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Crawford Creations: What would we have done without Crawfords? An exploration of Crawford Productions' contribution to the development of an 'Australian Consciousness'

Davey, Philip (2014) Crawford Creations: What would we have done without Crawfords? An exploration of Crawford Productions' contribution to the development of an 'Australian Consciousness'. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Between 1946 and 1987, Crawford Productions was a major independent Melbourne producer of radio and television drama, and innovative musical and educational programs. Led by orchestra conductor Hector Crawford, his sister Dorothy Crawford and her son Ian Crawford, Crawford Productions, or simply Crawfords, was influential in developing an ‘Australian consciousness and identity’ through its many successful programs. This dissertation explores several elements of Hector Crawford’s quest to create an ‘Australian consciousness’, including the opportunities he provided for many singers and artists through live musical radio programs. I argue that Dorothy Crawford’s production skills were pivotal throughout this process as well as during the formative years of television. Hector lobbied against the dominance of American television programs and in support of Australian dramatic television content which, I argue, added greatly to a public awareness that television was not portraying Australia’s national traditions and culture. I contend that this awareness helps explain why Crawfords’ television drama series such as Homicide (1964) and Division 4 (1969) were so readily accepted by national audiences. Through employee oral history accounts I demonstrate how Crawfords engendered a collegiate training environment with a ‘get the job done whatever the cost’ attitude. The ensuing employment, training and career opportunities benefited the entire television and film industry and contributed to an evolving ‘Australian consciousness’. This dissertation also examines the rationale behind Melbourne’s third commercial television licence being granted to Ansett Transport Industries and why Crawfords’ bid failed. In response to the existing literature, I argue that the Federal Government was not biased towards Ansett as a ‘business friend’. While Hector Crawford has often been described as the ‘Father of Australian Television’, I argue that his entrepreneurial and business skills alone may have been ineffectual without the contributions of family members and senior staff. I contend that ‘The Family of Australian Television’ is a more accurate epitaph.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Broderick, Mick
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