Hey Hey It’s Saturday TV legend John Blackman dies

John Blackman had a TV and radio career stretching back to the 1960s.

John Blackman had a TV and radio career stretching back to the 1960s. Photo: AAP

Australian TV icon and the voice of Hey Hey It’s Saturday, John Blackman, has died.

Blackman, who had battled cancer for several years, was 76.

Blackman was born in 1947 and started in radio in the late 1960s. But he was best known for his voiceover work on Channel Nine’s Hey Hey.

He was famously the voice of the long-running Nine Network show’s Dickie Knee character,  as well as The Angel and Mrs McGillicuddy.

Nine and 3AW confirmed his death on Wednesday, describing him as a cherished voice in Australian media.

“[He] brought joy and laughter into countless homes every weekend,” they said.

“His distinctive voice and quick wit became a hallmark of the show, endearing him to generations of viewers.”

Blackman was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in his mouth and jaw in 2018. His lower jaw and teeth were removed, and his jaw was replaced with a part of his thigh bone.

At the time, he revealed his fears the surgery would end his long career.

“To perform you have to look good, you have to sound good, you have to sound confident and be confident, and I just won’t be able to do that any more,” he said.

He revealed more of his personal health struggles when Australian music legend John Farnham endured his own battle with mouth cancer in 2022. Blackman said he cried after learning about his old friend’s diagnosis.

‘‘Hopefully John will get through this with as little angst as possible, and he’s going to need all the support he can get,’’ he told the Seven Network at the time.

‘I know his family is very loving and they’re all going to gather around him.”

As well as Hey Hey, Blackman’s TV appearances included Blankety Blanks, Personality Squares, The Paul Hogan Show, The Daryl Somers Tonight Show, Holiday Island, and Family Feud.

Tributes for him came from across Australia’s entertainment industry on Wednesday.

Former Hey Hey cartoonist Andrew Fyfe offered a drawing, and condolences for Blackman’s wife and daughter.

“Not only was he one of the funniest men I knew, but definitely – by far – the bravest,” he wrote on X.

“An inspiration to us all in how to tackle adversity without losing humour.”

Long-time TV and radio personality – and former senator – Derryn Hinch said he was shocked and saddened by Blackman’s death.

“He handled his illnesses so bravely. We had some huge rows but he was the fastest ad lib man ever. Vale,” he wrote.

Fellow TV personality “Baby” John Burgess said it was “a very sad day”.

Former state MP and radio host Heidi Victoria – who had a podcast with Blackman – said “he was irreverent, his timing was always perfect, absolutely legendary, he had a sense of humour from here to the moon”.

“You work with lots of people over a lifetime, and then you meet and work with somebody who you just click with, and there was something about John,” she told 3AW.

Blackman is survived by his wife Cecile and daughter Tiffany.

Topics: TV
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