John Doyle (comedian)

From Academic Kids

John Doyle (also known as Roy Slaven or Rampaging Roy Slaven) is a dramatist, actor, comedian and broadcaster and is one half of Australian sports comedy duo Roy and HG.

Doyle was born in Lithgow, New South Wales and graduated from the then Newcastle Teachers College in 1973 with a Diploma of Teaching (Secondary English/History). He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Newcastle (NSW) in 1978, before joining the Hunter Valley Theatre Company. He continued to perform while teaching at Glendale High School. He resigned from teaching after seven years and moved to Sydney, where he worked with the Sydney Theatre Company.

Doyle commenced his radio career in 1986, when he and Pickhaver created the characters of 'Rampaging Roy Slaven' and HG Nelson. Loosely based on classic TV sporting commentators such as Rex Mossop, Doyle created Slaven as a larger-than-life persona, an utterly opinionated, impossibly talented 'sporting everyman' who has represented Australia in every field, won innumerable Melbourne Cups on his ageless mount Rooting King, is on intimate terms with every sporting celebrity (including many top racehorses), as well as film and music stars, politicians and other leaders of society around the world, yet who retains the 'common touch' and stands for Australian manhood, fairness, and honesty.

Roy Slaven first appeared on Triple J's breakfast show every Friday during 1985. It was at this time that Doyle met Flinders University arts graduate Greig Pickhaver, while both actors were working as minor characters on an SBS TV series. Pickhaver had similar comedic skills and interests, and had also developed a sporting commentator character called "HG Nelson" while appearing on the Melbourne radio comedy program Punter To Punter in the early '80s. An amalgam of just about every Aussie sports commentator and race caller who ever lived, HG, like Roy, has seen and done it all and is utterly passionate about truth and honesty in sport.

The team of 'Roy and HG' was born when This Sporting Life premiered on Triple J in early 1986. The four-hour (later three-hour) comedy show, improvised live, soon became a cult hit and has been on the air ever since. Over that time Doyle and Pickhaver have perfected a unique style that satirises the world of sport and the atheletes, the entertainment scene and celebrity in general, in a manner that is simultaneously ruthless and affectionate. As well as their weekly radio show, the duo also made satirical radio 'calls' of major annual sporting events including the Rugby League 'State Of Origin' series, the League and AFL Grand Finals and the Melbourne Cup, as well as occasional outside broadcasts of TSL performed before live audiences.

For several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Doyle hosted the two-hour mid-afternoon shift on ABC radio station 2BL in Sydney, earning a loyal following among listeners and demonstrating that he was not only extremely knowldegable on a huge range of subjects, but was also a superb interviewer. He took over many existing program segments and made then entirely his own, and his regular conversations with guests such as cooking expert Barbara Lowry, Sydney Opera House media liason officer "Commodore" David Brown (whom he nicknamed 'The Salty Sea Dog'), gardening expert Angus Stuart (nicknamed "The Doctor Of The Dirt") and Sydney Morning Herald TV Guide editor Tony Squires, became regular highlights of the show.

Like Graham Kennedy, Doyle specialised in subtly (or blatantly) undercutting the 'straight' presentation of such stock segments, and he often veered off on tangents that he found funny or diverting, or introduced ideas which he thought might be likely to get a 'rise' from his guest. One memorable thread was his long-running obsession with the source of a supposed 'mystery noise that was reputedly disturbing patrons in the Opera House Concert Hall, and he regularly badgered long-suffering Opera House publicist David Brown for an explanation.

Although his 'Slavenesque' sense of humour often showed through on the 2BL shift, Doyle and Pickhaver were assiduous about keeping their real-life identities and the Roy and HG characters separate (they were rarely photographed) and although Pickhaver often appeared on 'The Afternoon Programme' as HG Nelson, Doyle never performed overtly as Roy, or referred to him in any way. During this period Doyle kept up a hectic work schedule, presenting the Afternoon Programme two hours a day, Monday to Friday, as well as his regular four-hour stint on Saturdays on 'This Sporting Life" and also, at one stage, the first weekly half-hour TV version of the show.

They successfully transferred the TSL concept to TV in the early 1990s; the first version, also called This Sporting Life, was moderately successful, but suffered from being essentially a TV 'talking head' version of the radio show. They reinvented the concept by marrying it with a broad parody-cum-tribute of Australian variety entertainment. The result, Club Buggery ran for two series (one as The Channel Nine Show); it became a cult hit, and won the duo won a Logie Award.

After moving to the commercial Seven Network in the late 1990s, they scored record TV ratings and gained international notoriety during the Sydney 2000 Olympics with their hit late-night Olympic commentary show 'The Dream'. The show became so popular that the Australian Olympic Committee included the duo in the Closing Ceremony.

They have also appeared on the Seven Network with The Monday Dump and The Nation Dumps and have repeated their success with The Dream in two subsequent series commentating on the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

John Doyle was awarded a City of Newcastle Drama Award in 1981. His film credits include Bliss in 1985 and Babe in 1995. He is also an accomplished dramatist and has written the acclaimed ABC-TV mini-series Changi and Marking Time, both of which have earned major industry awards.

With Pickhaver, he has also appeared on the television shows The Channel Nine Show, Planet Norwich, The Monday Dump, The Nation Dumps and The Dream in Athens.

Doyle's outstanding contribution to Australia's cultural scene, through theatre, radio and television was recognised with the granting of an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Newcastle in 2001.

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