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The TV Telethons. Donations and Fun.

Cast your memory back to a time when we had local television that cared about the community and every year would hold a charity fund raiser which included local TV and radio personalities, musicians, singers, performers and members of the public.

There was the Channel 10 Christmas Appeal, Channel 7 Good Friday Appeal and Channel 9’s House of Hope, all annual events and each one raising much needed cash for local charitable causes.

the "Channel 10 Christmas Appeal". Stars from around the network would fly into Adelaide for the weekend live broadcast from SAS10 studios in Gilberton.

the “Channel 10 Christmas Appeal”. Stars from around the network would fly into Adelaide for the weekend live broadcast from SAS10 studios in Gilberton.

I remember the pre-TV days when it all started on the wireless. Back then we would listen to the 5AD Good Friday Appeal, and a clipping from the Advertiser on the 19th April 1954 reported that “donations to the 5AD Good Friday Appeal this year raised a record of £27.520/15/10, for the Adelaide Children’s Hospital building fund. Donations may be handed in at the front office of ‘The Advertiser’ from 9 am tomorrow. The manager of 5AD (Mr Keith Macdonald) said that it had been a wonderful result and thanked the listeners who had sent in donations”.

In 1969 it expanded to the 5AD/Channel 7 Good Friday Appeal and each year media personalities, performers and the public pitched in to raise millions of dollars over the years for the hospital. It was all totally unscripted television with a panel, usually including major personalities, reading out donations, with regular crosses to the phone room where the donations were being called through. People would be shaking collection cans at traffic lights and some people pulled some crazy stunts to raise money for the day.

The late Kevin Crease, Lionel Williams and Ernie Sigley introducing the 5AD/Channel 7 Good Friaday Appeal in the 70s

Photo from the State Library of South Australia The late Kevin Crease, Lionel Williams and Ernie Sigley introducing the 5AD/Channel 7 Good Friaday Appeal in the 70s

Channel 9 aired Telethon broadcasts throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including raising money for “The House Of Hope” a home that would be built each year for Telethon. Local television stars from all channels would visit channel 9 across the live broadcast weekend to participate in the Telethon. Musicians from interstate would also travel to Adelaide for the round-the-clock marathon broadcast. It was the only time of the year that an Adelaide television station continued to broadcast during the overnight hours.

In 1973 SAS10 Adelaide created the Children’s Medical Research Foundation and the “Channel 10 Christmas Appeal” with again, stars from around the network flying into Adelaide for the weekend live broadcast from SAS10 studios in Gilberton.

Fat Cat with Noel O'Connor (left) and Gary Meadows (right) on an album cover promoting the Channel 10 Christmas Appeal

Fat Cat with Noel O’Connor (left) and Gary Meadows (right) on an album cover promoting the Channel 10 Christmas Appeal

Some of the names included actors from popular Channel 10 TV show “Number 96” and “The Box”. Game show host Gary Meadows was the anchor for most years. This is where the catchy tune “thank you very much for your kind donation” originated, which would be played whenever a major donation was announced during the broadcast with members of the cast forming a conga line and dancing around the studio.

The last Christmas Appeal on Channel 10 Adelaide was held in 1989.

They were always special weekends locally with kids raiding their money boxes to make a donation and then wait for their name to be called out on the air. There were larger donations made also with challenges and ‘dares’ to the personalities and performers on the panel, which kept both the live audience and the viewers entertained for hours.

I believe Channel 10 still holds a Christmas Appeal each year in Perth and I often wonder why one of the channels in Adelaide doesn’t hold a telethon of some kind, either at Easter or Christmas. It would raise buckets of much needed money for local charities. Sadly I fear that TV channels these days, like radio stations, are all owned and operated by big business who don’t really care about local communities, only about corporate profits!!

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24 Responses to The TV Telethons. Donations and Fun.

  1. Ian December 6, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Totally agree with the last paragraph. Why would corps want to give money away – the shareholders wouldnt be happy. We live in a conservative, selfish society. The telethons were good fun. A little repetitive – but all for a good cause – and there was some good entertainment. Gary Meadows was a great host.

  2. Peter H December 14, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    Of all the phone numbers I have known over the years…..217 0101 is one that I’ve never forgotten lol.

    • Keith January 12, 2015 at 12:38 am #

      Peter H, Yes, as I was reading this I had the tune of 217 0101, the channel 7 Christmas appeal going through my head

    • Suzanne January 1, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      I must be older than you. I still remember it as 87 0101 🙂

      • Mandy Squire March 17, 2021 at 6:57 pm #

        I remember singing “870101 boom boom!”
        What was that about?

    • 07841205843 January 2, 2020 at 5:31 am #

      This is the greatest post I’ve read online. I was 10 years old in hospital over Christmas in 1984 watching the appeal and 217 0101 has been repeating in my head for 35 years.
      Reading this gave me security that I’m not the only one!
      All the best.

    • Carmel Breach August 1, 2021 at 9:38 pm #

      Lol I’m 51 and remember the tune and phone number!!!

  3. Richard July 23, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    Does anyone remember the name of the girl who was regularly on the appeal. She is pictured above with Gary Meadows.

    • Roland December 30, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

      Her name was Kyle.

      • Nathan July 13, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

        Kylie, Kyle is a mans name

  4. GT July 25, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    Before our phone numbers changed to seven digits, the Channel Ten Christmas Appeal phone number was 87 0101 and they had a different jingle than the 217 0101 number.

    As a kid I often used to buy the ‘Sounds of Hope & Happiness’ LPs (pictured above) which benefitted the appeal. The girl pictured in the wheelchair (Debbie?) sang the Charlie Chaplin song ‘Smile’ which brought tears to Gary Meadow’s eyes.

    I remember that Ten’s appeal was usually done on the weekend when daylight saving started and most years the hosts would promise that Big Pretzel, the well known striptease artist would be doing an hour long performance at 2am. Of course her act lasted just a few seconds since the clocks were put back to 3 🙂

  5. John cratchley September 11, 2016 at 6:04 am #

    I used to enjoy the telephones they were worth wile instead of the crap they have today bring it back
    And give Adelaide an excuse to be happy again

  6. Roland December 30, 2016 at 7:25 pm #


  7. Roland December 30, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    Gary Meadows stood a few feet in front of Kylie, she would stand up from the chair and he would encourage her to walk towards him saying, ” come on Kylie you can do it”. I seem to recall her wearing calipers.

    • K February 24, 2018 at 6:55 pm #

      Hi. Would you know how do I find that clip??

  8. Danny W October 15, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

    does any1 know the date of xmas appeal in 1982??

    • Martin December 8, 2019 at 12:58 am #

      Saturday 23 October 1981, but feel free to check other sources.

  9. Dale November 23, 2017 at 12:33 am #

    I recall that the money was raised predominantly to gather funds to build the rehab center at Regency Park which still exists today, but under a new name “Novita” My understanding is that at one stage this was State government funded and has now been sold off and is private.

    I also believe that it would be hypocrital for such an appeal to continue as I keep wondering as to how pocketed the money from selling it off?. Especially my donated money and everyone elses donated money? I often wonder whether there even is a genuine charity. Oh yes, I answered my own question, we keep donating to the politicians lucrative life styles

  10. Kylie Day December 12, 2018 at 6:30 pm #

    I’m Kylie Day the one from the Regency Park crippled children’s association “down every street appeal” I’m looking for that commercial I did way back when I was younger “c’mon Kylie you can do it ” commercial…..can’t find it anywhere…I hope someone out there has it still

    • Jenny February 28, 2019 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Kylie 🙂

    • Martin December 8, 2019 at 12:51 am #

      Hi Kylie,
      Could be lucky and SAS-7 (was SAS-10) or one of the other stations could — but I doubt it. Putting this out is a good plan, if it shows up online then someone will probably find your request here.

    • Carole April 4, 2024 at 7:41 pm #

      Hi Kylie .. did you used to live at Klemzig ????

  11. Danielle September 3, 2020 at 6:41 pm #

    How can I down load the theme song….

    “217 0101 the channel 10 christmas appeal”
    Can’t find it

  12. Sherri Laubenheimer February 11, 2021 at 6:10 am #

    Hello looking for a telethon with Peter Falk from the 1970’s. My fiance was interviewed as a child with Peter Falk .would l8ve to find the telethon with him in it 1970’s. Can any one help locate this telethon. Thank you Sherri

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