3AW - Fairfax Radio Network

Ernie Sigley: Career and achievements

Ernie Sigley has called it a day as 3AW full-time host

By Mark Davidson, 3AW Afternoons
November 7, 2008

Ernie Sigley (born September 2, 1938, in Footscray, Victoria, Australia) is an enduring Australian entertainment personality known for his square-rimmed spectacles, the gap between his front teeth and his slapstick approach to comedy.

Radio career

Sigley's radio career began in 1952 as turntable operator on Danny Webb's breakfast program at radio station 3DB Melbourne. Television arrived in Australia in 1956, and Sigley made his TV debut as host of Teenage Mailbag on HSV-7 in 1957. Shortly after this, he decided to try his luck in London, gaining some work experience at the BBC. But a bigger break was to come with a two year contract at Radio Luxembourg. Ernie now works at 3AW in Melbourne and has hosted a top rating afternoon program for the last 10 years. Ernie has started 2007 on top of the ratings and has already interviewed big names such as Rowan Atkinson, legendary rock group America and British actor Rupert Everett just to name a few.

Beatles

Sigley is especially remembered for his 1964 association with the Adelaide leg of The Beatles tour of Australia. His intelligent questioning of The Beatles during media meetings, was a relief for the group after the banal media probing.

In one famous press conference, Sigley's questioning of The Beatles about their rock influences, and being able to discuss them (e.g. Buddy Holly), bought about an enthusiastic response from John Lennon, which contrasted strongly from all the questions asked by other interviewers during the conference.

It is clear that Sigley knew what his fellow media associates didn't - The Beatles weren't a passing fad, and chose to treat them accordingly. Sigley's questioning allowed The Beatle's, in 1964 at the height of their fame, to put on record, a rarely honest response to questions that are now historically more important than any of the questions being asked of them during their breakthrough period.

Television career
Prime time

Sigley would later have prime time success as host of Adelaide Tonight on NWS-9 in the 1960s and early 1970s and The Ernie Sigley Show from 1974 - starring notable Australian media personalities such as Denise Drysdale, Noni Hazlehurst, Pete Smith and Joy Westmore - winning him a TV Week Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975.

The program came to an abrupt axing after an off-air outburst by Sigley, following the first show for 1976, directed at station owner Kerry Packer and producer Peter Faiman. Packer inevitably heard about the incident the next day, then flew down from Sydney to Melbourne with Don Lane. He dismissed Sigley in person, effective immediately, and replaced him with Lane.

After the dismissal from Packer, the early evening variety show Ernie followed in 1976 on ATV-0, and in 1979, Saturday Night Live on HSV-7 co-hosting with Mary Hardy. He was involved in an infamous stoush with fellow TV star Don Lane at a Logies Ceremony in the 1990's. Lane claims that he taunted Sigley about his weight, then punched at Sigley, intending to miss but accidentally connecting.

Game show host

Sigley was also host of the popular Australian game show, Wheel Of Fortune from 1981 to 1984, the regional variety program Six Tonight from BTV-6 Ballarat in 1982, and the daytime talent show Pot Luck in 1987, and also worked again in radio at 3DB in 1981 and later at 3AK and is now afternoon presenter at 3AW. Sigley returned to television in 1989 with Denise Drysdale, hosting GTV-9's morning program In Melbourne Today.

Ernie is also a passionate supporter of the Western Bulldogs (formerly known as the Footscray Football Club).