Ernie Sigley

Ernest William Sigley (born 2 September 1938) [1]is a Gold Logie winning Australian host, radio presenter and singer. Known as a pioneer of Australian television, Sigley is often styled as a "little Aussie battler" with a larrikin sense of humour.[2]

Ernie Sigley
Ernest William Sigley

(1938-09-02) 2 September 1938
  • Radio personality
  • television host
  • singer
Years active1952−2009

Early life

He was born in Footscray, Melbourne, one of seven children of a boilermaker.[1] After completing his education at Williamstown High School, Sigley's career began in 1952 as a turntable operator on Danny Webb's breakfast program at radio station 3DB (Melbourne). Television started in Australia in 1956, and Sigley made his TV debut as host of Teenage Mailbag on HSV-7 in 1957. Shortly after this, he travelled to London, gaining some work experience at the BBC. But a bigger break was to come with a three-year stint at Radio Luxembourg, where he performed under the name 'Ernie Williams'.[1]

Sigley is remembered for his 1964 association with the Adelaide leg of The Beatles tour of Australia. In one press conference, Sigley's questioning of The Beatles brought about an enthusiastic response from John Lennon, which led to one of the best interviews of the tour.[3][4]

Radio career

In 1981 he returned to 3DB to host the breakfast program.[2] Sigley was host of the afternoon program on Melbourne's 3AW from 1996 until his retirement on Friday 7 November 2008,[1] when he took on a part-time role at the station.[5] Sigley partnered either Bruce Mansfield or Philip Brady in the Friday night slot. Sigley ended his radio career in January 2009 after a 57-year association with the industry, when it is believed he stormed out of a heated meeting with 3AW management.

Television career

He was part of the original cast of Sunnyside Up[6], and in the 1960s and early 1970s, Sigley hosted the prime time Adelaide variety show, Adelaide Tonight on NWS-9. Beginning in 1974, Sigley was the host of the national Nine Network variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show,[7] featuring notable Australian media personalities such as Denise Drysdale, Noni Hazlehurst, Pete Smith and Joy Westmore. The program was abruptly axed after an off-air outburst by Sigley, directed at station owner Kerry Packer and producer Peter Faiman,[8] when the network cut short his first show for 1976 to accommodate a network sports awards telecast.[2] Packer flew to Melbourne the next day and dismissed Sigley in person, effective immediately, and replaced him with Don Lane.[1]

After his dismissal in 1976, Sigley moved to ATV-0 and hosted the early evening variety show Ernie and then in 1978, the Penthouse, which became Saturday Night Live on HSV-7 co-hosting with Mary Hardy.[9]

He was the original host of the Australian version of the popular game show, Wheel of Fortune, from 1981 to 1984.[10] In 1982, he presented the regional variety program Six Tonight from BTV-6 Ballarat, and the daytime talent show Pot Luck in 1987.[2]

After a break from television, Sigley returned in 1989 with Denise Drysdale, hosting GTV-9's morning program In Melbourne Today.[11]

Sigley was involved in a stoush with fellow TV star Don Lane at a Logies after party in 1988,[1][12] when Sigley allegedly made insulting remarks about Lane's partner.[13]

Singing career

Sigley began singing as a choir boy at St Paul's Cathedral,[1]and went on to be a regular on the local Town Hall circuit in the 1950s. In 1957, his first record, Love Is A Golden Ring,[14] was released by W & G Records.

In 1974, Sigley, with Denise Drysdale, recorded the popular duet, "Hey Paula", released by Festival Records, Australia and produced at Armstrong Studios, Melbourne. This song went on to be a No. 1 best-selling hit for them in Australia.[1]

Sigley regularly performed around Australia on the club circuit, often with his television partner, Denise Drysdale.[15] More recently he has teamed up with fellow broadcaster and singer, Denis Walter.


Sigley won the TV Week Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975. [16]He had previously won 11 local Logies for his work in Adelaide.[17]

Personal life

Three times married and twice divorced,[6]Sigley is married to Glenys O'Brien, former television personality.[18] They live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and have four adult children.

Sigley is also a supporter of the Western Bulldogs (formerly known as the Footscray Football Club).[19] His family announced in October 2016 that he has Alzheimer's disease.[20]


  1. Murphy, Jim (20 November 2008). "The retiring type? Not our Ern". The Age. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  2. Searle, Malcolm (17 September 2008). "Ernie Sigley preparing to sign-off". Television.AU. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  3. Pedler, Chris (19 February 2009). "Ernie most earnestly misses 'his' Beatle". The Courier. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  4. Brine, Dominic (20 February 2009). "Imagine never-before-seen Lennon photographs in Ballarat". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  5. "Ernie Sigley goes part time". 3AW. 19 September 2008. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  6. "The Ernie Sigley story". The Age. 6 December 1973. p. 21. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  7. Fitzgerald, Edmund (1 July 1974). ""Ernie Sigley" Typical Abysmal Melbounia". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). p. 1. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  8. Tippet, Garry; Ziffer, Daniel (31 December 2005). "Channel Nine's fame factory". The Age. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  9. "Legal move planned". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 26 July 1978. p. 26. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  10. Hooks, Barbara (25 August 1981). "Ernie Sigley, A "wheel" once more". The Age. p. 29. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  11. Ernie Sigley: Career and achievements | 3AW 7 November 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2013 Archived 7 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Wilmoth, Peter (2 March 1997). "The show goes on and on but the gloves come off". Sunday Age. Retrieved 28 March 2019 via Proquest.
  13. "The Legacy of Lanky Yank Don Lane". SBS. 22 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  14. "Aussie Battler faces his toughest hour". Adelaide Now. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  15. Matheson, Melissa (23 September 2011). "Full circle". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  16. "The Circle reunites Ernie and Denise". Television.AU. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  17. "Logies for Ernie and Ding Dong". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 8 March 1975. p. 1. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  18. Logie Timeline | TV Week Logie Awards. Retrieved 4 May 2013 Archived 3 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Old Dogs thirsty for next success". Couriermail. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  20. "Ernie Sigley diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2019.

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