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Humphries family to boycott memorial

19 November 2023 No Comment

Humphries family to boycott memorial                     by Briana DomjenFriends and family of late comedian Barry Humphries are “aghast” Richard Wilkins has been enlisted to MC his memorial — and some won’t be attending in protest.Barry Humphries’ “many lives” will be celebrated in a special state memorial at the Sydney Opera House next month, but an apparent difference of opinion between his widow, Lizzie Spender, and others, including Humphries’ daughter Emily, means many friends and family will not attend the event, which is being co-hosted by the Australian and NSW governments.Professor Ross Fitzgerald, 78, a friend of Humphries for more than 60 years, said Wilkins was the wrong choice for the service. “Like a number of Barry’s friends, I was amazed and aghast that Channel 9 personality Richard Wilkins was chosen to be the MC at this important event, Barry’s memorial,” said Fitzgerald.“I am also very puzzled how this happened. I had someone contact the NSW Premier’s department, who said that everything had been run past Lizzie Spender and the children and had their approval.“But that is just not true. Emily Humphries, for example, was not aware Richard Wilkins would be emceeing the event. I find it very hard to believe that members of the family and the children for example would have approved this.”The Sunday Telegraph has seen unambiguous evidence that Emily was not consulted and is also surprised by the choice of Wilkins. She will not be attending.While Fitzgerald, a historian, said Wilkins was a “nice bloke” and that he knows Humphries “enjoyed his interviews”, he believes the veteran entertainment reporter is “the wrong choice”.“It is important for me to stress, Richard Wilkins seems to be a nice bloke, but like a number of Barry’s friends, he seems to us and to me and to Emily to be an inappropriate choice.“He certainly seems to me to have no gravitas and little if any sense of humour.“I wish the memorial all the best, but I am not going.”When contacted on Saturday, Wilkins said: “I had the enormous pleasure of spending a great deal of    personal and professional time with Barry over many decades … and developed profound love and respect for him”.“I was honoured and humbled to be asked by Barry’s family to perform the role of MC at his state memorial.”Fitzgerald did say that despite being born in Melbourne, Humphries would be elated that his memorial would be held in Sydney, not his home state.“Barry loathed the Daniel Andrews government and all it stood for, and he was deeply hurt and distressed by the way he was treated by the Melbourne Comedy Festival, ” he said.“He didn’t want his memorial in Melbourne.”Professor Fitzgerald was friends with the comedian, actor, author and satirist for more than six decades, with Humphries having introducing him to his late wife of 45 years.“I was a close friend of Barry Humphries for 61 years,” he said.“We drank together, got sober together, and worked together.“Barry Humphries introduced me to my late wife Lyndal Moor on November the 5th 1974.”The NSW government said: “All decisions regarding the State Memorial … have been approved by the family.”The Sunday Telegraph, November 19, 2023, p 5.Humphries family to boycott memorial                     by Briana DomjenFriends and family of late comedian Barry Humphries are “aghast” Richard Wilkins has been enlisted to MC his memorial — and some won’t be attending in protest.Barry Humphries’ “many lives” will be celebrated in a special state memorial at the Sydney Opera House next month, but an apparent difference of opinion between his widow, Lizzie Spender, and others, including Humphries’ daughter Emily, means many friends and family will not attend the event, which is being co-hosted by the Australian and NSW governments.Professor Ross Fitzgerald, 78, a friend of Humphries for more than 60 years, said Wilkins was the wrong choice for the service. “Like a number of Barry’s friends, I was amazed and aghast that Channel 9 personality Richard Wilkins was chosen to be the MC at this important event, Barry’s memorial,” said Fitzgerald.“I am also very puzzled how this happened. I had someone contact the NSW Premier’s department, who said that everything had been run past Lizzie Spender and the children and had their approval.“But that is just not true. Emily Humphries, for example, was not aware Richard Wilkins would be emceeing the event. I find it very hard to believe that members of the family and the children for example would have approved this.”The Sunday Telegraph has seen unambiguous evidence that Emily was not consulted and is also surprised by the choice of Wilkins. She will not be attending.While Fitzgerald, a historian, said Wilkins was a “nice bloke” and that he knows Humphries “enjoyed his interviews”, he believes the veteran entertainment reporter is “the wrong choice”.“It is important for me to stress, Richard Wilkins seems to be a nice bloke, but like a number of Barry’s friends, he seems to us and to me and to Emily to be an inappropriate choice.“He certainly seems to me to have no gravitas and little if any sense of humour.“I wish the memorial all the best, but I am not going.”When contacted on Saturday, Wilkins said: “I had the enormous pleasure of spending a great deal of    personal and professional time with Barry over many decades … and developed profound love and respect for him”.“I was honoured and humbled to be asked by Barry’s family to perform the role of MC at his state memorial.”Fitzgerald did say that despite being born in Melbourne, Humphries would be elated that his memorial would be held in Sydney, not his home state.“Barry loathed the Daniel Andrews government and all it stood for, and he was deeply hurt and distressed by the way he was treated by the Melbourne Comedy Festival, ” he said.“He didn’t want his memorial in Melbourne.”Professor Fitzgerald was friends with the comedian, actor, author and satirist for more than six decades, with Humphries having introducing him to his late wife of 45 years.“I was a close friend of Barry Humphries for 61 years,” he said.“We drank together, got sober together, and worked together.“Barry Humphries introduced me to my late wife Lyndal Moor on November the 5th 1974.”The NSW government said: “All decisions regarding the State Memorial … have been approved by the family.”The Sunday Telegraph, November 19, 2023, p 5.

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