Redmond "Red" Symons (born 13 June 1949) is an Australian musician, writer, actor and radio host, probably best known as lead guitarist with Skyhooks and as the snide judge of "Red Faces", a segment of the long-running Hey Hey It's Saturday variety television show. He hosts 774 ABC Melbourne's breakfast show.
Early life and education:
Born in England, he emigrated to Australia (on the same boat as the members of the Bee Gees) at the age of 9, in 1958. Symons was a student at Emerald Primary School, then Monbulk High School and Upwey High School in Victoria. Symons studied pure mathematics and computer science at the University of Melbourne, during which time he resided at Queen's College and earned a Bachelor of Science degree.
After graduating, Symons joined the Australian rock band Skyhooks as a guitarist in the 1970s. He also worked in the theatre as a musical director for several organisations, including the Pram Factory, a famous 1970s Melbourne theatre group. Symons also released and recorded a single called "It's Only a Flip Side" in 1976.
In 1985, Symons guest-starred in Neighbours as criminal Gordon Miller, Terry Robinson's ex-husband.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he combined his on-air role on Hey Hey It's Saturday (also playing in the house band) with composing for various film and television shows (such as Blue Heelers), and jingle writing.
Between 1992-95, he played the role of the Narrator in The New Rocky Horror Show, touring Australia and Singapore.
When Hey Hey It's Saturday ended in 1999 Symons began writing for The Age newspaper and appearing in a weekly spot on 774 ABC Melbourne, a radio station. At one point, he filled in for Lynne Haultain on the breakfast program for that station, where he was such a success that he was retained permanently in that slot. That year, he also fronted the Red Cross Door-Knock Appeal.
In February 2002 he hosted the game show flop Shafted, which was cancelled in April of the same year. Later in 2002 he was a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother Australia.
Symons' on-camera persona is a sarcastic killjoy, a role he apparently adopted through his role of third judge on "Red Faces". In a made-for-television Australian national IQ test, he tested higher than any of the other celebrities.
In October 2005, Symons together with his wife Elly competed in and won the Celebrity Couples Family Feud special on Temptation with Elly answering all the questions in the grand final. He also competed in Australia's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? getting as far as the $500,000 question in 2000, at which point a wrong answer caused him to lose the majority of the money, going away with $32,000 for his chosen charity. Despite public/fan outcry that he should have used his last remaining lifeline (50:50--2 incorrect answers of the 4 multi-choice answers are removed), Symons maintains he was confident about the answer and wanted to save the lifeline for the final million dollar question. Australia's A Current Affair program interviewed him later that week, during which they presented him with his would-be Million Dollar Question--using his still available lifeline, Symons was able to pick the correct answer. He also competed in the Network Ten's Australia's Brainiest Comedian in November 2005 where he came third. In August 2008, Symons participated on a celebrity edition of Deal or No Deal, on which he won only $4,000 for a home viewer. He is also a regular guest on ABC's The Einstein Factor. In 2007, he signed up with Channel Seven and to become a judge on Australia's Got Talent along with Dannii Minogue and Tom Burlinson. He remained on the show until 2009.
In 2009, Symons appeared on the two high-rating Hey Hey Reunion Specials, and in 2010, returned to the 20-episode airing of Hey Hey It's Saturday. Symons has for the last 10 years enjoyed top ratings as the presenter of the 774 ABC Melbourne breakfast radio program.
He and his wife Elly have three sons; Samuel, Raphael, and Joel.
An Australian Story episode aired in February 2010, documenting their son Samuel's fifteen-year battle with cancer. The episode won a silver medal at the New York Film festival and a Quill award from the 2011 Melbourne Press Club for Best Current Affairs feature.