Australian music TV director and Countdown co-creator Robbie Weekes dies
Producer and director Robbie Weekes, best known for helming some of Australia’s best remembered pop music TV shows, has died.
He started out working in the 1960s on shows as Kommotion and Happening ’70 but is best known for co-creating ABC-TV’s Countdown with the late executive producer Michael Shrimpton in 1974.
Weekes and Shrimpton were given the brief to create a Top 40 show to entice younger viewers to the staid ABC, then affectionately referred to as “Aunty”.
The story goes that the two were having a drink at the Botanical Hotel in South Yarra discussing the show, when Weekes spotted Ian “Molly” Meldrum, whom he had known as a cast member of Kommotion and Happening ’70.
The two watched Meldrum drive illegally onto the footpath outside the hotel’s bottle shop and run in to get a bottle of Scotch.
Weekes famously said, “That’s the **** we need for the show.”
It was a sharp choice: Meldrum’s constant enthusiasm, ear for pop radio and incomparable contacts with overseas superstars and their associates gave the show an edge that no other show could claim.
Under Weekes, Countdown became a video-skewed show, so it could include famous overseas names, something that was later adopted by MTV in America.
He directed the show from 1974—1987, and appeared in the initial promotional video for the show.
He also was the person behind the TV coverage of the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and 1986.
In 2014 Weekes was awarded an Order of Australia for service to the broadcast media industry and to the community.