John Deeks remembers asking Channel Seven boss Gary Fenton back in 1978 if he could move from being a contract player to a fulltime employee.
But Fenton gave him some sage advice.
“He said, ‘Listen, between you and me, don’t. Do your own superannuation and everything else because when they’re looking at cutting out numbers, they always look at staff numbers, but they don’t look at contractors.’
“Thank you Gary!” Deeks laughs.
It was advice that saw him enjoy a 4 decade run at the network, as the “Voice of Seven” until last week when the TV economics finally called time.
But ‘Deeksy’ assures TV Tonight he bears no grudges.
“I have had the most fantastic 44 years. I’ve never worked a day in my life. How can you possibly not have had so much fun? The Nine network was the MGM and Channel Seven was like Republic Pictures,” he says.
“I was very lucky to with the most fantastic people like ‘Turps’ (Ian Turpie), Andrew O’Keefe… 33 years of doing game shows every week for staff and enjoy the formatics of it. But I think the most important thing was it wasn’t ego-driven. I was never sitting there thinking, ‘How come I haven’t got that job?’ I was really, really happy supporting them.”
From his radio days to TV, Deeks has done it all, calling ‘Come on Down’ on The New Price is Right, to the Good Friday Appeal (from 1974 – 2019), reading the news, being a weather presenter, Lotto presenter and studio warm up man.
“I started there in ’77 doing voice-overs and game shows and that’s pretty much what I ended up doing. Hey, didn’t my career take off!” he laughs.
“But it was terrific to have the variety of things I could do.
“Probably the worst thing I ever did was was hosting Family Feud, because I just felt so constrained. I couldn’t sort of leap into the audience and start jumping around and talking to everybody. It was the only time I really felt like I was muzzled.
He attributes his longevity to the supporting act role, keeping him out of the media crosshairs and executive scrutiny.
“(Nine’s) Pete Smith and I were in that area, which was a beautiful place to be. Because you’re always employed but you didn’t cop all the crap from the top.”
But there was one occasion when a lunch with John Burgess, who had left Seven’s Wheel of Fortune to join Nine, landed him in hot water.
“I went to Catalinas restaurant in Sydney and I went back to Channel Seven when Publicity rang up.
“‘You just had lunch with John Burgess! He’s the opposition. You can’t do that!'” he was warned.
“All that paparazzi stuff, they can have it!”
‘Deeksy’ will continue to do voice-overs for advertising and corporate.