Melissa Doyle’s sunrise giggle fit
Melissa Doyle had an extended fit of the giggles around 6:40am on
Sunrise on March 12 this year. She giggled all the way through her
voice over of the overnight play in the cricket, completely lost it a
couple of times, apologised several times and assured viewers that she
would compose herself, but when she and Chris Reason cut to David Koch
in the finance centre, her laughter barely abated.
I’m not sure what Chris Reason is doing under that table but he’s
doing a marvellous job of keeping a straight face, other than the odd
raised eyebrow and a “you can’t take her anywhere” comment.
Cheers, Early Bird
KAK’s prostate cancer question
Has anyone said anything about Kerr-Anne Kennerly on the Midday
Show? She was talking to an expert on Prostrate Cancer and she inquired
on what percent of women get this cancer. The bloke was absolutely
flabbergasted and took a moment to regain composure and continue.
Gaming Minister Dick Face
WIN News Canberra 6pm Bulletin Wednesday 7 March 2002
Peter Leonard while reading a story on the dispute between the NSW
Govt and the ACT Govt over gambling turnover taxes referred to the NSW
Gaming and Racing Minister as “Mr Dick Face”. Some writer obviously
thought it wouldn’t get through…but it did!
ABC gives us the trots
In the early 70’s, ABC TV in Sydney used to show the Harness
racing on a Friday night. Unfortunately, the voiceovers during the week
advertising the fact stated something along the lines of “watch the ABC
on Friday nights and We’ll give you the Trots…”. This was changed
after a few weeks.
The oldest blooper we’ve received so far
Early last centaury, Gladys Moncrieff (an Operatic singer) was
touring Australia. Whilst in Sydney, she had a nasty fall and broke her
leg. Plaster cast and crutches were then necessary. She was due to
travel by train to Melbourne for a few performances and she was greeted
by a large crowd at Central Station. A little girl gave her a small
posy of flowers. The whole scene was being described live to air on ABC
radio. As the train was pulling out of the station, he was heard to
remark that “Gladys Moncrieff has tied a posy of flowers to her crutch
and is waving it out of the window”. Silence.
All the Best, David
Some beauties from the Logies
Not TV newsreading stuff-ups, but nonetheless embarrassing clangers on live television by two of TV’s perennials:
At the Logie Awards some time in the 1970’s, host Bert Newton
(with one of his favourite phrases from The Don Lane Show) proudly
declares about Muhammad Ali standing to his left “I like the boy!”
After a moment Ali replies “What did you say?” Bert then unconvincingly
tried to explain that he had said “Roy”. Our host, and the rest of
Australia, knew what he had said.
Again at the Logies, this time in the 1980’s, host Sandy Roberts
gives himself the Boot in Mouth Award. The presentation had just been
made for Best Female Actor. Sandy, preparing to read the Best Male
Actor nominations, announces “And now for the big one.” The boos from
the audience were genuine.
David Gower’s pair of 69s
Here’s another memorable TV moment (I guess you really can’t call it a stuff-up)…
Australia vs. West Indies. 2nd Test match at the Gabba (I think),
1992/3 season. At the time, David Gower was guest commentating on
Nine’s Wide World Of Sports cricket coverage. After a particular end-of
over ad break, the camera was focused on the manual scoreboard, which
had Allan Border on 69 runs, and Greg Matthews on 69 runs. David Gower
then proceeded with the comments along the lines of; “Allan Border on
69, Greg Matthews on 69… a very comfortable position for the two of
them to be in…” Then there was a change in commentary, with Tony
Grieg saying shortly after; “Hehehe, you’ve got a dirty mind, David…”
Cheers and keep up the good work, Rob
Glenn Taylor’s pawn-maker giggle fit
Some years ago when Channel 10 used to do little 5 minute local
stories by Mark Suleau at the end of the news, they showed one they had
done on my husband, Jan Turecek,a potter who makes chess sets.
Glenn Taylor started giggling when announcing the forth-coming
story,obviously because of what he was going to say, which was
“Brisbane Valley pawn-maker”.
It was a deliberate insult. I have for years wanted to sue Channel
10 for what he said and got away with. The only reason I didn’t was
because my husband is elderly and with his bad English he hadn’t
noticed it. Everyone else did though.
I can’t believe that Channel 10 let it go. I have been angry for a long time about it and it ruined a lovely piece.
Richie Benaud’s dry wit
Who can forget Kim Hughes (Aus v Windies?) copping a pace ball to
the nether regions, and upon his valiant return Richie Benaud
commenting – “…and Kim Hughes returns to the crease with one ball
What an erection
In the early 70,s Peter May, broadcasting on BBC in a Wimbledon
match between Bjorn Borg? and another player when Bjorn returned an
amazing shot, stretching to the limit. Peter May yelled ” what an
erection”. For the next ten minutes there was total silence from the
commentators. It was truely amazing to watch ten minutes of Wimbleton
with obviously nobody able to say a word.
Great railway stations
In the early 70’s Brisbane radio station 4KQ used to have a
regular statement that HAD to be read at midnight every night. Why I do
not know, but it basically said who owned the station, where it was
located, its frequency etc. Anyway it ended with the statement ” 4KQ –
one of Australia’s great radio stations”. Well one night this guy, who
was new to the station, was reading the statement very carefully so as
not to make a mistake. However, at the end of it he said “4KQ – one of
Australia’s great railway stations!”.
Funny thing is, at that time of night there was probably more
people on a local railway station than listening! I was the guy
following him and he was concentrating on the words so much he didn’t
even realise he’d said it!
The David Koch porn video
My Favourite is the Channel Seven Sunrise program late last year
when they crossed to David Koch in the finance room. He has three
monitors behind him usually displaying something financial however this
particular morning one was definatley playing a porn movie. A quick cut
away and guess what something financial had replaced it.
David Koch explains
You have a very observant subscriber, but a couple of points of
clarification. The monitors I have behind me are tuned in to Bloomberg
and CNNfn. Apparently (obviously I can’t see it because my back is to
them) an ad break in the CNNfn show had a promo clip of a particularly
raunchy movie on the Optus movie channel which entailed a young women
unbuttoning her shirt and flashing part of her anatamony for a split
second. An eagle eyed editor at Seven also picked it up and the split
second “flash” was turned in to a 60 second slo-mo/replay feature for
the newsroom’s Christmas bloopers tape.
I must say there was unfortunately no spike in the ratings after
that but I’ve always wondered whether that subliminal “flash” affected
the testosterone levels of viewers that morning.
Keep up the good work, David Koch
Tony Greig’s huge……
Former English cricket captain turned commentator Tony Greig has
long had a foot in mouth problem. Remember in the 1970s when he said
the English would make the West Indians grovel. Instead they lost 5-0
at home. Then you had the mail-order bribe line a couple of years back
and a subscriber has now sent through the following:
“I don’t think anyone’s mentioned one of the many Tony Greig
idiocies. It was either a dull interstate game or an Australia A match.
Someone hit a (not very big) six. Seeing this, Tony screamed “That’s a
A couple of years back I lived in Cork, Ireland with my radio DJ
girlfriend. On the most popular commercial radio station in the county,
she forgot turn off her microphone during a song one Saturday morning.
We were all treated to a phone call with her sister for three tracks.
They gas bagged on about where we went out the night before and other
local gossip until she had to hang up to back announce the tracks. I
was desperately trying to ring the station to warn her but of course
she couldn’t answer as she was on the phone.
The other one was on one of her over-night shifts when she fell
asleep. With switchboard flashing she was out for 45 minutes. 45
minutes of dead air and she kept her job. Try that on MMM.
Dead Harold puns
During the news coverage of the Harold Holt saga at Portsea the
broadcaster was narrating the whole scene and the fact the search had
slowed somewhat, then with marvellous timing after a pause said “Yes,
the search has come to a dead halt”.
Did Glenn Ridge fail English at school?
This one is not a news-related number but it really happened – as
witnessed by myself, and thousands of other ‘Sale of the Century’ fans
– around 1996 or 1997 and is my most favorite TV clanger (one that,
perhaps even to this day, its engineer may be still be unaware of).
Host Glenn Ridge asked a question along the lines of “Who is the
author of Bridehead Revisited?” A contest correctly identified the
author as Evelyn Waugh, afterwhich the Ridge-man exclaimed, with the
enthusiasm of a fella who’s just found out that his English Lit. class
has been cancelled, “That’s the lady!”
This reflects very badly on the sort of person I am, but that
brief moment is one of my most treasured memories. Thank you, Glenn.
So much for a minute’s silence on November 11
I was the duty announcer on a large Queensland regional radio
station on Armistace Day when we paused for the traditional one
minute’s silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Unfortunately the tech’s had forgotten to disable the emergency
program tape at the transmitter. This is a tape that is meant to play
whenever there is a lengthy break (15 seconds or so) in programming
from the studio.
After 15 seconds of silence the song “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” came
blasting over the airwaves! The song was bad enough but we couldn’t
stop it. A tech had to make the 35 mintue drive to the transmitter to
stop the tape and restore programme from the studio.
Mal Meninga’s fucking motivational speeches
This one’s not a newsreading stuff-up, but sports coverage seems equally prone to on-air bloopers.
It was Channel Nine’s live coverage of the State of Origin Rugby
League match. It must have been sometime between 1991 and 1994, because
my interest in the sport didn’t last long after that. Mikes on the
paddock were still a relatively new innovation and Ray Warren et al
were in raptures about being able to broadcast the captain’s last
minute gee-up. Unfortunately, they weren’t prepared for Mal Meninga’s
novel motivational methodology, which was apparently to fit in as many
“f**ks”, “f**kens” and “f**kings” as possible. After at least a good
minute of Mal’s pep talk, the commentators’ voiceovers came over the
top of the footage, and the game went ahead without nary a mention of
Mal’s fireside chat.
Fish killed by orgasms
This is an oldy but a goodie. I heard on 3LO, in 1966, an
afternoon newsreader describing a fish kill due to bacterial
contamination in the Werribee River – “The fish were killed by millions
of tiny orgasms”.
Harry Potter’s headless body
My all time favorite was a story by Channel Ten’s Harry Potter.
Police had found a torso by the roadside. Harry’s story went like this:
“The headless body lay face down in the gutter”
From across the Tasman – years ago – before television – the NZBC
had an elderly and charming presenter Maude Basham – known as Aunt
Daisy. She had a mumsy little program that was meant to emanate from
her kitchen she started the show each morning with the immortal words
“Good morning, good morning, good morning New Zealand. Isn’t it a
beautiful day? The sun is streaming right up my back passage.”
Mal Walden’s shut-up
Just a quick one – you haven’t given Mal Walden’s legendary ‘shut
up’ a mention on the TV stuff-ups list. Remember when Mal was doing his
best to read the news on Channel Seven and there was some noise
emanating from camera left? He valiantly continued for a few moments
before turning around and shouting “for Christ’s sakes can you shut up,
can’t you see I’m trying to read the news here?”, then turned and
continued reading the story as if nothing had happened. I saw it on a
bloopers show a few years ago and even then it had mouths agog.
Today Tonight’s problems with problem gambling
Having found your collection of stories re the above very amusing
indeed, I was prompted to write after watching this evening’s edition
of Today Tonight (Monday 4 March 2002), where two failed attempts at
matching the intro with the vision led to an embarrassing “well, we
seem to be having problems with that one as well, ” and then a hasty
exit to an ad break. A tight-lipped presenter was visibly “not amused”
as the show hastily cut to the advertisements. Very uncomfortable, I
What was very amusing was that the intro to the story was about
problem gambling: each clip that followed could have been the right one
(it was still hard to work out after the first ten seconds of each),
with reports in the first set of pictures talking about “buying clothes
for kids can be a real lottery”; and vision of credit cards, bank
balances and dollar amounts in the second one !! I add that both
stoppages were well-handled by the anchor, nonetheless.
As for allegedly drunk presenters, NOTHING compares to Mike
Willesee’s contagious giggles – and then finally totally losing it – on
that famous stand-in night for Jana on A Current Affair, way back. What
an absolute crack-up THAT was!! – especially if one was witnessing it
live, and all the time wondering “what th….?”
Rock Hudson’s death
While relaying the news that Rock Hudson had passed away, TVW7’s
(Frede) Rick Ardon, noted that the actor had died at ‘Eucla’ Hospital –
not the WA border town, but the University of California, Los Angeles’
Should that be John Wayne’s death
Rick Ardon has cleared this one up for us:
Hi there –
I notice you’ve included the “real story” from news presenters misquoted on your website.
I’m the Channel 7 Perth news reader who supposedly read that Rock Hudson had died at the “Eucla hospital.”
For the no-name gossiper who sent it, it was actually John Wayne – 20 years ago.
Those were the days when you ripped urgent news from the telex and ran into the news break studio to read it “cold.”
In block capitals it read JOHN WAYNE HAS DIED AT THE UCLA MEDICAL CENTRE…and that’s the way it came out; “Eucla” as “UCLA” !
Breaking down on camera
I seem to remember Gary Carvolth (sic) breaking down on TV during
the racing. He was going out with Juanita Walsh (I think) a gossip
columnist and she broke it off. I think he had a complete mental
breakdown on camera.
Slipped a blue joke
I remember one from the “golden years” of local TV. It may have
been a GTV-9 newsreader that almost got to the end of a professionally
delivered news item when he suddenly realised it was a blue joke that
someone had slipped in his list of items.
He gave a great double take, followed by “fair crack!” just before
the punch line. It made it onto a to-air compilation one time, but I
haven’t seen it since.
The Spike Milligan episode
And the unfortunate passing of Spike Milligan has given radio
stations the chance to replay the clip that was alerted to us by a Sole
Subscriber. The Sole Subscriber’s recollection was muddied a little
given the passing of time (no crime there), so here’s the transcript in
ROD McNEIL: The news in brief. The Prime Minister Mr McMahon
arrived back in Australia today after his overseas tour, he told
newsmen at Sydney Airport that he could not have had more valuable
discussions with both President Nixon and the British Prime Minister Mr
SPIKE MILLIGAN: What about Spike Milligan?
ROD McNEIL: But he refused to give details of the discussions before he had spoken in the house.
SPIKE MILLIGAN: What about Spike Milligan?
ROD McNEIL: Mr McMahon also refused to comment when asked about
criticism of him by two former Ministers, Mr Gorton and Mr Killen.
SPIKE MILLIGAN: And Spike Milligan.
ROD McNEIL: The Prime Minister was met at the airport by his two children…
SPIKE MILLIGAN: And Spike Milligan.
ROD McNEIL: …and members of the Cabinet, including the Treasurer Mr Sneddon and Spike Milligan.
Australia’s national international airline Qantas has been awarded
a trophy by the British Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators for its
SPIKE MILLIGAN: And 33 crashes.
ROD McNEIL: Qantas is the second Australian airline to win the um
cumber batch trophy. TAA won it in 1958. The Australian Post Office is
doing good business in the United (laugh), in the United States
SPIKE MILLIGAN: Wo ho.
ROD McNEIL: An agent for the Post Office in New York says sales of
stamps to collectors could bring in $200,000 in the first year of
The South Australian Attorney-General Mr King has warned that
people in the state who stock or sell a New South Wales publication
Search Light run the risk of prosecution. Mr King said the three issues
of the publication that he had seen were obviously very offensive to a
great many people. Mr King was speaking in the South Australian
SPIKE MILLIGAN: Where there was nobody listening.
ROD McNEIL: More news in one hour.
SPIKE MILLIGAN: You’ll never make it.
Sledging a perfect drive
Golf fans watching the Ladies’ Masters event at Royal Pines last
week were no doubt amused as I was by the following episode on Channel
10. Unfortunately I can’t remember which players were involved, but
after two women had hit off on the first tee, the second player losing
the ball way to the right, we were subjected to Wayne Grady’s analysis
of the slow motion swing of player B… “notice the right shoulder
comes right over at the top, consequently the body is so far ahead of
the hands she has no hope of getting the hands back into position, so
you can see the club face is way open at impact, the ball has to go way
right from that position, and the follow through.. oh, hang on,
ummm……” as the awful truth dawns on him that we had just seen the
slow motion swing of Player A, who had creamed the ball straight down
the middle! How embarrassing!
Sorry, Grades, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take one of your swing analyses seriously again.
Straight sex victory
Then there was the Community Radio Network news broadcaster who
announced that in the Australian Open, Martina Hingis had beaten her
opponent “in straight sex”. Broke me up.
Taking a leak on air
In Canberra there is a community radio station called 2XX which in
the late 70s was run by a lesbian woman’s collective, and may well
still be. They would switch to JJJ overnight, then back to their studio
at 6AM for a nice little C&W music show presented by a large- and
-rough sounding person called, I think, Beryl. One morning, after
putting on a platter of the usual “my husband/wife’s cheatin’ on me”
variety, Beryl was heard to bellow to someone in the studio: “Look
after this for me will ya?! I’m goin’ out fer a piss!”
Peter Gee’s marathon climax
Around 11.36am (AEST) 23/09/1988, towards the end of the Olympic ladies marathon, Peter Gee said on ABC radio –
“We may see the four ladies shoulder to shoulder in the stadium, what a climax that would be.”
Jane Fleming’s splits
05/08/1996, immediately following the Olympics 4 x 400m women’s
relay, with the television broadcast showing unflattering closeups of
the competitors bending over in sweaty disarray while getting their
breath, ex-athelete Jane Fleming (as commentator) said – “I can’t wait
to see their splits.” (a technical reference to their times, I
Freddy bites the dust
This is not strictly a newsreader stuff-up but, nonetheless, one of the funniest I’ve heard directly.
I was listing to the local ABC in Canberra the day the news broke
that Freddie Mercury had died. The female compere hosting the afternoon
show made the expected but sincere comments about how unfortunate this
was, how he will be remembered as a great performer and songwriter, and
then threw to a tribute track intending to play ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Unfortunately she had cued the wrong track and then left the studio to
get a coffee or go to the toilet, so listeners had to wince through
three minutes of ‘Another one bites the dust’ before a very flustered
and embarrassed compere broke in and apologised profusely.
In fairness, the goss around town at the time was that the compere
was sight-impaired and made the mistake reading the braille on her CDs
and the panel. Not sure if that’s true because it sounds a little too
enlightened even for the ABC.
The batsman’s Holding the bowler’s Willey
The sporting stuff-ups on the site reminded me of the famous faux
pas by (I think) the BBC cricket commentator Brian Johnston back in the
early 1980s. There has been speculation it was deliberate but who’s to
As play resumed in the Test match betwen England and the West
Indies after a drinks break, the commentator told a surprised audience,
“The batsman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willey.”
That probably surpasses the famous remark by another commentator
years earlier, when England’s skipper (might have been Peter May)
finished a bowling stint and brought on a fresh bowler, leading the
radio commentator to explain that “The England captain has relieved
himself at the Pavilion end.”
Jim Middleton’s Tampax crisis
Early in the Tampa saga I am sure I heard and saw Jim Middleton
refer to the Nowegian freighter Tampax. With commendable presence of
mind he came back after some video and got it right. Did nobody else
notice? because I have been waiting ever since to hear it talked about.
Chicken man’s mohawk
The late Vincent Smith on the departed 11AM continually broke up
on screen after a story about a boy grtting a haircut. The boy looked
like he had a coloured mohawk. Vincent thought he looked like a
chicken. I saw it live and it was funny. Vincent kept cracking up for
the rest of the program.
Brett Ogle goes to putty
It may not be a newsreader but I remember vividly one of the best ever stuff ups that came from golfer Brett Ogle.
As part of the usual glorified and over-inflated build up for a
golf tournament the seven network was covering, they decided at the
start of the final rounds program that they would have 3 or 4
commentators at various points around the course discussing there
position on the course and why that particular spot would be crucial to
the result of the days play. It commenced on the 5th Green and Sandy
Roberts professionally completed an articulate and excitable
explanation of the importance of nailing the putts, he then crossed to
the professional golfer – yet amateur sports caster Brett Ogle, who
seemingly started off OK but then all of a sudden lost his way.
(obviously struggling with no autocue on the 13th Fairway) He turned to
putty and obviously forgot he was live to air as he remarked “Oh S**t
is that bad” as he literally collapsed into a ball of laughter on the
ground. The director quickly cut to a startled Pat Welsh on the 18th
who attempted to gain what little dignity may have been left for the
Hutchey’s radio dial
Channel 7 and MMM’s very own Craig Hutchey Hutchison, dropped this
clanger last year on MMM. Yes the Bulldogs have won the toss and are
kicking to the left of your radio dial!
Pluses and minuses of tennis on the BBC
I remember hearing a BBC tape of stuff ups. The one I remember
best was of a newsreader giving the tennis scores. It was obvious she
knew nothing about tennis. The score she gave was that player A beat
player B 6 MINUS 3, 7 MINUS 5, 6 MINUS 1.
Pulled up by the balls
In the late 1970s a solo announcer/operator for Toowoomba radio
station 4GR had a few too many tubes one night after work and decided
to sleep at the studio because he was on first thing in the morning,
He slept in a bit and just managed to press all the switches or
whatever about 10 minutes after schedule. Then he went on air and
apologised for his lateness. He said:
“Sorry folks for being a bit late but I had an accident in my car
on the way to the studio. In fact I was trapped in my car and had to be
pulled out by the balls.’
“I’d like to thank Mr and Mrs Ball for their help.”
Unfortunately the station manager, Russell Wilson, happened to
have insomnia and was listening. He rang up and sacked him on the spot
and 4QR had 20 minutes of silence before they could get another
announcer to the mike.
Giggling fits at Channel 10
And the Richard Morecroft giggling story reminded me that Steve
Raymond on Channel 10, Sydney, in the early 70s had a similar
affliction during their 15 minute Saturday evening bulletin. His
laughing fit lasted the entire 15 minutes and it was one of the
funniest things I’ve ever seen. I remember it clearly as I worked at 10
News at the time. I don’t remember any repercussions or comment the
next week, which probably proves that absolutely no one else was
watching, which was pretty standard for TEN at the time.
Sandy Roberts at the beauty pageant
This one is a TV News legend from not so long ago.
Channel 7’s sports commentator, Sandy Roberts, was an MC or
whatever at a beauty pageant and one of the contestants had the
unfortunate surname of Miss Dick.
When he was introducing the lass to the stage, he referred to her
as “Miss Cock”. No need to say there were red faces all round thanks to
Sandy’s entertaining mixup!!
Now that we’ve opened the vault on the international stuff ups here’s my all time favourite..
Pat Glenn (British Commentator) previewing the women’s weightlifting one afternoon on the BBC.
“This is Gregoriava from Bulgaria….I saw her snatch this morning and it was amazing.”
And, even though this isn’t really a sporting column this one
rules too – Ted Walsh, Horse Racing Commentator: “This is really a
lovely horse, I once rode her mother.”
Dropping the f-bomb in the overnight weather
Have just read your column on media stuffups… and piss funny stuff it is too !!!
We had a beauty last year at the ABC in South Australia, on the
overnight radio news service. The program is nationally syndicated of
course… but after news bulletins, a pre-recorded weather plays off
the d-cart to give some pretense of local content.
On one particular night, my poor colleague got a little flustered
pre-recording the regional weather, and dropped the magic word (f****n)
after a missed take.
As fate would have it, that was the one that slipped through, and
that magic word went to air after the 0100, 0200, 0300, 0400, and 0500
The only indication anything amiss, was just one phonecall to the
morning sub-editors after the 0500 bulletin, diverted from Sydney.
Regards, ABC Staffer
In the early ’70s Scottish Television had a very famous presenter
named Bill Tennant. Bill hosted a tea-time lightweight news and current
affairs show with a “Home&Garden” slot in the middle. The hostess
of the home&garden slot was a woman named Fanny Craddock, a fairly
famous TV cook at the time.
In one wonderful show Fanny Craddock was showing the audience how
to make doughnuts. As usual the show ended with Fanny Craddock handing
round whatever she had made that evening, usually accompanied by Bill
Tennant’s farewell remarks.
On this particular evening, and bear in mind this was the 70s,
Bill farewelled the audience and followed up with the immortal line:
“…and I hope all your doughnuts turn out like Fanny’s”.
There was a two second pause followed by spluttered doughnut all
over the studio as the entire cast and crew realised what had been
The 8 inch promise
This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a
very embarrassed female news anchor who will, in the future, likely
think twice before she speaks.
What happens when you predict snow but don’t get any….
True story…we had a female news anchor who, the day after it was
supposed to have snowed and didn’t, turned to the weatherman and asked
“So Bob, where’s that 8 inches you promised me last night?”
Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too they were laughing so hard!
F-bombs and drunk presenters
My personal favourite is the on-air stuffup that allowed an
obviously “tired and emotional” Mike Willesee to anchor A Current
Affair in the early 90s.
However, I recall tuning in to the FOX station in Los Angeles to
see reporter Andrew Warne (ex Ch 10 in LA, now Showtime’s entertainment
reporter) live at the scene of a murder or whatever.
The anchor in the studio threw the first question, but obviously
Andrew didn’t know he was on the air dropping the f word “what the
****’s going on.”
The anchor, looking embarrassed, said something like “well
obviously technical problems there, but we’ll be crossing back to the
scene after a break.”
Well, after the break, they did try to cross back to Andrew who was still looking confused, dropping the f word once again.
They cut back to the anchor who said something like “we’ll move on from that story.”
Later in the bulletin, the anchor read an apology on behalf of FOX
for the innapropriate language. It goes without saying that the
switchboard had lit up (maybe even Rupert was on the line!).
That was a nightmare I’m sure Andrew and FOX would like to forget, but it obviously hasn’t harmed his career.
Falling asleep at the microphone
I once fell asleep while on a late night radio news shift. I was
all ready to go when I decided to rest my head on the desk while I
waited the 15 minutes to roll around before the bulletin. I woke up in
a panic after about a minute of silence / the music that comes in when
there’s “dead air” and started the bulletin late – dropping a couple of
stories to try to get out in time to go back to the network. There
wasn’t one complaint (weird) and it didn’t change the newsroom policy
of working staff 10 days in a row, but needless to say I didn’t do it
Anne Fulwood’s geography
If I recall correctly, didn’t Anne Fulwood qualify for this during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?
During a live cross with some CNN lovely, Fulwood was asked a
fairly simple question about how many states Australia had, and, after
much um-ing and ahh-ing, announced something along the lines of “eight
states and two territories.” Quickly realising her mistake, she began
correcting herself, but still managed to stuff it up.
BTW, wasn’t it those very same Olympics that Seven returned from a
commercial break, only to show Gary Wilkinson fast asleep at the desk ?
You gotta love a crew that lets that happen!
Cheers, Subscriber in the film business
Many years ago, longer than I care to remember, in the good old
days of black & white, an experienced long-time newsreader on ABC
in Sydney named John Chance read a story about a woman who was bitten
on the funnel by a finger web spider.
From that time on he was known as the Finger Web Spider Man and
the incident even rated a mention in his obituary years later in the
Regards, Old Timer Bob.
There’ll be no hurricane tomorrow
The weather is notoriously hard to predict. Ever since Michael
Fish famously declared on national television in October 1987 that
there was going to be no hurricane, the day before the worst storms
since 1703, people have been wary of weather reports – especially those
on the BBC.
Stegall becomes Zeggle
Was I mistaken or during last night’s (Feb 22) Channel 10
Melbourne News, did sports anchor Stephen Quartermain repeatedly refer
to Australian skier Zali Steggall as “Zeggle”?
I am positive he read it twice in a live voiceover script which
referred to her only by surname. He seemed to hesitate during the read
and looked a little uncertain when he came back on-camera.
It’s the sort of mistake that would be easy for a presenter to
make if he hasn’t carefully pre-read a script written for him by
someone else. No reflection on Stephen as it’s a rush to get to air at
5pm and it’s often difficult to pre-read everything.
Cheers, Melb subscriber
Richard Moorcroft’s giggle fit
Very early on when Richard was new to the ABC TV news and was
reading the late evening edition he was required to read a piece about
a rural council by-law being passed that required farmers to provide
screens/curtains to obscure their stallions if they were servicing a
mare on the main street of the town! The story was bizarre enough in
its own right to be on a national news program but Richard read it out
in his usual professional manner until he got to the bit about the
screens and stallions serving mares on the main street and completely
lost it. He was hit by an attack of the giggles and tried to read the
story again but at the same point in the story burst into laughter
reduced to tears. He and was unable to complete the piece nor continue
with the news for some time. We were also crying with laughter at the
weirdness of the story and Richard attempts to deliver it. I’m sure
those that also saw the story and recall it were probably doing the
Naturally some of the best TV stuff-ups have occurred in regional
television which is pathetically under funded, leading to crap
equipment, young inexperienced staff and a low care-factor on quality.
WIN TV Shepparton suffered a few years ago when intros were being
pre-recorded from Ballarat and cut together with stories by an editor
in Shepparton. The occasional mistake could be re-taken and edited out
– if the editor was not too busy doing something else while hitting the
auto-edit button. On this occasion the sports reader had trouble with
the name of a town in the region, stumbling several times before giving
up and exclaiming “f****** Shepparton”. You’ll not be surprised to know
this ended up going to air. Better still, the said sports reader was
also facing a pre-selection battle for an upper house Liberal seat the
following week. Whether the ensuing media coverage of the “f*****
Shepparton” out-take had anything to do with it or not, we’ll never
know, but he lost the pre-selection by a couple of votes. He had the
last laugh though, cos the Libs lost the seat anyway.
Gagging a live cross
Not long after Channel 10 Perth went to air in the late 80’s a
young reporter Anthony Hasluck was reporting live from the scene of a
truckies dispute alongside a highway somewhere.
He seemed to be struggling, and it soon became very obvious. He
suddenly paused, then after a period of silence told a shocked
newsreader “S*** I can’t go on”
John Gatfield’s “oh shit” suspension
Hope you enjoy this story as much I enjoyed seeing it happen.
John Gatfield, who is now at Sky News, was formerly employed at
Channel 9 in Sydney. In January 1988 he was reading a short live-to-air
newsbreak one afternoon when newsreader disaster struck. Rather than
using an autocue, he had pages that he was reading off. He
mispronounced some words, got in a bother, then flicked over to the
next page but somehow managed to drop the sheets over the front of the
desk. He quickly reached over to try and grab them but missed and
loudly exclaimed in utter frustration ‘Oh shit!’ The newsbreak then cut
to a commercial. Gatfield was suspended by Channel 9 apparently on full
pay for some time after this.
There was a bit of media coverage of this incident so maybe you can trace it.
Best wishes, Brian Henderson (not really)
John Gatfield clarifies what really happened
The afternoon update concerned was pre-recorded, with vision then
to be laid over the reader, and there was an absolute rule that the
editor recording the update should rewind the tape if there was a false
take, and record over it. Another complication that day was that the
person writing the update left it to the last minute and we were right
on deadline, instead of doing it half an hour before.
What then happened was that I half stumbled over a word, kept
going, and stumbled again – in annoyance with myself said “shit” …the
first and only time I have ever said anything like that with a
microphone near – and we were set to record again, this time without a
problem. The result? The editor, who had inserted vision in the
meantime, had failed to obey instructions and had not rewound the tape
for the second recording, then she rewound it to the false take. The
director, in the control room, realized what happened a split second
too late, and reached for the kill button just as the offending word
went to air. I was blissfully unaware of what had happened, working on
a script, until the phones started ringing
Sam Chisholm decreed that I should not read on air for a month –
it wasn’t a suspension as such as I was working as a reporter – but the
funny part was that many callers, including a neighbour of mine, were
concerned that I’d been taken ill on air.
I always accepted responsibility – but it was also a combination of circumstances involving other people.
Anyway, now that I’ve read many, many thousands of bulletins here
at Sky News, and been on air for 7 or 8 or 9 hours at a stretch, I can
look back and laugh – but I’m always aware that the next embarrassment
is only a slip-up away.
Not hearing Peacock’s answers
Who can forget the 7.30 Report Perth edition during the 1989
election campaign. Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock had just arrived in
the West, with a political crisis raging back East. During the flight
he had decided to sack a troublesome front bencher, and to get some
politcal mileage he planned to use the 7.30 Report to announce it.
He asked the obvious question “what are you going to do?” and
provided the statesmen-like answer “he’s been sacked” but somehow the
poor old anchor Michael Heath missed the important words and, with
producers and the TV audience squirming continued to pressure the
Opposition Leader asking again and again what he was going to do about
his front bencher.
Finally an exasperated Opposotion Leader shouted “This is extraordinary, you just don’t get it do you!”
It still didn’t get through. Heath had refused to wear an
earpiece, believing he didn’t need any prompting from his producer. The
whole event was watched by a disbelieving Canberra press gallery pack.
Not long after Mr Heath left, and tape of the incident became part of
the ABC training on how NOT to carry out an interview
The Beeb says Harry snorted coke
One of the funniest stuff-up’s over here ( London ) happened on
the very dignified Breakfast with Frost program on BBC 1. It was the
morning the Harry pot-head (as the tabloids labeled it ) story broke
and Frost was doing a cross from outside Highgrove with the extremely
experienced Nicholas Witchell. It was soon clear that despite being a
stalwart royal correspondent , he was no expert on the difference
between class A, B and C drugs.
During the cross he referred to Harry’s experimentation with
“cocaine”. After a while Frost interjected and said “can you repeat
that Nicholas – Prince Harry has been snorting cocaine?” …..penny
drops and the next three minutes are spent by both Frost and Witchell
refuting the suggestion that Harry has ever used the class A substance
– even the old pro’s working on the best resourced station in the
country can get it very wrong.
Geoff Raymond’s Holt clanger
My favourite TV story was admitted by the culprit himself, though
someone will have to furnish his name: he was the ABC Melbourne
newsreader for many years (that would be Geoff Raymond – ed).
Reflecting on his long career, he said the worst moment was a live
report from Cheviot Beach, reporting the disappearance of Prime
Minister Harold Holt. Concluding his report, he said: “So at this stage
the search has come to a dead halt.”
Regards, Andrew H
Beeb’s round the grounds stuff-up
Best stuff-up I ever heard was on the BBC in London where I used
to live. Each Saturday night they’d go “around the grounds” for soccer
and rugby wrapups and in one (obviously pre-recorded) moment of lunacy
the panel op would have choked on his devon sandwiches when the
reporter at the ground said “It’s been a marvellous game today, with
Everton proving too good for, oh, fuck, I’ve well and truly fucked that
one up. Sorry James, i’ll start again. From the top…” It was cut
there. One can only imagine the heads that rolled…
Cheers, TV Producer-type
Dropping the F-bomb on Prime
When Prime in Canberra still did local news, the newsreader cut to
a live cross to Jo Elsom out on location somewhere. However Jo wasn’t
aware she was live and got flustered, leading to a very loud and clear
use of the f-word to the 4 people watching Prime News that night.
Ross Symonds left with egg on his face
You’re always cautious to point out someone else’s stuff ups,
because it is a case of “there but for the grace of God go I”, but I do
remember a ripper in 1996.
It was the day Keating called the 1996 Federal election, a
Saturday if I remember, though with the passing years, there is always
a chance my memory if faulty and it is in fact a different year’s
Anyway, poor old Ros Symonds presented the Channel 7 news in
Sydney that night and faced the worst technical stuff-up I have ever
He read the intro to the first story on the election being called.
No tape rolled. After one of those horrible pauses when it was obvious
there was a problem, he moved to the second story on the opposition’s
response. Cue to story, nothing happened. By this stage the body
language was not good, and Symonds said “We seem to be having a few
technical difficulties tonight”.
So, he moves on to the third story, reads the intro, cue to story,
nothing happens again. Little noises can be heard from the studio
floor, and it is clear there is panic in the control room, as no-one
seems to be able to tell Symonds in his ear-piece what is going on. At
least he didn’t have to resort to the phone, that last desperate
stand-by when it all falls apart.
So, there is nothing left to do but cut to a commercial break.
Even then, there were a few moments of black, the transmission people
obviously being caught short by the emergency commercial break.
Eventually, after a longer than normal break, back to Ross Symonds, who
says “Right, now perhaps we better start all over again” and goes back
to the first story. Problem free broadcast from that point.
Marie-Louise Thiele’s arsehole husband
Who can forget Marie-Louise Thiele’s classic on Channel Ten’s news in Brisbane in 2000?
Thiele thought she was off-air when talking to her co-presenter
(was it Australia’s answer to George Hamilton, Mr Smoothy Glenn
Taylor?). Unfortunately, they cut back from an ad break unexpectedly
early and the dozens and dozens of Channel Ten’s viewers heard Thiele
say “But this arsehole I’m married to, he goes, ‘Oh I want to go
skiing, oh OK, I want to go to Europe, oh OK’ …the minute he’s
Thiele apologised the following night to viewers and probably to her hubby that very night.
More on Marie-Louise
Neal questioned whether Marie Louise Thiele in Brisbane was
talking to smoothy Glen Taylor when she famously referred to her
husband on TV as an arsehole during an early return from a newsbreak.
In fact Glenn had been sacked by TEN some time earlier for
slipping in the words ‘by his testicles’ under his breath at the end of
a sports story that finished with words something like “hung up”.
Unfortunately for Glenn the mike was a little louder than he expected
and it gave TEN the excuse they were looking for. They claimed heaps of
complaints (yeah right).
No such bad news for Marie darling of the Brisbane fashion and
racing scene. All is forgiven. There was certainly heaps of coverage of
her pregnancy following the ‘arsehole’ event.
Well who was it then? Geoff Mullins was the replacement for Glenn
but as Neale is correct he’s not the most memorable of Brissie
newsreaders certainly not like a Frank Warrick.
Glenn Taylor now hosts 4BC radio in Brisbane the Lawsie station and is certainly an opinionated Sunday host.
Love ya work, anon
Exposed wearing jeans in Tasmania
Southern Cross Television reader in Tasmania Steve Titmus will
remember this one (although he would rather forget). One night a couple
of years ago there was some sort of stuff up with a news piece – the
last of the night and following the weather. In a fit of pique as soon
as the music sounded to end the bulleting Titmus push back his chair
and threw a sheaf of papers into the air. Like all good news readers he
was wearing jeans so that was not too bad BUT the techs had not crossed
to the station logo and the whole little hissy fit went to air.
WINTV’s debut broadcast in Canberra
Regarding technology running amuck on live television news, you
could do worse than check out the tape of the very first broadcast into
the Canberra market by the (then) newly aggregated station WINTV.
It’s over ten years ago now, but poor old Peter Russell (who moved
on just afterward) had to deal with a full half hour of stuff ups and
cock ups – ya had to feel for the guy.
Keep up the good work
Ten’s Perth cock-up out of Sydney
Crikey has never seen a news bulletin before with 3 balls ups in a
row and would be keen to hear from anyone who can think of a worse
Just last week, one night at 5pm on Ten News in Perth, their two
lead stories were announced – but the story shown was completely
different. Worse still, the lead story they had shown by accident was a
Sydney story about state politics that would never have gone to air in
WA. Both stories were run in their entirety, with a quick apology by
newsreader Celina Edmonds at the end, and then they just continued with
the running sheet.
Perth is of course a victim of having its news operations run out
of Sydney, with our “local” presenters sitting in front of a map with
Sydney highlighted in their Sydney newsroom.
More stuff-ups from the you beaut Southbank news centre
Re your call for on-air stuff-ups of note. This one was on the ABC
Sunday night 7pm bulletin on 3 February – just over a fortnight ago.
Nothing much unusual – unless you count the total lack of audio
for the first six, count ’em, SIX minutes. Mute ABC news theme, mute
headlines, mute good evening, mute intro to World Economic Forum story,
mute tape story, mute intro to Jakarta Floods story, mute tape story…
Then, in desperation, at 7.06pm, they crashed live into Sydney’s
ABC 7pm bulletin, whereupon Melbourne viewers were treated to the above
two stories WITH audio.
Then – local problem fixed – they crashed back into the Melbourne
bulletin. Embarrassed Kathy Bowlen (who had been blithely reading sans
audio, goldfish-style, for six minutes previously – evidently no-one
told her) apologises and presses on bravely. What’s next?
Of course, the World Economic Forum and Jakarta Floods yarns, for
the third time (although admittedly only for the second time with
By this time the remainder of the Melbourne bulletin has
apparently been dropped so we can go straight to sport. Wouldn’t you be
thrilled as a reporter or COS to have slaved all day to produce a local
story or two to see it hurled out the door at 7.10pm because the
technology died and no-one kept an eye on what Sydney was putting to
air. So some stories were effectively shown three times and others not
Not the ABC’s finest half hour. My name also not for publication thanks. I have to work in the industry.
Many years of amateur hour
The amateur hour at the ABC has been with us for years, but has
been increasing in incident over the last year – notably on NewsRadio,
otherwise an excellent service despite the frequency of repetition of
stories. The one characteristic of NewsRadio is an apparent inability
to operate the D-Cart system, resulting in the wrong lead in to the
right story, or vice versa, occurring at least a few times a day.
Apparently SCOSE (Standing Committee on Spoken English) has not
ventured to the studios of NewsRadio either. Incorrect pronunciations
and word usage is common.
The most recent example of amateur hour in Melbourne was a couple
of weeks ago when viewers of the evening news were treated to much
silence and then 10 minutes of Sydney’s news before reverting to the
scheduled service. No apology, indication or suggestion that anything
was wrong during this episode until the end – about twenty minutes
later. But this sort of standard of operation is par for the course at
the ABC – sheltered workshop that it is. A fine example being the
recruitment of Matthew Abraham to co host the 8:30 – 12:00 slot
weekdays on Adelaide’s 5AN station. They only managed to get rid of him
a few short years ago, contributing to his meteoric career path
downwards from the lofty heights of the Adelaide office of the
Australian, then the Advertiser, then the local Catholic Church rag.
Now it’s back to the ABC. This is much like the operation of ABC radio
in Melbourne. Seems it is like this all around the country,
CNN and Monica Lewinsky
I was reading your Newsreading stuff-ups section when I remembered
an absolute classic on CNN. It was around the second week of the whole
Monica Lewinsky scandal, and a lengthy report was being shown about
further allegations of oral sex. We then flash back to a completely
deadpan reporter who says: “…this has been another serious blow for
the Clinton administration.” My friend and I were rolling on the floor.
Keep up the good work, Greg
Drunks on the ABC in Canberra
The worst news stuff up I recall were caused by the newsreader,
not technology problems. I can’t recall which year it was, but probably
late eighties, early nineties – on the ABC in Canberra. It was an early
afternoon bulletin on New Years Day, being read by one of the regular
relief newsreaders – a normally dignified-looking, grey-haired gent. On
this occasion, however he did not seem to be in full control of his
tongue. In fact he did not seem to be able to string two words
together, or even handle the sheets of paper in front of him. Indeed,
it looked suspiciously like he was totally pissed. He was pulled after
attempting to read two or three stories and I never saw him read the
P.S. – I think his name was Kevin ********, but wouldn’t swear to it, so if you publish the story, best not to use names.
This one has been corrected as follows:
Your item drunks on the ABC in Canberra was entirely wrong. It was
certainly the afternoon ABC News bulletin on New Years Day ( can’t
accurately recall the exact year) but the bulletin emanated from
Sydney, not Canberra. The newsreader (no, not Kevin * * * * * * *) was
not drunk, but suffering from an acute attack of dyspepsia, (the same
debilitating illness, you may remember, that led to the young hero
falling from an ocean liner in “Captains Courageous.”)
After three attempts by the newsreader at the first sentence, the
producer realised that something was gravely amiss, and sent a frantic
call from studio to newsroom for a reporter to take over the reading of
The reporter, still somewhat hung-over himself from New Year’s
Eve, had had no chance to pre-read the bulletin — there were a few
fluffs, but it was a valiant attempt.
Another old timer.
Hendo’s amateur hour
It was amateur hour on the national broadcaster’s Victorian news
service on February 19. About half way through the 7pm bulletin,
newsreader Ian Henderson introduced a story by Phil Lasker out of
Sydney about a tax office crack down.
Unfortunately, the footage that went to air was for another
unrelated story so Hendo cut in half way and apologised and then went
to the finance figures before against reading out the longish intro to
the tax story.
However, nothing went to air this time so after shuffling his
papers Hendo then went to a story about child obesity but this story
literally cut out half way through.
Hendo then came back on looking annoyed and simply said: “We can go back to the tax story, the honeymoon is over.”
Crikey has never seen a news bulletin before with 3 balls ups in a
row and would be keen to hear from anyone who can think of a worse
performance. Based on what has come in so far, there are some absolute
clangers out there:
We’re keen to add to this list so send in your contributions to [email protected]