Noni HSazelhurst: 'I would sometimes start to cry, and they would start a slow handclap and say "oh, BAFTA"', Logies Hall of Fame - 2016

 8 May 2016, Crown Palladium, Melbourne, Australia

 Thank you Steve Molk at for sharing his transcription. Great Australian TV site.

Aw, that was interrrminable, I was nearly too old to play myself.

Wow. 43 years is a long time, and yet it seems like an instant. So much so this seems like somewhat of a shock. I'm very honoured and I'm very humbled and I thank you.

The Logies people wouldn't let me see that package before now. They wanted me to cry, well job done, guys, thanks a lot.

I'm feeling pretty misty-eyed at the moment but I often get misty-eyed about things. As you heard I'm known for it. If something touches my heart I cry pretty readily.

In fact when my sons were teenagers and driving me up the wall and trying to get a reaction so they could watch me go off like a frog in a sock, I would sometimes start to cry, and they would start a slow handclap and say "oh, BAFTA". Which of course would make me laugh, thus proving their point.

But I was disturbed this week that a misty-eyed response to a particularly frightful human story in the news was deemed inappropriate, and we were exhorted not to feel, not to have empathy, not to love.

I think of myself as a storyteller and since forever stories have been crafted and told to help us make sense of the world and to realise that we're not alone. So whether it was finding more tips than a tin of asparagus during ten years on Better Homes and Gardens; or playing the role of a mother who's been estranged from her son because he was gay in the extraordinary, ground-breaking series Redfern Now, I've always tried to find stories that resonated on an human, empathetic level.

Projects that existed to encourage people to feel and reflect and let me tell you that's narrowed the field of what I've wanted to do considerably.

I was known for turning down more than I accepted for a while.

But if something didn't seem to have value for me then I couldn't expect it to for anyone else. But I have been incredibly lucky and I firmly believe that success in this business at least - I don't know about any others - is fifty percent luck and fifty percent hard work.

And I have been so lucky. My first stroke of luck was being born to parents who, as Shane said in the package, were vaudevillians in England just prior to World War Two, and after the war England was buggered and Vaudeville was dead, killed off by John Logie Baird's invention of television, so as ten pound Poms my parents came here in 1953, (and ) I was born.

We got TV for the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 - don't worry, I'm not going through every year, it's OK. So from the age of 3, once Mum and Dad noticed I had some ability and passion for performing, I was brought up on a diet of English comedies featuring people they'd worked with and great variety shows. Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Dean Martin - the best entertainers of their time.

I learned at my parent's knees comedy timing, accents, singing. I had ballet, piano, calisthenics lessons. Mum and Dad were incredibly critical of much of what increasingly became to be offered as entertainment, having worked with and watched some of the best.

My Mum said, "You can always tell a lousy act: they use lots of tricky lighting. The good ones just stood in the spotlight and did it."

They made me understand that the industry didn't owe me a living and that I had to be able to do anything and everything - great lessons indeed.

They taught me how to act. What they didn't teach me, as I suspect no one had taught them, and because it wasn't encouraged especially for girls, was how to be myself.

Play School was the next stroke of luck.

Under the tutelage of Henrietta Clark and the late Allan Kendall I learned the tenets of the Play School philosophy, formed by a most rare and wonderful respect, love and understanding of its target audience: a single pre-school child.

Once I got over my own self-consciousness and self-judgement and started to relax I realised this child was far more demanding than any audience of adults. Three and four year olds have the best bullshit detectors, don't they? They don't just watch you because you're there, they want connection and they want real engagement.

If they sense you're not really talking to them an ant crawling up the wall will quickly take their attention.

For many decades Play School has been an icon, an oasis and a safe haven in an increasingly complex media landscape and world. I started to see the world through a pre-schooler's eyes; to see how free and unafraid they are to just "be". They haven't yet been conditioned. But also how easily frightened and overwhelmed they are, how easily abused, and particularly how empathetic they are.

No child is born a bigot.

The TV landscape when I started Play School in '78 was very different: four channels, no 24/7 news, no 24/7 anything. It was much easier to protect children from images and information they couldn't assimilate.

But with the explosion of technology and the proliferation of screens we can't escape exposure to bad news and violent images. They're everywhere - at the Dentist's, on buses - and most of us, not just kids, find the bombardment overwhelming.

I suspect that almost none of us here, or watching, is immune from the growing incidence of depression, anxiety and suicide. We all know people who are struggling. We may be ourselves, and too many of our kids are.

We're all living under a heavy and constant cloud of negativity. We're divided against each other and our fellow human beings; we find it hard to trust; and we're fearful for the future, and I think it's because we're surrounded by bad news and examples of our basest human behaviour.

I fear that our hearts are growing cold.

The fact that I'm only the second woman to be given this honour is only a reflection of the prevailing zeitgeist. As is the odious suggestion in some quarters that the eligibility of our esteemed colleagues Waleed Aly and Lee Lin Chin to be considered for the Gold is questionable.

But things are clearly changing. Here we are. But they're changing glacially slowly. The great thing about glaciers is that if you're not on them, you go under. I've been riding that glacier for 40 years, and I'm staying on top of it.

Graeme Blundell once wrote about me, saying, "No one does ordinary and vulnerable like Noni Hazlehurst." Yeah, that's what I thought at first. But then I thought, "that's OK, because we're all vulnerable and we're all ordinary." Although a lot of our energy is spent trying to prove the opposite.

Play School works because it reflect life as many of us actually live it, and the people on it are real. Shows featuring clips of dogs and cats work because dogs and cats are real and recognisable. They're spontaneous and truly alive. There's no fakery, no concocted animosity and no competition. No tricky lighting. Just lots of love.

So here's my pitch: I'd love a channel that features nothing but stories that inspire us and reassure us and our children that there are good things happening and good people in the world.

I know it's a lot to ask for, but at the very least a show that tries to redress this overwhelming imbalance; that counters bad news with good; that encourages optimism, not pessimism; that restores our empathy and love for our fellow human beings and the earth; that redefines reality; that heals our hearts.

And, by the way, I'm available.

There are plenty of vigorous advocates for the cause of division. I'm a vigorous advocate for the cause of unity.

This award has turned out to be the most wonderful Mother's Day present, not least of which because my dear sons get to spend Mother's Day here with me tonight. Charlie and William.

It also provides the opportunity to reflect on the qualities of mothering that are meaningful.

The ideal mother and father is someone who nurtures and protects us; who tells us stories to help make sense of the world; who gives us non-judgmental acceptance and unconditional love; who teaches us that we're not special, but we are unique; who encourages our empathetic instincts and teaches us the responsibility that we have to each other.

This is what we long for from our parents. And to be as parents.

Helen Clark, the ex-New Zealand PM, said in her pitch to become the new head of the UN, "Peace really matters to women." I hope that it really matters to us all and I hope that I can keep telling stories that reflect that.

I just want to quickly thank some people to whom I currently owe a great deal.

The legendary Bevan Lee who created the beautiful story about bigotry and intolerance, with great roles for women, that I'm lucky enough to be a part of - A Place To Call Home. And Brian Walsh, who recognised the audience's love for the show and he brought it back to life, and who has created an environment and a workplace of equality and inclusion that is a great privilege to be a part of. Thank you both, very much.

Thanks to my manager, Sue Muggleton, and my brother Cameron who used to make me laugh so much I wet the bed.

And to my boys, Charlie and William, for keeping me young, and making me old. I love you both to pieces.

Thank you all for this recognition. I'm very grateful.