Young Talent Time (YTT)

Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Popular

Web Site: Young Talent Time 40th Anniversary Tour

Other Links: See above:



Young Talent Time (YTT), was an Australian television variety program screened on Network Ten, produced by Lewis-Young Productions. The original series ran from 1971 until 1988 and was hosted by musician Johnny Young, for the entire length of its run. The show was briefly revived by Network Ten in 2012 and was hosted by musician and actor Rob Mills.

The series features a core group of young performers, in the vein of The Mickey Mouse Club, and a weekly junior talent quest. The “Young Talent Team” perform popular classic songs along with the top hit songs of the day. The original program launched the careers of a number of Australian performers including Jamie Redfern, Tina Arena and Dannii Minogue and spawned numerous hit singles, fifteen Young Talent Time albums, a film, swap cards, boardgames, toys, and numerous Logie Awards.

The first episode (#1) of the original series aired on Channel 0 in Melbourne at 7.00pm on Saturday 24 April 1971. The final episode (#804) aired on Network Ten at 7.30pm on Friday 23 December 1988.

The first episode (#1) of the 2012 series aired on Network Ten at 6.30pm on Sunday 22 January 2012, through to 4 May 2012.

Young Talent Time (1971-1988)

Production details

Young Talent Time (or simply “YTT”) was produced as a joint venture by Lewis-Young Productions (the production partnership between host Johnny Young and his friend and colleague Kevin Lewis, one of the directors of Festival Records) and was taped mainly at the studios of ATV-10 in Nunawading, Melbourne although occasional shows were taped at the TEN-10 studios in Sydney or on location.

Many of the episodes from the early-mid-1970s no longer exist as the tapes were wiped for re-use, being the official Network Ten policy at the time. Some later episodes from the series were repeated by pay TV broadcaster Foxtel in the late 1990s.

Because the series ran for such a long time and featured young performers, Young Talent Time made an indelible mark on the psyche of several generations of Australian children, leading them to believe that if they tried hard enough, they too could be a ‘star’ like the kids they saw on television (Johnny Young launched talent schools in his own name in early 1980s).

One memorable aspect of the show was the regular closing number, where Johnny Young would croon a ballad version of The Beatles’ song “All My Loving” (with which Young had had an Australian hit in 1966), accompanied by the entire cast, in an almost lullaby style, individually wishing all of the cast good night.

So often all credit for shows goes to the cast, yet without the extensive talented crew behind the upfront team who are rarely acknowledged, this production would not have been such a success. Sound engineers, Russell Thompson, Greg Gurney and Kris Young assured the quality of the singers voices came through. Talented cameramen such as Simon Hellings and Barry Cross to name a few gave beautiful sensitive shots of performances and direction from visionary people like Bob Loxton and Bob Collins all added up to making the show the both a success and contributed to its longevity.


On average, 44 episodes were produced per year for 18 years. The episodes were broadcast in black & white from April 1971 to April 1975, thereafter in colour. The final episode of the show – a Christmas-themed episode – aired in 23 December 1988. It was episode 804.

Network Ten announced on 17 August 2011 that it would revive the Young Talent Time format. The new series, which began airing in January 2012, is hosted by singer and actor Rob Mills and co-produced by Granada Media and Johnny Young.


Over the original run of the show, from 1971 to 1988, there were a total of 40 Young Talent Team members.

Members of the Team who found continued success after leaving the series and continue working as performers include Tina Arena, Jane Scali, Jamie Redfern, Dannii Minogue, Karen Knowles, Sally Boyden, Debra Byrne and Joe (Joey) Perrone.

Original Team member Rod Kirkham went on to host a children’s television program, a regional TV variety show, built a successful music production company, moved to the US for several years and signed to a LA music publisher and later moved into the computer software industry working for Microsoft, Apple and Oracle and now runs I.T. consulting and software development firm “Bak2Bak Communications” in Queensland (see the website www.bak2bakcommunications.com) and also runs a publishing company with his wife, Barbara Llewellyn, called Bright Light Multimedia (www.brightlightmultimedia.com). Vikki Broughton toured Europe with iconic artists such as ABBA and Cliff Richard before retiring from showbusiness.

Phillip Gould spent a number of years performing on London’s West End. During the same period Jane Scali was dominating the Australian cabaret circuit. Gould and Scali later appeared on stage together in musicals including “Annie”. They both continue to perform.

Debra Byrne has also had a successful career on stage starring in “Cats”, “Les Miserables”, “Sunset Boulevard”, “Mary Poppins” and many others, and currently stars in 2012 Nine Network television drama series “Tricky Business”.

Trevor Hindmarch served three years in the Australian Army Reserve, spent many years acting on stage and television and has been running his own business in the Australian thoroughbred racing industry for the past fifteen years, “Hindmarch Racing”, and has developed his successful Profiler horse racing software used and recommended by horse trainers and full-time investors alike. Hindmarch resides in Melbourne, not far from the old Channel 10 building, and lives with his wife Maria. He has five children.

Forced to leave the cast of “A Chorus Line” after an injury, Julie Ryles formed her own successful PR company. She died in January 2011 after a three-year battle against a rare disease. (More details in the section titled ‘Deaths’.)

Greg Mills became Young Talent Time’s musical director after assisting previous director Ross Burton for many years, and continues to work in the music industry.

Derek Redfern went on to work as a carpenter and handyman for his local council, presumably in sububurban Melbourne, but has since returned to performing.

Sally Boyden spent many years in London with her own band as a professional singer/composer and is now based in the USA.

Karen Knowles had a string of gold records, and continues to perform regularly around Australia – including performances at various Christmas concerts, including Melbourne’s annual “Carols By Candlelight” and at the 2010 “Lord Mayor’s Carols In The City” at the Riverstage in Brisbane. Knowles is also a qualified lawyer, a mother of one, and runs a singing school (see her website: www.karenknowles.com.au).

Steven Zammit still performs occasionally and is a very successful singing teacher and vocal coach.

John Bowles went on to a successful career in cabaret and in music theatre, playing leads in shows like “Cats”, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”, “Hello Dolly” and the romantic lead character of Raoul in 1,000 performances of “The Phantom Of The Opera” around the world. He is currently based in London.

Mark Stevens, after a two-year stint in Australian Soap opera, “Neighbours” as Nick Page, relocated to the United Kingdom, where he is currently based as he is the creative director of the Pentecostal Church’s Abundant Life Centre in Bradford.

Michael Campbell is also living in the UK but is no longer in the entertainment industry.

Karen Dunkerton married jockey Darren Gauci in 1989 and together they have four children Breanna, Sean, Jade and Brooke.

Joe Perrone went on to play Gino Rossini in Neighbours, in 1987; guest starred in the Australian sit-com “Acropolis Now” in 1992, and featured in the 1988 US motion picture “Phantom of the Ritz”. He was based in Munich, Germany for a number of years but now resides in Australia

In 2003, three performers associated with Young Talent Time were simultaneously in the United States Billboard Magazine Dance Top 10 – Tina Arena with “Never (Past Tense)” and both Dannii Minogue with “I Begin to Wonder” and her sister Kylie Minogue with “Slow”.

Team members Tina Arena and Dannii Minogue both continue to have resoundingly successful careers both in Australia and in Europe where they have become household names.

Natalie Miller continues performing, both as a solo artist and in bands, and in 2010 married her band’s manager (and MasterChef Australia contestant) Aaron Harvie.

A number of the Team members of the 1971-88 series are on Facebook and are in contact with fans. There are also numerous YTT (support) pages/groups, and fan pages of Team members on Facebook. These pages/groups are run by fans and are supported by Team members. They are strictly administered and inappropriate material is removed.

Concerts and live appearances

Over the 18 years of the original show, Johnny Young and the various Teams made numerous live appearances all over Australia, sometimes performing full concerts or just making short publicity appearances at venues ranging from large theatres, concert stages, sporting venues, theme parks, RSL Clubs, outdoor concert arenas (like Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl) and shopping centres.

In 1973 Johnny Young, The Young Talent Team and Denis Walter supported the “TV Week King of Pop” Jamie Redfern in a series of live concerts. “The Jamie Redfern Show” sold out a number of shows at Melbourne’s Festival Hall, with the Team filling the first half of the night and Redfern belting out his hits in the second half.

Years later, in 1987, the Team were booked to appear in concert at the Westfield Shopping Centre, Parramatta. The centre had not anticipated the turnout of over 4,000 fans, and a near riot took place. Some fans were crushed in the crowd and the concert was cancelled as the team were hastily bundled out of the shopping centre, some of them in tears. Joey Dee had to be treated for a knee injury and Courtney Compagnino had to be treated for shock.

7,000 fans attended the 1988 concert at the Rockhampton Music Bowl in Queensland.

But probably the biggest Young Talent Time concert took place in 1988. Over 12,000 people attended the outdoor concert held in Brisbane at the 1988 World Expo on the banks of the Brisbane River. It was broadcast the following week.

The Final Concert Tour: Johnny Young, The Young Talent Team and The New Generation performed a series of concerts just before Christmas 1988. Venues included the Perth Entertainment Centre, The Seagull Stadium on the Gold Coast, Memorial Drive in Adelaide, the Sydney Entertainment Centre and a final concert at the Melbourne Tennis Centre on 23 December 1988, the same night that the last episode of Young Talent Time went to air on Network Ten.

The Team also appeared in concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Australia Day 1989 – the day after the announcement of the show’s demise.

The Luna Park incident

In the early seventies the team performed at Luna Park. The problem was they were able to get in but due to the crowd they were unable to get out. The management said they would stop the scenic railway and they could all escape through the tunnel. “Unfortunately, nobody told the train driver,” said Greg Mills. “We looked over the top of the hill and we could see the train coming over the top and we’re thinking, ‘we’re going to die’.” The eight members of the team, Phillip Gould – Debbie Byrne – Greg Mills – Julie Ryles – Trevor Hindmarch – Jane Scali – Derek Redfern – Sally Boyden, pressed themselves against the wall of the tunnel and, according to Mills, “the train brushed my coat on the way through”, that’s how close it was.

Final years

In 1988 Johnny Young finally realised his long-held dream of shooting an episode of the show in America. A two-hour special “Young Talent Time at Universal Studios” aired on 13 August 1988.

However, in its final years Young Talent Time began to struggle for ratings, particularly following the decision of the rival Nine Network to move its popular early morning variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday to an evening slot in 1984, putting it in direct competition to YTT on Saturday nights at 6.30pm. For four years, YTT had to endure a battle of rattings with “Hey, Hey it’s Saturday” and inevitably, something had to give.

In October 1988 Network Ten intervened and finally decided to move YTT to Friday nights at 7.30pm, but to no avail: the move of nights and timeslots did not help and the show was abruptly cancelled three months later.

On 25 January 1989 Renny Cunnack, General Manager of Channel 10 Melbourne, officially announced to the media that Young Talent Time would “not be resuming production in 1989”. (Ironically, Renny Cunnack himself was let go as General Manager just three months later – two weeks after his boss Ian Gow had departed)

Network Ten continued airing compilation episodes in early 1989, initially as “The Best of Young Talent Time” at 7.30 on Friday nights, then as “Young Talent Time Favorites” at 11.00 on Saturday mornings. The last of these aired in Melbourne on Saturday 1 April 1989.

On Saturday 6 May 1989 Johnny Young and his company Television House held a private party at Channel 10’s Studio A, YTT’s 18 year home-base studio, as an official “thank you to the YTT Family” – the cast and crew and their families who had worked on the show over the years.


Kevin Lewis, Johnny Young’s business partner (at L & Y Productions and L & Y Records) died in the late 1970s.

One of the show’s original judges, Fred Tupper, died on 15 March 1976.

Evie Hayes, the American-born music theatre star who appeared as a judge on the show for many years died on 26 December 1988 aged 76, after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. (On the Australian stage she had played the lead roles in hit shows including “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Kiss Me, Kate”, “Oklahoma!”, “Call Me Madam” and “Funny Girl”.) In the 1960s and 1970s Evie became a prominent Melbourne singing teacher, coaching Young Talent Timers’s including Jamie Redfern. Just eight weeks before her death she performed at a World Expo ’88 variety concert at the Lyric Theatre in Brisbane (26–27 October 1988).

Cast member Juanita Coco died on 2 May 1993. Her death devastated the YTT cast, crew and fans. Coco, aged 17, was a passenger in a vehicle involved in car accident which occurred on the way home from Scott Tiedgen’s 20th birthday party. Tidgeon was Coco’s boyfriend. He was not driving and survived the accident, but unfortunately, along with Coco, another passenger – Tidgeon’s best friend, 21 year old Brad Lacey – was also killed.

Cast member Julie Ryles died on 27 January 2011, after being diagnosed a few years earlier with a rare condition known as progressive subcortical gliosis. She left behind a daughter and granddaughter. Julie was only 53.

Ross Burton, one of Young Talent Time’s longest-serving musical directors, was killed on 3 January 1996. Burton fell through the roof of his house-boat at Lake Eildon while he was trying to fix a television antenna. He suffered critical internal injuries but was not discovered for 4 hours. He was airlifted to hospital and died on the operating table.

One of the show’s directors, Terry Higgins, was diagnosed HIV positive in 1993 and died of AIDS in 1994.

Another one of the show’s Directors, Garry Dunstan, died after suffering a heart attack whilst out cycling on 22 October 2005.

“Caravan Holiday”

In the Christmas break between the first and second seasons of Young Talent Time, Johnny Young and the Young Talent Team shot a 22-minute colour film. (At the time, Young Talent Time still screened in black and white on Australian television.)

Sponsored by the Caravan Trade & Industries Association “Caravan Holiday” was completed by early 1972 and released in cinemas across Australia as a supporting feature to Peter Bogdanovich’s hugely popular US comedy picture What’s Up, Doc? which starred Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal.

A Lewis/Young Production, in association with Ansett Television Films, “Caravan Holiday” starred Rod Kirkham, Vikki Broughton, Philip Gould, Debbie Byrne, Jamie Redfern, Jane Scali and the two most recent additions to the team, Greg Mills and Julie Ryles.

It also featured comedian Buster Fiddess (as Mr Crawley) and Addie Black, and guest appearances by Johnny Young, Evie Hayes and John Farnham (then known as Johnny Farnham).

Fiddess died just a few days after he finished filming his scenes.

The film was written by Gillian Wadds, and produced and directed by Rob Weekes, with original music by Johnny Young.

The very loose storyline follows Buster Fiddess leading the four YTT boys, and Addie Black leading the four YTT girls in two separate caravans on a short “Caravan Holiday”. They keep running into Johnny Young, who appears in various guises (sheep farmer, petrol pump attendant, etc.), and Jamie Redfern and Jane Scali bump into their idol Johnny Farnham at a caravan park. Debbie Byrne almost drowns at the beach but is rescued by a bunch of lifesavers.

(Jane Scali’s name is misspelt in the credits as ‘Jane Scarli’, and Vikki Broughton’s name is misspelt as ‘Vicki Broughton’.)

It features the opening title song “Reach For The Sun (Summer Holiday)” (released as a single to coincide with the film’s release) and a memorable music-fantasy sequence, where the Team perform a cover version of The Cowsills 1967 song “The Rain, The Park & Other Things”.

It screened on television just once, on Christmas Eve 1972. It was then unseen for three decades until a restored version was featured as a Bonus Extra on the 2002 DVD “Young Talent Time: The Collection” (Universal Pictures – 2002).

Young Talent Time DVD’s

A one hour prime-time television documentary “Young Talent Time Tells All” aired on Network Ten on 29 October 2001.

A small reunion of YTT cast and crew members (including Tina Arena, Dannii Minogue and Johnny Young) was held in Melbourne in October 2003 to celebrate the release of an extended version of the “Young Talent Time Tells All” documentary on DVD (through Universal Pictures). The DVD, which contained added bonus features and rare footage not seen in the television documentary, was titled “Young Talent Time: The Collection”.

Bonus features on the DVD include a restored version of the 1972 short film “Caravan Holiday” featuring Johnny Young and the Young Talent Team; full biographies of all 40 Team Members and Johnny Young; Nicole Kidman’s appearance as a guest on the show to promote her 1983 film BMX Bandits; assorted television commercials featuring members of the team; footage of some of the Team when they appeared as contestants on the show; and the full-length clip of sisters Dannii Minogue and Kylie Minogue performing the song “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves”.

Rare footage includes a nine-year-old Jamie Redfern (pre-Young Talent Time) appearing with Happy Hammond on a Channel Seven test broadcast of colour television in 1968, seven years before Australian television actually began broadcasting in colour.

List of team members 1971-1988

Team members from 1971 to 1988 in order of appearance:

Rod Kirkham (1971–73)
Vikki Broughton[4] (1971–73) (sometimes billed as ‘Vicki’)
Phillip Gould[5] (1971–75; 1975-1976; left briefly after a dispute over money and moved to Sydney, where he released a single, but bad management undermined the move and he accepted an offer to return to YTT after the payment disagreements had been resolved)
Debra Byrne (1971–75) (also referred to as Debbie Byrne during the shows time on TV and for some time after she left)
Jamie Redfern (1971–72) (left the show after just 9 months to pursue a solo career in the USA and tour with Liberace)
Jane Scali[6] (1971–76) (sometimes billed as ‘Jane Scarli’)
Greg Mills[7] (1971–76)
Julie Ryles[8] (1971–76) (died in 2011 of a rare disease)
Trevor Hindmarch[9] (1972–77)
Sally Boyden (1973–76)
Derek Redfern (1973–76)
Karen Knowles (1975–80)
Steven Zammit (1975–80)
Debbie Hancock (1976–79)
Robert McCullough (1976–79)
Nicole Cooper (1976–81)
John(ny) Bowles (1977–81)
Tina Arena (1977–83) (longest serving Team Member – 6 Years 6 Months)
Bobby Driessen (1979–83) (Jan Driessen)
Jodie Loebert (1980–83)
Joe(y) Perrone[10] (1980–84) (Guiseppe Aurelio Perrone)
Michael Campbell (1981–83) (real name is Michael Jackman, but went by Campbell, his stepfather’s surname, on the show)
Karen Dunkerton[11] (1981–85)
Katie Van Ree[12] (1981–86) (Katie’s is short for Katrina).
Mark McCormack (1982–83)
Dannii Minogue (1982–88) (Danielle Minogue)
Vince Del Tito (1983–88) (Vincenzo Deltito)
Beven Addinsall (1983–88)
Vanessa Windsor (1983–87)
Greg Poynton (1984–88)
Lorena Novoa (1984–87)
Tim Nelson (1984–87)
Natalie Miller (1985–88)
Mark Stevens (1985–88)
Courtney Compagnino (1986–88)
Juanita Coco (1987–88) (died in a car crash on May the 2nd, 1993 in Malvern, Victoria)
Joey Dee (1987–88) (Joseph DiBenedetto)
Rikki Arnot (1987–88) (Rikki and Jamie Churchill had the first YTT baby – a little boy called Lloyd – but they never married and are no longer together).
Jamie Churchill (1988)
John(nie) Nuich (1988) (shortest serving Team Member – 5 months)