A friend “very high up in the media world who has been tapping the phones in Australia House for many years” gave Barry Humphries an inkling. “I can’t tell you his name; he is married to a Chinese girl. He said it was between me and Julian Assange and it turned out to be me.”
In his acceptance speech after being named Australian of the Year in the UK, comedy legend Humphries borrowed a celebrated quote from that same unnamed friend’s comments to a British parliamentary committee on phone hacking in 2011, “This is the most humble day of my life.”
He won the award, presented at a ceremony at Australia House in London, after a 50-year theatre career, highlighted by his alter egos “priapic and inebriated cultural attaché” Sir Les Patterson, archetypal Aussie bloke Barry “Bazza” McKenzie and housewife “gigastar” Dame Edna Everage. The latter would be jealous, he said. “Well it’s about time really, I think.”
Seventy-seven-year-old Humphries already holds the title of Officer of the Order of Australia. Wine writer Matthew Jukes was named Honorary Australian of the Year and the Young Australian of the Year award went to fashion consultant Yasmin Sewell.