Ernie Sigley

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Ernie Sigley
Ernest William Sigley

(1938-09-02) 2 September 1938 (age 82)
Other namesErnie Williams[1]
  • Radio personality
  • television host
  • singer
Years active1952–2009

Ernest William Sigley (born 2 September 1938)[1] is a Gold Logie winning Australian host, radio presenter and singer. Known as a pioneer of Australian television, Sigley is often styled as a "little Aussie battler" with a larrikin sense of humour.[2]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Footscray, Melbourne, one of seven children of a boilermaker.[1] After completing his education at Williamstown High School, Sigley's career began in 1952 as a turntable operator on Danny Webb's breakfast program at radio station 3DB (Melbourne). Television started in Australia in 1956, and Sigley made his TV debut as host of Teenage Mailbag on HSV-7 in 1957. Shortly after this, he travelled to London, gaining some work experience at the BBC. But a bigger break was to come with a three-year stint at Radio Luxembourg, where he performed under the name 'Ernie Williams'.[1]

Sigley is remembered for his 1964 association with the Adelaide leg of The Beatles tour of Australia. In one press conference, Sigley's questioning of The Beatles brought about an enthusiastic response from John Lennon, which led to one of the best interviews of the tour.[3][4]

Radio career[edit]

In 1981, Sigley returned to 3DB to host the breakfast program.[2] In 1982, he switched to the breakfast shift at the personality-driven News Talk 3UZ, teaming with comedian and mimic Paul Jennings. When 3UZ changed to a music format at the start of 1984, Sigley left the station.

In 1996, Sigley joined 3AW to host the afternoon program. He hosted the afternoon program for 12 years until his retirement on Friday 7 November 2008.[1] Denis Walter was announced as Sigley's replacement. He then took on a part-time role at the station where he partnered either Bruce Mansfield or Philip Brady to host Nightline on a Friday night.[5]

In January 2009, Sigley ended his radio career after a 57-year association with the industry, when it is believed he stormed out of a heated meeting with 3AW management.

Television career[edit]

He was part of the original cast of Sunnyside Up,[6] and in the 1960s and early 1970s, Sigley hosted the prime time Adelaide variety show, Adelaide Tonight on NWS-9. Beginning in 1974, Sigley was the host of the national Nine Network variety show, The Ernie Sigley Show,[7] featuring notable Australian media personalities such as Denise Drysdale, Noni Hazlehurst, Pete Smith and Joy Westmore. The program was abruptly axed after an off-air outburst by Sigley, directed at station owner Kerry Packer and producer Peter Faiman,[8] when the network cut short his first show for 1976 to accommodate a network sports awards telecast.[2] Packer flew to Melbourne the next day and dismissed Sigley in person, effective immediately, and replaced him with Don Lane.[1]

After his dismissal in 1976, Sigley moved to ATV-0 and hosted the early evening variety show Ernie and then in 1978, the Penthouse, which became Saturday Night Live on HSV-7 co-hosting with Mary Hardy.[9]

He was the original host of the Australian version of the popular game show, Wheel of Fortune, from 1981 to 1984.[10] In 1982, he presented the regional variety program Six Tonight from BTV-6 Ballarat, and the daytime talent show Pot Luck in 1987.[2]

After a break from television, Sigley returned in 1989 with Denise Drysdale, hosting GTV-9's morning program In Melbourne Today.[11]

Sigley was involved in a stoush with fellow TV star Don Lane at a Logies after party in 1988,[1][12] when Sigley allegedly made insulting remarks about Lane's partner.[13]

Singing career[edit]

Sigley began singing as a choir boy at St Paul's Cathedral,[1] and went on to be a regular on the local Town Hall circuit in the 1950s. In 1957, his first record, Love Is A Golden Ring,[14] was released by W & G Records.

In 1974, Sigley, with Denise Drysdale, recorded the popular duet, "Hey Paula", released by Festival Records, Australia and produced at Armstrong Studios, Melbourne. This song went on to peak at number 2 in Australia.

Sigley regularly performed around Australia on the club circuit, often with his television partner, Denise Drysdale.[15]

Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with Australian chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart
  • Released: 1969
  • Format: LP
  • Label: RCA Camden (CAMS-147)
Ernie Sigley
  • Released: November 1971
  • Format: LP
  • Label: RCA (SL101964)
...And Here's Ernie 44

Charting singles[edit]

List of singles, with Australian chart positions
Year Title Peak chart
1970 "Give Me Love"/"A Little Thing Called Love" 99
1971 "City of Angels" 69
1974 "Hey Paula" (with Denise Drysdale) 2
"Just Thank Me" 94

Other interests[edit]

He once owned the Radio Springs Hotel at Lyonville in country Victoria.[17]


Sigley won the TV Week Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 1975.[18] He had previously won 11 local Logies for his work in Adelaide.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Three times married and twice divorced,[6] Sigley is married to Glenys O'Brien, former television personality.[20] They live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and have four adult children.[citation needed]

His son Matthew was a member of 90s Australian indie pop-rock band The Earthmen, and has played keyboards for Australian bands The Fauves and Drop City.[21] He is currently a member of The Lovetones.

Sigley is a supporter of the Western Bulldogs (formerly known as the Footscray Football Club).[22] He is also a supporter of the South Adelaide Football Club in the South Australian National Football League.[citation needed] His family announced in October 2016 that he has Alzheimer's disease.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Murphy, Jim (20 November 2008). "The retiring type? Not our Ern". The Age. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Searle, Malcolm (17 September 2008). "Ernie Sigley preparing to sign-off". Television.AU. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  3. ^ Pedler, Chris (19 February 2009). "Ernie most earnestly misses 'his' Beatle". The Courier. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  4. ^ Brine, Dominic (20 February 2009). "Imagine never-before-seen Lennon photographs in Ballarat". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Ernie Sigley goes part time". 3AW. 19 September 2008. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b "The Ernie Sigley story". The Age. 6 December 1973. p. 21. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  7. ^ Fitzgerald, Edmund (1 July 1974). ""Ernie Sigley" Typical Abysmal Melbounia". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). p. 1. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  8. ^ Tippet, Garry; Ziffer, Daniel (31 December 2005). "Channel Nine's fame factory". The Age. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Legal move planned". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 26 July 1978. p. 26. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  10. ^ Hooks, Barbara (25 August 1981). "Ernie Sigley, A "wheel" once more". The Age. p. 29. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  11. ^ Ernie Sigley: Career and achievements | 3AW 7 November 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2013 Archived 7 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Wilmoth, Peter (2 March 1997). "The show goes on and on but the gloves come off". Sunday Age. Retrieved 28 March 2019 – via Proquest.
  13. ^ "The Legacy of Lanky Yank Don Lane". SBS. 22 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Aussie Battler faces his toughest hour". Adelaide Now. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  15. ^ Matheson, Melissa (23 September 2011). "Full circle". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 273. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ “Radio Springs Hotel,”
  18. ^ "The Circle reunites Ernie and Denise". Television.AU. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Logies for Ernie and Ding Dong". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 8 March 1975. p. 1. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  20. ^ Logie Timeline | TV Week Logie Awards. Retrieved 4 May 2013 Archived 3 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Old Dogs thirsty for next success". Couriermail. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  23. ^ "Ernie Sigley diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2019.