1 9 7 4 – 1 9 7 6 (Australia)
179 x 90 minute episodes
Produced from the GTV-9 studios at 22 Bendigo Street, Richmond in Melbourne, this Australian variety show was broadcast live to air between 1974 and 1976.
Denise Drysdale – whom Sigley dubbed “Ding Dong” – was invited to be the “barrel girl” on a competition segment of the show and audiences quickly warmed to the wacky former dancer and her chicken impressions. She won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Female Personality on Australian Television in 1975 and 1976.
During their time on the show, Ernie and Ding Dong recorded a version of the popular duet, Hey Paula, which reached #2 on the Australian charts.
In February 1976, the show was abruptly cancelled after only the first show of the year with Don Lane flown from Sydney to Melbourne to take over the show. Ernie and GTV-9’s general manager issued a statement that they had mutually agreed to end their relationship immediately as they found it impossible to continue because of disagreements over policies of the show.
In truth, Sigley had been fired by station owner Kerry Packer following an off-air outburst by Sigley against Packer when the network cut short his first show for 1976 to accommodate a sports awards telecast.
By April 1976, the host was starring nightly in a new hour-long early-evening variety show on ATV-0 called simply Ernie.
He and Denise Drysdale continued working together on and off on TV and radio before reuniting in 1989 to co-host In Melbourne Today and later In Sydney Today.
Guests over the years included Paul Newman, Edward Woodward, Eric Sykes, Norman Wisdom, Warren Mitchell, Harry Secombe, Jimmy Edwards, Elton John, Donny Osmond, Suzi Quatro, Adam Faith, Del Shannon, Renée Geyer, The Seekers, Debra Byrne, Skyhooks, Johnny O’Keefe, Jon English and Uri Geller.
Ernie’s family announced in October 2016 that he had Alzheimer’s disease. He died on 15 August 2021, aged 82.
The Graham Dowd Dancers