The Twelve-Pound Look (1956 film)

The Twelve Pound Look is a 1956 live television play which aired on Sydney Australia station ABN-2 (part of ABC) during the opening night of the station. Based on a British stage play by J.M. Barrie, it is significant as it was the very first drama produced for Australian TV.[3][4]

The Twelve-Pound Look
Based onplay by J.M. Barrie
Directed byPaul O'Loughlin[1]
StarringMargo Lee
Alexander Archdale
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
Running time30 mins[2]
Production companyABC
Original networkABC
Original release5 November 1956 (1956-11-05)

The play was produced in Melbourne for the ABC the following year.

In the early days of Australian television it was common for dramas to be versions of overseas stories.[5]

Kinescope recording existed at the time, and a copy of the play was made - it survives, albeit without sound.[6]


Harry Sims is a wealthy businessman who is about to be knighted. He is married to Lady Sims. On the eve of the ceremony Harry engages a typist, Kate, to answer letters of congratulation. Lady Sims and Kate have a conversation, then Kate meets Harry.

It is revealed that Harry and Kate used to be married, until she abandoned him for another man. Harry demands to know why and who the man was. Kate explains that there was no other man, she needed to leave him for her own self respect.

She leaves, with Lady Sims none the wiser to her true identity.

Cast of 1956 ProductionEdit


The play had been performed several times on ABC radio in Australia. The television adaptation was broadcast live from the Arcon Studios in Sydney (this was before the ABC's better known studios at Gore Hill were open).[7]

Thelma Afford did the designs. "All colour is reduced to a scale of nine grey tones," said Afford.[8]

The play was rehearsed at a studio in Forbes St.[9]

"We were probably all a bit nervous, but everything went very smoothly," recalls script assistant Ruth Page.[10]

Joan Lord was later in Elizabeth Refuses and The Wraith.[11]

The budget was £335.[12]


Australian Women's Weekly called the 1956 version "hard to fault. Acting, direction, camera work, make-up and lighting were all excellent."[13]

Melbourne 1957 ProductionEdit

The Twelve-Pound Look
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
Production companyABC
Original networkABC
Original release1 April 1957 (1957-04-01)[14]

A different adaptation of the play aired in Melbourne on 1 April 1957. It cost more than the Sydney production, the final budget being a reported £684.[15]

It aired on ABV-2 (also part of ABC) and was also approx. 30 minutes.[16]

Archival status of this version is unknown.


  • Henry Cuthbertson
  • Elizabeth Wing
  • Mary Ward
  • Alfred Bristowe


Henry Cuthbertson was an ABC drama producer. Mary Ward had recently returned from overseas.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ruth Harris". ABC at Gore Hill.
  2. ^ "T.V. ABN identifier". ABC Weekly. 3 November 1956. p. 28.
  3. ^ "200,000 to see TV open". The Argus (Melbourne). Victoria, Australia. 3 November 1956. p. 3. Retrieved 29 May 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Hutchinson, Neil (3 November 1956). "Television Drama" (PDF). ABC Weekly. p. 7.
  5. ^ Vagg, Stephen (18 February 2019). "60 Australian TV Plays of the 1950s & '60s". Filmink.
  6. ^ Vagg, Stephen (30 January 2022). "Forgotten Australian Television Plays: The Twelve Pound Look". Filmink.
  7. ^ "RED IS DANGEROUS...EVEN ON TV". The Australian Women's Weekly. Australia. 4 September 1957. p. 10. Retrieved 16 January 2020 – via Trove.
  8. ^ "Fashion Designer Has Devised Her Tonal Scale for Film". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 October 1956. p. 22.
  9. ^ Twelve Pound Look at National Film and Sound Archive
  10. ^ "ABC TV Operations Opening Night". Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  11. ^ Lane, Richard (2000). The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume 2. National Film and Sound Archive. p. 41.
  12. ^ Day, Christopher (1981). "TV Drama". In Peter Beilby (ed.). Australian TV: The First 25 Years. Thomas Nelson. p. 135.
  13. ^ "TELEVISION PARADE". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 24, no. 24. Australia. 14 November 1956. p. 26. Retrieved 20 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "TV Guide". The Age. 28 March 1957. p. 29.
  15. ^ Day, Christopher (1981). "TV Drama". In Peter Beilby (ed.). Australian TV: The First 25 Years. Thomas Nelson. p. 136.
  16. ^ "Gaslight on TV with Melbourne Cast". The Age. 2 January 1958. p. 8.
  17. ^ "'Live' Barrie Drama Production on TV". The Age. 28 March 1957. p. Supplement 3.

External linksEdit