Vale: Brian Henderson

Legendary Nine News presenter Brian Henderson has died.

Legendary Nine News presenter Brian Henderson has died, aged 89.

Nine’s Peter Overton said he had received a text from Henderson’s long-time wife Mardi to say he had died at about 4.50am.

“She said that he was at peace when he passed away and he was surrounded, he had Mardi and beautiful daughters Jodie and Nicole,” Overton said.

“I’ve spoken to them this morning and they are naturally as a family just gathered and sitting and reflecting on this man who had, may I say, a wicked sense of humour and was so engaged in the news right up to his passing.”

Henderson survived multiple battles with cancer, before opting not to receive treatment for kidney cancer last year.

Henderson hosted the Sydney weeknight news for Nine from 1957 until his retirement in 2002, becoming Australia’s longest-serving news presenter.

From his first news broadcast in 1957, the tag-line Henderson used to sign off at the end of every newscast was either “…and that’s the way it is” or “the way it is.”

He also hosted Bandstand from 1958 until 1972, which launched now iconic stars such as Peter Allen and the Bee Gees.

In 2012 Henderson came out of retirement to narrate a documentary for Foxtel, The Train: The Granville Rail Disaster.

He won two Gold Logies, the first in 1968. In 2013 he received a second, when he became the 30th member of the TV Week Logies Hall of Fame. He was also made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for his contributions to TV news, entertainment, and journalism.

Peter Costello, Chairman of Nine said: “Brian Henderson was the best of the best, he was iconic. The ultimate professional and the trusted face of television news for generations of Australians.

“Hendo was not just a much loved newsman he also brought modern pop music to generations of Australian teenagers through his hosting role on Bandstand.

“He was trusted, he had a warmth that he brought into the living rooms of millions of Australians. He will be deeply missed but his giant legacy and contribution will live on in the DNA of Nine.”

Darren Wick Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs said, “Hendo was much loved and idolised by everyone of us lucky enough to have worked with him and learn from him.

“He was the biggest star in a 9News team that boasted the biggest names in journalism – Laurie Oakes, Liz Hayes, Georgie Gardner, Ken Sutcliffe, Peter Harvey, Robert Penfold, Peter Overton, Leila McKinnon, Allison Langdon and Karl Stefanovic.

“He was the epitome of credibility, reliability and clarity. He set the standard that we aspire to live up to  every night of the week.”

Karl Stefanovic described him as “A gentleman and a total professional who provided guidance and inspiration for so many colleagues and generations who followed,” he said. “We loved him.”

Updated: Note from Nine News Director Darren Wick to staff:

Dear Colleagues,

Today we lost a genuine legend of television news with the passing of Brian Henderson.

Hendo hated clichés and waged war on them throughout his career. But there never was anyone like him. And it’s unlikely there will ever be again.

If I wrote that about someone else, it would be a cliché. However, writing it about Brian Henderson, it’s simply fact.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Hendo’s family. His wife Mardi and daughters Nicole and Jody were with him at the end. That’s the way he wanted it.

And here at NINE, where Hendo presented the News for 46 years, we mourn his loss. But we also celebrate a legacy that is the foundation of what we do every day in reporting the news.

From 1957 until 1963, he was the Weekend newsreader for Channel NINE in Sydney. In 1964, he became the weekday presenter and remained in that role until retirement at the end of 2002.

The Vietnam war, the Moon landing, the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government, Fraser-Hawke-Keating-Howard, the September 11 terror attacks, the Sydney Olympic Games and Cathy Freeman’s inspirational Gold medal run. Hendo guided us through every major moment in our history. Through good times and dark times, he was our trusted source of credible and reliable information.

His tone would comfort and encourage. It was perfect. Always.

And with Hendo at the helm, NINE became the “Who’s Who of News”. It was one of the most famous promotional campaigns to reinforce the credentials of Sydney’s BEST news team.

Laurie Oakes, Liz Hayes, Peter Harvey, Georgie Gardner, Ken Sutcliffe, Leila McKinnon, Peter Overton, Robert Penfold, Allison Langdon, Karl Stefanovic, Mark Burrows and Damian Ryan.

The BEST in journalism. The BEST in quality. The BEST culture. That was NINE’s recipe to be the BEST in ratings for so many years.

In his wonderful acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Kennedy Awards for excellence in journalism, Hendo captured the NINE News style perfectly, explaining his regular advice to young writers in our Sydney newsroom: “Clever is good. But clear is best.”

I encourage you to have a look at his full speech on that special night through this link:

Hendo remained very close to the end with our current Sydney newsreader Peter Overton and our Deputy News Director Mary Davison.

In 2021, our Sydney news is the Number One rated bulletin – a position it’s held for the past 11 years. The attention to detail and clarity of message that Hendo drove for years is the secret behind our continuing success.

This is the legacy he left for us and with Peter Overton at the helm, we’re privileged to have a person who embodies those same qualities and that constant pursuit of perfection.

And while television presentation today has evolved and looks very different from Hendo’s era, one thing that remains timeless at NINE News is our ability to report the story better than anyone else.

Regards, Wickie.

Source: Nine News

18 Responses

  1. ‘Saying not goodnight this time. But goodbye’.
    Very sad to hear the passing of Brian Hendo. Hendo was a pioneer at TCN9 and delivered comprehensive news for more than 40 years. Australia has lost one of its great newsreaders. Goodbye and Rest In Peace Hendo.

  2. I was very fortunate to work at TCN9 (studio production) when Hendo was still king. What strikes me most is his delivery and tone of any story – just bang on. An example is September 11, 2001. His intro and delivery was flawless and powerful, not over the top. I was also very lucky to work on “Hendo’s Roast” in 2002. TCN9 Studio was full of the whos who in TV/Media and Kerry Packer attended as well. If you look on youtube you can find the full broadcast. He will always be the benchmark… Vale Hendo.

  3. Was there even any competition at 6pm in Sydney in his era? He was the best. RIP.

    I bet 9’s market share was double under him in the end of the 90s/early 2000s.
    Do you know David?

    1. Nine went through a rough period in the mid 1970s when they tried something called News Centre Nine where they had a combined Sydney/Melbourne news bulletin. It became very unpopular in Sydney because Melbourne stories were always at the start and Sydney was relegated to the end of the bulletin. Seven National News fronted by Roger Climpson by far led the ratings and it was only in the mid-1980s that the channel 9 news overtook seven in the ratings. It was around the time that they moved the news to 6 PM in response to the ABC introducing The National at 6:30 PM.

  4. as a young camera operator, one day i was sitting nervously in the TCN newsroom in the mid 90’s, Hendo noticed me and came over just before the 6pm news to say hello and welcome and to enjoy watching the news from my vantage point, something i will never forget. RIP Hendo.

  5. Total Respect….Who did not love Brian Henderson….sending out love to his family…..I watched him arrive at The Amory, Ashfield after his marriage to Mardi…I was up a tree….

  6. Legendary is most apt, and I remember one of the catchphrases of the promos for Nine News – ‘Brian Told Me’ – and indeed he did for decades. Sad day for Australian broadcasting and for his extended family.

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