ABC NSW radio was doing a "Local Legend" retrospective with Liz Kirkby - former soapie actress and former Democrat MLC politician, and now a resident of Temora - about "Number 96", which originally premiered on this day 37 years ago! Such a long time ago, but the memories of Lucy Sutcliffe in her laundrette uniform, gossiping over bundles of frilly knickers, are still fresh in the collective consciousness of Australian TV viewers.
Hosted by Fiona Wyllie, her guests included Andrew Mercado, who was able to announce the next batch of 32 episodes on DVD from Umbrella Entertainment (yes, "The Pantyhose Strangler" sold well enough for more releases to be viable). I was able to confirm details about the "Number 96 Cookbook", the theme song, and reminded Fi that we recently lost actor Reg Evans (Lucy's boss at the laundrette, Mr Thorburn) in the Victorian bushfires.
The segment finished off with Abigail's iconic rendition of "Je t'aime", which had peaked at #6 on the Australian music charts of 1973.
For those of you curious to know about the contents of the next "Number 96" boxed set of DVDs from Umbrella Entertainment, here is a brief episode guide. Beware of spoilers!
681. (Originally aired 28/1/1975) Vera Collins (Elaine Lee) is released from hospital, only to learn of the news about the death of Tracey Wilson (Chantal Contouri). Vera realises that Tracey must have been the one who poisoned her. Les Whittaker (Gordon McDougall) commences teaching Dorrie Evans (Pat McDonald) to drive a car. Freda Fuller (Sheila Bradley) offers Arnold Feather (Jeff Kevin) the job of manager of the deli. Don Finlayson (Joe Hasham) has mysterious health issues, and is still a cause for concern. Dorrie finds that her driving lessons are not incident-free.
682. (29/1) The taxi normally driven by Alf Sutcliffe (James Elliot) causes a disturbance in Norma's Bar. Trixie O'Toole (Jan Adele) returns from Brisbane and moves into Vera's spare room. Carol Finlayson (Paula Duncan) and Dudley Butterfield (Chard Hayward) wonder why Don has chosen not to confide in them. Dorrie wants to work as a fashion model for Vera to earn the money she owes Alf. Norma Whittaker (Sheila Kennelly) can't believe what her own eyes tell her: Aldo and Roma Godolfus (Johnny Lockwood & Philippa Baker) have returned home!
683. (30/1) Reg and Edie MacDonald (Mike Dorsey & Wendy Blacklock) plan a surprise celebration for newlyweds, Marilyn and Michael Bartlett (Frances Hargreaves & Peter Flett), but Reg has given a budget of only $15. Arnold breaks the news to Aldo and Roma about Patti and Tracey. Marilyn and Michael consider moving out of Flat 5, while the Godolfuses move into Flat 6. Don receives some shocking news from his doctor: he has only six months to live.
684. (31/1) Reg has invited the "TC" (Paddington's Town Clerk, Mr Buchanan) to the party and raises the budget by $40. Arnold can see a glimmer of hope. Dorrie applies for a job advertised in the paper and is almost skewered by a professional knife-thrower. Edie's fruit punch has been laced with several different additives. Marilyn and Michael reach the right decision. A change of luck is in store for Alf: he has won the lottery!
685. (3/2) Freda refuses to pay Tanya Schnolskevitska (Natalie Mosco) and Arnold their wages. Roma and Aldo's new plan to go into the restaurant business will involve Arnold. Alf lets Dorrie off the hook regarding the damage to his taxi after his lottery win, but his joy soon turns into rage. His partner, Chiller Thomas, had put the winning ticket into his own name only and is refusing to share the winnings.
686. (4/2) Trixie attracts the attention of TC Buchanan (Brian Moll). Les has arranged a piano for "Happy Hour" in the wine bar, to be played by Flo Patterson (Bunney Brooke). Lucy Sutcliffe (Elisabeth Kirkby) hears from Michael's father, Tom Bartlett in New Zealand, who can't understand his son's silence. Dorrie's financial situation is desperate again, while Alf's attitude is unrelenting.
687. (5/2) Life is much brighter for Flo, but storm clouds are gathering over Aldo's shop. Freda fires all her staff. Marilyn and Michael are bickering. Will Dorrie become the new tea lady at the Paddington Town Hall? Freda has put the deli up for sale.
688. (6/2) Norma wants her own bed back, but Les assures her that a Murphy bed is on order for her mother, Mrs Florentine (Aileen Britton). Dudley is very concerned about Don, so Carol decides to take the initiative; she discovers that Don's illness may be terminal. The Godolfuses try to turn back time. Andy Marshall (Peter Adams) horrifies Arnold; he wants to move back into Flat 6.
689. (7/2) Trixie continues to fight off the attentions of the TC. Vera is angry about some unusual overnight visitors: two near-naked young unicyclists. Les creates havoc with the Murphy bed he installs for Norma's mother. Marilyn makes some accusations which silence Michael; a phone call from New Zealand has revealed the existence of a secret wife and child.
690. (10/2) Reg is promoted to ADTC. Lucy lends Dorrie $500 to pay for the damage to Alf's taxi. Changes are planned for the deli, but Tanya may lose her job. Reg's plan to surprise Marilyn and Michael works perfectly, to their horror; he knows they are not actually married. Dorrie has a shock of her own for Flo.
691. (11/2) The TC proposes to Trixie. Alf threatens Chiller about the lottery money. Les's attempts at matchmaking Norma's mother with the TC result in disaster. The sausage machine causes trouble again in Flat 1. Edie has a wedding to plan, but Marilyn and Michael decide to elope instead. Alf has a surprise when Chiller's wife brings him a substantial cheque.
692. (12/2) Don's high calorie diet is of concern, but he is following doctor's orders. Andy has a solution for the dilemma which has embroiled Tanya; he offers her a job as his secretary. Dudley and Carol plan to contact Don's Aunt Amanda in Heidelberg about his condition, while Vera has strange visitors once again.
693. (13/2) Dorrie has plans for the Town Hall. Lucy threatens Alf, while Marilyn suffers a shock.
694. (14/2) Trouble is looming over Number 96. Amanda Von Pappenburg (Carol Raye) learns about Don's problem, while Trixie decides to put Vera's plan into operation.
695. (17/2) Dorrie requires help from Don. Vera learns the truth. The tenants get ready for battle.
696. (18/2) Reg is in deep trouble, while Aldo and Roma have a surprise visit. Andy is out on a limb.
697. (19/2) A long-forgotten talent is recalled by Edie. Trouble pursues Dorrie as Trixie interferes.
698. (20/2) Maggie Cameron (Bettina Welch) has a shock for Don, but saves an angry tirade for Andy.
699. (21/2) Roma's latest career venture has repercussions. Lucy is unhappy while Maggie shows a side of her character which is rarely seen.
700. (24/2) Andy is furious. Dudley and Carol find it difficult to hide their unhappiness.
701. (25/2) Arnold's patience runs out. A letter from an old friend arrives for Vera.
702. (26/2) Dorrie has a new scheme, but Arnold refuses to take part in it. Maggie has a surprise for everyone.
703. (27/2) Trixie is left with some explaining to do. Reg shocks Edie with news of a move.
704. (28/2) Maggie has a warning for Andy. Carol and Dudley are caught in a compromising situation.
705. (3/3) Alf and Les have formulated a plan. Marilyn loses her temper. Vera has another premonition.
706. (4/3) Norma determines to investigate the new restaurant. Maggie tries to take over Vera's latest boarder, Adam Shaw (Julian Rockett). Roma and Arnold stubbornly refuse to resolve their differences.
707. (5/3) Lucy's news is a source of horror for Alf: she is expecting a change-of-life baby! Les's latest scheme does not impress Norma.
708. (6/3) Arnold disappoints Aldo, while Tanya makes a mistake.
709. (7/3) Tanya has a surprise. Andy refuses the offer of a bribe. Carol is distressed by some news.
710. (10/3) Dudley has an important decision to make. Arnold is determined to fight for Aldo.
711. (11/3) Dorrie and Herb Evans (Ron Shand) arouse the wrath of Maggie. Marilyn has a proposition for Adam.
712. (12/3) Vera's suggestion proves a shock for Adam, while Les is desolate. Confusion reigns for Carol and Dudley.