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Three Minute Squiz With… Tamara Oudyn

2 June 2020




Tamara Oudyn is ABC TV’s Melbourne news presenter and journo. Her Twitter profile says she’s also good at reverse parking and self-administering eyedrops which adds up to be a very impressive CV indeed. Please welcome the keen Squizer to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.

How and where to do you Squiz?
First thing in bed, moments after my alarm, squinting one-eyed into my phone.

You’re a Brissie girl originally – heading into winter must be a rude reminder that you’re from up north – or are you a true Melburnian now?
I’ve lived in Melbourne for nearly 20 years, but it’s actually the end of winter that I still struggle with. Every Grand Final Day I’m incredulous at how cold it is. You’d think I would have accepted that by now, but no. It feels like winter goes forever.

You have quite the CV as a journalist. Is there a particular story that’s stuck with you?
I worked the court round for the ABC when many of Melbourne’s gangland figures were going through the system. One quiet afternoon, my radio colleague and I dropped into the hearing for Tony Mokbel’s drug importation trial. He was a no-show. The dawning realisation he’d skipped bail was quite a moment.

You had big shoes to fill when beloved presenter Ian Henderson retired a couple of years back. How did you deal with the expectations that came with being his replacement?
I’d been presenting the weekend bulletins and other programs in Victoria for about 10 years when Hendo retired, so in a sense, the audience already knew me. But big shoes, absolutely – there’s only one Hendo. I’ve always tried to just be authentic – the audience can spot a phoney a mile away.

You came to our attention when The Squiz highlighted a story about a very special dress. What a wedding frock!
I know! It was a stylish navy blue number given to me by a lovely viewer named Rhonda. She’s in her 70s and had been casting about for someone to hand it on to for a few years. When she saw me wearing something vaguely similar on the news one night she figured she’d found a home for it. On the day she dropped it into the ABC at Southbank, we were in the midst of a particularly horrible news cycle – the fires were starting to take hold, the White Island volcanic eruption had just happened, and everything was feeling quite daunting and grim. Her kindness and generosity was a timely reminder that there is good in the world. I’ve worn her dress on-air a couple of times and we’re still in touch – she’s a wonderful human.

The Squiz is lucky to have a number of Australia’s top female TV journos as readers and podcast listeners, your ABC stablemates Leigh Sales and Lisa Millar included. We’re always blown away by the pressure that’s put on women on TV to look a certain way. How do you deal with that? And is getting better?
No it’s not, unfortunately. Someone recently wrote in to complain that I was showing too much flesh, which was laughable – aside from my head, my wrists and hands were the only flesh that was exposed. As for Twitter commentary, I console myself with the fact that I would never choose to spend time with the type of person who feels entitled to publicly critique a woman for her looks or her dress sense. I don’t do that, and neither does anyone I care about.

We get a sense from your Twitter feed that you’ll be glad to get your kids back to school… How has the last couple of months treated you?
Ha. It’s been an exercise in patience, deep breaths and lowering my expectations (mostly of myself), to be honest. Like most people doing the LFH/full-time work thing, we just did our best. And if we could get through the day without anyone crying, I’d chalk it up as a win.

What’s the key to a good reverse park?
Having someone nearby who’s happy to high-five you when you absolutely nail it.

What’s you favourite recipe OR favourite meal at your favourite restaurant?
I’m on a bit of a Samin Nosrat jag at the moment (Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat*). My best friend and I made her pesto and then sat there inhaling it. Neither of us spoke for quite some time and mopped up every skerrick from the bowl with chunks of bread. Good times.

Name four people – living or dead – you would love to have at your next dinner party.
At this point of 2020 I’d settle for a rotating course-led roster of all my mates – it’s been a while. Throw in Roisin Murphy, who’s done some excellent iso-work singing and dancing in her loungeroom and it would be a fun time. She looks like a hoot.

What’s your favourite book?
Worse Things Happen at Sea by William McInnes and Sarah Watt.

All-time favourite TV show?
The Wire. It’s the only series I’ve watched end-to-end twice. The writing and characters are outstanding. And Stringer Bell.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Assertiveness. Sometimes it’s nice for people to just have a bit of shush, observe and listen.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story we should know about?
It perplexes me that we don’t focus more on those who’ve lost their lives to coronavirus. The daily creeping tally is so de-humanising. These were all people who lived and were loved – I think we should be hearing more about them.

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