John Blackman, legendary radio and television announcer for over 40 years, has died at age 76.

Although he had been fighting cancer for some years, it is believed that he died from a heart attack.

Born in Melbourne, he started his career in broadcasting at radio 2GN in Goulburn.

He later progressed to Canberra before returning to Melbourne to join 3AW in the early 1970s, then to 3AK.

At around this time he was booth announcing at Nine and began his long association with Hey Hey It’s Saturday, rarely seen on camera. He introduced and voiced a number of comical characters to the show, including Charlie Who, the Angel, Mrs MacGillicuddy, Fred Fly. and the long-running Dickie Knee.

In the early 1980s, he had a five-year partnership with Bruce Mansfield hosting the breakfast shift on 3AW. The top-rating line-up came to a sudden end when Blackman left 3AW in 1986 to join the “CBC” radio network experiment at 3AK, which shared programming with 2UE in Sydney in a two-city line-up. CBC was short-lived, though Blackman returned to the station a number of times in the years to follow.

When Daryl Somers and Ossie Ostrich (Ernie Carroll) left Nine in 1978 to join the 0-10 Network, Hey Hey It’s Saturday was “rested” and Blackman followed them to work on The Daryl And Ossie Show. The game show only lasted eight weeks and the team returned to Nine in 1979 to revive Hey Hey It’s Saturday, joined by Jacki MacDonald.

Hey Hey It’s Saturday, circa 1988: Daryl Somers, Ossie Ostrich, Jacki MacDonald, John Blackman

He also worked on The Paul Hogan Show, Family Feud and The Daryl Somers Show and appeared as a panellist on Personality Squares and the 1985 remake of Blankety Blanks. In 1981 he made a brief acting appearance in Holiday Island.

He returned to television to appear on the Hey Hey It’s Saturday re-union specials in 2009 and 2021 and revived series in 2010.

Despite his many years in television, his preference was always for radio. As well as various stints at 3AW and 3AK, he worked at 3UZ in Melbourne, Triple M Adelaide, 3GG Gippsland and Magic 1278. After his 3UZ program was axed in 1990, he and his on-air partner Wilbur Wilde took their show to regional radio stations as short-term fill-ins on local radio stations. Although some of the shows are based at the radio stations’ local studios, most of their radio appearances have been via landline from studios in Melbourne.

Amidst his various radio and television commitments, he also authored books, appeared at corporate events and voiced thousands of commercials.

He was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2019 and underwent surgery to remove part of his jaw.

John Blackman is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Cecile, and daughter Tiffany.

Source: The Age, 3AW, ABC, Nine News. TV Week, 7 March 1992.

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