Sandy McCutcheon

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Robert Hamish McCutcheon (born 1947), known as Sandy McCutcheon is an Australian author, playwright, actor, journalist and broadcaster.


He was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, as Brian David Parry. However, he did not learn this until he was fifty years old, in 1997, when his adoption papers were discovered. When he was nearly three, his parents divorced and he was adopted out to another family, who renamed him. When he did not answer to the name Robert, they nicknamed him Sandy. They denied his former life and always told him his early childhood memories were the product of an overly fertile imagination. As an adult, he spent several years looking for traces of his family around Europe, before finding relatives living in New Zealand. In that search, he met for the first time his 30-year-old daughter Yvonne. He was aware that he had fathered a child in London when he was 20, but he knew nothing about her. He also discovered that his birth mother had been adopted.

He moved to Australia in 1970 and now lives in Fez, Morocco where he owns a house with his wife, the photographer Suzanna Clarke. He is actively involved in the Woodford Folk Festival, The Festival of Sufi Culture (in Fez) and the Festival of World Sacred Music (in Fez). He has had four children from three marriages, as well as Yvonne.

McCutcheon was till late 2006 the host of a popular talkback radio program Australia Talks Back, since renamed "Australia Talks" on ABC Radio National . Australia Talks Back was the only whole-continent talkback radio program. It has also gathered listeners from around the world through the internet and Radio Australia shortwave broadcasts. It ran for an hour every weekday and attracted a wide variety of audiences, who discuss a particular topic every day, reviewing the week's topics on Friday. Since leaving the ABC he has returned to his career as a writer and public speaker.

Before Radio National, McCutcheon has been a presenter on ABC's Double Jay, later Triple J, now an Australia-wide radio station. Before that he worked at radio stations in Townsville and Hobart.

McCutcheon has produced many documentaries for the radio in countries around the world, including Bosnia, China, Finland, Malaysia, Mozambique, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan (North and South) and Yugoslavia.

McCutcheon is a very energetic radio presenter, having been awarded Australian radio awards and recognised at the New York International Radio Festival.

McCutcheon has been awarded the International Kalevala Medal for services to Finnish culture (for his work on the Kalevala). He has worked in Finland on a scholarship, and in particular, at the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

McCutcheon has written 22 plays (at least) for the theatre. He won the Samuel Weisberg Playwriting Award in 1991 for the best Jewish play of the year for Night Train, as he had for a long time believed himself to be Jewish, prior to finding out the truth about his ancestral past.

McCutcheon founded the Illusion Farm, based in the Tasmania mountains. It is a Buddhist centre providing care for people in need, free of charge. It has accommodated more than 3000 people during its operation. The Illusion Circus Theatre Company has also been based on the farm.


McCutcheon has written a number of bestselling novels. His first, In Wolf's Clothing (1997), was the runner-up in the 1995 HarperCollins National Fiction Prize out of 400 novels. His other novels include

  • Peace Crimes (1998)
  • Poison Tree (1999)
  • Safe Haven (2000)
  • Delicate Indecencies (2002)
  • The Haha Man (2003)
  • The Cobbler's Apprentice (to be published September 2006)
  • Black Widow (2006)

Black Widow is based on events following the September 1, 2004 terrorist attack on a Russian school in the southern town of Beslan.

Other books by McCutcheon are Blik! (2002), an illustrated book for children and Quirky Questions (2000) New edition of More Quirky Questions (2005).

McCutcheon has also written many short stories and poems. His memoir, The Magician's Son, published in 2005 by Penguin, is an autobiographical work. The title comes from a dream he had, long before he had discovered his true parenthood, about finding his birth father, in which he discovered a magician's trunk in an attic. When he did find out who his birth parents were, he learned that his father had in fact been an amateur magician.

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