Denzil Howson — A Few Words From Pete Smith OAM

My memories of late have been taking me back to the golden years of Australian television — those early days when the medium was in its infancy and people really were glued to the telly.

And I’ve been thinking about the marvellous personalities who made up the GTV9 stock company of players for the many and varied live shows they put to air every day and night of the week.

Of course there were the stars, the featured performers and the supporting players; they came from all walks of life, all areas of endeavour. Some from radio … others from newspapers … and some from the legitimate stage.

They were a versatile lot; they had to be — but one name stands out in that talented crowd — Denzil Howson.

Denzil started in radio in 1939, the year I was born, and by the time I was a teenager with radio stars in my eyes, I and fellow students like Philip Brady and Mike Walsh wanted to follow in the footsteps of the “greats” — the Jack Daveys, the Bob Dyers, the Norman Banks and Kevin O’Gormans — and of course dear Den.

I cannot think of anyone more versatile than Denzil Howson.

Throughout the years he’s been associated with so many aspects of radio and television entertainment, both in front of and behind the microphone and cameras.

His many fans and work friends will have their own special memories but I first saw him in person when I joined GTV as an announcer back in 1964 and even at that early stage his work on the Tarax Show and special events like the channel nine Christmas pantomimes had brought him much admiration. He set a standard for inventive live shows of that era that has never been bettered.

The image of his Professor Ratbaggy is a lasting and affectionate one but the memory that remains strongest for me is that marvellous rich voice of his; the authoritative voice that brought us the news on stations like the then Greater 3UZ via the Argus radio network.

Indeed, could today’s radio newsreaders take a lesson from him.

Peter Smith. OAM
16 September 2005

Peter Smith was well-known to Melbourne television audiences as a regular personality on GTV9.