Joint 1st A Smiling Woman Killed the Radio Star

Below is a letter written to Ita Buttrose, chairperson of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, dated March 5, 2020.

Archive number: 556098

Dear Ms Buttrose,

     My name is Malcolm Stead and I’m a famous radio actor with 

the wonderful ABC. As you know I have been playing the role of 

Tom Blitherstock the greengrocer in the weekly radio drama 

Happy Hour Street since 1988. Did I tell you, Ms Buttrose, that 

you look fabulous and not a day over 90? Anyway, Ms Buttrose, 

last week I was summoned to the new producer’s office for an 

intimate discussion without a cushion. To my utter disgust and 

rust I found myself seated in a small chair opposite the appalling 

Madeleine Shelvey-Jones, who was seated in a bigger chair 

looking down at me as though I was an impudent child. The 


     Ms Shelvey-Jones kept smiling throughout the interview and 

was constantly flicking her hair back. Most annoying. Anyway, 

though still smiling, she said that I was going to be written out of 

Happy Hour Street. Yes, me, written out! As the new producer of 

the show she wanted it to be more ‘young person’ and action 

focussed and that all the ‘old’ people in the show would be written 


     I was shocked to learn that Tom Blitherstock was to die of a 

sudden heart attack while serving Edna Sproat carrots! What has 

happened to standards I ask? 

     Ms Shelvey-Jones then had the audacity and auditing to say 

that I was losing my marbles and mangling my words on air. Yes, 

me, losing my marbles and mangling my words! How can a man 

who can name all twelve of the seven dwarfs backwards and 

sideways be losing his marbles and mangling and dangling his 

words I ask?  

     As you know, Ms Buttrose, and I do adore your new hairstyle, 

I found Ms Shelvey-Jones attack on me both an absolute ablution 

and an obnoxious oblong! 

     I digress. Now where am I? Oh, yes, the purpose of this letter is 

to appeal to you over the head of the dreadful Ms Shelvey-Jones 

and to present to you some new ideas and fears that might 

revitalise the show on the lines the hair-tossing Ms Shelvey-Jones 

might approve of. If only!

     Firstly, I suggest that Tom locates his birth certificate beneath 

the Brussels sprouts and discovers that instead of being 65 years 

old he is actually only 32. This would be in line with the ‘young 

person’ orientation and orifice desired by the despicable Ms 


     Secondly, I suggest that Tom becomes fond of the Hilary Birch 

character who is a sexy single mum at number 57. Tom and 

Hilary do naughty things in the bedroom and in three months 

Hilary gives birth to triplets, one of each sex. Tom then takes his 

new born kids sky diving as new parents often do. 

     Tom, for no apparent reason, then becomes a mercenary in 

some African country, the Congo say, while Hilary runs the shop. 

Tom then returns but is followed by ruthless killers who want to 

eliminate and elastoplasts him. He then hides up in the shop, 

behind the pumpkins, and a violent gun fight breaks out with the 

shop under siege. Despite bullets flying, Hilary serves customers 

while breast feeding all three babies and talking to customers 

about the latest revelations in New Idea. 

     Do you like it, Ms Buttrose? I do. I see this as adding 

excitement to the character and broadening the show away from 

the hum-drum boredom of suburban Happy Hour Street. 

     Tom then breaks the siege by running from the shop Rambo 

style and mowing down all the bad guys. Blood, guts and ruts 

everywhere!  After the slaughter Tom meets Mrs Prendergast, 

who is walking her pet poodle, and strokes it with a blood soaked 

hand, showing Tom’s gentle side after the slaughter.

     Mrs Prendergast then tells Tom that she voted Labor and that 

her poodle is ill but she can’t afford the vet’s fees. So, showing 

compassion and his hatred of dogs that vote Labor, Tom shoots it. 

     Encouraged by bloodlust and blood oranges Tom becomes a 

serial killer. Every week there is a gruesome murder in Happy 

Hour Street. But nobody knows its Tom disembowelling victims 

behind sacks of potatoes despite him being covered in blood 26 

hours a day, nine days a week.  

     After six episodes of this mayhem Tom realises his calling is 

selling fruit and vegetables. Encouraged by Hilary, who read in 

New Idea how to convert serial killers into greengrocers, he 

retires from being a serial killer and goes back to his old job, 

although he does poison the odd customer. 


What do you think, Ms Buttrose? I eagerly await your reply,

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Stead

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