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Bobo the Clown

Bobo, played by Hal Turner, was a children’s character who first appeared on Channel 9 and grew to be such a popular character, that in the early 60s he was hired by new rival TV station SAS 10 and had the honour of hosting that channel’s first programme.

Photo from Channel 9.  A publicity shot of Bobo, played by Hal Turner

Photo from Channel 9. A publicity shot of Bobo, played by Hal Turner

Rex Heading, writing in the excellent book, Miracle on Tynte Street; The Channel Nine Story, recalled that Bobo was the forerunner of a series of characters that populated the children’s shows. Hal Turner, Bobo’s alter ego, was originally engaged to provide some comedy input for the early Adelaide Tonight productions and he demonstrated a talent for writing and playing leading roles in the annual pantomimes that were produced by the station at Christmas during those early years. However, it was soon realised that there was a greater need for his talents.

Rex writes, “I recall speaking to Hal about playing a clown in the Channel Niners. Hal a theatrical-cum-vaudeville background and I thought he would be an ideal choice. Hal wasn’t impressed with the idea. As a kind of compromise I suggested we design the character and then see how he felt.

As it happened the design so disguised the real person that I think Hal believed he would be sufficiently anonymous to be able to play the role without the risk of damaging his personal image. The end result was that he enjoyed himself so much, and the character became so enormously successful, that I believe we couldn’t have stopped Hal playing Bobo even if we tried”.

The book continues, ’Bobo’s personal appearances were incredible affairs for those early years. In Broken Hill, which had a population at that time of some 33,000 people and only a few hundred TV receivers, children and parents choked the roads to the airport to catch a glimpse of him and on a visit to Port Lincoln an airport official estimated that Bobo drew three times the crowd that gathered to welcome Queen Elizabeth II’.

When Channel 10 opened on 26th of July 1965, Bobo had switched allegiance, and the very first telecast programme that day was at 4pm; “The Bobo Show”, with Bobo the Clown, Penny Ramsay and includes the Magic Circle Club.

Photo from Channel 7 (formerly Ch 10). Bobo was used heavily to promote the opening of the new Channel 10

Photo from Channel 7 (formerly Ch 10). Bobo was used heavily to promote the opening of the new Channel 10

Mo Beta Blues writing on the ARW Facebook page explained; It is my understanding that there was some a disagreement between Mr. Turner and the Nine network. When Turner changed networks Nine tried to claim the “Bobo” image was theirs and tried to stop Turner using it. Turner argued he WAS Bobo the clown and if someone else played Bobo other then him the image would not be the same, ergo not Bobo. Nine lost the case and came up with the idea of an image they could copyright and that was not reliant on any single person to play. A person in a bear suit could be any gender, did not need to be an actor, it didn’t even matter what their voice sounded like or if they could speak much English. And so the character of Humphrey B Bear was born.

I’m not sure when Bobo disappeared from our TV screens, possibly at some point in the 70s.

11 Responses to Bobo the Clown

  1. Robyn McCallum October 13, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    I remember going on the Channel Niners show and Bobo presented me with a certificate and prize. I thought Bobo was great!

    • Travis Chapman July 9, 2017 at 11:44 pm #

      bobo is my great great uncle he was my nans uncle

  2. Elaine December 2, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    I say “hi” to Bobo every time I visit the Cheltenham cemetery, he is buried across from my grandparents… unfortunately that area is now earmarked for “re-development” .. not sure if Bobo’s grave site is earmarked for the same fate as my grandparents grave.

    • robert Talbot March 6, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

      I am interested in what you said , regarding the cheltenham cemetery, there is a lot of history in that one , if you take the time to walk about , diggers graves , co workers who paid for fellow workers with no family some of the old stone work would have cost the equivalent to a hose in the day , how are they allowed to destroy , revamp these sites , surely they are classified as sacred ? perhaps it is time that our cemeterys were declared as sacred if not already

  3. Craig May 25, 2015 at 6:01 am #

    Interesting article!

    I have my original Bobo doll at home hes over 50 years old !

  4. Bernie Bradford August 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    Who remembers drinking Bo Bo cordial in all it’s different flavours? Fantastic

    • Jeff Button. May 28, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

      I fondly remember Anchor Bo-Bo Cordial in its 10 or 12 flavours!! From the early 1960s when you could only buy cordial extract. Great memories of Bobo the Clown in the Channel 9 Annual Christmas pantomimes. Also watching The Channel Niners and seeing Bobo and after in 1965 when he moved to Channel 10 when they commenced transmission.

  5. Irene October 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

    Hi trying to make contact with Hal Turners daughter Gail
    Can you please help
    Irene Werecky

  6. Julie Price May 8, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

    How old was Hal Turner when he passed away.Bobo the clown.

  7. Gail Kelly March 19, 2018 at 8:13 am #

    Hi Irene,

    Long time no see. How are you? I now live in Melbourne and am a teacher.

    Gail

  8. Russell Birt May 1, 2018 at 4:06 pm #

    I remember Bobo coming to our home in the 60’s and we kids always refered to him as Uncle Charlie even though he wasn’t our real uncle, my Dad was with Howell Turner in the Army at Woodside and some where in the family photos is a picture of Bobo and my dad.

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