‘The Logies’ is the colloquial name for the Australian television awards formally known as the ‘TV Week Logie Awards’. They debuted in 1959 in Melbourne before Australia’s television system was networked nationally. They were first called the TV Week Awards, and were renamed by the award’s first recipient, Graham Kennedy, after Scottish television pioneer John Logie Baird.
Although now commonly referred to as ‘The Logies’, the official name bears testimony to the long-standing affiliation with TV Week. The Nine Entertainment Co. owned both TV Week until 2012 and the Nine Network, which has held broadcasting rights to the awards since 1996. The awards’ broadcast has been hosted by other networks only 12 times in more than 50 years.
The Logies seek to honour achievement in production and performance across Australian television. Industry members determine ‘Most Outstanding’ achievement, while the viewing/ voting public determines the awards given for ‘Most Popular’ programs and performances across a range of categories. As new genres and interests come and go, the Logies keep pace, with categories such as Lifestyle Program, Light Entertainment Program, Miniseries, and Teen Personality. It is tempting to describe the Logies as ‘industry awards’, but their emphasis is clearly on viewer opinion. The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), formerly Australian Film Institute (AFI), has also recognised television ‘excellence’ since 1986, but on a much smaller scale.
The most publicised award is the Gold Logie, given to the most popular personality on television. In some years—mainly in the 1970s—two Golds have been awarded, to a female and a male personality. There are also male and female Silver Logies awarded in both the peer-voted and public-voted categories. Beginning with Hector Crawford in 1984, individuals and a handful of programs have been inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame.
The Most Popular awards are privileged by the show’s format and the cross-promotion facilitated by TV Week. The broadcast is billed as an annual entertainment ‘special’, with red carpet guest presenters from overseas. The popular awards most often go to programs and performers from the commercial television networks, whose publicity departments work hard with campaigns on air and in social media to solicit votes for their talent. The public service broadcasters (the ABC and SBS) are more often recognised by their peers for outstanding achievement, particularly in the genres of News, Current Affairs and Documentary, as well as Drama.
The path to nationally networked broadcasting is also highlighted by the Logies’ history. In their third year, the awards expanded beyond Melbourne to recognise national achievement and local (state-based) popularity. Awards were given for Most Popular Male, Most Popular Female and Most Popular Program in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia in 1961. Tasmania and Western Australia joined in 1962 (Western Australia left after 1963 and returned in 1970). As a result of television aggregation, the state-based awards ceased in 1993.
The awards have had an uneven relationship with television imports and exports. In the early years, awards were regularly given to imported programs: in 1959, the Most Popular Overseas Variety Show was The Perry Como Show and the Most Popular Overseas Drama was Perry Mason. The 1960 Program of the Year went to 77 Sunset Strip. In 1972–73, the awards for overseas shows distinguished between US and British imports, and after 1976 imported programs were ignored until Friends took Silver for Most Popular Overseas Program in 2003. In contrast, the Logies all but dismiss the success Australian programs have had abroad, although Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was awarded a oneoff Logie for Best Export Production in 1969. While the Logies claim to recognise achievement in Australian television, their fan-based affiliation with the TV Week readership excludes performance in foreign markets and has largely ignored pay television operators like Foxtel.
REFs: J. McConchie and K.O. Vered, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Logie Awards, Australian National Identity, TV and Popular Culture’, Continuum, 17(2) (2003); http://www.tvweeklogieawards.com.au/logie-history.