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13 June 1949
Brighton, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
|Residence||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Education||University of Melbourne|
|Occupation||Television and radio personality
|Known for||Hey Hey It's Saturday, Australia's Got Talent and Skyhooks|
Redmond "Red" Symons (born 13 June 1949) is an English-born Australian musician, writer, actor, composer, record producer, television and radio personality. He is best known as the lead guitarist in the band Skyhooks and as the snide judge of "Red Faces", a segment of the long-running Hey Hey It's Saturday variety television show. He currently hosts 774 ABC Melbourne's breakfast show.
Early life and education
Born in England, he emigrated to Australia (on the same ship as the members of Bee Gees) at the age of 9, in 1958. Symons was educated at Emerald Primary School, Monbulk High School, Upwey High School and the University of Melbourne, where he resided at Queen's College, and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in pure mathematics and computer science.
After graduating, Symons joined the Australian rock band Skyhooks as a guitarist in the 1970s. He also worked in the theatre as a musical director for several organisations, including The Pram Factory, a famous 1970s Melbourne theatre group. Symons also had three solo singles: "It's Only A Flipside" (EMI '76); "The Big Time" (Mushroom '87); "Sex Appeal" (Mushroom '88).
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he combined his on-air role on Hey Hey It's Saturday (also playing in the house band) with composing for various film and television shows (such as Blue Heelers), and jingle-writing.
Between 1992–95, he played the role of the narrator in The New Rocky Horror Show, touring Australia and Singapore.
Symons' on-camera persona is a sarcastic killjoy, a role he apparently adopted through his role of third judge on "Red Faces". On Test Australia: The National IQ Test, he scored higher than any of the other celebrities with an IQ of 131.
In October 2005, Symons together with his wife Elly competed in and won the Celebrity Couples Family Feud special on Temptation with Elly answering all the questions in the grand final. He also competed in Australia's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? getting as far as the $500,000 question in 2000, at which point a wrong answer caused him to lose the majority of the money, going away with $16,000 for his chosen charity and $16,000 for his home viewer. Despite public/fan outcry that he should have used his last remaining lifeline (50:50—2 incorrect answers of the 4 multi-choice answers are removed), Symons maintains he was confident about the answer and wanted to save the lifeline for the final million dollar question. Australia's A Current Affair program interviewed him later that week, during which they presented him with his would-be Million Dollar Question—using his still available lifeline, Symons was able to pick the correct answer. He also competed in the Network Ten's Australia's Brainiest Comedian in November 2005 where he came third. In August 2008, Symons participated on a celebrity edition of Deal or No Deal, on which he won only $4,000 for a home viewer. He was also a regular guest on ABC's The Einstein Factor. In 2007, he signed up with Channel Seven and to become a judge on Australia's Got Talent along with Dannii Minogue and Tom Burlinson. He remained on the show until 2009.
In 2009, Symons appeared on the two high-rating Hey Hey Reunion Specials, and in 2010, returned to the 20-episode airing of Hey Hey It's Saturday.
Symons is currently the presenter of the 774 ABC Melbourne breakfast radio program. He originally appeared in a weekly slot on the station, then filled in for Lynne Haultain on the breakfast program while she was on maternity leave, replacing her permanently in that slot in 2003.
In June 2017, Symons interviewed fellow ABC radio presenter Beverley Wang about her new podcast, It's Not a Race. During the interview, Symons asked Wang questions such as "What's the deal with Asians?", "Are they all the same?" and "Are you yellow?", and defended the infamous "blackface" skit on Hey Hey It's Saturday. Most of the controversial comments were edited out of the broadcast interview, but Wang released the full interview on the podcast feed. The ABC removed the recording, saying that "a review of the editorial processes around this content and its use is in progress" and apologised for its broadcast.
An Australian Story episode aired in February 2010, documenting his son's fifteen-year battle with cancer. The episode won a silver medal at the 2011 New York Festivals "Worlds Best T.V. and Films" Category and a Quill award in 2010 from the Melbourne Press Club for Best Current Affairs Feature.
- "Red Symons". Abc.net.au. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Skyhooks to reform for one-off performance but singer unconfirmed". smh.com.au. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
- "Band, Skyhooks Music". skyhooksmusic.com. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
- "The Pram Factory Roll Call".
- Red, Symons. "The Pram Factory Personal Memoirs".
- "Discogs Red Symons". discogs.com. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
- "Red Symons Discography". 45cat.com. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
- "IMDb Red Symons". imdb.com. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
- "Auntie makes an honest man of Red - theage.com.au". The Age. 21 December 2002. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- Moran, Rob (16 June 2017). "'What's the deal with Asians?' Red Symons under fire over controversial interview". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- "The cancer suffered by Red Symon's son: Australian Story Transcript". Emrstop.org. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "2011 TVF Winners" (PDF). New York Festivals.
- Publisher, Master. "2010 Quill award winners - Melbourne Press Club". www.melbournepressclub.com. Retrieved 2017-02-20.