‘Young Talent Time’ comes sparkling back to life

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Johnny Young with the “Young Talent Time” team. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

FOR many Aussie kids who grew up before iPods, Spotify and T-Swizzle, Saturday nights were family time, spent in front of the television watching “Young Talent Time”.

The variety show ran from 1971 until 1988 launching the careers of many child stars including Tina Arena, Dannii Minogue, Jamie Redfern and Debbie Byrne.

Created, produced, and hosted by Johnny Young, the show also found fame for the likes of Philip Gould, Jane Scali, Rod Kirkham, Vikki Broughton, Karen Knowles, John Bowles, Sally Boyden and Joey Perrone.

To celebrate “Young Talent Time’s” 50th anniversary, the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has curated a digital tribute to the show that shaped young stars and musical tastes for a generation.

Beth Taylor NFSA digital content producer… “It’s thrilling to see how many people are watching the clips and taking time to watch their favourite stars perform.”

The NFSA digital content producer Beth Taylor said “Young Talent Time” fans are in for a “real treat” with the exhibition including 35 performance clips of some of the 40 children and teenagers who were team members on the long-running show.

Trawling the archives, the NFSA team has uncovered some hidden gems, such as rare “Young Talent Time” footage not seen in almost half a century.

“We found some black-and-white footage of the earliest ‘Young Talent Time’ team performing a medley of songs with Kamahl and John Farnham, as part of a tribute concert for late comedian Buster Fiddess,” said Taylor.

“We don’t think that footage has been seen since it first aired in 1972, it’s magical.”

Having grown up in NZ, Ms Taylor missed out experiencing the “Young Talent Time” phenomena first time around, but watching hours of show footage has allowed her to experience some of what Australian households were privileged to see during the show’s long run.

“’Young Talent Time’ was appointment television for families every Saturday night, it brought so much joy to so many people and continues to do so,” said Ms Taylor.

“It was such an important part of Australian culture for a couple of generations, it’s been such a privilege to work on this exhibition.”

The “Young Talent Time” team. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

While Debbie Byrne was “Young Talent Time’s” earliest star, Tina Arena –  the longest-serving cast member (1976-1983) – was arguably its best known and most popular star.

Tina’s longevity on the show was matched only by her post-“Young Talent Time” career. Although slow to take off, Tina is undoubtedly the show’s greatest success story.

“Tina’s talent shines through even as a nine-year-old,” said Taylor.

“There’s a clip of her singing ‘Ring, Ring’ by Abba, it’s amazing and worth a look.”

There was a time in this country when Kylie wasn’t the best known member of the Minogue family, her younger sister Dannii, who appeared on “Young Talent Time” from 1982 to 1988, was clearly the star long before Kylie released “Loco-Motion” and got her break on “Neighbours”.

“The number one thing that people seem to be remembering from ‘Young Talent Time’ is Dannii and Kylie performing the pop duet ‘Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves’ from 1987,” said Ms Taylor.

The exhibition also includes a performance clip of an eight-year-old Asher Keddie, singing and dancing to “Fame”.

Keddie would go on to be one of the best-known faces on Australian TV as the star of many movies and TV shows including “Offspring” and “Paper Giants”.

“There’s also a lot of concert footage to view as part of the exhibition, the ‘Young Talent Time’ team performed at World Expo 88 in Brisbane and there’s an episode that aired from Australia’s Wonderland in Sydney that same year, a lot of people have memories of those two episodes,” said Ms Taylor.

The first episode of “Young Talent Time” went to air on April 24, 1971, and was instantly loved by audiences of all ages.

It ran for 800 episodes, finishing on December 23, 1988.

Johnny Young with the “Young Talent Time” team. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

The show’s reputation has grown over the years and attracted a lot of interest from well-known people across the world.

“Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette has tweeted about the exhibition and Tina Arena, Dannii Minogue and Johnny Young have been great supporters, too,” said Ms Taylor.

“It’s thrilling to see how many people are watching the clips and taking time to watch their favourite stars perform.

“The 50th anniversary has certainly energised the show again, but Australians always seem to be interested in ‘Young Talent Time’, it’s an iconic thing.”

The digital exhibition is at nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated

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