Don Spencer

Don Spencer
Don Spencer
Born Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia
Occupations Singer, Songwriter
Years active 1962–present
Website [1]

Donald Richard Spencer OAM is an Australian children's television presenter and musician, best known for his long-running role as a presenter on Play School in both Australia and the United Kingdom. He had his first song the theme tune to Fireball XL5 in 1962, reaching #32 on the UK Singles Chart.[1]


Early life

Spencer was born and raised in Tamworth, New South Wales. He had a love of hockey as a teenager and played in the Australian championships. He left Australia at age seventeen and travelled to Africa where he trained with the Kenyan Olympic hockey team in his twenties. It was a chance meeting with Roger Whittaker in Nairobi that inspired Spencer to buy a guitar and start a career as a singer/songwriter.[2]

Career debut

In the early 60's Spencer moved to London and became a well-known singer, supporting such acts as The Rolling Stones, the Four Seasons, The Hollies and Marianne Faithfull. Spencer eventually had his first hit on the His Master's Voice label, "Fireball", the theme song for the TV series of the same name, written by Barry Gray. Other singles included "Busy Doing Nothing", "Worried Mind", "Marriage Is For Old Folks", and a cover of The Beatles' song "In My Life". Spencer presented his own teenage pop show, Gangway!, for seven years, then co-hosted Pop-In. He later appeared in such television comedies as Face it With Ronnie Barker. Returning to Australia, he appeared on Bandstand, and acted in Sons and Daughters, Return to Eden, and the 1974 film Barry McKenzie Holds His Own.[3]

By 1977 Spencer wrote his own song called "What's A Pommie?".

Children's entertainment

By the late 70's Spencer was invited to become presenter on Play School, simultaneously in Australia and England, a role he continued for seventeen years, the only presenter ever to be on both versions of the show. During this period he recorded and released albums that helped to educate children mostly about the many species of Australian animals, and they in turn had received awards for gold and platinum sales.[4]

Spencer was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on Australia Day, 26 January 2007 for service to children's music and television as a songwriter and performer, and through the establishment of the Australian Children's Music Foundation.[4][5][6] In 2008, Don was awarded for Excellence in Community Support presented by Support Act Limited.[4][7]

Personal life

Spencer is the father of Danielle Spencer[6] and father-in-law of Russell Crowe.[8][9]



  • "Fireball"/"I'm All Alone Again" - His Master's Voice (HMV POP 1087) (1962) (UK #32)[1]
  • "Busy Doing Nothing"/"The Joker" - His Master's Voice (HMV POP 1186) (1963)
  • "Worried Mind"/"Give Give Give A Little" - His Master's Voice (HMV POP 1205) (1963)
  • "Pride is Such a Little Word"/"For Love" - His Master's Voice (HMV POP 1306) (1964)
  • "Why Don't They Understand"/"Marriage is for Old Folks" - Page One (POF 006) (1966)
  • "Ode to War"/"My Silent Friend" - Clarion (MCK-3612) (March 1970)
  • "What's a Pommie?"/"The Last Time" - Interfusion (K-6868) (1977)


  • Have a Beaut Day - ABC Music (1984)
  • Feathers, Fur or Fins - ABC Music (1985)
  • Don Spencer's Thumbs Up Australia - ABC Music (1985)
  • Australian and Animal Songs for Kids - MCA Music Australia (1989)
  • Don Spencer's Songs from Feathers, Fur or Fins - ABC Music (1989)
  • Don Spencer's Australia for Kids - ABC Records (1989)
  • Let's Have Fun - ABC Music (1990)
  • Stories and Songs - ABC Music (1991)
  • Best of Don Spencer - ABC Music (1991)
  • Don Spencer's Walkabout - ABC Records (1992)
  • Don Spencer from Play School sings 21 Children's Favourites - ABC Music (1995)
  • Don Spencer Australian Classics - ABC Music/EMI (1997)
  • Its a Beautiful Colourful World - ABC Music/EMI (1999)
  • Don and Blinky's Outback Adventure - the Lost Cooee - ABC Music (2002)
  • The Ultimate Collection - ABC Music (2007)


  • Don Spencer's Thumbs Up! Australia Don Spencer: ABC Books (Sydney, NSW) (1993) ISBN 0733302319
  • 1001 Cool Jokes with Don Spencer Don Spencer, Glen Singleton, Nick Bryant: Hinker Book (Dingley, Victoria) (2000) ISBN 1865151823



  1. ^ a b "Fireball". Chart Stats. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Don Spencer & ACMF". Idealogical Pty Ltd. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  3. ^ "Don Spencer". IMDb. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Board members". Australian Children's Music Foundation. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Local heroes honoured". The Northern Daily Leader. 25 January 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Eliezer, Christie (30 January 2007). "Aussie Day". Christie Eliezer's Music Business News. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Braithwaite, Alyssa (23 September 2008). "Don Spencer to be recognised for services to kids' music" (pdf). Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Mollard, Angela. "Is this the woman who can tame Russell Crowe?". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Corcoran, Rachel (17 February 2010). "Mrs Russell Crowe launches her singing career". Daily Express. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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