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Moore, Robert Clifton (1932–1979)

by Margot Kerley

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Robert Clifton Moore (1932-1979), by John Brant Ellis, 1978

Robert Clifton Moore (1932-1979), by John Brant Ellis, 1978

University of Melbourne Archives, UMA/I/565

Robert Clifton Moore (1932-1979), television broadcaster and producer, was born on 16 December 1932 in Adelaide, son of John Moore, butcher, and his wife Dorothy, née Clifton. After attending Adelaide Boys' High School, Bob entered the University of Adelaide (B.A. Hons, 1956) where he studied history and political science, led (1952-55) the debating team and edited (1954) Adelaide University Magazine. He worked on a temporary basis with the Australian Broadcasting Commission's talks department, then took up a travelling scholarship and in 1956-58 read politics at the University of Oxford (B.Phil., 1968).

Joining the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1958 as a trainee, Moore soon became a current-affairs producer for radio, in the general overseas service. In 1960 he completed a production course in television and assisted the producers of the programmes, 'Panorama', 'Lifeline' and 'Face to Face'. On 8 March that year at St Michael's parish church, Highgate, London, he married Darlene Fraser Johnson, a 24-year-old actress; they were to have a daughter before being divorced. By December Moore had returned to Sydney as talks-assistant with the A.B.C. A reporter with 'Four Corners' from 1963, he was the programme's executive-producer in 1965-67. He won a Harkness fellowship to travel and study in the United States of America in 1968, and obtained a master's degree from the graduate school of journalism, Columbia University, New York.

By the late 1960s television had proved to be a dominant medium of political reporting. News bulletins covering each day's events reached mass audiences. A smaller number of people watched current-affairs programmes which featured questions and commentary. Moore produced serious programmes aimed at this market. He interviewed prominent figures with civility and a measure of detachment, revealing his liberal-humanist values in the process. His most important guests included Richard Nixon in 1965, Harold Holt in 1967 and (Sir) John Gorton in 1968. Ten of his conversations with intellectual, religious, industrial and trade-union leaders (telecast in 1970) were published in Profiles of Power (Sydney, c.1970).

Moore found a vehicle for his talents in 'Monday Conference', which he hosted and produced for the A.B.C. through 290 editions in 1971-78. 'Monday Conference' was described as an 'occasion for controlled conflict' in which Moore 'played the role of mediator, endeavouring to be fair to the participants but anxious to [draw out] ideas for the benefit of the audience'. The programme retained its format of a question-and-answer session before a studio audience, with guest speakers offering different opinions on topics of current and controversial interest. Moore quickly grasped the issues, and directed the discussion in a low-keyed and good-natured way. Despite the programme's formulaic repetitiveness, 'Monday Conference' did relatively well in the ratings.

Converting to Hinduism, Moore married Sheila Chewoolker, an air hostess, on 6 May 1970 at Bombay, India. Back in Sydney, he embarked on a series of interviews, 'Faces of the Eighties'. He died suddenly of coronary vascular disease on 5 December 1979 in Melbourne and was cremated; his wife survived him, as did the daughter of his first marriage.

Select Bibliography

  • ABC, Scan, 29 Jan 1980
  • National Times, 16-22 Dec 1979
  • biographical notes on R. Moore (ABC Document Archives, Sydney)
  • programme research material for 'Monday Conference' and Robert Moore correspondence files, CA251, Series C1341, C1172, C324 (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Margot Kerley, 'Moore, Robert Clifton (1932–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moore-robert-clifton-11157/text19875, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 7 December 2021.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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