Noel Ferrier is the manager of a Queensland island resort, while Number 96's Johnny Lockwood is an eccentric priest with a nude "mum" tattoed on his belly who turns out to be a thief.

Stuart "Waggers" Wagstaff is a suave, vain politician with a domineering wife and an adolescent son obsessed with sex.

Who should turn up on the resort but Abigail showing her usual disinterest in clothing?

And then there's Barry Creyton ready to flash his chest and ugly Dave Gray eyeing off the women but somehow ending up in bed with Barry, and Joy Chambers eyeing off Barry, when she's not being eyed off by assistant manager Johnny Pace, and Johnny Lockwood eyeing off Harriet Pace, when he's not leering at Abigail and lying on the water bed with her looking at the overhead mirror, and dragon Cornelia Frances eyeing off and wrestling with Mike Preston, and Mike Preston eyeing off Megan Williams, and Noel Ferrier leering at Harriet Pace, and Wagger's son ending up on the water bed with Abigail ... and so on, and so on.

If you watched Australian television in the 1970s, this will all have meaning; if you haven't, how lucky are you ...

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Production Details

Production company: Reg Grundy Productions

Budget: n/a, low

Locations: while supposedly set on a fictional island resort in Queensland, "Sea Island", the film was shot in New South Wales, at locations that included the Shore Motel at Artarmon, the Pasadena Hotel, Church Point, Sacha's Restaurant, the Newport Hotel and Newport.

Always dirt cheap in terms of budget, Grundy routinely practised the philosophy, a tree's a tree, go film it in Central Park, though in this case, it was a holiday resort's a holiday resort, go film it in Newport. Stock footage was used for a brief Queensland "Sea Island" establisher.

Filmed: 1977, reportedly shot in 12 days. Some viewers might ask why it took so long.

Australian distributor: network Ten television; Umbrella on DVD

Colour  format television 4:3

Rating: A (television), M (DVD rating)

DVD running time: 1'16"57

 

Opinion

Awards

None known.

Availability

Thanks to Umbrella, the film became available in a package, Great Aussie Sex Symbols, which put together a few shows featuring TV soap and serial nineteen seventies sexpot Abigail.

The package featured Richard Franklin's 1975 feature film The True Story of Eskimo Nell, in which Abigail makes a fleeting but fully naked appearance, along with All at Sea, in which Abigail makes a more extended but briefly boob-revealing appearance, about as much as Australian television could cope with in the 1970s.

The picture quality is quite reasonable for a 1977 low budget Australian telemovie. There's some film artefacts, such as sparkle, but the colour is suprisingly intact, even if the lighting is basic. That said, all but Australian film cultists or an academic writing a thesis about the ambivalent, cornball "Carry On" attitude of Australians to sex in the 1970s might find a better way to spend 75 minutes of their lives.

Unfortunately, the Abigal package seems to have fallen out of the Umbrella catalogue - though it probably can be found in the second hand market - but never fear, the show has since turned up as an extra on a five disc set of Graham Kennedy doing Blankety Blanks, with this attractive pitch for the extras:

  • Interview featurette. Exclusive introductions by BLANKETY BLANKS panellists Ugly Dave Gray, Carol Raye & John Paul Young.
  • ALL AT SEA a saucy comedy treat from the vaults that stars cast members from Blankety Blanks, The Celebrity Game and No. 96 (including Abigail, Ugly Dave Gray, Stuart Wagstaff, Mike Preston, Noel Ferrier, Johnny Pace and Barry Creyton) as a group of misfits attempting to run a holiday resort.

Given the intimate connection between the TV shows and the telemovie, it's fair enough packaging, but it's guaranteed to make Kennedy's star shine more brightly because, wisely, he doesn't appear in the telemovie.

1. Source:

Reg Grundy Productions started churning out telemovies for Australian networks in the nineteen seventies.

This one, has script by television writer Hugh Stuckey (credited as Stukey), whipped up from a story proviced by the show's producer Howard Leeds.

Stuckey has his own wiki here.

The show provided a way to package a number of familiar identities then appearing in The Celebrity Game (originally on Nine, hosted by Mike Preston on Ten 1976-1977) - one character even wears a Celebrity Game T-shirt up the front to set the tone.

Characters also come from other network Ten friendly shows such as its famous soapie Number 96 (Johnny Lockwood) and Blankety Blanks (hosted on Ten by Graham Kennedy 1977-81 and featuring the likes of Ugly Dave Gray, Stuart "Waggers" Wagstaff , Barry Creyton, Abigail, Noel Ferrier and so on as regular panelists).

2. Production:

The above the line cast list says all that needs to be said about this 12 day quickie production shot on local Sydney locations:

Johnny Pace, Mike Preston, Joe Martin, Joy Chambers, Harriet, Noel Ferrier, Johnny Lockwood, Abigail, Stuart Wagstaff, Cornelia Frances, Sheila Kennelly, Dave Gray, Barry Cretyon, Megan Williams, Barbara Wyndon ...

In short what money there was went on the cast doing familiar television-personality related routines, and none on production values.

And from one of the opening jokes about Stuart 'Waggers' Wagstaff having a big erection/election year, or Noel Ferrier joking about a deluxe double room with twin boobs ... beds,  the pace is set ...

3. Release:

This telemovie disappeared without a trace until revived by Umbrella as part of its Abigail sex symbol package (latterly teamed with a five disc edition of Graham Kennedy doing Blankety Blanks). Australian television cultists will be grateful; others will likely beg for mercy.

Director Igor Auzins would go on to better, and more interesting, if not always completely successful things, including the feature film High Rolling, a stint on the mini-series Water Under the Bridge, We of the Never Never and Coolangatta Gold.

He also did the thriller/horror telemovie The Night Nurse around the same time as this one for Grundy, and this is also still available in the marketplace.

There is no copyright notice or date on the Umbrella release, nor there are any music credits. The music sounds for the most part like library music.

Because of its title, this telemovie is sometimes confused with the 1935 British film All at Sea, starring Googie Withers, Tyrell Davis and Rex Harrison, while the title has also been used in a 1929 silent US film starring Karl Dane, a 1933 US short film starring Ethel Barrymore, and a 1940 film starring Sandy Powell.