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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.

31 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

      • Joy April 21, 2021 at 11:52 pm #

        Hi Travis. I went to Brighton primary school and i very much remember sitting with a girl in myclass who I think was Hal (Bobo) daughter. I could be very wrong, and it may have been Buster Fidess daughter.

      • Peter Merchant July 2, 2023 at 12:12 pm #

        HI Travis, Just thought you might like to know I am selling the BOBO cut outs that Pearl & Hal had at the Royal show. Now 60 years old & very precious. I have a mint BOBO doll too plus his Nose ( Pearl gave me, we were very close )
        Was trying to track his Daughter ( Gail ? ) down.

    • Leanne Etherington February 23, 2019 at 8:25 am #

      Haha I still have my certificate 😀

  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 !

    • !arthur July 27, 2023 at 10:34 pm #

      Should get a country Plot then!

  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

    • Peter Merchant July 2, 2023 at 12:14 pm #

      HI ,

      I too am trying to track down.

      Just thought you might like to know I am selling the BOBO cut outs that Pearl & Hal had at the Royal show. Now 60 years old & very precious. I have a mint BOBO doll too plus his Nose ( Pearl gave me, we were very close )
      Was trying to track his Daughter ( Gail ? ) down.

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

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

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

    • Gail Turner July 21, 2022 at 7:47 pm #

      My father was 48 years old; way too young.

      • Peter Merchant July 2, 2023 at 12:18 pm #

        HI Gail,

        Peter Merchant here, my sister Wendy Joy sang with Hal and played BOBO when he shrank when he went into the sauna ( I believe Hal was away ) I worked at the Royal Show with your Mum, I have the character cut outs that were on top of the stand. ( about to sell ! )
        I have the original BOBO doll & even his nose.
        I played PEPE the clown on channel 7 based on BOBO and was Ronald McDonald for 19years, a lifetime ago.
        Loved you Mum, hard nut but a great person !
        Used to visit her at Findon.
        Hope you are well, Hal would be entertaining up in heaven !!!

  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.


    • Irene Werecky Stevenson July 14, 2019 at 9:12 am #

      Hi Gail
      This is Irene Werecky Stevenson would love to say
      Find memories from our childhood days
      Kind regards

  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.

  9. Vivienne Knuckey October 11, 2018 at 8:20 am #

    Had the pleasure of working with this man at Channel 9 & 10. Very fond memories of my youth.

  10. Terry January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm #

    I was a contestant on the show when I was 3.

  11. Gill pender June 25, 2019 at 8:27 am #

    I am English now living in england and was a 10 pound pom. I lived in oz from 1962 till 1964. I went to see the channel niners being televisised and was chosen to take part in a game/ competition. I had to suck peas from a straw from one bowl to another. Bo bo made me laugh and i lost the game but can boast that i have been on Tv! I was 8 or 9!

  12. Gill pender June 25, 2019 at 8:37 am #

    I am English living in Liverpool and was a 10 pound Pom. I lived in Adelaide from 1962 till 1964. When I was 8 or 9 I went to see the channel niners filmed and was chosen to be in a game/competition. I had to suck peas through a straw from one bowl to another. Bo bo made me laugh and i lost. Still remember being on TV though!

  13. Ian Corston January 30, 2020 at 5:36 pm #

    As a child I loved the Chanel Niners and Bobo. I was taken to Chanel 9 to see the Chanel Niners live as a birthday treat. I got interested in a cartoon playing instead of taking in what was happening behind the seen while the cameras were off the shows main hosts Bobo crept up on me and said BOO! He scared the daylights out of me I never liked him after that

  14. Vicki Hopkins (Cummings) April 14, 2020 at 1:07 pm #

    I had the privilege of being one of the Patty Bawden junior dancers on Bobo the clown and Flatfoot in Wonderland childrens shows wonderful memories for a 65 year old. I have danced all my life!!!

    • Peter Merchant July 2, 2023 at 12:38 pm #

      HI Vicki, My sister Wendy Joy danced on the Bobo show & Wonderland, Patti even taught me how to tap.
      I have photos of Johnny Mac ( still alive ! ) singing, my sister looked like Shirley Temple ( well my mother made her to look like that ). ha ha
      You may remember Henry the mouse, played by a real little person who was normally passed out because he was drinking inbetween takes , his sister would sometimes stand in.

      They were good days !

  15. Barbara Northcott September 10, 2020 at 10:17 am #

    Thanking you for the info re HAL TURNER.
    Can you please reply to how old he would have been today.

    He luved children. I think He died in a fire. Is this correct please.

  16. Christine May 2, 2021 at 9:57 pm #

    I lived in Greenacres as a child and went with my Mum to see my hero, BoBo, at a fete in a local school when I was about six. There were lots of people milling around him, but mum finally got us close enough for BoBo to notice us. He swooped down and lifted me up into his arms and gave me a kiss on my cheek, so I did the same, and gave him a big hug. Then he let out one of those amazing laughs of his as he handed me back to my Mum. I always loved watching the channel niners after school, and will never forget the joy of meeting BoBo the Clown.

  17. brian jarvis August 16, 2021 at 1:34 pm #

    My twin brother and I played the yes and no game in 1964, our sister Faye was in hospital and watched us on TV, she passed away later that year at the age of 13, my brother and I were 9 years old.

    Will never forget Ian and Glenys

  18. Julianna Pilic August 14, 2023 at 9:46 am #

    I have very fond memories of channel niners my brother and I were fortunate enough to be on television with Bobo the Clown my brother was a contestant in a game and Bobo called me up to sit on his rocking horse I was 7 at the time my brother was 8 I enjoyed that day so much very precious memories with Bobo the clown ????


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