William John Fennell [4] [3] (20 January 1920 – 9 September 1992) was an Australian radio, television (serials and mini-series), stage and film actor, comedian, producer and writer who appeared in many Australian television series in a lengthy career spanning over 50 years, recognised by his slightly nasal, raspy voice, moustache and pork pie hat [4]


He was born to William Hugh Fennell, a vocational trainer, and his wife Alma Doris (née Tie). After finding employment as a salesman, before World War II beckoned, he served with Citizen Military Forces and then the Australian Imperial Force. After being promoted to sergeant he was discharged, taking a position with the Department of Civil Aviation Civil Aviation Force.

He became interested in scriptwriting. As character Phooey Fennell , a BBC race caller he started appearing on radio programs and scripted and starred in the popular radio series Life With Dexter during the 1950s and 1960s, which was also sold to New Zealand and South Africa radio, and also wrote a series of books collecting the scripts of the radio show including Life with Dexter , Dexter Loses His Head , Dexter Sings , More Life with Dexter , My Third Life with Dexter , The Desert Island Wreckers , Dexter's Court , Dexter's Fit , Dexter Gets the Point , Car-razy Life with Dexter , Dexter and Ashleigh Muddle On and Dexter Detects . Fennell also wrote a book of poetry and humorous sketches entitled Mad Stuff . After the advent of television to Australia, he became a notable character actor, appearing in numerous stage productions, most notably Alan Seymour's The One Day of the Year .

Film roles included Cathy's Child , Hoodwink and the mini-series A Fortunate Life . On television, he was well known for roles in the 1970s and 1980s, including played Arthur Simmonds on a recurring basis in The Young Doctors from 1976 to 1978, and also appeared on Sons and Daughters as Spider Webb in the mid-1980s. He regularly appeared in A Country Practice in various roles. He appeared in G.P. , Chopper Squad , The Flying Doctors and Mother and Son .

Personal life

On 30 November 1946 Fennell married Joy Therese Hawkins, divorcing her in 1975. He was the father of Susan Fennell and Jane Fennell, best known as "Miss Jane" on the Australian children's television show Mr. Squiggle .