About Crawfords Productions
Crawfords Productions proudly bears the name of Australia's legendary entertainment mogul, Hector Crawford.
From its beginning as a radio production facility in 1945, the company has grown into a television production powerhouse that now has over 3,000 hours of top-quality and multi-award winning television programming available - all produced by Crawfords Productions.
The company has changed radically over the years. With Hector Crawford at the helm, Crawfords produced a string of domestic prime time drama successes, and became an on-the-job training ground for many of Australia's most famous performers, producers, writers, directors and other behind-the-scenes luminaries. [You can trace many of their names on this site - see how the smash success of Nick Giannopoulos in The Wog Boy had its roots in Acropolis Now, the classic Crawfords Productions sitcom of the 80's and 90's!] The Sullivans was seen in over 70 countries in the 70's and 80's and when Australia went to colour in 1972, production boomed! Later, The Flying Doctors would carry the Crawfords name worldwide. With the passing of Hector Crawford in 1991, Australia lost a great showman and entrepreneur, but the company continued to prosper under the aegis of Bruce Gordon, the Sydney-born producer once referred to as "the dean of international television", and the owner of Australia's WIN television network.
Today, Crawfords Productions is a flexible, dynamic production outfit that makes programs for the world. The recent slate of outstanding television drama includes State Coroner, Tribe, Warriors of Virtue II, the children's series', The Saddle Club, Guinevere Jones and currently in production - series two of The Saddle Club. Crawfords Productions is actively developing creative partnerships with respected international producers and production companies.
Crawford Productions Pty Ltd
PO Box 1067
Ph +61 3 9570 7503
For DVD Sales Ring 1800 597 996
Mr. Bruce Gordon: Chairman and Proprietor
Mr. Don Samulenok: General Manager
For all enquires or Fan Mail regarding our Previous Shows,
Cast or Company History, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crawfords is Australia's most established and respected television production company. The name of Crawfords Productions has become synonymous with high quality, locally-produced entertainment for over 50 years. Crawfords Productions has pioneered television drama in Australia, ranging from police drama, sitcoms, mini-series, telemovies and children's drama, producing over 4,000 hours of television, including the internationally acclaimed "The Flying Doctors", "All the Rivers Run", "Jackaroo", "The Violent Earth", "Tribe", "Acropolis Now", "The Sullivans", "Cop Shop" and "Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left".
Now part of the WIN television group and under the proprietorship of Bruce Gordon, Crawfords Productions's eight-acre studio complex in Melbourne remains a key centre for film and television program production in Australia.
In recent years Crawfords has also established joint ventures and co-productions for international broadcasters and distributors. Mini Series "Tribe" (Paramount), "Outward Bound" (Discovery), "Backlands" (Bavaria), "Saddle Club" (YTV Canada, Beta Tauras Germany) and "Blonde" (CBS).
Hector Crawford AO, CBE [14/8/13 - 11/3/91]
It was in 1938, at the age of 25, that Hector Crawford first came to the notice of the public when he inaugurated the outstanding "Music For The People" concerts in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. This series of free classical and semi-classical concerts, sponsored by the Government of Victoria and the Melbourne City Council, attracted audiences of up to 80,000 people during the summer months for more than 40 years, during which time Hector Crawford gave his services as Conductor and Musical Director without fee or remuneration of any kind.
From extremely modest beginnings, Crawford Productions developed rapidly to become the Australian radio production industry leader. In the next 18 years, thousands of episodes of radio programs devised and produced by the company were broadcast throughout Australia and in more than 20 countries overseas and were acclaimed for the uncompromising content-quality and production standards insisted on by Hector Crawford and his sister Dorothy. Many of them, such as the long-running Mobil Quest, were designed to encourage, assist and develop the talents of young Australian opera singers who were later to achieve world fame.
But it was the advent of television that was to present Hector Crawford with his biggest challenge. Even before television transmission began in Australia, it became evident that Australians and Australian productions were faced with the alarming prospect of being "frozen out of their own television programming, due to the vast cost differential between locally produced and imported (mainly American) drama programs".
Hector Crawford was deeply concerned about the disastrous effect this would have, not only on the Australian production industry - its writers, actors, producers and directors who depended on it for a livelihood, but also on Australia itself - its identity, culture, manners, customs - even its way of dress and speech.
Most countries in the world were aware of the dangers of non-indigenous television and had taken appropriate steps to counter them. However, both the Government and people of Australia seemed content to ignore the warnings.
But Hector Crawford had a vision - and a determination. A vision that Australian television could and must be of Australian origin and outlook, and a determination to bring it about.
Regardless of the possible economic consequences, in 1959 he published at his own expense a small book setting out the inevitable, damaging results if the virtually unlimited program imports were allowed to continue. He lobbied and campaigned, exhorted and encouraged. He established teaching and learning facilities, and most important of all, he continued to make programs, to show by example that Australian productions could compare and compete with the world's best.
It was a long, slow and often discouraging process. The economic arguments again success seemed overwhelming. But gradually, the tide turned. By 1984, Australian/produced programs were among the most popular on Australian television. What's more, the Australian television drama industry had a foothold in many countries throughout the world.
Hector William Crawford, AO, CBE, formerly Managing Director, retired in February 1990 as Non-Executive Chairman of Crawford Productions Pty Ltd, producers of radio and television programs since 1945. He died one year later, at the age of 77.
As one of the World's leading independent production companies and a key player in the Australian and International market, Crawfords Productions strives for excellence through developing quality television production domestically and internationally.
We aim to foster creative talent, international partnerships, economic growth and technological advancement. Through these values Crawfords makes profits and gains assets from producing and servicing high quality productions.
Crawford Productions was founded in November 1945, as a partnership by Hector Crawford and his sister, Dorothy, under the name Hector Crawford Productions to produce radio programmes. Subsequently, in 1954, it became Crawford Productions Pty Ltd.
The Company started life in small premises located in Little Collins Street, Melbourne, moved to the Olderfleet Building, Collins Street, Melbourne, the to Southampton Crescent, Abbotsford (1972), and eventually to its present location, 259 Middleborough Road, Box Hill, in 1982. Both Hector and Dorothy had a long history of involvement with music, so the first production sold by the fledgling company was “Melba”, a dramatisation with music of the life story of Dame Nellie Melba.
The Company was the first to make extensive use in its music/drama programmes of the technique of using established actors for the speaking parts and trained singers for the singing roles, ensuring high standard performances in both areas. A number of such programmes were produced, including “The Amazing Oscar Hammerstein” (the biography of the great American entrepreneur) and “The Blue Danube”, the saga of the Strauss family.
In 1949, the Company devised and produced the Australia-wide contest for singers “Mobil Quest”, in which hundreds of young singers, accompanied by a symphony orchestra conducted by Hector Crawford, competed for big cash prizes and were thus given unparalleled opportunities to further their careers. Among the notable winners of “Mobil Quest” were Joan Sutherland, Donald Smith, June Bronhill and Ronal Jackson.
Between 1945 and 1956, the Company produced many thousands of episodes of self-contained dramatic radio programmes and popular serials. High on the list of their success was the police drama “D24”, based on true stories from the Victoria Police files and sponsored, as an aid to recruiting and better police/public relations by the Victoria Police Force - one of the few times that a semi-government department has sponsored a series of commercial radio programmes. With massive ratings, “D24” became a household word throughout Victoria and was almost certainly the most dominant and influential radio programme in Australian history.
The Company also produced a number of programmes of social and educational importance, among them “Problem People” and “The University Of The Air”. A major contributor to “Problem People” was the then Dean of the Faculty Of Law in the University Of Melbourne (and later, Governor-General Of Australia), Sir Zelman Cowan. The programme dramatised, discussed and debated a wide range of topics - some of them regarded too contentious for the prime-time radio of the day. Nevertheless, it provided an important and much appreciated service to the people of Australia. “The University of the Air”, narrated by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Sir John Medley, brought many subjects of academic interest to the man in the street.
The Company was the first radio producer to export its product in a large way. Before the advent of television, some 20,000 programme episodes were exported to The Bahamas, Barbados, Penang, Rhodesia, Singapore, South Africa, Tonga, Trinidad, Western Samoa, Bermuda, British Guiana, Canada, Ceylon, Fiji, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Jamaica, Lenrenco Marques, Malaysia & Malta. The Company also established a School Of Broadcasting which, in a few years, trained hundreds of actors, actresses and announcers. Crawford Productions anticipated television in Australia by setting up in a church hall in West Melbourne, a closed-circuit TV workshop. Both Hector and Dorothy Crawford made trips to the USA to study the new medium. In offices in the Olderfleet Building, the company had closed-circuit TV, rehearsal room and a radio studio.
When television began in Australia in 1956, Crawfords Productions became the first independent producer to screen a programme: “Wedding Day” premiered on HSV-7 on 10 November 1956 at 9:30pm and ran for 39 weeks. It was a games/quiz show mix, in which newly-married couples came into the studio - and normally interrupted their wedding reception to do so - in the hope of winning prizes. Other early television programmes included the game show “Video Village” (HSV-7) and the children’s programme, “Peters Club” (GTV-9).
The big break came for Crawfords in 1961 when Channel 7 asked them to do their first television drama show: “Consider Your Verdict”. This inexpensive series, set entirely in a courtroom, won a Logie Award and ran for 160 episodes. It was Australia’s first one-hour drama series. A major production in 1960 was the TV adaptation of the stage play, “Seagulls Over Sorrento” - the first full length drama to be produced for television by an independent production company. Then came the programme that was to become a phenomenon: “Homicide”. The squad investigated its first murder on Channel 7 in Melbourne in late 1964. Within months it was among the ten most popular programmes in Melbourne and Sydney. For eight years (1966-1974), it was the most popular show on Australian television, and established Crawfords Productions as the largest Australian Television Drama Production House. At the same time, the company was busy with many other series, including the successful “Division 4” for the Nine Network and “Matlock Police” for the (then) 0/10 Network.
The Company departed from the drama format in 1965 with its production of the talent quest “Showcase”. This programme, given far superior production values than similar radio and TV programmes, ran for several seasons on the 0/10 Network before crossing to the Nine Network for a further successful period. Crawford Productions first ventured into television ‘soap operas’ with “The Box” (1973-1977). A feature film based on the series was subsequently produced. 1976 and 1977 were years of the greatest significance, with the production of “The Sullivans” and “Cop Shop”. These two programmes dominated the ratings for some years. “The Sullivans” enabled the company to enter the export market for the first time on a substantial scale. “The Sullivans” (a serial about a suburban family in war-time Melbourne) ran for six years and was exported to more than 70 countries. “Cop Shop” broke new ground for ‘police’ dramas with its unusual blend of self-contained crime stories with on-going serial elements concerning the private lives of the principal characters.
In 1981, the Federal Government introduced a tax incentive scheme to encourage private investment in Australian film. It became known as the ‘10BA’ tax concession scheme and it was to cause a burgeoning in the Australian film and television industry. Crawfords Productions moved to the forefront of this new growth in 1983 with its first production under the 10BA scheme. It was an eight-hour mini-series called “All The Rivers Run”, adapted from the best selling novel of the same name by Nancy Cato, which focussed on life on and around the River Murray before the turn of the century and attracted wide interest both here and abroad. For the first time, Crawfords pre-sold a project to the giant American cable network, Home Box Office. “Carson’s Law” (1983) set production standards for serial drama never before equalled in Australia. This was followed in 1984 by another police drama “Special Squad”. With its emphasis on outdoor action and excitement, it was a major step forward in Australian TV drama production. The success of “All The Rivers Run” led to the production of a number of mini-series, including a successful sequel (“All The Rivers Run II”) and a six-hour mini-series based on the exploits of The Royal Flying Doctor Service in “The Flying Doctors”. As a result of this mini-series, the Nine Network commissioned the series, “The Flying Doctors” which ran for ten seasons and has been sold to over fifty countries worldwide.
Crawfords Productions also produced the children’s series, “The Henderson Kids”, a 12 part mini-series set in a Victorian country town, “Zoo Family”, a series in half-hour episodes set in the Melbourne Zoo, and “Halfway Across The Galaxy And Turn Left”, based on the award winning novel of the same name by Robin Klein. In March 1985, the Company began work on the feature film “Fortress”, starring Rachel Ward. Like “All The Rivers Run”, this film was pre-sold to the Home Box Office cable network.
During 1986, Crawfords Productions was one of the first Australian companies to produce films under sub-contract for American production companies. A tele-feature “A Place To Call Home”, starring American actress Linda Lavin, and a special episode of the hugely successful American series “Facts Of Life”, were made on location in Australia. In response to the success of the mini-series “The Flying Doctors”, Crawfords went on to produce ten seasons of this popular all-film, high production series that has proved successful through the world. During this time, Crawfords also broke new ground with the multi-cultural sitcom, “Acropolis Now”.
In 1987, Hector Crawford sold the Company and a little over two years later, Bruce Gordon’s Oberon Broadcasters purchased the Company. Oberon is the parent company of WIN Television that was, at the time, the Nine Network affiliate in southern New South Wales. Since then, WIN has grown to the largest regional affiliate in Australia carrying the Nine Network signal to regional Queensland, southern New South Wales, regional Victoria, Tasmania, most of Western Australia and parts of South Australia. It now has an audience reach of 4,720,000.
Under the ownership of WIN, Crawfords’ Box Hill headquarters has benefited by an expansion to include four sound stages on the site as well as complete ancillary series and a totally modern post-production facility featuring digital editing suites for both sound and picture and a Dolby Surround sound capability it its mixing theatre - the first independent production company to install it.
In 1991, Crawfords re-entered the light entertainment field in a joint venture with Action Time UK to produce the interactive “Cluedo” for the Nine Network. From 1993 to 1995, Crawfords has produced ten telemovies for the Nine Network based on the exploits of the Australian Federal police, “The Feds” and in conjunction with the Nine Network, the lifestyle programme, “Weddings”.
The Company marked two auspicious events with specials in 1995/96: “The Homicide Special” to mark its thirtieth anniversary and “The Crawfords Story” to celebrate 50 years of radio and television production. It saw completion of a new venture-the editing and dubbing of an animated children’s cartoon series “Seven Little Mice” for the English-speaking market.
During 1996, Crawfords produced for the Ten Network a two hour telemovie and thirteen one hour episodes of a new all-film series, entitled “State Coroner” starring Wendy Hughes in the lead role. In November of that same year, shooting commenced on a telemovie for the Nine Network, “The Last Of The Ryans”, about Ronald Ryan, the last man hanged in Australia. The next two years saw the return of the mini-series: in 1997, the French/Australian mini-series, “The Violent Earth”, completed principal photography locations in and around Port Douglas, Melbourne and New Caledonia, while 1998 ended with “Tribe”, a US\Australian mini-series completing location shooting in Queensland.
For more than fifty years, Crawfords Productions has been an integral part of the Australian entertainment industry. Those standards of energy and excellence are set to continue into the new millennium.
WIN Corporation History
Since it began broadcasting in Wollongong with one station in 1963, the growth of the WIN Television Network is one of this country’s most outstanding success stories. Bruce Gordon acquired control of the company in 1979 and initiated a period of growth which has seen the Network spread to Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. It is now the largest regional television broadcaster in Australia and is the fourth largest in Australia behind Networks Nine, Seven, and Ten. The WIN Network covers an area greater in size than Europe. WIN’s expansion into South and Western Australia increased the total potential audience to 4.842 million people across Australia.
The inaugural growth phase of the company began with the acquisition of television RTQ7 Rockhampton, radio station i98FM Wollongong and film and television production company, Crawfords Productions, in Melbourne. The most prominent change the regional television industry has experienced, was brought about by the 1987 Government Legislation introducing television aggregation which combined solus television markets into larger service areas giving viewers a choice of three channels whereas previously there had been only one.
Southern New South Wales and the ACT were the first to take on this new challenge by expanding the Wollongong, Orange, Wagga and Canberra markets. New television facilities were built in these cities and WIN’s viewing audience increased to 1.25 million people. Queensland soon followed, with the provision of a service to 1.35 million people from Cairns in the far north through Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba. WIN soon emerged as the number one rating regional Network in these two states.
The aggregation of TV stations proved a costly exercise in expansion for the group, increasing staff numbers and facilities threefold. At that time, Gordon decided to increase his shareholding and privatised the company in 1991. To service a growing number of national and multi-national clients, WIN established a National Sales organisation, Nine Affilliate Sales, in 1992 with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This has grown to become the premier regional sales representation company in Australia.
Recently a name change took place to better reflect its business and the national sales arm of the Corporation is now known as WIN NBN Sales. A take-over of the publicly listed ENT Ltd was completed in September 1994 bringing to the group two additional aggregated television markets. One being Victoria, which services 1.093 million people in the regional areas of Mildura and Albury in the north, through Gippsland, Ballarat and Bendigo to Warrnambool in the south, and the other, comprising the whole state of Tasmania delivering 480,000 people with one station in Hobart and another in Launceston, which also covers the northern areas of Devonport and Burnie. The addition of these two states made WIN the number one rating Network in regional Australia.
The July 1998 acquisition of MTN Television in Griffith, New South Wales just preceded the network’s expansion into Western Australia where 60 transmitters were installed across the State and commenced broadcasting March 1999. In August 1999 the South Australian stations, SES Mt. Gambier and RTS Riverland were acquired giving WIN a presence in every State of Australia and taking the total number of stations in the network to 26. WIN Corporation also owns a 44% shareholding in STW 9, Perth.
The WIN Television Network has the largest terrestrial coverage of any television group in Australia and possibly the world. On the east coast of Australia and Tasmania, WIN is affiliated with the Nine Network. In Western Australia, which is a two-station market, WIN has exclusive rights to Nine and Ten Network programming although the base format is Nine Network delivered by satellite to Kununurra in the north, Albany in the south and Eucla in the east.
WIN’s engineers were challenged with Western Australia’s vastness, covering a geographical area, one-third of Australia’s land mass. In South Australia, which are one station markets, the programming is made up of the best from each of the three commercial networks. Businesses in the group, other than television, include Wollongong’s No.1 radio station i98 fm, Crawford Productions Ltd – Australia’s oldest and most distinguished film and television production house, Broadcast Transmission Services specialising in operations, maintenance and installation services to the broadcast and telecommunication industries.
WIN Properties Pty Ltd which controls holdings of commercial and residential property and the land development company, Mt. Leslie Estates Pty Ltd. WIN Corporation, which now employs approximately 850 Australians, has experienced outstanding growth over the past twenty years and the new millenium sees this continuing.