Brian Wenzel, best known from long-running series Certain Women and A Country Practice, has died in an Adelaide nursing home at age 94.

Born in Adelaide, he was “the worst” of eight children, as he told TV Times in 1974, while recounting his childhood: “I hated school. Everything I ever learned I learned after school age.” He spent most of his child and teenage years staying in remand homes and invariably breaking out, but would always get caught and returned. On one occasion, his father was warned by the police sergeant: “I’ve seen lots of crim types and I wouldn’t be surprised if (Brian) turned out to be a killer.”

Brian Wenzel in Certain Women

Wenzel joined the circus at age 15 and made his acting debut at 17 in a musical produced by his father. He went on to appear in several productions, including musicals, pantomimes and children’s theatre, and starred in the first three productions of the South Australian Theatre Company. “I think that, subconsciously, always, I wanted to be an actor, but I hadn’t come to terms with myself,” he said in the 1974 interview.

Once television arrived, and the later proliferation of police dramas, he became regularly cast as criminals — ironically, even if vicariously, proving the dire prediction of the police sergeant of his youth.

In 1973, he scored an ongoing role in ABC‘s Certain Women, playing partner to June Salter. He continued until the show’s demise in 1976.

Punishment: Ralph Cotterill, Brian Wenzel, Mel Gibson


In 1980 he had a role as a prison officer in the short-lived Network Ten series Punishment before scoring the part of Wandin Valley cop Frank Gilroy in A Country Practice. Sgt Gilroy romanced Shirley Dean (Lorrae Desmond) in the show’s early episodes and their wedding was the series’ first of many.

A Country Practice: Lorrae Desmond, Brian Wenzel

He won a TV Week Logie Award in 1983 for Best Supporting Actor In A Series and stayed with A Country Practice right through until the Seven Network axed it in 1993. He later told TV Week that he refused an offer to follow the series to its revival at Network Ten the following year.

Other TV credits included The Evil Touch, Number 96, The Young Doctors, The Restless Years, Ride On Stranger, Chopper Squad, Glenview High, Home Sweet Home, Neighbours and Marshall Law.

A Country Practice: Lorrae Desmond, Brian Wenzel, Josephine Mitchell

In 2009 he reprised his former TV cop image, appearing in a TV commercial for a sexual dysfunction clinic, arresting a hapless husband accused of “speeding in the sack”!

He served as an Australia Day ambassador for many years, in NSW and later in Victoria, and was involved with charities including Variety Club and the Blue Ribbon Foundation, Victoria.

Brian Wenzel is survived by his wife of 70 years, Linda.

Source: TV Times, 19 January 1974, 16 August 1980. TV Week, 13 November 1993. IMDB, Now To Love, Hennessy & Harman Management


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