Chair Profile: Rolf Harris

Celebrity Featured: Rolf Harris

About Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris, was born 30 March 1930 and is an Australian musician, composer, painter, and television host. Harris had experience in Perth on television in its early years, with his rapid drawing style and flair for amusing entertainment. He has been credited with inventing a simple homemade instrument called the wobble board. This discovery was accidentally made in the course of his work when he attempted to dry a freshly painted hardboard with added heat, from hearing the sound made by the board as he held the board by the short edges to cool off.

In 1959 he worked on TVW-7's first locally produced show Spotlight. During his time at TVW he recorded his hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. The song was recorded on a single microphone placed above him in the TV Studio. The song was sent to record company EMI in Sydney and it was soon released as a record. His biggest hit, however, was a gimmick-free rendering of the sentimental song "Two Little Boys" (1969), a departure for him in that he usually recorded either his own compositions or traditional songs. Harris also created one of his most famous roles in the 1960s, Jake the Peg.

He also made several television appearances in which he would paint pictures on large boards in a slapdash manner, with the odd nonsense song thrown in, but with detailed results. These led to a string of TV series based on his artistic ability, notably Rolf Harris's Cartoon Time on CBBC in the 1980s and Rolf's Cartoon Club on CITV in the early 1990s.

He is probably best known to younger Britons as the host of the reality television program Animal Hospital, which chronicled the real-life activity of a British veterinary practice. More recently, he presented Rolf on Art, which highlighted the work of some of his favourite artists, including van Gogh, Degas, Monet and Gauguin. It was successful enough to warrant a second series, and as of 2006, has made 5 series and several specials.

In November and December of 2002, under Charles Saumarez Smith's direction, London's National Gallery exhibited a collection of Harris's art. He was also commissioned to paint a portrait of HRH Queen Elizabeth II for her 80th birthday, which was unveiled on 19th December 2005. Rolf Harris was created a Commander of the British Empire on 17 June 2006, having previously been created a Member in 1968 and an Officer in 1977.