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This article is a summary of 1981 in Australian television.
- 15 February - Channel Nine Celebrates 25 Years Of Television, hosted by Bert Newton
- 2 March - Network Ten introduces its new breakfast TV show, Good Morning Australia, marking the return of breakfast television to Australian television screens.
- 30 March - British sitcom To the Manor Born debuts on ABC.
- 10 April - The TV Week Logie Awards air on Network Ten for the first time.
- 23 May - Nine Network premieres a brand new sports program called Wide World of Sports.
- 27 July - Wheel of Fortune premieres on the Seven Network, hosted by Ernie Sigley with Adriana Xenides.
- 29 July - The Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer is broadcast across ABC and almost every commercial channel in Australia.
- 16 September - The Nine Network celebrates 25 years of television in Australia.
- 12 November - Final episode of the Australia soap opera The Restless Years airs on Network Ten.
- 15 November - The Nine Network premieres its Sunday morning political current affairs program Sunday, hosted by Jim Waley.
- 23 November - A Country Practice debuts on Seven Network.
- December - After a two year-battle, Rupert Murdoch's News Limited finally gains control of the Melbourne headquarters of Network Ten after appealing the decision by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal which blocked the takeover.
|And Here Comes Bucknuckle||ABC||26 January|
|Daily at Dawn||Seven Network||3 February|
|Good Morning Australia||Network Ten||2 March|
|Fatty and George||ABC||3 March|
|Outbreak of Love||ABC||15 March|
|Levkas Man||ABC||18 March|
|Wide World of Sports||Nine Network||23 May|
|Ratbags||Network Ten||2 June|
|I Can Jump Puddles||ABC||7 June|
|Holiday Island||Network Ten||17 June|
|Bellamy||Network Ten||26 June|
|Intimate Strangers||ABC||12 July|
|Wheel of Fortune||Seven Network||21 July|
|The New Price Is Right||Seven Network||7 September|
|The Nargun and the Stars||ABC||15 September|
|Sunday||Nine Network||15 November|
|A Country Practice||Seven Network||23 November|
- 4 February - Knots Landing (Seven Network)
- 10 February - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Nine Network)
- 14 February - Freebie and the Bean (Network Ten)
- 21 February/26 June - Here's Boomer (21 February: Seven Network - Sydney, 26 June: Seven Network - Melbourne)
- 4 March - Worzel Gummidge (ABC)
- 4 March - Leatherstocking Tales (ABC)
- 8 March - To Serve Them All My Days (ABC)
- 14 March/7 May - The Sandbaggers (14 March: Nine Network - Sydney, 7 May: Nine Network - Melbourne)
- 30 March - To the Manor Born (ABC)
- 30 April - The Enigma Files (ABC)
- 4 May - Monkey (ABC)
- 12 May - / Drak Pack (Seven Network)
- 15 May - Romie-0 and Julie-8 (Seven Network)
- 22 May - The Devil and Daniel Mouse (Seven Network)
- 30 May - Magnum, P.I. (Network Ten)
- 5 June - Matt and Jenny (ABC)
- 20 June - Yes Minister (ABC)
- 15 July - Jukes of Piccadilly (ABC)
- 8 August - Richie Rich (Nine Network)
- 24 August - Walt Disney's Mickey and Donald (Seven Network)
- 26 August - The Swish of the Curtain (ABC)
- 2 September - Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World (Nine Network)
- 7 September - Wayne and Shuster (ABC)
- 7 October - God's Wonderful Railway (ABC)
- 22 October - / Tenko (ABC)
- 27 October - Huckleberry Finn and His Friends (Seven Network)
- 18 November - It's a Living (Nine Network)
- 18 November - Ladies' Man (Nine Network)
- 20 November - Goodtime Girls (Network Ten)
- 13 December - A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur's Court (Network Ten - Melbourne)
- 21 December - How Bugs Bunny Won the West (Network Ten)
- 23 December - A Cosmic Christmas (ABC)
- 31 December - Hi-De-Hi! (ABC)
This is a list of programs which made their premiere on an Australian television network that had previously premiered on another Australian television network. The networks involved in the switch of allegiances are predominantly both free-to-air networks or both subscription television networks. Programs that have their free-to-air/subscription television premiere, after previously premiering on the opposite platform (free-to air to subscription/subscription to free-to air) are not included. In some cases, programs may still air on the original television network. This occurs predominantly with programs shared between subscription television networks.
|Program||New network(s)||Previous network(s)||Date|
|The Nutty Squirrels Present||NRN||ABC||25 March|
- Mr. Squiggle and Friends (1959–1999)
- Four Corners (1961–present)
- Hey Hey It's Saturday (1971–1999, 2009–2010)
- Young Talent Time (1971–1988)
- Countdown (1974–1987)
- The Don Lane Show (1975–1983)
- 60 Minutes (1979–present)
- Prisoner (1979–1986)
|22 April||Levkas Man||ABC||18 March 1981|
|28 April||Daily at Dawn||Seven Network||3 February 1981|
|5 May||Fatty and George||ABC||3 March 1981|
|19 July||Intimage Strangers||ABC||12 July 1981|
|27 July||Skyways||Seven Network||9 July 1979|
|2 August||I Can Jump Puddles||ABC||7 June 1981|
|13 October||The Nargun and the Stars||ABC||15 September 1981|
|12 November||The Restless Years||Network Ten||6 December 1977|
|18 December||Bellamy||Network Ten||26 June 1981|
- "TV Guide 15 February 1981". TELEVISIONAU.
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