Free for educational use
First prime-time Soap Opera
Video clip synopsis – Scott Goodings links the popularity of Number 96, first screened in 1972, with the post-Menzies liberalisation of society and media content.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 4min 28sec
Tags - audiences, changing communities, consumers, identity, popular culture, soap operas, television, television drama, television programs, see all tags
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About the Video Cliptop
The video clip excerpt from the popular TV series Number 96, produced in the 1970s, is used courtesy of Network Ten.
Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed “TV freak” and walking archive. You can view his full biography at From Wireless to Web
The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.
From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.
What have been the major social and cultural features of a post-war decade?
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.2 assesses the impact of international events and relationships on Australia’s history
5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.6 uses sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past.
Students Learn About:
The impact of changing technology on everyday life in post-war Australia:
Students Learn To:
outline the impact of the main technological changes over time on everyday life in post-war Australia, based on a selection of sources.
The social and cultural features of ONE post-war decade including:
- British or American influences on popular culture
– describe the main social and cultural features of the chosen decade
– outline the main influences of Britain or the USA on Australian popular culture of the chosen decade
– assess the impact of the chosen decade in shaping Australian identity
“Catch up with everybody who’s catching up with everybody else at Number 96”. (advertisement on History of Television website)
On Monday 13 March 1972, Sydney’s TEN10 screened the first episode of a new 'soap opera’ that changed the face of Australian television. On that night, Australian television lost its virginity.
Australia’s first prime-time soap opera – Number 96 – commanded the attention of viewers with a blend of sex, suspense and situation comedy. Set in a fictional apartment block in Sydney, it traced 'the lives, loves and emotions of ordinary people’. The series brought taboo subjects like sex, rape, infidelity, drugs, racism and homosexuality into many homes for the first time. It was a form of education for families, dressed up as popular entertainment. When Lucy had her breast cancer scare, Australian women rushed to their GPs en masse and had their first-ever screening for breast cancer. And Don Finlayson, a lawyer who happened to be openly gay, developed as the sanest resident in the block of flats.
Number 96 broke new ground for commercial television. The attraction was not just the show’s raunchiness: its mix of drama and comedy made it widely appealing. Number 96 exploited the 'cliff-hanger’ as a dramatic device like no other show, with subplots involving the 'knicker-snatcher’, the 'pantyhose strangler’ and the 'hooded rapist’. Despite the largely 'adult’ content of Number 96, at one point the series was the No. 1 rated show with children aged five to twelve. While viewers loved the show, media commentators and 'the establishment’ criticised it, and censors scrutinised its every move.
Number 96 screened on weeknights for five-and-a half years – a staggering 1218 episodes.
- The social changes of the 1960s and 1970s were reflected on television screens by the mid-1970s. According to Scott Goodings, how does Number 96 reflect events taking place in Australia in the 1970s?
- What evidence does this interview provide for the popularity of soap operas in the 1970s?
- List the ways in which Number 96 differed from previous Australian television dramas.
- Imagine that it is 1972 and you are a reporter for TV Week. Write a review of Number 96. Use the archival clip for your review.
- Use the links below to find out more about Australian television in the 1970s. Use this information to create an illustrated guide to the changes in Australian television in the 1970s.