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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 - children, creativity, culture, radio, script writing, see all tags


Family radio

How to Download the Video Clip

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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


Students will:

  • discuss aspects of the history of Australian radio, drawing comparisons to radio and television today
  • write a researched commentary for a popular magazine
  • draft and edit a short radio play
  • rehearse and record the radio play for playback.

Curriculum links
National: The Statements of Learning for English- Year 7

Reading, viewing and interpreting texts
Students read, view and interpret imaginative, information and argument texts
texts in books, films, and on television programs, CD-ROMs and websites.
Students understand that:

  • texts can entertain and evoke emotion
  • subject matter is selected to appeal to different audiences
  • readers’ and viewers’ interpretations of texts are influenced by the knowledge and values of the groups to which they belong, and by their own experiences.
  • texts can be constructed for more than one purpose (eg to report, to present a point of view, to create a market for more readers and viewers)
  • creators of texts use their assumptions about readers and viewers to engage their interest and attention
  • aspects of subject matter are selected to appeal to, and to influence, different groups of readers and viewers.

Students write texts to entertain, inform and persuade in print and electronic mediums for unknown or specified audiences.
Students understand that writers:

  • select subject matter within a chosen topic according to purpose and audience
  • can draw on their own knowledge, experiences, thoughts and feelings
  • can draw on the subject matter and forms of texts they have heard, read and viewed.

Speaking and listening
Students speak and listen through discussions, conversations and oral presentations including prepared and spontaneous discussions, meetings, debates and group discussions. Students examine ideas and information and present arguments that are drawn from topics of interest to them and that may need to be researched.

This resource is also relevant to Media Studies: Audiences, History of media forms, Media in society, Representation and Codes and Conventions of radio.

Teachers and students should also consult their state’s curriculum and learning programs.
Go to The National Curriculum Statements for English

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. Getting started
    As a class view the broadcaster interview with Tim Bowden and the archival video clip from The Invisible Link then discuss and write notes on the following:
    1. Comment on Tim Bowden’s attitude towards radio serials and the actors who took part in them.
    2. Explain what happened if a radio actor made a mistake while recording a drama program on acetate disc (Bowden interview).
    3. Describe in your own words the events being depicted throughout the archival video clip from The Invisible Link.
    4. Comment on the general popularity of radio today, compared to that of television, and whether radio is better at doing some things than television.
  2. Writing a commentary for a popular magazine
    Research a popular, long-lasting Australian radio program (or programs) of the 1940s-1950s era, and write a commentary in 200 words about it for a modern popular magazine market. You may include photographs and other illustrations if relevant. Some examples are:
    1. Quiz programs such as Pick A Box, The Ampol Show, The Dulux Show
    2. Children’s radio serials such as Search for the Golden Boomerang, Hop Harrigan
    3. Women’s serial such as Blue Hills, When a Girl Marries
    4. Comedies such as Yes, What, and Life with Dexter.
  3. Preparing a radio script
    In small groups draft, edit and proofread a comedy radio play script (i.e. for sound only) of one scene, two or three minutes’ duration, about actors trying to record a serious radio drama, where things keep going wrong.
  4. Recording a radio play
    Using sound effects and music if required, rehearse then record your group’s radio script as a sound file for your school’s intranet. (Remember you don’t have to record everything in one “take”.)

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 new ways and meanings 3rd Ed. by Colin Stewart and Adam Kowaltzke. Jacaranda, Milton, QLD, 2008. Go to a sample of chapters online at Jacaranda Books