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Symons in 2011
|Alma mater||University of Melbourne|
|Instruments||Guitar and backing vocals:|
Redmond Symons (born 13 June 1949) is an English-born Australian musician, and television and radio personality. He was the lead guitarist in the band Skyhooks, the snide judge of 'Red Faces' (a segment of the long-running variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday), and a judge on talent search show Australia's Got Talent. He hosted ABC Radio Melbourne's breakfast show from 2003 until 2017.
Early life and education
Born in England, he emigrated to Australia at the age of nine in 1958 (on the same ship as the members of Bee Gees). 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 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 1970's Melbourne theatre group. Symons also had three solo singles, "It's Only a Flipside" (EMI 1976); "The Big Time" (Mushroom 1987); and "Sex Appeal" (Mushroom 1988); none of which entered the Australian top 100.
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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 Rocky Horror Show, touring Australia and Singapore.
Symons' on-camera persona is a sarcastic killjoy, a role he apparently adopted through his appearance as 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 Great Temptation' (Australian game show)with Elly answering all the questions in the fast money round during 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 $4,000 for a home viewer. He was also a regular member of the brains trust on ABC TV'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 and was replaced by Brian McFadden.
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 originally appeared as a presenter in a weekly slot on the ABC Radio Melbourne's breakfast radio program. He then filled in for Lynne Haultain on the breakfast program while she was on maternity leave, replacing her permanently in that slot in 2003, and continuing in the role until late 2017.
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.
Symons married Elly Agrotis in 1990 and together they had three sons, Samuel, Raphael and Joel.
An Australian Story episode aired in February 2010 documented his son Samuel'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. Samuel died from an aggressive brain cancer on 3 October 2018.
- Landy, Samantha (26 March 2018). "Red Symons' former home sells for Fitzroy North price record". Herald Sun. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Red Symons". ABC News. Australia. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
- "Skyhooks to reform for one-off performance but singer unconfirmed". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- "Band, Skyhooks Music". skyhooksmusic.com. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- "The Pram Factory Roll Call".
- Red, Symons. "The Pram Factory Personal Memoirs". Pram Factory.
- "Discogs Red Symons". discogs.com. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- "Red Symons Discography". 45cat.com. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- "IMDb Red Symons". imdb.com. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- "Auntie makes an honest man of Red". 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.
- "Red Symons announces he is leaving ABC Radio Melbourne". ABC Radio Melbourne. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- Meade, Amanda (1 December 2017). "Red Symons announces dumping live on air: 'Why am I going? They haven't said'". The Beast, Guardian Australia. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Red Symons to leave ABC radio show, hinting he's not going willingly". Starts at 60. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Red Symons blames cost-cutting for his ABC demise". The Age. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
- "The cancer suffered by Red Symon's son: Australian Story Transcript". Emrstop.org. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
- "2011 TVF Winners" (PDF). New York Festivals.
- Publisher, Master. "2010 Quill award winners - Melbourne Press Club". www.melbournepressclub.com. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
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