1 correction by anonymous - Show corrections
IT'S A FAMILY VERDICT
. "Consider Your Verdict" the hour-long courtroom series on national TV, is the work of one of Australia's best-known independent producers, Crawford Productions Ltd.
BUT Crawford Produc-
tions Ltd. isn't just a business-it's a family.
And for the man in the street in Melbourne "the Crawfords" take in not just brother and sister Hector and
Dorothy Crawford, who founded the company in 1945, but Dorothy's husband, Roland Strong; her son, lan; and Hec- tor's wife, soprano Glenda Ray- mond, as well.
Starting out as a radio pro- duction company in 1952, Hec- tor and Dorothy added a train- ing school for radio announcers and artists, and then, when TV loomed, both went overseas to study the new medium before opening their TV workshop.
First at their West Melbourne
premises and, since 1960, at 475 Collins Street they installed a closed-circuit TV studio and sound, film, and recording studios with all essential equip- ment. Here they train potential TV talent and rehearse their productions.
Within two weeks of HSV7 beginning transmission in 1956, a series of half-hour pro- grammes called "Wedding Day," produced by the Craw- fords, 'was on Melbourne
viewers' screens. Others in the early davs were "Raising a Husband," on GTV9; a chil- dren's programme, "Peters' Club," on GTV9; "Take That,"
on HSV7. There have been many since.
The Crawfords, Hector and Dorothy, have been associated with the "Music for the People" concerts, sponsored jointly by the Victorian Gov-
ernment and the Melbourne
City Council, since their in- ception in 1938 and they have given their services voluntarily.
First held as outdoor concerts in the Botanical Gardens, "Music for the People" is now inseparable from the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. It made its first appearance as a TV out- door broadcast in February,
1959. Hector Crawford is the conductor of the orchestra, and always a popular soloist is his wife, Glenda Raymond.
Dorothy Crawford produced "Seagulls Over Sorrento," the first full-length television drama to be produced by an indepen- dent TV production company. These are the "big" things the company deals with, but there are hundreds of others - TV commercials, films, documen- taries, radio programmes that are sold to countries as far apart as Barbados and
Rhodesia, Canada and Ceylon.
"Consider Your Verdict" made its debut first as a radio serial in 1958.
"That was a fairly easy business," Dorothy Crawford said. "We just wound up the evidence at the end of each pro
gramme and the court stood adjourned until the next one."
But on TV, "Consider Your Verdict," as Dorothy Crawford well remembers, had a very shaky beginning, with each case divided between two weekly episodes. .
Things looked up consider- ably when the format changed to one-case-one-hour, and re- cently the show won the 1961 Logie Award for the best Aus- tralian-produced drama series.
The weekly preparation for each episode of "Consider Your Verdict" is a full-time job - or would be for almost anyone else than Miss Crawford. She manages to fit it in with all the other company activities, but only, as she says, by work- ing "ridiculous hours."
There's the planning of plots, editing them; looking for types to fit the story characters; "playing Portia," as she puts it, in sorting out legal pitfalls, re- ferring difficult problems to the legal panel, editing legalities from a dramatic point of view.
There's the choosing of the music, which she does herself; contrasting the evidence so that the dramatic moment coincides with the break for a commer-
cial; conducting the rehearsal on Thursday in the Crawford
studio; and then, finally, sitting with HSV7 director John Dixon
and son Ian in the control
room at HSV7 on Saturday morning for the final taping.
In the early days of "Con- sider Your Verdict," Roland Strong was closely associated with his wife. He appeared as the court reporter. Now, since he has been producing HSV7's "Coles £3000 Question,^ he is
DOROTHY CRAWFORD and her son, lan, talk over plans for taping a "Consider Your Verdict" episode. On the desk is a scale model ot a set for the well known comedy "Arsenic and Old Lace," which Craw-
fords hope one day to produce for television.
BOARDROOM doubles as dining-room at Crawford Productions Ltd., and here Dorothy Crawford, brother Hector (right), husband Roland Strong (centre), and
son lan (left) gather to eat and discuss business.
rarely seen on the "Consider
Your Verdict" set.
Dorothy Crawford is im- pressive in action at rehearsal
as she sits at a rather battered old desk in the studio, character index cards at her fingertips, taking her cast through their paces, acting out parts for un
sound des- perate," she says to a female w i t - ness. "And I'll
tell you when you're getting too desperate.
"Give evidence quicker than you think it should go," she ad- vises. "Otherwise it will drag."
At rehearsal she herself takes
the part of the judge, using a properly judicial voice.
As TV producer, wife,
mother, and grandmother, Dorothy Crawford is a fascinat- ing person. Tiny, slim, com- pletely dwarfed physically by her tall husband, brother, and son, she has tremendous funds of get-up-and-go.
Enter her large office and you can tell at once that Dorothy Crawford is a thoroughly feminine woman, despite the fact that her life is almost entirely governed by a man-sized job.
Soft gold lame slippers are
tucked under her desk so that
she can slip into them when- ever possible. Ceiling-to-floor white drapes on the windows set off the gold wallpaper and a gold-and-white-striped waste- paper basket sits near the desk on a blue-green carpet.
It's hard to tell where Toorak home begins and Collins Street office ends when Miss Craw-
ford's doing the organising.
She laughs as she tells you that all her kitchen cupboards are indexed and cross-indexed.
"You'll find carb soda, for instance, under 'C in the alphabetical index and also in the shelf index behind the kitchen door," she says.
"I started this system when I used to have constantly chang- ing daily help. I never could find anything when I got home in the evening. It was a mam- moth task to make the index, but I did it all one weekend."
Dorothy Crawford says she has a bad memory. Personally, I think she just has too much to remember. Be that as it may, she does have a portable "memory," a looseleaf notebook in leather covers which is a constant source of amusement to the whole family.
"They laugh," she said, "but they often find it useful."
Under the entry for "father,"
for instance, there are the sizes
of Roland Strong's shirts and socks, numbers of prescriptions which, his wife says, "I can just look up in a second."
Friends and relatives are listed - with the names of all their children. The names of the staff of the seaside hotel where she holidays each year are listed, and also the number of bags of briquettes she must order.
And if home has a little touch of business management in it, office has more than a
little touch of home.
The boardroom, for instance, is really more like a dining room and actually doubles as
one at mealtimes. Bamboo
table-mats are whipped over blotting-paper desk sets, the big
oval table set with silver and
china from the kitchen next
door, and hey, presto! it's
The arrangement means that
mealtimes can double as con- ferences.
Often "the Crawfords" eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there. Guests can be enter- tained, clients can watch run throughs of shows on the closed
"It's true we get a lot more work done this way," Miss Crawford says, "but it also brings us togètber as a family, and as a family we get on together extremely well."
On Thursdays, for instance, Ian's wife, Gaila, and her mother, Mrs. Joan Robertson, Miss Crawford's closest friend, lunch in the boardroom.
On Friday nights the board- room, is really domestic. This is the night when Roland Strong goes out to play cards, and as it's also the housekeeper's night off Dorothy Crawford serves her husband's dinner quite comfortably while she's still at work.