Remembering Andrew McVitty: a pioneer of Australian music television

The late Andrew McVitty was a pioneer of Australian music TV who revolutionised late-night programming.
Andrew McVitty and Lee Simon in the Nightmoves office. Image supplied.

Andrew McVitty, who has died at 68 after a short battle with cancer, was, in a way, an accidental producer who had a telling impact on the way television treated popular music.

Harnessed with promoter Michael Gudinski and radio announcer Lee Simon, in 1977, 21-year-old video room operator McVitty was given cans of films of European rock concerts and a brief to get up an experimental music programme to air around midnight on Fridays on HSV7 Melbourne.  He was given a week to get it organised, and a proposed run of seven weeks.

Distinct from the poppy lip-syching teen favourite, Countdown, the resulting two-hour, album-oriented Nightmoves treated its after-pub gig audience as adults who took international and Australian rock seriously. Within months the show was virtually national and stayed on the Seven Network until 1984.

Michael Gudinksi, Andrew McVitty, Chris Maxwell and Lee Simon. Image Supplied.

Airing a rich mix of interviews, established and unknown band videos, and increasingly, live concerts – some simulcast on new FM stations, Nightmoves was a hit because it was authentic and, says Lee Simon, because McVitty was prepared ‘to break the rules and fight the bean counters to get the resources it needed.’ Sometimes crews of 40 were marshalled for live shows. Often, says Simon, within days featured bands watched records sales soar.

With other networks taking over the show, McVitty went on to other projects, such as music videos for Kylie Minogue (including The Loco-motion and I Should Be So Lucky) and advertising, and working in numerous other entertainment spheres.

Using his skills – and his wicked sense of humour – to school industry newcomers, McVitty continued a half-century working association with Gudinski, and co-producing his wife Lisa Wang’s documentaries.

Andrew McVitty is survived by Lisa, and step-children Jin, Mei and Wei.  

Jenny Brown was Andrew McVitty's segment producer and researcher on Night Moves from the beginning.