Vale Phil Charley

Staff Writer

The Chaser once famously said "everyone's a top bloke when they die", or words to that effect.

The inference of that skit was obvious. But it wasn't written about people like Phil Charley, who passed away yesterday in Sydney with his family around him, he was 89.

Phil was a genuine salt of the earth guy with a big heart, a bigger smile, and a massive laugh. He was a top bloke through and through and I can honestly say I have never heard a single person say a bad word about him.

I first met Phil when I was 16 years old and had applied for the commercial radio course at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

I had made it through the first round of selection, and Dad had driven me up from Wollongong for the in-person interview.

Dad waited in the car whilst I got put through the ringer by Phil, along with Lois Baird, all of us sitting in the grassy area outside the school in Lyonpark Road in North Ryde on a beautiful Sydney spring day; I still remember the weather funnily enough.

I made it into the course, and spent the next few months learning from Phil (and Lois) with the other dozen or so new friends who were selected. He was tough, but always fair, and he had a strong paternal manner with all of us, which I probably appreciate more in hindsight than at the time, given how young I was.

Phil was inspirational, but of all the great things he did, and the terrific lessons he taught us; it is interesting how there often can be one memory of someone that stands out above others.

For some bizarre reason a memory of Phil that always comes to mind for me was his insistence on pronouncing 'kilometre' the correct way; that is 'kill-oh-metre" rather than "kill-omm-etre". Phil was adamant that we had to pronounce it the correct way; and he wasn't backward about pulling any of us up on it.

To this day I still pronounce kilometre the way Phil insisted. Funny how things stick with you.

Phil was an absolutely lovely, warm, kind-hearted man and for those of us who through those years were at AFTRS with him, he remained enormously respected and appreciated as our careers developed and progressed. He was absolutely a top bloke.

Thanks Phil. Peace.

pic: Phil and Marie Charley.

Read Keith Jacksons story of Phil here.

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