Today’s Birthday, March 13: British-born Australian broadcaster and journalist Mark Colvin (1952-2017).
Respected ABC journalist Mark Colvin characteristically had the final word before his death at age 65 last year.
“It’s all been bloody marvellous,” read a sign-off message on his popular Twitter account hours after news broke of the veteran reporter’s death in May.
Colvin, who had been battled a rare auto-immune illness for more than 20 years, left behind a legacy of unflinching reportage from some major world events, covering genocide, hostage crises and the end of the Cold War.
Born in London, England in 1952, Colvin’s childhood was anything but conventional with his British diplomat father secretly serving as a Cold War-era spy for MI6.
After completing an English honours degree at Oxford University, the gifted youngster moved to Australia in 1974 and joined the ABC as a cadet.
Colvin soon became one of the founding members of 2JJ, now triple J, after a short newsroom stint.
His 40-year affiliation with the public broadcaster took him all over the world, first as the ABC’s London correspondent and then as European correspondent in Belgium in the 1980s.
During that time he covered the American hostage crisis in Tehran and reported on the negotiations between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan that led to the end of the Cold War.
Colvin returned to Australia to work on current affairs show Four Corners between 1988 and 1992, but was re-posted to London for five years to report for Foreign Correspondent, The 7.30 Report and Lateline.
It was while on assignment covering the Rwandan genocide in 1994 that he contracted the rare autoimmune illness which led to kidney failure.
Colvin managed the disease after returning to Australia in 1997 to present ABC radio’s current affairs program PM.
In a strange turn of events, he received a kidney transplant in 2012 from Mary-Ellen Field, an Australian business consultant who worked for model Elle Macpherson.
Colvin had previously interviewed Field while investigating the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and the pair struck up a friendship.
The transplant story was later made into a stage play written by Tommy Murphy, Mark Colvin’s Kidney, which recently ran at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten led tributes for the elegant, erudite, gentleman of journalism.