Emergency (1959 Australian TV series)

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Emergency is an Australian television series produced by Nine Network Melbourne station GTV-9 in 1959.

Directed byDenzil Howson
StarringBrian James
Syd Conabere
Judith Godden
Natalie Raine
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes16
Executive producerRoland Strong
Production locationsMelbourne, Victoria
Running time24–26 minutes
Production companyGTV-9
Original networkNine Network
Picture formatBlack & White
Audio formatMono
Original release16 February (1959-02-16) –
1 June 1959 (1959-06-01)


The series was set in the busy casualty department of a major fictional Melbourne hospital, and is notable for being one of the first-ever dramas shown on Australian television.[1]


Made by Melbourne's GTV-9 in co-operation with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and based on Britain's Emergency Ward 10, Emergency starred Brian James as Dr. Geoffrey Thompson, Syd Conabere as orderly George Rogers, and Judith Godden as Nurse Jill Adamson. Moira Carleton also featured as Matron Evans.


The series was produced primarily in the GTV-9 studio, with brief (usually pre-credit) exterior sequences shot on 35mm film by newsreel cameramen. The episodes were not broadcast live, but were kinescoped to meet programming requirements, and facilitate later screening in Sydney.

The series' premise was simple: a basic dramatic exploration of cases passing through the Casualty ward. Scripts were written by GTV staffers Roland Strong (series producer) and Denzil Howson (series director) under pseudonyms.

Sponsorship came from British Petroleum, and a contract was signed for 52 half-hour episodes. The series debuted on GTV-9 on 16 February 1959, and on Sydney's ATN-7 a week later. Critics initially appeared fairly neutral, however a highly negative article on the series in a Sydney newspaper caused BP to withdraw sponsorship 16 weeks into the series run. Faced with having to carry the production expenses alone, GTV-9 discontinued production, with the final episode airing in Melbourne on 1 June 1959.

Patricia Kennedy called it "exhausting but exciting."[2]


The Australian Women's Weekly called it "shudderingly bad."[3]

Cast roles after seriesEdit

Following the series demise, the actors went onto other roles Brian James went on to lead roles in the ABC serial Stormy Petrel in 1960, and ATN-7's period drama Jonah in 1962, later appearing as George Tippit in the drama serial Skyways (1979–81), before becoming best known for his role in cult series Prisoner

Moira Carleton appeared in guest roles in most of the Australian TV dramas on the 1960s and 1970s, with a permanent role as Olive Turner on Bellbird, whilst Syd Conabere starred in serial Sons and Daughters.


  1. ^ Albert Moran, Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series, AFTRS 1993 p 160-161
  2. ^ "Actresses Turn to Television Work". The Age. 21 February 1959. p. 7.
  3. ^ ""JONAH" MAY BE A WINNER". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 30, no. 20. Australia. 17 October 1962. p. 15. Retrieved 16 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.

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