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Video clip synopsis – A young boy plays along with a musical game during one of the many ABC broadcasts for children. Children from around Australia tune into a kindergarten broadcast over the ABC. Tim Bowden remembers the ABC children's program The Argonauts.
Year of production - 1950s
Duration - 2min 48sec
Tags - ABC, broadcasting, family life, media, media and society, media ownership, national identity, popular culture, radio, see all tags


Family radio

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About the Video Clip


The first video clip is an excerpt from the film This is the ABC produced by the Film Division of the Department for the Interior for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1955. The second video clip is an excerpt from the film The Invisible Link, produced by the Department of the Interior for the Postmaster-General’s Department for the Australian National Film Board in 1951. Both archival video clips are on the From Wireless to Web website, produced in 2005.

The interview with Tim Bowden was recorded for the website. Tim Bowden is a broadcaster, radio and delivision documentary maker, oral historian and author. 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.

Curriculum Focus


Area of Study 3. Australian media organisations

This area of study focuses on an analysis of Australian media organisations and the social and industrial framework within which they operate.

Media products are produced within a cultural, aesthetic, legal, political, economic, institutional and historical framework. Their production, distribution and circulation is affected by law, self-regulatory codes of conduct, industry pressures and the practices of particular media organisations. Other factors (for example, sources of revenue, ratings, circulation, ownership and control) influence the nature and range of media texts produced by individual organisations. Consideration of the impact of these factors on media organisations and their products is important in developing an understanding of the production role of different Australian media organisations.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


The wireless delivered education and entertainment to children, companionship to women at home, and gave families an evening pastime.

The ABC’s Children’s Session with its Argonauts Club began in 1933, and by 1950 the club boasted 50,000 members. School lessons were broadcast in all States. Programs such as Women’s Session and Banish Drudgery dominated morning slots, with hints on health, mothercraft, the science of beauty, cooking and cleaning. Popular recorded music (English and American crooners and dance bands) was the staple of the commercial radio stations.

But family serials were the most popular entertainment, and most popular of these sagas was Dad and Dave, based on Steele Rudd’s classic On Our Selection (1899). According to the first radio episode in 1937: “this is a human story of two typical Australians … their families, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their triumphs … you’ll laugh with them … and perhaps their troubles will remind you of your own …” (Kent 37)

Classroom Activities

  1. What sort of audience (demographic) do the archival clips show? Do you think this was a typical audience of the children of the time?
  2. What do you think was the purpose of the children’s shows?
  3. How did it fit into the ABC charter or the ideas of John Reith regarding public service? See also Digital Resource 1924: Public Broadcasting.
  4. Why do you think there was a need for programming like this?
  5. Does the ABC still provide this sort of programming?
  6. How are these sorts of programs delivered now? What about in the future?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.