Darryn Lyons

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For the Scottish footballer, see Darren Lyon.
Cr Darryn Lyons
Mayor of Geelong
Assumed office
26 November 2013
Deputy Bruce Harwood
Michelle Heagney
Preceded by Keith Fagg
Personal details
Born (1965-08-19) 19 August 1965 (age 50)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party
Residence Geelong
Education Geelong East Technical School
Occupation Paparazzo, entrepreneur, mayor, celebrity

Darryn Lyons (born 19 August 1965) is an Australian media personality, entrepreneur and politician, who rose to prominence in Australia and the United Kingdom as a paparazzo. He entered politics in 2013, when he was elected Mayor of Geelong.

Early life[edit]

Born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia on 19 August 1965, Lyons grew up the youngest of three children in the suburb of Herne Hill, and later Leopold.[1] His father was an architect and the choirmaster of the Aberdeen Street Baptist Church, and designed the family's "cathedral-like" house.[2] Lyons's passion for photography started at a young age, and he attended Geelong East Technical School, where he was regularly dux of school.[3]

Photography career[edit]

After completing his schooling, Lyons began work as a professional photographer at the Geelong News and Geelong Advertiser. At the age of 22, he moved to London, where he gained a job at the News of the World after a chance meeting with Rupert Murdoch. Two years later, he left to take a position with the Daily Mail, for whom he provided coverage of the Bosnian War.[4]

In 1993, Lyons founded the picture company Big Pictures, which supplied paparazzi-style photography for news organisations. Big Pictures was run by his wife Melanie Lyons and Kevin Anstey, while Lyons worked as a photographer for the Daily Mail newspaper. During 1996, Darryn Lyons left the Daily Mail to work full-time at Big Pictures alongside Melanie Lyons.

He gained widespread media attention when his company sold a photograph to the News of the World, which was used to support a claim that football star David Beckham was having an affair with his personal assistant Rebecca Loos.[5]

On the night of the fatal car crash involving Princess Diana in 1997, Big Pictures received photographs from its Paris agent Laurent Sola of Diana's final moments. Lyons still own these photos which have never been published, and has stated that he never would sell them. Lyons gave evidence at the 2007 inquest into Diana's death.[6]

The company often faced legal action relating to invasion of privacy and harassment, from celebrities including Sienna Miller,[7] Lily Allen,[8] JK Rowling,[9] Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley.[10]

Big Pictures also ran a Mr Paparazzi website and YouTube channel from 2007 to 2013, featuring celebrity news, photos and videos[11]

In 2012, Big Pictures was placed into administration after facing financial difficulties, with all staff members of the company being made redundant.[12] Lyons subsequently established the Mr Paparazzi Celebrity Deals company and became a shareholder of another firm called BPGG Limited, facilitating the purchase of Big Pictures' assets for £164,000.[13] Big Pictures went into liquidation in 2013, owing more than £82,000 to photographers and picture agencies.[14]

In 2013, Lyons announced plans to launch an online celebrity stock photographic agency called Celebstock, however these plans did not eventuate.[15]

Media personality[edit]

Lyons has frequently appeared on radio and television programmes, including the Sky News Sunrise programme, LK Today, Australian radio shows Kyle and Jackie O Show and Hughsey and Kate, and a role as a weekly commentator on ITV1’s Alan Titchmarsh Show. Lyons has also written for the Geelong Advertiser newspaper and NW magazine.[16]

He was one of the five venture capitalists on the 2005 Australian version of the reality television programme Dragons' Den, which ended after one season after poor ratings.[17]

In 2007, Lyons appeared on the British reality television shows Tycoon,[18] and Deadline, as a picture editor and camera instructor. Lyons also appeared on the British panel show Through the Keyhole.

In 2011, he appeared in the British Top Gear television show, representing Australia in a double-decker car race in the theme of The Ashes.[19]

He also became a housemate in the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5, entering the house in August 2011. Within a few days of entering the Big Brother house, Lyons unveiled his cosmetic "six-pack", which caused a high volume of media coverage for being a "sculpted six pack seemingly implanted atop his generous gut".[20] He eventually finished in sixth place.

In 2012, Lyons was a contestant in the Australian show Excess Baggage. The show was transferred to digital channel GO! shortly after its premiere due to poor ratings. Following the show's completion, it was deemed a failure, with numerous people identifying the contestants as the reason for the lack of success.[21]

Mayor of Geelong[edit]

In 2013, Lyons announced his candidacy for the City of Greater Geelong 2013 mayoral election. Although initially describing himself as a "comedy candidate",[22] he campaigned heavily for the position with a "presidential-style mayoral campaign", including having a plane tow a banner across the sky in the city.[3] He was declared elected after the distribution of preferences on 25 November 2013; Lyons garnered almost 30 per cent of the first preference votes, more than double the primary votes than the second-placed candidate.[23] Lyons was sworn into office on 26 November 2013.[24]

As mayor, Lyons has focussed on lobbying for the city, creating publicity and lifting the city's profile in order to attract tourism and investment.[25]

Lyons has advocated for building a cruise ship pier on the Geelong waterfront in order to boost the city's economy with tourism.[26] The pier would also incorporate a convention centre and cultural centre.

Other initiatives introduced by Lyons include improving the city centre by making street parking free on weekends and planting plants in the streets.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Lyons is a member of the Liberal Party of Australia and resides in the Western Beach area of Geelong. His fiancee is Elissa Friday, a former model and a student. He was formerly married to Melanie Whitehead, who left him in 2000.[28] Lyons is a personal friend of Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle, who supported Lyons during his 2013 electoral campaign.[3] Lyons has acknowledged drug abuse, binge drinking and heavy gambling during his former life abroad.[29]


  1. ^ Grant Broadcasters Digital & New Media. "Darryn Lyons". 93.9 Bay FM. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Caught on camera: Darryn Lyons' London home". The Independent (London). 13 August 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c Mandy Squires (1 December 2013). "Meet Geelong's new mayor, Darryn Lyons". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Geelong boy comes to the party", The Age, published 17 April 2004, accessed 4 August 2006.
  5. ^ "Geelong snapper who took a bite of Beckham's image", The Sydney Morning Herald, published 17 April 2004, accessed 4 August 2006
  6. ^ Lawson, Valerie (29 February 2008). "Geelong photographer to give evidence at Diana inquest". The Age. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Sweney, Mark (22 November 2008). "Sienna Miller settles with Big Pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Dowell, Ben (17 March 2009). "Lily Allen given legal protection from paparazzi harassment". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Dyer, Clare (8 March 2008). "JK Rowling wins ban on photos of her son". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Adams, Stephen (15 May 2008). "Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant get £58,000 damages over photographs". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "About Us". Mr Paparazzi. Archived from the original on 25 August 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  12. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (5 October 2012). "Big Pictures paparazzi agency goes into administration after 20 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Chris Pleasance (4 December 2013). "Watch out, he'll want YOUR job next! Big Brother contestant Darryn Lyons continues new life as a politician with a photoshoot alongside Australia's prime minister". Mail Online. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Halliday, Josh (17 January 2013). "Big Pictures goes into liquidation". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  15. ^ Dundas, Greg (12 June 2014). "Mayor silent on pay row". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Darryn Lyons". Celeb Agents. Touchstone Media Group. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "Darryn Lyons - Mr Paparazzi". ICMI. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Weaver, Iain. "Weaver's Week 2007-07-08". UKGameshows. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "The Ashes Part 1: Double Decker Race - Top Gear Series 16 Episode 2 - BBC Two". 
  20. ^ "Big Brother celeb mocked over fake abs". ninemsn. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  21. ^ Colin Vickery (21 March 2012). "Lessons we learned from Excess Baggage". News.com.au. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  22. ^ Royce Millar (13 November 2013). "Old school ties and six packs". The Age. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  23. ^ Dow, Alisha (2013-11-25). "Entrepreneur Darryn Lyons declared Geelong mayor". The Age. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  24. ^ "Councillors". City of Greater Geelong. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Paul, Margaret (3 March 2014). "Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons makes long list for world mayor competition". ABC News. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  26. ^ Best, Cameron (26 February 2014). "Geelong ups ante for new cruise ship pier to boost tourism jobs". ABC News. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  27. ^ Squires, Mandy (22 November 2014). "Addy reader survey: Community split over Darryn Lyons’ performance as mayor". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  28. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/national/people/the-emperor-of-geelong-20140217-32uom.html "The Emperor of Geelong" GoodWeekend and Sydney Morning Herald, 22 February 2014.
  29. ^ Masanauskas, John (26 November 2013). "Mohawk Mayor of Geelong Darryn Lyons admits he abused drugs but vows to revitalise the town". Herald Sun. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 

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