Donald Monat was born in London, but when he was 11 years old,
his family moved to South Africa where he continued his
schooling and subsequently went to university. At the age of 16,
Donald had won his first acting role in Johannesburg and soon
became a regular performer in radio drama. This was shortly
followed by a return to England in 1949, to appear in a number
of stage plays in London, one of which would prove to be a very
important engagement, for it brought him together for the first
time with his future wife June Dixon, another Londoner, who was
also in the company. They were playing the husband and wife
leads in a revival of J.B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner.
Donald and June went back to Johannesburg in 1950 to start up
one of the very first independent radio production companies in
South Africa. They produced about fifteen shows a week for the
newly-created Springbok Radio, the commercial service of the
South African Broadcasting Corporation. After two years of
hectic work, the couple went back to London in 1952, where they
worked extensively in the theatre, doing plays and revues.
Donald and June also made appearances in television and radio
programmes and made several short films. One of them, Five
Guineas A Week (1956), was nominated for the Royal Command
Film Performance and opened at the Odeon Leicester Square with
The Spanish Gardener. During this period in the Fifties,
Donald and June also created one of the first original musical
comedies for British television, The Straker Special,
which starred June Whitfield and Dennis Quilley. As the decade
drew to a close, Donald and June found another continent opening
its doors to them, and in 1960, they went to work in Canada for
two years, working mainly in radio for CBC, but also making
appearances on the stage and writing and directing documentary
return to South Africa in 1962 saw Donald Monat and June Dixon
soon becoming stars of radio comedy with their own weekly
programmes, which included The ABC Show, Dr.
Livingstone - I Presume?, The Loudspeaker Show,
Stop The Tape - I Want To Get Off!, Mafeking Has Been
Relieved, Son Of Livingstone, and Cool.
The majority of these
programmes were performed and recorded in front of studio
audiences with live music from orchestras and groups, very much
in the style of the classic BBC comedy shows.
In addition to their comedy
appearances, Donald and June also worked as actors or writers
and directors in dozens of other shows, not least of which was
The Avengers, in which Donald played the central
character, John Steed, and June would occasionally appear in
guest roles. Donald and June worked in South African radio for a
period of twenty years (1962-1982), and they played in well over
two thousand radio programmes during this time.
In the Seventies and early
Eighties, Donald and June, while continuing their radio work,
also moved into films and television in South Africa. Their
first feature, written by themselves and entitled Fraud!
(1974), was a low-budget thriller directed by Donald, with June
playing one of the lead roles. This was followed up with another
directorial project for Monat, The Snatchers, in 1974.
The couple also wrote and starred in a prime time comedy TV
series called The Saturday Show and wrote and produced an
original TV musical based on O. Henry's famous short story,
The Gift Of The Magi.
Finally, in 1984, they moved
to Los Angeles, USA, where they have settled, working mainly as
writers and producers of corporate multi-media presentations.
Although radio drama is virtually non-existent in America,
Donald Monat still undertakes voice work engagements for
narration, commercials and books-on-tape. One of Donald and
June's audiobooks is English ... As She Is Spoke!, a
highly entertaining dissertation on the many ways in which our
crazy language is used and abused.
by Alan Hayes with Donald