Australian entertainment icon John Blackman, renowned for his vibrant character voices on the TV show Hey Hey It’s Saturday, has passed away at the age of 76. His career spanned over five decades, making significant contributions to both radio and television, leaving a lasting legacy etched in the hearts of fans across generations. Sadly, he succumbed to a heart attack following a long and gruelling battle with cancer.

Blackman’s journey in the media began in 1969 in the vibrant realm of radio, but it was in television where his presence truly shone. In 1971, he embarked on a journey with Hey Hey It’s Saturday, becoming the show’s unseen but unmistakable voice, threading wit and humour through the program until its curtain call in 1999, with occasional resurrections in the noughties. His off-script banter and on-air camaraderie with host Daryl Somers became legendary, making him a beloved figure in Australian entertainment.

Thanks to channels like the Australian Television Archive, we can remember some of his greatest moments.

In 2018, Blackman underwent a 12-hour operation to remove his jaw due to aggressive skin cancer. Despite this challenging experience, he remained resilient and retained his sense of humour. His courageous fight continued when he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2022, leading to another intense surgery to remove the tumour, which left him with a titanium mesh plate in his head.

Blackman’s death was announced by Peter Ford on The Morning Show, who shared that Blackman had been scheduled for additional surgery due to a recurrence of his cancer. His wife Cecile and daughter Tiffany survive him.

Tributes poured in from colleagues and fans alike, highlighting Blackman’s incredible spirit and humour. Larry Emdur, a fellow Hey Hey It’s Saturday host, recalled Blackman as a supportive and caring mentor. Marty Fields, another co-star, remembered him as a pioneering voice in radio, while former Australian Senator Derryn Hinch praised Blackman’s quick wit and bravery.


Though his face seldom graced the screen, Blackman’s impact was immeasurable. His contributions transcended television screens, extending to literary works and appearances on other shows such as Blankety Blanks and The Paul Hogan Show.

Fans and friends alike will remember John Blackman for his unyielding spirit, his ability to bring joy and laughter to audiences, and his significant contributions to the world of entertainment.

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