Farewell, Fred

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Submitted by Site Factory admin on Mon, 04/10/2017 - 14:44

Farewell, Fred

Posted 10 Apr 2017

Terrible and unexpected news just in – John Clarke, of ABC TV’s political satirists Clarke & Dawe, has passed away suddenly at the age of 68. Clarke, who was born in Palmerston North in New Zealand, but spent much of his life in Australia, died on Sunday while hiking in the Grampians National Park in Victoria.

More information will no doubt come to hand; in the meantime, let’s remember John as our Kiwi friends will remember him, as the great character Fred Dagg in his black singlet and gumboots with his laidback delivery, who was a cultural icon in New Zealand in the ‘70s before landing in Australia in 1979. He found freedom in the greater size and opportunities offered by Australia, having left NZ disillusioned saying "In a place the size of New Zealand there is only one game in town and if you are not allowed to do it, what can you do?'' in a 1990 interview.

After making home in Melbourne, Clarke became a hit on Australian television - he was well known for his short satirical spots on Channel Nine's A Current Affair programme, as well as several film credits (Death In Brunswick alongside fellow Kiwi Sam Neil, Lonely Hearts (1981), Footrot Flats (1985), A Matter of Convenience (1987) and Blood Oath (1989)). He also co-wrote ABC's The Fast Lane from 83-85, as well as co-wrote and appeared in ABC's The Gillies Report from 85-86.

Here's John in a classic scene from ABC's The Games:

Tributes from comedians, TV personalities and even politicians from both New Zealand and Australia have been flowing across social media, with Clarke described as an influential "comic genius".

- DL & RB

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