Mark Colvin

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Mark Colvin
Born (1952-03-13) 13 March 1952 (age 65)
Show PM
Station(s) Radio National
Network ABC Radio
Style News and current affairs
Country Australia
Previous show(s) (As presenter:) The World Today;
(As reporter): Four Corners; Foreign Correspondent; 7.30 Report; and Lateline
Parents John Horace Ragnar Colvin and
Elizabeth Anne Manifold (Lady Synott)
Spouse(s) 1. Cherry Ripe (dis.)
2. Michele McKenzie

Mark Colvin is an Australian journalist and broadcaster. Based in Sydney, he has been the presenter of PM since 1997. PM is one of the flagship Australian radio current affairs programs on the ABC Radio network.


Career as a journalist and broadcaster[edit]

Colvin graduated from Oxford University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English literature and arrived in Australia in 1974.[1] He began employment in January 1975 at the ABC's rock music station Double Jay (2JJ, now known as Triple J) as one of the foundation staff,[2] initially working as a cadet journalist. While at 2JJ, he presented news, conducted interviews and produced current affairs and documentary specials up until 1978. With strong foreign language skills in French, Italian and Spanish,[1] he was posted to the Canberra bureau and appointed a television news producer. A year later, he was one of the first reporters on Nationwide, along with Jenny Brockie, Paul Murphy and Andrew Olle.[3]

At the age of 28 in 1980, Colvin was appointed foreign correspondent in London, and travelled to cover major stories including the American hostage crisis in Tehran and the rise of Solidarity in Poland. During his time covering the Middle East, Colvin was deeply affected by the death of his interpreter, Bahram Dehqani-Tafti, a secular Iranian murdered and dumped outside a Tehran prison. Colvin believed that the mullahs had a dispute with Dehqani-Tafti's father, the Anglican bishop of Iran in exile in London.[1] Colvin returned to Australia in 1983 and initially was reporter on both AM and PM, before agitating for the establishment of a midday news and current affairs radio program.[1] Colvin became the founding presenter of The World Today on ABC radio. The following year, Colvin went to Brussels as Europe correspondent, and covered the events right across the continent as the Cold War began to thaw and the Gorbachev era began the process that would lead to the lifting of the Iron Curtain.[3]

Between 1988 and 1992, Colvin was a reporter for Four Corners, making programs focused on, inter alia, the French massacre of Kanaks in New Caledonia, the extinction of Australia's fauna and the Cambodian peace process. His feature on the Ethiopian famine won a Gold Medal at the New York Film Festival and was runner-up for an International Emmy Award.[3] In 1992, Colvin accepted another London posting, this time for television, mainly reporting for Foreign Correspondent, the 7.30 Report and Lateline. His language skills and long European experience paid off in stories such as his series on the relationship between Italian organised crime and government, which culminated in the trial of former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.[3]

In 1994, Colvin was deployed by the 7.30 Report to Africa to cover the unfolding tragedy in Rwanda. Travelling via Zaire, he witnessed an extensive human tragedy, in which about a million refugees were living in excrement, with cholera and dysentery commonplace. Colvin took ill with granulomatosis with polyangiitis, a rare inflammation of blood vessels,[1] which nearly took his life.[4] After several months in hospital, during his convalescence he became aware of a side effect of the treatment, his hip joints collapsed and both hips had to be replaced. He spent the next 18 months in Europe.

In 1997, Colvin returned to Sydney and started in his current role as presenter for ABC Radio's PM.

Political views[edit]

Colvin disapproved of the election of Republican Donald Trump in the United States presidential election, 2016.[5]

Organ donation ambassador[edit]

During 2010, Colvin worked to raise the profile of organ donation through interviews with a number of media agencies including The Sydney Morning Herald,[1] The Australian,[4] The Drum,[6] The 7.30 Report,[7] and Life Matters.[8]

Organ transplant[edit]

In December 2012, Colvin received a kidney transplant from a living donor. Colvin, and the hospital and staff, allowed the process to be recorded for television.[9]

In a televised interview on 1 May 2013, the living donor of Colvin's transplanted kidney was revealed to be Mary-Ellen Field, who Colvin had met through reporting on victims of the News of the World/News International phone hacking scandal. Field had received unwanted notoriety after details of her working relationship with Elle Macpherson had been revealed through reporting of messages from Field's hacked phone, causing Macpherson to sack Field. It was revealed that Colvin and Field had established a correspondence after the interview, finally meeting in 2011; that Field had decided to become a donor before revealing this to her husband; that the pair had considered naming the kidney "Rupert" (after Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation, the parent company of News International that owned News of the World); and, that Colvin had declared a conflict of interest to his employer and ceased reporting on Field.[9]

Stage play[edit]

The story of Mark Colvin's kidney donation and the circumstances surrounding it is the subject of a stage play titled Mark Colvin's Kidney by playwright Tommy Murphy. The play was produced by Belvoir theatre company with David Berthold as director and a cast including actor John Howard as Mark Colvin and Sarah Peirse as Mary-Ellen Field. [10]


The Colvin family had a long history of military and administrative service to Australia, and previously to the British Empire. Colvin is the son of John Horace Ragnar Colvin,[11] a Cold War diplomat, and the grandson of Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin. He is the great-grandson of the India Office mandarin Clement Sneyd Colvin,[12] whose father was John Russell Colvin. John Russell, son of an East Indies trader, ended up lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces of British India during the mutiny of 1857, had ten children and founded a dynasty of Empire-builders. Through this line, Mark Colvin's extended family includes Walter Mytton and Auckland, also lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces and Oudh; Brenda (1897–1981),[13] an important landscape architect, author of standard works in the field and a force behind its professionalisation; and Sidney, a critic, curator, and great friend of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Through his mother, Elizabeth Anne Manifold,[12] Colvin is the great-nephew of a Prime Minister of Australia, Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, who went on to be an international statesman and the first Chancellor of the Australian National University.[14] He is also the step-son of Admiral Sir Anthony Synnot.

Mark Colvin's second wife, married 1987, is Michele McKenzie, community activist and councillor for Leichhardt, elected in 2004 and Deputy Mayor for four terms from 2008. She was elected as The Greens councillor in 2012 for a four-year term. Colvin and McKenzie have two sons, Nicolas McKenzie, a motion-graphics specialist and the singer/songwriter for Deep Sea Arcade, and William John Colvin McKenzie, writer, film maker, singer/ songwriter for 'Hedge Fund'.

One of Colvin's nieces is the artist Anna Higgie.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hannan, Liz (12 February 2011). "Lunch with ... Mark Colvin". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Elder, Bruce; Wales, David (1984). Radio With Pictures! The History of Double Jay AM and JJJ FM. Hale & Ironmonger. pp. 6–7. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Mark Colvin". About PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Jackson, Sally (27 September 2010). "Mark Colvin's personal crisis teaches him Australia is in dire need of organ donors". The Australian. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  5. ^ MPs slam ABC’s US election coverage as biased against Trump; The Australian; 14 November 2016
  6. ^ Colvin, Mark (16 September 2010). "Transplanting our mindset on organ donation". The Drum. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Bowden, Tracy (20 September 2010). "Low donor rates put patients at risk". The 7.30 Report (transcript). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Colvin, Mark (27 September 2010). "Mark Colvin on organ donation". Life Matters (audio interview). Interview with Richard Aedy. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 May 2011 – via Radio National. 
  9. ^ a b Sales, Leigh; Stevens, Justin (1 May 2013). "Mark Colvin's kidney donor reveals identity and joy" (transcript). 7.30. ABC TV. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Colvin, Mark (August 2009). "It's not only double agents who lead double lives". Blog. Archived from the original on 6 August 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Manifold, W. G. "Manifold, Thomas (1809–1875)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Brenda Colvin" (Login required). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 
  14. ^ Colvin, Mark (9 December 2009). "The forgotten PM". Blog. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. 
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links[edit]