David Price was one of the pioneers of variety television. From the 1970s, he was an Executive Producer with his business partner, television legend Mike Walsh – whose program, The Mike Walsh Show, ran for 13 years.
From the bright lights and fast pace in the world of the media, to a more relaxed lifestyle in the Manning Great Lakes, David learned many skills, and he’s now focusing on his ability to paint. Meet one of Australia’s best known and recognised local residents. Meet David Price.
Where were you born?
In England, at Cambridge in 1939. My father was Australian and my mother English.
We lived in Chelsea, London throughout the second World War; I came out to Australia in 1947. I remember the blitz quite vividly – especially the doodlebugs, the searchlights hitting the German bombers and going to the local park to watch them send up a barrage balloon.
What schools did you attend?
Witchwood Grammar in Bournemouth, UK and Scotch College, Melbourne.
What was your first job?
Stage Hand at GTV 9 Melbourne.
You spent many years in television; how did it all begin?
Starting as a stage hand, I trained as a cameraman on the variety show In Melbourne Tonight. In 1959 I went to Los Angeles and the UK in 1960, and enroute I celebrated my twenty-first birthday on board the Queen Mary, half way across the Atlantic.
Arriving in the UK, I worked for Granada television as a cameraman and then was accepted to Lew (Lord) Grade’s ATV channel as a trainee Director. After 3 years at ATV, I returned to Australia as a Producer / Director for the ABC.
Hayden-Price Productions produced one of Australia’s iconic television shows, The Mike Walsh Show. What were the demands?
The Mike Walsh show was more than just a talk-fest. It had a lot of serious content, plus comedy and variety and was extremely demanding logistically, trying to fill 5 live 90 minute shows per week. We also had another sister company Hayden-Price Enterprises, which produced theatre shows, music records, club shows and other television shows. (Hayden is Mike’s middle name).
What made Mike Walsh stand out?
Firstly, he was as much the show’s producer as I was. We were partners in every aspect of the show. As an interviewer, he had that rare ability to split his mind into halves like a chess player – one half concentrating on the current answers, while the other planned ahead for any eventuality. Also, like Michael Parkinson, he got the best out of people without ever losing his cool or attacking them.
You then moved to produce another iconic variety show, The Don Lane Show. What was the difference between the two comperes?
I’d worked with Don for several years when he was doing a Tonight show out of TCN9 in Sydney. I took over the Melbourne show temporarily while Peter Faiman had a leave of absence – I think when he was making one of the Croc Dundee films.
Don was a song and dance man and was great fun to work with. Mike was much more the diplomat.
We do not see these type of variety shows regularly any more. Why?
TV management doesn’t really like the ‘Star’ system, as it costs big money and they often can’t control them as they can with crews and journalists etc. It’s far easier to produce ‘Reality’ TV, which is far cheaper to produce and full of cheap amateur talent!
What other television shows have you been associated with?
Just about everything from documentaries to dramas; there are too many to list.
Today you live in Forster. When did you make the move, and why?
We moved up here in 1993. My wife had her real estate licence and wanted to start an agency. We’d had enough of Sydney and decided we needed a sea change. We had friends at Halliday’s Point, who convinced us that Forster would suit us in every way – and it has done.
Your lifestyle has changed away from the bright lights of television. Did you become disillusioned with the media?
Not disillusioned; I’d just done everything I wanted to do in television and didn’t want to keep going doing more of the same.
At the end of the month you will be involved in your first art exhibition with Wendie Patch. When did your interest in art begin?
My mother was a well known artist in Melbourne, so I grew up in a very artistic atmosphere and obviously absorbed more knowledge than I ever realised until recently.
What is your specialty?
I’m a people person, so I’m more inclined to portraits than landscapes.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I think as a film / TV director, all your work is based on a story. So everything I paint is a story – a frozen moment in time that hopefully creates the wonder of what happened next in the viewer.
Why have you waited so long for your works to be exhibited?
I don’t paint to exhibit, but the garage is getting too full to park the car – so some have got to go!
What can the public expect from the exhibition?
Well, both Wendie and I are very similar in our outlooks, but totally different in style. So hopefully there will be something that will appeal to all tastes
Will any paintings be for sale?
Thank you David.
> The exhibition is titled Mindworks and is on at the The Other Side’ Gallery at 64 Main Street, Cundletown from 27 January – 28 February.