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.
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.
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.