A Good Friend and Mentor

My history with Denzil started in the early 60s when I was a technical trainee at GTV9. As an 18-year-old, I would finish my working day with Alan Kleeburg in the technical workshop and slip into the IMT studio to see what action was taking place.

I noticed Denzil as the bespectacled producer of slapstick comedy trying to get his gags to come out right from the likes of Joff Ellen, Rosie Sturgess, and Graham Kennedy. It was often more amusing watching Den trying to spur the performers on from the sidelines. His scripts were usually mangled by the performers who got more accuracy with the pie throwing rather than his written works.

When I moved to BCV 8 in Bendigo, Denzil came on an info gathering trip in preparation for his role as program and production manager of AMV 4. In country television you did it all, from lining up the cameras to splicing film. No video tape with computer editing facility back then.

Denzil’s ethics showed through when I asked if there was a job for me at his new station. As a guest of BCV 8 he wasn’t about to poach their staff and suggested I drive all the way to Albury for my interview. I did and became the senior program director for AMV. Denzil and I worked together to open the station then developed programs from scratch for this new market.

It was during this time that I met the “pocket powerhouse” of the family, Dot, along with Paul and Clare.

I often shared a meal with the family as initially they were my only friends in Albury and later Perth. Although Dot is just a little shorter than my 6 foot 4, she kept me on the rails during those formative years. My memory of Paul was through the elaborate theatrical shows performed in the garden or garage often starring the quieter Clare — after she had collected the tickets from the neighbourhood kids.

When Denzil was appointed to STW 9 Perth in the same position, I joined him six months later. This time he asked me so I didn’t have to get to Perth for my interview.

We rarely had differences of opinion that we couldn’t resolve. Usually Denzil could overcome any impasse with his wacky comic approach mixed with grains of good common sense. It was my pleasure and privilege to have worked and shared a friendship with Denzil for the 40 years I was in the television and production industry and beyond.

As he exits stage left, the memory remains.

Peter Duncan
Perth, WA, November 2005

Peter Duncan worked with Denzil in television in Melbourne, Albury and Perth.