Pictured resplendent in their green blazers at the old HSV7 studios in Dorcas Street are Parade Bundoora’s Gordon Falconer, Russell Lew Kee and Luke Smith. It’s 1978, and the then Year 10 students are flying the flag for the College in the long-gone Australian children games show It’s Academic.
For those not old enough to remember, It's Academic pitted students from different schools against each other in a test of knowledge covering a number of diverse subjects including English, mathematics, science, geography, sport, music and popular culture.
As the archival footage reveals, Parade commands a slender lead over Donvale High School and St. Joseph’s Junior School, Pascoe Vale South when the late Andrew Harwood throws to the ad break. The College is well-represented in the audience, with the camera panning onto the late Max Chester, his son Matthew and Andreas Gianello (both then in Year 9), together with Brendan Abrahams, Robert Campagnaro, Jim Denier, Andrew (‘Ted’) Hamilton, Anthony ('Acky') Loton, Stephen ('Midge') MacDonald, Paul Piko and Chris Renehan (all final year students of the class of 1980).
Whilst no other footage of the episode is known to exist and Chris Renehan isn’t sure whether Parade emerged victorious on that particular occasion, he does recall the students’ brush with stardom just prior to the show.
“We all walked into the foyer at Dorcas Street, and Terry Norris, who was starring in ‘Cop Shop’ at the time, came out of the green room and said ‘How are you going fellas?’. Our jaws hit the deck because we hadn’t met a famous person before,” Chris said.
“Anyway, they ushered us in to the studio and told us to each pull up a plastic chair and sit together because the uniforms came up well on the telly.”
Gordon Falconer, who is back in town after work-related stints in Abu Dhabi and Norway, also shared a pre-show memory.
"It was a very wet night and I nearly didn’t make it as my mother's car stalled in deep puddles in Clifton Hill and the car had to be jump started in the rain," Gordon recalled.
“When I finally made it into the foyer at Dorcas Street I caught up with Paul Piko – ‘Mr No.4’ of Parade’s It’s Academic team – and we were testing eachother with questions in the warm-up, I remember asking Paul 'Who introduced the printing press to England?', which of course was William Caxton. You wouldn’t believe it, but that same question later came up in the ‘beat the buzzer’ round, but I didn’t get it because I was too slow off the mark.
“For that reason, It’s Academic still haunts me – as does Sale Of The Century that I appeared on years later!”
Regrettably, Parade didn’t get the bikkies on the night Gordon, Russell and Luke competed – as was noted in the caption beneath the It’s Academic team photo in the 1978 edition of The Paradian featuring (from left to right) Paul, Gordon, Luke (all standing) and Russell.
The caption reads as follows:
Parade once again entered a team in HSV7 programme It’s Academic. After a very good start, which saw us leading up until the start of the last round, we unfortunately were not quick enough to “beat the buzzer”. The team which won our heat, Donvale High, eventually went on to compete in the State Final. Congratulations to team members for their participation – Paul Piko, Russell Lew Kee, Luke Smith and Gordon Falconer. These boys were selected from over forty Year 10 boys who tried out for the team.
To see our boys on It's Academic 1978, click on this link - https://youtu.be/cge7YQ6s9Rw
(Vision courtesy HSV7 Archive, Joe Varga)