ANTHONY G EVANS (1931-2018)
Born 6 July 1931 died 3 January 2018 aged 86, journalist and author
Anthony (Tony) Evans worked as a writer, reporter, presenter and producer for ABC radio and
television in Western Australia between 1961 and 1989 before leaving the ABC to concentrate on
Born in Surrey in 1931 he started his working life as a purser with the Peninsular & Oriental Steam
Navigation Company (P&O). Soon after he became General Secretary of the “Catholic Film Institute
of London”, an organisation that promoted films considered to have a higher degree of moral
message. They were not necessarily films with a religious message but those that contained a little
more depth than the Hollywood of the day. The Institute provided Tony with the opportunity to
venture into the world of intellectual entertainment and Tony’s heart was always in film and stories.
In 1956 he travelled to Brussels and Luxembourg for a conference of the Institute’s parent, the
“Organisation Catholique Internationale du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel” (OCIC). He then travelled via
Paris to Venice to the Venice Film Festival, where the OCIC Award went to “Calabuch” a film by Luis
Garcia Berlanga. His world was burgeoning and as a 25 year old Tony was ready to grow with it.
Later in 1956 he met a Western Australian girl Claire Kelly who had come to work at the Institute. At
the time Tony was in the last stages of promoting a Spanish film “The Miracle of Marcelino”. Claire
was to became Tony’s life’s love.
Over the following years Tony worked closely on a number of films with the then aspiring British film
maker Ken Russell. One film was the 1958 production “Amelia and the Angel”, sponsored by the
British Film Institute Experimental Film Fund and made partly to celebrate Russell’s conversion to
Catholicism. The film showed sufficient promise and inventiveness to attract the attention of the
BBC’s arts documentary producer Huw Wheldon who then offered Russell a film making position
with the BBC. Tony is credited as co-writer, producer and assistant director on “Amelia and the
Tony married Claire in London on 1 July 1960 and in 1961 they moved to Claire’s home town of
Perth, Western Australia to live. On arrival in Perth Tony started working with the ABC as a radio
announcer and eventually worked his way towards a position in TV current affairs.
In 1961 the ABC changed its approach to news reporting based on the BBC’s “Panorama” program.
Somewhat controversial at the time it took to analysing the details and circumstances behind the
news including in-depth interviews with the politicians and chief executives of the day. This was a
marked contrast to the more formal and rather bland news reporting that was then the traditional
style of news reporting.
The new fashion started with the weekly “Four Corners” program. Still the longest running current
affairs program on Australian television, “Four Corners” premiered on 19 August 1961 and in the
1960s was hosted by the likes of Michael Charlton, Gerald Lyons, Frank Bennett, Robert Moore, John
Penlington, Richard Oxenburgh, Robert Moore, John Temple and Mike Willesee.
Later the trend towards in-depth analysis of news and current affairs was extended to “This Day
Tonight”. This first went to air in Sydney and Melbourne in 1967 as a nightly current affairs program
in the 7.30pm Monday to Friday timeslot. Soon after it was produced in every State of Australia –
the Western Australian version being called “Today Tonight” – and Tony was a key player as one of
the show’s first on air presenters. Produced by Bruce Buchanan the team also included Ken Moore,
Tom Hall, John Hudson, John Davies and Jim Fitzmaurice.
Tony and Claire’s daughters Emily and Alice were born in 1964 and 1968. In 1970 Tony was awarded
a Churchill Fellowship to broaden his experience in TV broadcasting and he left Perth with his family
to work at the BBC in London. He returned to Perth in 1971 and made a number of documentaries
including “The Stones Cry Out” (1974) on the architecture of Monsignor John Cyril Hawes and “Hands
of Gold” (1976) a documentary drama on the 1926 murder of policemen in the Western Australian
goldfields. After his work with ABC TV Tony returned to ABC Radio and produced a range of shows
that included radio plays on a wide range of topics and morning book readings.
Tony published four detailed biographies of characters of Australian history. His first published book
was “The Conscious Stone” (1984) a biography of the priest-architect Monsignor Hawes which won
the WA Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction. Subsequent books included “Fanatic Heart, A life
of John Boyle O’Reilly 1844-1890” (1997) which was short-listed for the National Biography Prize. His
best seller was “C .Y. O’Connor, His Life and Legacy” (2001) while his last book “William Wardell –
Building With Conviction” (2010) portrayed the architect whose crowning works were the two cathedrals, St Mary’s in Sydney and St Patrick’s in Melbourne.
In 1993 Tony established what was to become the Australian Chesterton Society. He was its
inaugural President and converted it into a national association in 2000. He was the founding editor
of the Society’s newsletter ‘The Defendant’ until his retirement in 2013. The Society is now a
national association devoted to fostering an appreciation of G.K. Chesterton’s writings and the value
of his thought in contemporary Australia. Tony also wrote articles and reviews for various cultural
journals, notably Annals Australasia and The Chesterton Review to which he contributed an
important article in 2002, “Chesterton on Air: The Writer and Broadcaster”. Tony also carried a
passion for classical music and as well as attending many recitals for a time he contributed to the
organisation of the WA String Quartet.
Tony and Claire lived for many years in Palmerston Street, Mosman Park and then Marmion Street,
East Fremantle. In 2014 they moved to England to be closer to their two daughters and their two
grandchildren Edward and Molly. He died peacefully with his family at his side.
ABC Perth Today Tonight 1967
Ken Moore, Tom Hall, Bruce Buchanan, John Hudson, John Davies, Jim Fitzmaurice (on phone), Tony Evans
Tony and Claire 2014, Marmion Street East Fremantle