Deadly Earnest rises from the crypt

To fans of TV nostalgia, Deadly Earnest is an institution.

Long before there was Elvira there was Deadly Earnest on Australian TV, a 1960s horror movie presenter on Channel 0.

In late Friday night TV slots, he would introduce B-grade horror movies -but was portrayed by different actors in different states:

* Ralph Baker (ATV-0 Melbourne)
* Ian Bannerman (TEN-10 Sydney)
* Hedley Cullen (SAS-10 Adelaide)
* Shane Porteous (TVQ-0 Brisbane)

While Bannerman was the first, it was Ralph Baker who became the defining version of the character, thanks to his elaborate make-up, costume and coffin. Baker had previously worked in the props department as well as appearing in comedy sketches on the original In Melbourne Tonight with Graham Kennedy.

Tomorrow night Baker, 72, will take to the stage of the Astor Theatre as part of the St. Kilda Film Festival to introduce the Horrorpalooza! session.

Horrorpalooza! programmers Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) and Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) have selected movies from the ’60s and ’70s for the occasion, but they may have a tough job to outshine Baker’s extremely rare public appearance.

Source: The Age, Horrornews


  1. Just turned 60. I remember when DE Sydney first arrived on Friday night nearly 50 years ago. Wonder what happened to Ian Bannerman. Brilliant humour. Maybe Barry Crockett knows. I think he is still around. So many great films which made me crap film appreciator for life – Here are some I remember:
    – The Giant Claw
    – The Monolith Monsters
    – Various Godzilla and Mothra movies.
    – Of course Plan 9 and Robot Monster.
    – Some guy named Crash Corrigan who found Atlantis somewhere in the Hollywood back blocks and my favourite car – the Juggernaut.
    – And my second favourite car – ‘The Car’
    – This Island Earth
    – Some crab monster on a beach somewhere
    – Probably the day the earth stood still – the original not the crap remake.
    – Maybe war of the worlds 1949 – not the crappy remakes.
    – Assorted Vincent Price
    – That one with the alien with the single big eye.
    – Probably ‘Them’


  2. I remember very vividly watching Adelaide’s Hedley Cullen as Deadly Ernest. My sister and I were just talking about it. I loved Yurick!!! Some of the movies I remember and I now have are The 13 Ghosts, The Tingler, It came from outer space, The Mole people, Carnival of Souls and Screaming Mimi.. Ofcourse you can’t forget the classic “Phsyco”. The scared the bejeezees out of me but appear quite tame to todays blood and guts horrors. Still I enjoy watching them and the memories they bring back. Does any one have any info apart from whats on the net about Hedley Cullen. I remember on Friday nights that there was another spookiy movie series called “Journey to the Unknown” that came on after deadly ernest. Would anyone care to share?

  3. I was 15 when Deadly Earnest tried to scare me….but I had been toughened up by Hal Tods late night ” trilogy of terror”….yikes eeekkkkkk! and the series on Channel 0 “The Outer Limits” ” …. do not attempt to adjust your television, we can change the picture from crystal clarity to a soft blur” scary episodes were Mr Eck the 2 dimensional man and the creature that came out of the wood sap. I used to defocus my eyes to avoid watching…….

  4. Deadly Earnest was a late-night horror host active on Australian Television from 1966 to 1972. Broadcast weekly on the 0-10 Network, Deadly Earnest’s Aweful Movies featured mainly B-grade horror films introduced by Australian celebrity Ian Bannerman. Following Bannerman’s tongue-in-cheek characterisation, the program was notorious for showing the absolute dross of supernaturally-themed cinema, even going so far as to present the Worst Movie Of The Year on at least one occasion. While the character was originated by Bannerman, the idea was evidently so successful that local variants soon turned up in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide. For more information and photos please check out my articles:

    The Four Faces Of Deadly Earnest –

    Interview with Ralph Baker –

    Interview with Shane Porteous –

  5. I was always too scared to watch Deadly Earnest as a kid. But we had an English teacher who used to get upset at times, as all teachers do, and say “… I am deadly ernest about this students!…” which would just crack us right up, and the poor teacher did not know why. Great memories.

  6. I remember being very little and being allowed to stay up with mum to watch Deadly Earnest. It was the highlight of my young life. I still love horror movies and get a real kick out of the Hammer films.

  7. Supposedly this is the only surviving clip of Deadly Earnest.

    and Sydney’s version

  8. One of the networks should do something like that now, have a presenter like Elvira present late night horror movies on Friday or Saturday nights. I remember Elvira presented the original version of “The Fly” one late night on Ten in the late 80’s/early 90’s which totally blew me away and haven’t forgotten it since.

    The networks just seem to have all bland programming now on the cheap and a lack of any ideas such as this. Just could never imagine them employing an actual presenter to present movies these days.

  9. Crikey, this sounds awesome! Never heard of Deadly Earnest til now (too young I guess), but I’ll be front row centre for this!

  10. Oh my goodness, what a blast from the past!! One of my older brothers loved Deadly Earnest, and I remember being frightened out of my wits by him when I was very young, probably only about five or six years old. That pic is exactly how I remember him!

  11. Would be fantastic if there were more surviving clips of the various people who played Deadly Earnest. It was before my time, but I’d still love to see some clips of him – he looks great!

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