How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 45.


“My cat’s called Elvis, because he’s either dead or just missing”. That was one of the terrible jokes I did while holding a can of cat food next to my cheek as I stared down the barrel of a television camera for an extreme close-up.

It was 1994, I’d been presenting the Breakfast Show on the local radio station 5SE in Mount Gambier, South Australia. I used to mess about on the air with the live copy I was given to advertise ‘Foodland’ the supermarket. The manager of the supermarket wanted me to do the same thing on TV.

SES Channel 8 was the only commercial TV station in the South East of South Australia and the only other channel you could get apart from the ABC. I was told what items were on special that week, held them up to the camera and made jokes about them. There was no script, all I had to do was make sure I got all the jokes away without going over time. From set-up to wrap up we managed to record two ads in less than an hour which is a pace unheard of in television, a medium that usually takes ages.  (Years later I made a 30 second commercial for my radio show in England and my bit took twelve hours to shoot). They didn’t even close the supermarket, sometimes we’d have to wait for people to finish their shopping if they were in the bit we wanted to film in.

It was a lot of fun and I had a great time making them but I thought the first two ads we shot were rubbish and they’d never ask me back. A couple of days later the manager booked me for more, then more and more and more. I lost count of how many we made but they must have been working because every time we went back, the supermarket was busier than the last time. I still can’t work out why the ads worked, they were nothing special but the manager loved them and said something about them sending a subliminal message that shopping at Foodland is fun.

The ads worked so well that a local used car dealer called me up. He said his dealership was called Carlin & Gazzard but he wanted to change the name of the dealership to ‘CarLand’ and use me in all of his ads.

It was quite a turn-around. When we travelled over a thousand kilometres to move to Mount Gambier, we didn’t know anyone there and didn’t even have a place to live. Now, less than six months later, I was presenting the prime-time show on the radio in the morning and was on prime-time telly every night. I was in demand because I could sell anything to anyone, from pet lovers to petrol heads.

Craic on!

You can hear what I sounded like on the radio back then, here:       


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