Eric Pearce (broadcaster)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Eric Pearce
Pearce in 1954
A young Eric Pearce
Eric Herbert Pearce

(1905-03-05)5 March 1905
Hampshire, England
Died12 April 1997(1997-04-12) (aged 92)
  • Ella Mary Pearce (1933–c. 1939) (divorce)
  • Jean Mary Pearce (née Macartney) (1939–1956) (her death)
  • Betty Pearce (fl. 1956–1987) (her death)
  • Royston Gyles Pearce (born 1933)
  • Suzanne Constance Pearce (step-daughter, fl. 1956)
Station(s)HSV Channel 7
Time slot6:30 pm
Station(s)GTV Channel 9
Time slot6:30 pm

Sir Eric Herbert Pearce, OBE (5 March 1905 – 12 April 1997) was an English-born broadcaster and television pioneer in Australia.

Pearce was born in Hampshire, England, and had an early career in radio on the BBC before migrating to Australia, where he was a long-term newsreader on Melbourne television stations HSV Channel 7 (1956–65) and GTV Channel 9 (late 1950s–74, 1976–78). Pearce's catchphrase sign-off of his news reports, "God bless you, and you", was for viewers and his third wife.


Eric Herbert Pearce was born on 5 March 1905 and grew up in Hampshire, England.[1] He was the elder son of H. C. Pearce of Ryde, Isle of Wight.[2] He completed his studies at London University.[3] Pearce worked for an insurance company and was transferred to Canada.[3] On 11 April 1933 Pearce married Ella Mary, a sales woman, in Winnipeg and the couple had a son, Royston Gyles Pearce, that same year.[4] Pearce returned to England in 1937.[3] He started his radio career and had worked for the BBC – his first time on air had been on a talent quest singing, "Little Man, You've Had a Busy Day".[5]

Pearce moved to Australia in 1938.[6][7] In September 1939 in Sydney, Pearce was engaged to Jean Mary Macartney (1909–1956),[2][8] and married later that year.[9] By 1942 they were living in Melbourne.[1] During World War 2, on 17 January 1942, Pearce enrolled in the Royal Australian Air Force and was discharged as a Flying Officer on 29 December that year.[1] In 1956 Jean Mary Pearce died in Sydney, aged 47.[8][10]

In 1962 Pearce compiled a book, Thoughts for Everyday Living: Philosophies and Poetry, for the 75th Year Jubilee Building Appeal of the Queen Victoria Hospital.[11] He had selected various poems, quotations and maxims.[11] By 1963 Pearce had married a third time, to Betty[12] and he had a step-daughter, Suzanne Constance Pearce.[13] His third wife died in 1987.[14] Sir Eric Pearce died on 12 April 1997, aged 92, in a Malvern nursing home.[14] He had been a devout Anglican, regularly attending St John's in Toorak.[12]

Radio career[edit]

In August 1954, Pearce said that "[Television is] the most potent force for good or evil that's ever been discovered in the communications field of entertainment."[15]

Pearce worked at numerous radio stations in the pre-television era, he had started at 2CH as an announcer upon arriving in Sydney from England.[16][17] Upon relocating to Melbourne in 1940 he worked at 3XY in radio drama and as a studio manager.[7] In 1942, after his war service, he transferred to 3DB as the chief announcer and feature compere.[7][16][17] At 3DB he planned drama and music programmes, Life of Melba, Opera for the People and The Amazing Oscar Hammerstein; and the Mobil Quest.[7] He also hosted the annual Radio Hospital Appeal for four years.[18]

From April 1950 he was general manager of 5KA in Adelaide until October 1954 when he returned to Sydney.[3][7][19] In August that year Pearce described the new medium of television, "It's the most potent force for good or evil that's ever been discovered in the communications field of entertainment."[5]

When GTV-9 purchased 3AK in April 1962, all GTV-9 personalities were expected to present programs on 3AK. The one-hour program, A Call from Eric, was a request program presented by Pearce from 9.00 am each weekday.

In July 1993, Pearce was interviewed by Denzil Howson on his radio career for Once Upon a Wireless Productions, the recording is preserved by the National Film & Sound Archive.[16][17]

Television career[edit]

When television came to Australia in 1956, many radio figures sought and achieved employment in the new medium. Pearce was no exception, moving to HSV Channel 7 in Melbourne working as a newsreader and quiz show host. Pearce provided the first TV news report for that channel on 4 November 1956.[6] The Argus' reviewer F. Keith Manzie described Melbourne's first TV broadcast "I liked Eric Pearce as a compere. His easy-mannered, genial personality came right through the viewing screen in the quiz show, I've Got a Secret ... [his] reading of the news was illustrated with appropriate newsreel shots".[20] In 1956 he was also co-host of the series Eric and Mary, and in 1957 he was host of Be My Guest. Pearce resigned from HSV-7 in the late 1950s. He believed that newsreaders required credibility and that doing anything other than news for a job was ill-advised. When GTV Channel 9 offered him employment as chief news reader without him having to do any other shows, he took it. In 1961, he appeared in Let Me Read to You, in which he would read from popular works.

Typically Pearce read the news to Melburnians with his catchphrase sign-off, "God bless you, and you",[6][21] the second "you" being directed at his wife,[22] Betty. He is best regarded for his coverage of the Moon landing in July 1969. In 1978 Pearce retired and was replaced as GTV Channel 9 newsreader by Brian Naylor.[23] In 1993 he was still working for GTV Channel 9 as a news adviser and head of correspondence, although his official title was Director of Community Affairs.[12] Melissa Agnew describes Pearce in her 2008 book, Here Is the (Australian) News, as one of the "commanding voices ... who, with his golden voice of authority delivered the news on Channel 9".[21] Both Peter Mitchell (Seven News Melbourne) and Peter Hitchener (Nine News Melbourne) acknowledge Pearce as "one of their biggest influences. They both worked under him at Channel 9".[24]

Private life[edit]

Pearce was married three times: Ella Mary (fl. 1933); Jean Mary Macartney (1909–1956); and Betty Patterson (nee: Ham) (1918-1987). He was a devout Anglican.

Honours and recognition[edit]

In March 1965 Eric Pearce received a Logie Award for 'Outstanding Services to News Reading (Victoria)'.[25] On 1 January 1970 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) with a citation "for services to broadcasting".[26] On 16 June 1979, he was knighted for "services to the community".[27] Pearce was the patron of the Deafblind Association (from 2006 it is known as Able Australia) and was succeeded in 1998 by fellow GTV 9 newsreader, Peter Hitchener.[28] From the 1970s Pearce supported the Richmond Community Health Centre; in 1994 it was re-built as a residential aged care facility and named, Sir Eric Pearce House, in recognition of his support.[29]

On 20 September 1980 Sir Eric Pearce was presented with the Rostrum Award of Merit, for excellence in the art of public speaking over a considerable period and his demonstration of an effective contribution to society through the spoken word.[30]

In 1984 the Camellia reticulata cultivar, "Sir Eric Pearce", was registered by the Australian Camellia Research Society.[31] From January 2009 to November 2011, Roy Slaven (as a member of Roy & HG) read an excerpt from Thoughts for Everyday Living: Philosophies and Poetry, as a tribute to Pearce, at the start of each episode of The Life, a Triple M radio drive-time program.[32][33][34]


  1. ^ a b c "Service Record: Pearce, Eric Herbert". World War Two Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald. 20 September 1939. p. 12. Retrieved 16 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b c d "Welcome to the 5KA/KAFM Reunion Site – Around Franklin Street". 5KA. 23 February 1950. Archived from the original on 17 September 2001. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Digital Copy of Item with Barcode 180205: A981, PERS 314: Personal. Eric H. Pearce – Whereabouts of". National Archives of Australia. 1941–1942. p. 4. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Mr Adelaide's Diary: Busier Now". The Mail. 21 August 1954. p. 2. Retrieved 18 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ a b c Lennon, Troy (15 December 2010). "Friendly Faces Took Us Through Drama". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Big Job for Adelaide Radio Chief". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1931–1954). National Library of Australia. 19 August 1954. p. 3. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  8. ^ a b Edwardian Index, Victoria 1902–1913 (CD-ROM). The Crown in the State of Victoria: Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. 1997. ISBN 978-0-73110-614-1. Macartney, Jean Mary, born 1909, Elsternwick, father: Wm Percival, mother: Edith Mary Melville, registration no. 2917.
  9. ^ "Historical Index Search". New South Wales Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013. Registration Number: 22374/1939; Groom: Pearce, Eric Herbert; Bride: Macartney, Jean Mary; District: Woollahra.
  10. ^ "Historical Index Search". New South Wales Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013. Registration Number: 2978/1956; Name: Macartney, Jean Mary; Father's given names: William Percival; Mother's given names: Edith Mary; District: Newtown.
  11. ^ a b Pearce, Eric; Queen Victoria Hospital Jubilee Building Appeal (1960), Thoughts for Everyday Living: Philosophies and Poetry, Queen Victoria Hospital, retrieved 18 January 2013
  12. ^ a b c Hewitt, Sue (12 April 1997). "Friends mourn the death of Sir Eric, a television legend". The Sunday Age. p. 9. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  13. ^ Mishura, Paul (September 2011). "Obituaries: James Paul Westcott". Great Scot. Scotch College, Melbourne. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  14. ^ a b Parsons, Belinda (13 April 1997). "Tribute Paid to TV News Knight". The Age. p. 4. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Busier Now", The Mail, 21 August 1954.
  16. ^ a b c Howson, Denzil; Pearce, Eric (April 2002). Ron Brent (ed.). "Pearce, Sir Eric: Interviewed by Denzil Howson: Oral History, Record No. – 270540" (PDF). Oral history: sound recordings: radio. A guide to holdings in the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. National Film and Sound Archive. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  17. ^ a b c "Title Details: Pearce, Sir Eric: Interviewed by Denzil Howson". National Film & Sound Archive. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013. Sir Eric Pearce, radio announcer and station manager, discusses his career in radio. Pearce tells how upon his arrival in Australia from the U.K. he started announcing for 2CH and then moved to 3XY and radio drama acting. After his World War II service he recalls becoming the chief announcer for 3DB and compering for Crawford Productions. Pearce then tells how he moved to Adelaide to become General Manager for 5AK. (00:14:28)". "Recorded Date: 8 July 1993 – 8 July 1993.
  18. ^ "Compere Thanks Appeal Workers". The Horsham Times. 7 March 1950. p. 1. Retrieved 18 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ "Mr. Eric Pearce Farewelled". The Advertiser. 20 October 1954. p. 9. Retrieved 15 January 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ Manzie, F. Keith (5 November 1956). "This Will Do Me". The Argus. National Library of Australia. p. 3. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  21. ^ a b Agnew, Melissa (2008). "1. The Australian Voice in News". Here Is the (Australian) News: A Voice Training Handbook for the Australian Newscaster (PDF). Queensland: Wenga Books. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-92105-452-5.
  22. ^ Shmith, Michael (18 January 2003). "A Medium of Tedium". The Age. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  23. ^ Carman, Gerry (10 February 2009). "Class Act on and off Camera". The Age. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  24. ^ Dennehy, Luke (28 March 2010). "Melbourne's Tops Newsreaders, Mal Walden, Peter Mitchell and Peter Hitchener Tell All". Herald Sun. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  25. ^ "1965:: 7th TV Week Logie Awards". TV Week Logie Awards. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  26. ^ "It's an Honour: OBE". Government of Australia. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  27. ^ "It's an Honour: OBE". Government of Australia. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  28. ^ "Our Patron". Able Australia. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  29. ^ Korszniak, Natalie (March 2012). Hats off to the Past and Coats off to the Future: A History of the Richmond Dispensary (PDF). Hawthorn East: Inner East Community Health. Inkifingus Printers. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-9872773-0-5. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  30. ^ Rostrum Certificate, Rostrum Award of Merit, 20 September 1980.
  31. ^ "Coppermine Photo Gallery – Victoria/Sir Eric Pearce". Camelias Australia Inc. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  32. ^ "Triple J Presenters: Hello & Goodbye". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  33. ^ "Molloy, Page and More Move to Triple M Sydney". The Music Network. Peer Group Media. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  34. ^ "Roy and HG: The Life". Triple M. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

External links[edit]