This is a printer friendly page
Free for educational use
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 - audiences, broadcasting, children, media, media industry, media text, representations, see all tags


Family radio

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 families_pr.mp4 (20.7MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 families_bb.mp4 (9.7MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

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



1. Students will learn about early educational TV programs in Australia and why they were seen as important.
2. Students will research current regulations pertaining to children’s television and what educational and entertainment options there are for children.
3. Students will learn to express their ideas through media forms and gain self-confidence and communication skills through that expression.

Key Concept: Audiences
Audiences are individuals and groups of people for whom moving-image products are made, and who make meanings when they use these products.

This clip is relevant to year 11 and 12 students studying:

VIC- VCE Media Studies: Units 1, 2 and 4.
WA- The Arts/Media: Contexts, Exploring, Responding and Reflecting:
QLD- Film, Television and New Media: Technologies, Representations, Audiences, Institutions and Languages
SA- VET Broadcasting and Multimedia

Go to senior years Media Studies curricula in your state or territory for specific outcomes

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


Learning Activities
1. Why do you think there was a need for a kindergarten or school that broadcast lessons etc around Australia?

2. Do you think there is still a need for this? If so, why? If not, how might we be tackling the communication problem now?
a. How does children’s (primary age and under) television differ today from that of the clip?
b. Compare your experience of children’s television with that of the clip and today’s shows. What are the main differences that you see?
c. Do you see any differences are between public broadcasters (ABC and SBS) and commercial broadcasters? Why might that be?

3. Research the regulations pertaining to childrens’ television and discuss whether they are effective. go the Children’s Television Standards The Australian Communications and Media Authority

4. Create a five minute pilot for a children’s’ television program aimed at Primary school students. You will need to:
a. write a short proposal outlining your project and why it is different from existing ones or that it is important to be made
b. write a script
c. create a storyboard with either drawings or digital images
d. And if your school has the equipment, shoot and edit the show.

Further Resources


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

Go to Having Fun, The War Years, (scroll down to Children’s Radio Club advertisement from Western Mail, 2 December 1948

Go to Biggles takes to the skies again!, radio broadcast, ABC Western Plains NSW, 15 April 2003, presented by Chris Coleman

Go to Tony Palermo’s Ruyasonic, Audio Theatre/Radio Drama Resources, April 2006

Richard Lane, The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama 1923–1960: A History Through Biography, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1994

Read Media 1 by Roger Dunscombe, Melinda Anastasios- Roberts, Juliet Francis, Karen Koch, George Lekatsas and Nick Ouchtomsky and Media 2 by Roger Dunscombe, Melinda Anastasios-Roberts, Kevin Tibaldi and Andrew Hyde. Heinemann Harcourt Education, Port Melbourne, 2007. Two recommended texts for classroom use for discussing media codes and conventions and video production as well as many other key media concepts that relate to this clip. Go to the books online at Heinemann Media for more detail.

Read _ Nelson Media VCE Units 1— 4_ by Jo Flack. Thomson Learning. Australia, 2005.