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Elliot, Douglas George (Doug) (1917–1989)

by Derham Groves

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Douglas George (Doug) Elliot (1917-1989), radio and television broadcaster and politician, was born on 12 February 1917 at Armadale, Melbourne, son of New Zealand-born John Pollock Elliot, importer, and his Australian-born second wife Laurel Agnes Monica, née Hickey. Doug was educated at Scotch College, where he sang with the Glee Club, until the Depression forced him to leave school. He worked briefly for Dimmeys department store and then for the stockbrokers J. B. Were & Son, and in his spare time performed with the Gregan McMahon Players. Outgoing and versatile, he then joined the chorus of J. C. Williamson Ltd. While touring in Queensland he broke his leg and was forced to quit. He made his way back to Melbourne, reputedly by singing on streets and in pubs with a one-string fiddler.

In 1934 Doug joined Melbourne radio-station 3AW. He performed bush ballads as `Kanga’ on the children’s show `Chatterbox Corner’, with `Nicky’ (Cliff Whitta) and `Nancy Lee’. In 1938 he moved to 3KZ, where he worked with Norman Banks and hosted popular variety programs. He subsequently transferred to 3UZ, on which he presented programs for Leyshon Publicity Services Pty Ltd. At St Mark’s Church of England, Fitzroy, on 12 January 1940 he married Heather Bernice Pearce, a salesgirl. Enlisting as an equipment assistant in the Royal Australian Air Force on 27 May 1943, he later joined a concert party that performed in Northern Australia and New Guinea. He was discharged in September 1945. Elliot returned to radio and worked at 3XY, 3UZ, 3KZ and 3AK as compère, announcer and `King of the commercials’. He most enjoyed `Sports Parade’ on 3KZ—with the comedian Max Reddy and the former Victorian Football League players Lou Richards and Jack Dyer—and `Fifty and Over’, an interview series on 3UZ.

Almost 6 feet (183 cm) tall and rotund, with a strong, fruity voice, Elliot also had a long and successful career in Melbourne television. In 1957 he joined HSV-7, and gave live introductions to the popular American children’s show `The Mickey Mouse Club’. He regarded this as the highlight of his career, recalling shortly before his death: `The kids, they loved me and boy I loved them. There were 12,000 of them’. On the show he became known as `Uncle Doug’, a nickname that stuck. In 1959 he produced a sports review on Saturday mornings, moving it in 1960 to time he had bought from the station on Sundays. As `World of Sport’, hosted by Ron Casey, the program ran for a record twenty-nine years, each week featuring Elliot’s unrivalled `Big Sell’ advertisements (`Leather Lungs’ becoming another nickname).

In 1958 Elliot unsuccessfully contested the Federal seat of Maribyrnong for the Australian Labor Party, but in a 1960 by-election he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council for the province of Melbourne. The combination of politician and television spruiker (with interests in land, motels, racehorses and greyhounds) was uneasily regarded by some colleagues, yet Elliot’s directness and enthusiasm won respect. As shadow minister for State development, decentralisation and tourism, he showed a remarkable knowledge of water resources; he was also committed to improving welfare, particularly for the elderly. A self-confessed `bag-man’ for the ALP, his commercial links and investment advice benefited the union movement and an embattled party.

Elliot lost preselection in 1977, but before leaving parliament in 1979 he was elected to the Essendon City Council. He served as mayor (1982-83) and then retired to Murabit to live close to his `great mistress’, the Murray River. Survived by his wife and their two daughters and son, he died on 25 March 1989 at Kerang and was buried in the local cemetery with Catholic rites, having recently converted to that faith.

Select Bibliography

  • R. R. Walker, Dial 1179 (1984)
  • J. Main and L. Richards, Sports Screamers (1995)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Victoria), 11 Apr 1989, p 167
  • Herald (Melbourne), 17 Feb 1977, p 4, 14 Aug 1980, p 4
  • Sunday Press (Melbourne), 20 Feb 1977, p 8, 26 Mar 1989, p 3
  • Age (Melbourne), 15 Dec 1978, p 9
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Derham Groves, 'Elliot, Douglas George (Doug) (1917–1989)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/elliot-douglas-george-doug-12457/text22405, published in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 30 July 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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