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Noel Coward: His talks in Australia

a radio feature produced by Lyn Gallacher

It is 1940 and wherever he goes in Australia, Noel Coward receives rapturous applause. His tour of the great Southern land is tightly packed with luncheons, concerts and fundraisers. 1,500 people attend three different functions on the one day in Adelaide and as he is leaving Sydney 900 business girls (as news reports refer to them) mob him in Market Street. Nurses ask him to sign their uniforms. Solders lift him up on their shoulders. Mayors present him with keys to the city. He is even introduced to a Koala.

Noel Coward’s reputation as an actor, singer and songwriter gained him a huge fan base in Australia, and he used his fame to deliver a serious message. Throughout his Australian sojourn, alongside performances of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Noel Coward wrote and delivered a series of eight radio talks which were broadcast nationally on the ABC. They had a huge impact. They brought home the message of the war. They told Australians what it was like for Londoners to live through the blitz. They encouraged Australians to take seriously their role and contribution to the fight. And they made us think we had a part to play in building a better future for all.


The love affair was mutual. As can be seen from his private letters at this time, Noel Coward really liked Australia and wrote that he planned to confront the stereotyped image many British had of Australia as a colonial backwater. He saw in our wide open land possibilities for change that excited him.


When Noel Coward returned home the text of his Australian talks was made into a small booklet. Copies could be purchased for 2 shillings in aid of the Red Cross. Now, they are free online at the State Library of Victoria. Lyn Gallacher opened the link, and in spite of ignoring Noel Coward for years, became intrigued.

Listen to the program here …

Hindsight141123.1305: Noel Coward: His Talks in Australia



David Goodman


Melanie Oppenheimer


Tim McKew


Kerry Hailstone





Title—The Power Of Humanity: 100 Years of the Australian Red Cross 1914-2014
Author—Melanie Oppenheimer
Publisher—HarperCollins Publishers


Title—Radio’s Civic Ambition: American Broadcasting and Democracy in the 1930s
Author—David Goodman
Publisher—Oxford University Press





Track—Tim McKew: At the Sands
Album—A Musical Tribute to the Great Noel Coward


Track—Noel Coward: I Went to a Marvellous Party
Album—His 45 finest 1928-1956



Further Information


Noel Coward: His Talks in Australia


Noel Coward Society





Producer—Lyn Gallacher


Sound Engineer—Matthew Crawford


Actor—Michael Carman




© 2014—Lyn Gallacher & ABC RN

Filed under: radio features, works