David Astle

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David Astle
Born (1961-11-09) 9 November 1961 (age 58)
Sydney, Australia
OccupationTV personality, radio host, writer, playwright, crossword compiler
Known forLetters and Numbers

David Astle (born 9 November 1961) is an Australian TV personality and radio host and writer of non-fiction, fiction and plays. He also co-hosted the SBS Television (SBS) show Letters and Numbers, as the dictionary expert, in company with Richard Morecroft and Lily Serna.[1]

Astle's cryptic crosswords, appearing under the name "DA" in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald (for which he also writes the "Wordplay" section), have developed a large following which includes musician Holly Throsby[2] and actor Geoffrey Rush. Rush called him "the Sergeant Pepper of cryptic crosswords".[3] In 2011, his portrait called "DA" painted by artist Amanda Marburg, was shortlisted for the Archibald Prize,

Astle's 2013 book Cluetopia: The story of 100 years of the crossword celebrates the centenary of the crossword with a chapter for each year. He won third prize in The Age Short Story Award in 1990 and his first novel, Marzipan Plan, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2001 he won the James Joyce Suspended Sentence Award for short fiction.[4] His play Cowboy Humour was part of the Short and Sweet play festival in 2008,[5] which has previously featured Astle's plays including The Gentleman Had An Axe in 2007[6] and The Mercy Kitchen.[7]

Astle has taught journalism at RMIT University and in 2004 was awarded a DSC Teaching Award for best sessional teacher.[8] In 2013, he helped create the word "phub" (a portmanteau of phone and snub), for when someone is ignored in favour of a mobile phone).[9]

From 2015 he was a fill-in host on 774 ABC Melbourne as well as a regular word expert on ABC TV's News Breakfast. In 2019 he began hosting the Evenings radio program on ABC Melbourne and ABC Local Radio in Victoria.[10]



  • Marzipan Plan
  • The Book of Miles (Minerva, 1997) 1-86330-589-0


  • "Rewording the Brain" (Allen & Unwin, 2018) ISBN 9781760295486
  • "Riddledom: 101 Riddles and Their Stories" (Allen & Unwin, 2015) ISBN 9781760112608
  • "Cluetopia: The story of 100 years of the crossword" (Allen & Unwin, 2013) ISBN 9781743314531
  • "Puzzles and Words 1" (Allen & Unwin, 2013) 9781743318546
  • "Puzzles and Words 2" (Allen & Unwin, 2013) 9781743318546
  • Puzzled: Secrets and Clues From a Life Lost in Words (Allen & Unwin, 2010) ISBN 9781742372785
  • Cassowary Crossing (Penguin Books, 2005) ISBN 0-14-300169-8; (re-jacketed as Offbeat Australia (Penguin Books, 2007) ISBN 978-0-14-300742-5)
  • One Down, One Missing (Hardie Grant Books, 2003) 9781740661416

For children[edit]


  • The Gentleman Had an Axe (2007)
  • Cowboy Humour (2008)
  • The Mercy Kitchen (2008)


  1. ^ http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/lettersandnumbers/cast/detail/id/642
  2. ^ Carew, Anthony (11 July 2008). "A way with words". Melbourne: theage.com.au. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  3. ^ "Rush Hour www.theage.com.au". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  4. ^ "A mind field of puzzling pleasure - theage.com.au". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. 26 May 2002. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Week 3 program | Short and Sweet". Shortandsweet.org. Archived from the original on 21 July 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "DSC Teaching Award Winners 2004". RMIT. 1 October 2004. Archived from the original on 12 September 2006. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  9. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2013/12/24/3917113.htm
  10. ^ https://www.abc.net.au/radio/melbourne/2019-line-up/10583994

External links[edit]