A few weeks ago, one of Australia's "current affairs" programs, "Today Tonight", tracked down the now-elusive Australian icon, Abigail (aka "Number 96"'s first Bev Houghton), who had holed herself up in a disused country church building after being flooded out in Victoria's share of 2011: The Year of Natural Disasters.
Mmmmm. None of these reports by the TV tabloid shows ("Today Tonight" and similar, opposition "A Current Affair", or was it the other way around? - the shows are almost interchangeable sometimes) have lived up to their mysterious and frenetic hype. It’s crazy when the “What dark secrets of Aussie TV will be revealed this time?” segments seem shorter than the oft-repeated promos that lead up to them. I guess it gives us a respite to the other TT and ACA exposes that often turn out to be extended advertisements for their networks' latest dancing, cooking or weight-loss lifestyle shows.
One of Abigail's defenders on Andrew Mercado's website (article linked here; see also TV Tonight) was Sheila Kennelly, better known to "Number 96" fans as Norma Whittaker. Well said, Mrs Whitt! And great to see her online! I love how the “Number 96″ cast continue to look out for each other in so many ways. When I was interviewing many of the cast in the 90s, it was frustrating that the anecdotes of those groundbreaking years at Channel Ten were mostly warm and affectionate, not the nasty stuff that sells books (and editors need for getting the marketing people on side).
It’s disappointing that Abigail has chosen to retire from showbiz. Her performances were always compelling to watch, whether selling B&D Rollerdoors and Amber tiles, or flirting with Don Finlayson (below) , Jack Sellars and Alvin Purple. I hope she can again slip into her self-chosen countryside obscurity as/if she so wishes.