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Who is that Sandman?

So you want to know about me? I was born in Broken Hill in 1956.

My mum was born in Broken Hill and Mum and Dad met in Broken Hill as well. Dad was riding a motorbike across Australia when he and his cousin stopped in the Hill for a break. Dad was a keen reader so he went to the library to borrow some books. Mum was working in the library and whammo – the rest is history.

My dad was a boilermaker at the North Mine and heavily involved in starting Rugby Union and Rugby League in Broken Hill during the 1950’s. We left Broken Hill just before I turned three and I grew up in Wollongong, Newcastle and now I live in Sydney.

Every school holidays I stayed with my grandparents in Cobalt Street and hung out with my cousins. I still have relatives in the Hill. And I’m still an A – grouper.

If you have no idea who I am or what I’m talking about my name is Steve Abbott. Hi. I was a minor celebrity in the 1990’s, known mostly for playing a lugubrious phlegmatic character called The Sandman. I worked constantly during the 80’s in bands and doing stand up but it wasn’t until I started at the Australian youth radio network Triple J that I gained a national profile. I worked 8 years on the breakfast show with Mikey Robins, Helen Razor, Paul McDermott and Flacco. At the end of the 90’s I appeared as a regular on a TV show called Good News Week for the ABC and Channel Ten then other TV shows followed – like The Fat for ABC.

In early 2002 I did a documentary called Sandman in Siberia for SBS – my mother and I travelled to Siberia and actually found the place where her mother was born in a remote village called Shabolino. It was a wild ride filming in sub zero temperatures, discovering lost relatives, getting picked up by drunken crop dusters in a birch forest, appearing on Breakfast TV in Moscow and tracing where the Russian chapter of my family began and how they ended up in Broken Hill.

The success of this show led to me hosting a variety show on SBS – In Siberia Tonight then a comedy cricket show Under the Grandstand – set in the club rooms of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney Cricket club. Unrehearsed, in a room full of intoxicated people for 22 minutes of live TV during the lunch breaks in the 2005 ashes series in England. What could possibly go wrong? It exceeded one million viewers on occasions, a record for a variety TV show at SBS, or so I’m told.

In 2007 I started performing less. Now I work as a screenwriter in Australia and overseas.

I loved my week in Broken Hill making 13 TV commercials for the Broken Hill Community Credit Union. In between learning lines and filming I loved visiting Bells Cafe, The Palace Hotel and my old family home in Jabez Street again. And experiencing the hospitality of the friendly attractive Broken Hill Community Credit Union staff – that was a highlight.

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