Songs & satire, theatre & TV

See also Poetry

From age eleven I’d used my versifying talent to write lyrics for Girl Guide marching songs.

I met my husband-to-be Edgar Seppings when we were acting in an amateur theatre company doing George Bernard Shaw’s Candida. The High School ex-students’ group of my home town, Williamstown (Victoria), had started putting on satirical revues, into which I joined with some not very good acting – and he followed. He doodled on my piano, made tunes; the tunes (as always) said words to me. We wrote songs. Soon we were writing musical scores and comedy scripts for full-length satirical revues, twelve in all.

In  the mid 1950s and early 60s, we became known as ‘Australia’s only husband-and-wife satirical comedy and song writing team, Joan and Edgar Seppings’.

Our songs, with my lyrics, were frequent prize winners in a weekly ABC radio program These Are Our Songs, for which Australian composers accepted for it were orchestrated and played by Jim Davidson and the ABC Dance Band. Each week a prize of ten pounds was given for the song chosen as best.

The recording company W&G released two discs and I had fun writing advertising jingles for radio 3DB’s Happy Gang, enjoying winning parcels of products for unsuspecting neighbours, relatives and old ladies.

In 1958, the ABC’s fledgling TV asked us to write songs and sketches for Australia’s first TV satirical revues, Wild Life and Xmas Belles and Trip Tease on the High Cs, starring  Barry Humphries.

We accumulated quite a lot of ‘firsts’.

The songwriting collaboration fizzled with babies and ill health. But satirical brain-bubbles morphed into feature articles for the Melbourne Herald, a weekly magazine column, and broadcasts for ABC radio’s prestigious Sunday lunchtime program Scope – which billed me as  ‘Melbourne’s resident iconoclast’). In 1968, I wrote for The Mavis Brampston Show. In the early 1970s, commercial television drama swept me into its fold writing for Crawford Productions’ Homicide.

The early stage shows were written for love alone. ABC TV promised a fee. Like the recording  company, it didn’t go in for contracts (‘Our word is our bond’). TV drama did pay well, but that world was not really mine.

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