Hosted by Andrew Denton, this multi-award winning series of the late 1980s through early 1990s tackled an issue per episode with both humour and seriousness. The show included interviews, comedy sketch segments, vox pop street interviews, songs and dances and special guests. It was an unusual combination which paid off well.
Topics covered included: The Australian Banks, Prostitution, Comedy, The Brain (depression and mental illness), Disability, Dealing with cancer, Gender, Life in the Antarctic and a large number of others. It famously had one episode censored by the ABC when, in the prostitution episode, Mr Denton is taught on camera how to apply a condom to a boom microphone using only his mouth. Yet this is the same show whose "Year of the Patronising Bastard" episode won it the United Nations Media Peace Prize.
During each episode, a band would play a version of "Stairway to Heaven" (originally by Lead Zeppelin) in a completely different style. From a diverse range that included an Elvis impersonator, Kate Ceberano, and the Doug Anthony Allstars, the best remembered is Rolf Harris's version (complete with didgeridoo and wobble board), which reached the Top 10 on the UK singles charts. Harris is said to have received death threats from fans of the song for this. A compilation album, Stairways to Heaven, was put out on the Atlantic label, featuring versions of the song by The Australian Doors Show, The Beatnix, John Paul Young, Kate Ceberano, Leonard Teale, Michael Turkic, The Ministry Of Fun, Neil Pepper, Pardon Me Boys, Robyne Dunn, The Rock Lobsters, Rolf Harris, Sandra Hahn, Vegimite Reggae and others.
This was a great show. If you ever have the chance, watch it.
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