60 Minutes first went to air on February 11, 1979, under executive producer Gerald Stone and with reporters Ray Martin, George Negus and Ian Leslie. From the outset it was a monumental and expensive gamble. An audience used to Sunday night fare of World of Disney and Hawaii Five-O, was being asked to sit through an hour of current affairs.
The critics claimed audiences wouldn't do that and sure enough, at first, they didn't. But after a just a few weeks, 60 Minutes became a ratings winner. Audiences responded to a format that, for the first time, had Australians reporting the big stories of the world and telling them with personality and attitude, rather than dispassionate observers.
Taking a lead from its successful mentor, 60 Minutes America on the CBS Network, the Australian version sought to tell stories in what has become the unique 60 Minutes style - don't cover the Great Flood, interview Noah.
By telling stories through the eyes of those involved, by personalising stories and issues, by writing in a relaxed, contemporary fashion, 60 Minutes
broke new ground in the staid world of current affairs reporting.
60 Minutes also revolutionised the current affairs style with its feature film production values, the stories shot by Australia's best film crews and crafted by an elite team of editors.
Using sophisticated, movie-style sound mixing techniques and employing top line graphic artists, a 60 Minutes story is often several weeks in production. It is not unusual for music to be specially composed as sound tracks for some stories.
It was only in 1998 that 60 Minutes went from film to digital videotape, such was the program's adherence to movie values of sharp picture quality and multi-track sound. Now 60 Minutes is edited on the latest AVID technology and shooting with Sony digital cameras.
60 Minutes is still regarded as the place to work in television current affairs. With the luxury of generous budgets, a world of stories and the industry's best professionals to work with, producers, film crews and editors have been with the show for many years.
Crews and producers fill handfuls of passports and clock up more frequent flier points than astronaut John Glenn.
Twelve hundred programs and more than 3500 stories later, 60 Minutes is a Sunday night staple in Australian households. Over the years it has beaten off challenges from more than 150 shows on rival channels, including the best of British and American drama and sitcoms.
60 Minutes people
Chief of Staff
60 Minutes website: ninemsn
Producer: Emily Crane
Email ninemsn: firstname.lastname@example.org