June Dixon was born in London, and like her husband Donald Monat, started her professional career in acting, working mainly in the theatre. Indeed the couple first met when in the cast of a 1949 play - J.B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner - in London's West End. 

June and Donald travelled 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. They 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, they 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, June and her husband 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 films.

A return to South Africa in 1962 saw June and Donald soon becoming stars of radio comedy with their own weekly programmes, which included hits such as The ABC Show (left), 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 musical accompaniment from orchestras and groups. These shows were recorded very much in the same way as the classic BBC comedy shows of the same era.

In addition to their comedy appearances, the couple 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. They 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, June and Donald, while continuing their radio work, also moved into films and television in South Africa. Their first feature, written by themselves and entitled Fraud (1973), was a low-budget thriller directed by Donald, with June playing one of the lead roles. 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, they still undertake 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 Monat

 

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