Vale: Mike McColl Jones

Legendary comedy writer, who wrote for Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Don Lane, Mary Hardy and Steve Vizard, has died.

Legendary comedy writer Mike McColl Jones, who wrote for Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Don Lane, Mary Hardy and Steve Vizard, has died aged 86.

Mike moved from being a salesman to write comedy for GTV-9, encouraged by Garry Stewart who later ran Melbourne Artists Management.

“He and I fancied ourselves as budding comedy writers, so with Garry’s contacts we found ourselves a few times a week, parked in Garry’s Austin car on the boulevard near GTV-9,” he once told TV Tonight.

“We were trying to get some scripts accepted for Noel Ferrier’s IMT. We didn’t get a lot used but we had a lot of fun. Suddenly, Noel was carted off to hospital with a hernia, and Graham Kennedy filled in for three weeks…….it was the first time I ever wrote for Graham.

“Not for an instant did I ever think I would finish up as his personal writer.”

A one month trial extended to a working relationship of over 20 years on shows including In Melbourne Tonight and The Graham Kennedy Show.

“I introduced a few things into his shows that remained for the full life of the show,” he once said. “For example, I introduced a segment ‘Headlines of the future’ that ran every Wednesday for 10 years. Graham would have a mocked-up paper and it was headlines you may read in the paper 30 years hence. I remember the first joke I did for this segment: ‘Today Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her golden wedding anniversary – 50 husbands!'”

At Kennedy’s funeral, McColl Jones read a ‘Fax from Heaven’, a nod to Kennedy’s own penchant for communicating via fax.

He would write for Bert Newton, Don Lane, Mary Hardy, and Steve Vizard across shows such as The Don Lane Show, Tonight with Bert Newton, Tonight Live with Steve Vizard and more.

“I was lucky enough to have a relationship with Graham, Bert and Steve Vizard and they could almost tell what I was thinking before I said it / did it / wrote it down.

“One night during Tonight Live I made Steve laugh so hard that he had to go to a commercial break because he couldn’t continue. It was just something I said off the top of my head and he just collapsed laughing – it had hit a nerve. I’d say it into his ear live – I’d just walk over and tell him something.”

He also wrote for Tommy Hanlon Jnr, Jimmy Hannan, Stuart Wagstaff, Ernie Sigley, Frankie J. Holden and even Joan Rivers. He wrote on around 25 Logie Awards broadcasts, two Royal Command Performances for the Queen and Charles and Diana and penned six books.

In 2017 he received a Medal of the Order of Australia for his contribution to television, particularly in the field of writing.

According to McColl Jones, he never sought out accolades for his work.

“No! No! The worst thing that could happen to me would be to get singled out – I hated that.
It was enough that the jokes worked on the night,” he said.

Shirley Hardy-Rix:
“Sad news from the world of television- the passing of the incredibly funny and talented Mike McColl Jones. Many of you wouldn’t know him but if you’ve watched variety and talk shows on tv over the years you will have laughed at his jokes. I was lucky enough to know him and work with him. If there is a life after this one Mike will have the gang back together and be writing gags for Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, my talented aunt Mary Hardy and so many more. Vale Mike McColl-Jones.”

Ian Maurice:
“I’m feeling very sad. My dear friend Mike McColl Jones has left us. Mike had an incredible career as comedy writer for Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Don Lane and the list goes on .. Mike was a unique individual with a heart of gold. I will miss him terribly. To his children I send my heartfelt sympathies and, like all his friends, I have an emptiness in my heart only made easier with the knowledge that my life has been touched by this wonderful human. Rest easy old friend.”

Mike was also an avid reader of TV Tonight, my thanks for the insight and generosity.

Additional source / photo: BaptCare

6 Responses

  1. Mike McColl Jones also published a terrific behind the scenes book in 1999 called “And Now Here’s….”

    Reminiscences include The Merkin Club, Matt Le Blanc and Larry Emdur’s contest, Glenn Ford and the Logies .

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