Tony Barber

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For other people named Tony Barber, see Tony Barber (disambiguation).
Anthony "Tony" Louis Barber
Born (1940-03-28) 28 March 1940 (age 74)
Oldham, Lancashire, England
Occupation Television Host
Spouse(s) Helen (deceased)[1]
Children Kelly, Jacqueline[1]

Anthony "Tony" Louis Barber AM (born 28 March 1940 in Oldham, Lancashire, England) is an English-born Australian game show host and television personality. Barber is a Gold Logie winning television personality.


Early life[edit]

Born in 1940, Tony claims he "owes much of his enthusiastic and driving personality to a loving Irish grandma and a whole street full of Aunties who kept the spirits high during the dark years of World War 2". He moved with his family to Australia in 1947 and was schooled by the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers.

He then spent seven years in the Royal Australian Navy before leaving the service and getting his teeth into his career as a cadet announcer at radio station 6GE in Geraldton in 1961. In his own words:

The sisters of so-called mercy taught me to sing & dance, the brothers taught me to bob & weave. The navy taught me to play rugby[3][4]

By the end of 1962, Barber was a leading Perth radio announcer as well as the star of a weekly floor show at the Charles Hotel and another twice-weekly event at the Lido Coral Room where he performed impressions of Johnny Mathis and Paul Anka. Before leaving Western Australia for New South Wales he also starred in a number of plays with the Scarborough players.[citation needed]

Having moved to Sydney, Tony continued to pursue his dreams at numerous Hotel talent quests, a regular role as resident compere and vocalist at the Spellsons nitery in Pitt St. This was in addition to holding down a regular job as an advertising executive, where at one point he cast himself as the “Cambridge Whistler”, a central character in a 1960's cigarette commercial which brought him under national scrutiny. It was at this point that then head of the Seven Network Bruce Gyngell spotted Barber and was understood to have liked what he saw, and immediately suggested that he host a Grundy show.[5]

Media career[edit]

While Barber is more noted for his role as host of Sale of the Century, his origins in television date back to the 1970s where he hosted the then popular Seven Network game show, Great Temptation.[6] Presented with co-host Barbie Rogers, the show was successful enough for the network that both daytime and prime time editions of the show were screened. The show only faltered when in 1974, Seven decided to move the show from its 7pm timeslot to the later 8.30pm timeslot in an effort to drag viewers away from the then popular series Number 96 screening on the 0-10 Networks. Number 96 won the ratings battle and Great Temptation aired its last show in 1975. Barber then hosted the Australian version of Family Feud on the Nine Network from 1977 until 1979.

In 1980, The Grundy Organisation under the advice of founder and producer Reg Grundy decided to revive the Great Temptation format using the original international title, Sale of the Century. Screened nationally on the Nine Network, Barber hosted the show from 1980 to 1991. Barber's hostesses during his time as host were Victoria Nicholls (1980–1982), Delvene Delaney (1982–1986) and Alyce Platt (1986–1991). Barber left the show in 1991; Platt left at the same time. Host Glenn Ridge and co-host Jo Bailey took over.

In 1993, Barber went on to host the short-lived Australian version of Jeopardy! (Network Ten). It has been said that its failure was partly due to placing it in the 6pm timeslot against high-rating news bulletins of the day.

After Jeopardy, he succeeded John Burgess as host of Wheel of Fortune (Seven Network) in July 1996 following the show's relocation from Adelaide to Sydney as part of an attempted revamp. He began his tenure amid much controversy and dealing with the fact that viewers did not appreciate that Burgess was not given a chance to say his goodbyes on air. While the show retained many of its well-known sounds, a new format along with new theme music, new graphics and a new set was made for the show. As a result the ratings quickly declined affecting ratings for Seven News and Today Tonight. As part of an attempt to win viewers back, the theme music that had been introduced the previous year was reinstated, the new set underwent minor changes and the former prize shop was reincarnated to an extent - contestants upon solving a puzzle were offered three prizes and one had to be selected. By the end of 1996, Barber was removed from the position of host by the Seven Network after the show was in a position where it was nearly cancelled. Alongside this, co-host Adriana Xenides (who until this time had not missed an episode during the Wheel's tenure) as a result of the public backlash began to suffer from depression and what she called a physical breakdown in November 1996. She would remain on leave from the show until July 1997. Barber appeared at the beginning of the 1997 series premiere to hand the show over to Rob Elliott. Former Perfect Match hostess Kerrie Friend would fill in for Xenides until July of that year.

During his time on TV, Tony estimates that he has hosted over 8,500 individual episodes of successful Grundy Games.[7]

Currently he hosts a small competition on the Australian Cable TV network Foxtel seven nights a week called TV1's Cash Trivia Challenge which he has been doing for the last few years.

On 14 March 2007, Barber returned to his roots making an appearance as Guest Host on Temptation alongside his former co-host Alyce Platt during the Battle of the Network Shows series. Regular hosts of the show Ed Phillips and Livinia Nixon were appearing as contestants.

In August 2013, Barber was announced as a contestant on the upcoming series of Dancing with the Stars Australia.[8]

Other work[edit]

  • In 2005, he also appeared on Good Morning Australia during an Infomercial segment as a seller of Dick Wicks' Magnetic Underlay products.
  • Barber has released many records and cassettes over his career, including 'If you feel like Singing'.
  • After being replaced as host of Sale of the Century by Glenn Ridge, Tony Barber appeared on the Australian version of The Late Show and was on the 'spy' team that attempted to help Jane Kennedy to win on Sale of the Century's 1993 comedy special and failed.
  • Melbourne comedic rock duo Bamptonoid & Szabologist mention Barber in their 2008 demo 'Taking the piss'. Barber later sued for defamation


In June 1991 Tony Barber received the award Member of the Order of Australia "In recognition of service to the entertainment industry."[9]

Television award[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tony Barber's Virtual Office (12 April 2004). "Biography". Archived from the original on 1 April 2004. Retrieved 14 March 2007. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Tony Barber". ICMI Speakers Bureau. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Tony Barber". Celebrity Speakers. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Lead us into Temptation". The Age. 26 May 2005. Retrieved 14 March 2007. 
  6. ^ Television.AU (29 July 2006). "Aussie TV Game Shows". Retrieved 14 March 2007. 
  7. ^ Celebrity Speakers Australia/Christine Maher Group. "Speaker Biography - Tony Barber". Retrieved 14 March 2007. 
  8. ^ Dancing With The Stars new line-up revealed. News Ltd 26 August 2013 | Retrieved 26 August 2013
  9. ^ Australian Honours List 1991 | Retrieved 22 March 2013

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]