celebrity

"Friendship is a very tricky thing." The behind-the-scenes dynamic of Roy and HG.

For 35 years, “Rampaging Roy Slaven” and “HG Nelsen” have been one of Australia’s most enduring comedy partnerships.

The pair, who are well known for their creative blend of satire and comedy, have been a staple on Australian radio and TV for decades.

But while Roy and HG have been presenting their affectionate yet irreverent parody of Australia’s obsession with sport for years, the men behind the altar egos – John Doyle (Roy) and Greig Pickhaver (HG) – have always been reluctant to share their own personal stories with the media.

Watch the trailer for Roy and HG’s interview on Australian Story below. Post continues after video.

Now, on Monday night’s episode of Australian Story, the pair are preparing to pull back the curtain on their career, as they open up about their childhoods, their friendship, and how their act works.

In a promo for the upcoming episode, the pair shared that although they have worked together for 35 years, they actually rarely socialise outside of work.

“We’ve probably dined together, our families, maybe 10 times in 35 years,” Doyle said.

“And I think it’s a protective thing that we don’t want to sully or somehow disturb whatever the rainbow connection is that makes this thing work,” he added.

“We’ve never discussed it, but I think that’s probably at the back of his mind as it is the back of mine.”

Speaking to Australian Story, Pickhaver agreed with Doyle’s sentiments.

“Friendship is a very tricky thing because we’re colleagues who ad-lib,” he said.

“So when we get together and be friends, we amuse each other by being Roy and HG. The trouble is, we come to work and we think, ‘Well, we’ve done all this’.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Greig Pickhaver and John Doyle’s childhood

Throughout the years, Pickhaver and Doyle have spoken little about their own personal lives or childhoods.

Pickhaver was born in Nuriootpa, South Australia to parents Beryl Skuce and Gordon Pickhaver, who was a World War II veteran.

Throughout his childhood, Pickhaver struggled through his school years as he suffered from dyslexia.

“People talk about childhood as the happiest days of your life,” he said on Australian Story, adding, “I couldn’t disagree more. I was just waiting to get old.”

Doyle was born in Lithgow, New South Wales. He had a brother, and three sisters, one of whom was autistic.

“The blinds were down, we didn’t see many people and I just invented a world that I sort of hid in,” he said.

After both leaving home at a young age, Pickhaver and Doyle eventually ended up in Sydney.

It was here in 1985 where the pair who would become Roy and HG found themselves sharing a caravan on the set of an Australia children’s television series.

Listen to the latest episode of The Quicky, Mamamia’s daily news podcast, below. Post continues after podcast.

The start of Roy and HG’s career

Before Greig Pickhaver and John Doyle met, Pickhaver had already invented the character HG Nelsen – an excitable sports announcer.

And now, he finally had a sidekick in Doyle, who became Rampaging Roy Slaven – a retired sportsman turned expert commentator.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1986, the pair launched their live, improvised radio show, This Sporting Life, on Triple J.

The satirical show was largely created as a parody of sporting panel shows, such as the 1980s radio show, Punter To Punter.

Although some listeners initially mistook the show for a legitimate sports show, This Sporting Life soon gained a loyal audience.

Since then, the show has become one of the longest-running radio shows in Australia, running from 1986 to 2008.

On top of This Sporting Life, Roy and HG also broadcast live commentaries of the NRL and AFL Grand Finals, the NRL’s State of Origin series, and the Melbourne Cup for many years.

They also took their show to ABC, appearing on TV shows including Blah Blah Blah, This Sporting Life, and Club Buggery, to name a few.

roy and HG australian story
Roy and HG in 1993. Image: Getty.

The 2000 Olympics

Roy and HG's most successful endeavor, The Dream with Roy and HG, featured their own special outlook on the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The late-night commentary-interview program, which aired on Channel Seven, was a pop culture sensation.

"If you ask people to name two things they remember about the Sydney Olympics, number one is Cathy Freeman winning gold, number two is Roy and HG," comedian Charlie Pickering said on Australian Story.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's their show that crystallised the whole thing for everyone."

During the Olympics, the pair's own mascot, Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat, even often overshadowed The Games' official mascots.

When winning a gold medal for the freestyle relay, swimmer Michael Klim was even seen holding Fatso, while his teammates held yellow kangaroos.

roy and HG australian story
Roy and HG on The Dream during the 2000 Olympics. Image: YouTube.

Roy and HG in 2020

In 2008, Roy and HG hung up their boots at Triple J, as they moved on to working at a number of radio stations, including Triple M and Macquarie Sports Radio.

In March 2020, the pair returned to ABC Radio to present a new weekly Saturday show titled, Bludging on the Blindside.

Although the pair's return to the ABC has coincided with COVID-19 and the temporary suspension of most sport across Australia, it hasn't affected Roy and HG too much.

"It's the perfect landscape for us because we're not encumbered by fact," Doyle told Australian Story.

"In fact, the less that's happening, the more it gives you the licence to talk about whatever you want."

Australian Story airs on Monday night at 8pm on ABC. 

Feature Image: Getty.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.


00:00 / ???