Radio star and voice of Hey Hey It’s Saturday dies at 76

But while the 2009 reunions did well and showed there was still an audience for their brand of comedy and vaudeville-style antics, the racism row they sparked also showed how far the world had come.

A parody segment of the talent show Red Faces, in which a group of performers appeared in blackface as Jackson Jive, outraged guest judge Harry Connick Jr.

Giving the act a score of zero, Connick Jr commented: “I know it was done with humor… but we’ve spent so much time trying not to make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it to be really sincere.”

The same five artists had appeared on the show 20 years earlier with the same act, winning the segment.

In 2021, accusations of racism on the show flared up again when Malaysian-born singer Kamahl, who was a frequent guest on Hey hey Over the decades, he said: “There were several instances where I felt humiliated (on the show), but I didn’t want to raise any objection or protest about it. I kept smiling and pretending everything was fine.”

He cited in particular a 1984 sketch in which he was hit with a powder puff soaked in white makeup while performing, with an off-camera Blackman joking: “You’re a real white man now, Kamahl, you know? “


When Kamahl’s comments were published, Somers publicly apologized.

“I want to make it clear that I and all the members of the Hey hey “The team does not tolerate racism in any form,” he said. “I have always considered Kamahl a friend and supporter of the show, so I am deeply sorry for any pain he has felt as a result of anything that has happened on the show in the past.”

Blackman, however, was unrepentant.

On Twitter, he wrote: “Kamahl joins the ranks of the Cancel Culture Club – attacks retrospectively HHIS – a bit like shooting Bambi (or fishing in a barrel). Good Kamahl!

Blackman returned to radio in 2015 as a presenter for Magic FM.

He had a benign brain tumor removed in 2008.

In a statement, Blackman’s long-time employer Nine (which also owns this masthead) said he was a “beloved voice” who had “brought joy and laughter to countless homes every weekend”.

“John Blackman’s legacy is one of laughter, dedication and a profound impact on Australian media,” the statement added.

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