Tributes after death of ‘giant of radio’ Jonathan ‘Jono’ Coleman

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Tributes have been paid to radio and television presenter Jonathan Coleman who has died with prostate cancer.

The 65-year-old passed away peacefully on Friday with his wife and two children by his side, his family said.

Coleman, who was born in London, had a successful broadcasting career in both the UK and Australia.

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The popular, fast-talking veteran, known as Jono, first hit screens in 1979 and later teamed up with Ian ‘Dano’ Rogerson to become one half of the duo “Jono and Dano” in Australia.

After moving to the UK, he became one half of Virgin Radio’s Russ and Jono with Russell Williams in the mid-1990s.

Coleman’s family said they were announcing his death “with the heaviest of hearts” and that he had endured his cancer fight for four years.

In a statement tweeted by his son Oscar, the DJ’s wife Margot said her husband had been her soulmate “for close to 40 years”.

Jono Coleman
Jono Coleman and his family in London in 2004 (Ian West/PA)

She said: “We have been fortunate to have lived a rich and wonderful life and I have been lucky enough to watch up-close someone with enormous talent and the special gift to make people laugh.

“I will miss him beyond words and with the support of our gorgeous children, Oscar and Emily, and their partners, we will continue to live in the manner he wanted.”

She said her husband wanted to be remembered “for doing a good deed every day”, and she added that this reflected his “generosity and caring nature”.

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Speaking in 2018 about his cancer diagnosis, Coleman told Australia’s Studio 10: “Within like five minutes, he (the doctor) said ‘Yes, well, I can tell you your prostate is enlarged and there’s a sort of a hard lump so I’d say you’ve got cancer’.

“People say your life starts flashing before you. There was a touch of that, there was that kind of ‘OK, what am I going to do? We’ve got the kids, we’ve got Oscar and Emily’.”

Williams tweeted about his former colleague with pictures from their radio career, writing: “We had the best of times & right now it feels like the worst of times. My thoughts & love are with Margo, Emily, Oscar & Jono’s sister Sharon. Rest easy ‘Little buddy’ and ‘Thank You Very Much Indeed’. Blessed to have had him in my life.”

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Australian film star Russell Crowe paid tribute to the DJ as “a lovely man”.

Replying to Oscar Coleman’s tweet, the Gladiator actor said: “Hey Oscar, I’m really sorry to hear this news. Your dad was a lovely man. It must be an awful time for you right now. My deepest condolences.”

BBC Radio London also paid tribute to their former colleague, tweeting: “We are so sad at the news that our former colleague Jono Coleman has died from cancer at the age of 65. Our thoughts are with Jono’s wife Margot and his children today.”

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Australian comedian Adam Hills said Coleman had been “One of my early radio heroes, and one of the nicest people I ever met”.

He tweeted: “I used to wake up to his voice back when radio alarm clocks were a thing. A ball of positive energy who scaled the heights of the industry in both the UK and Australia.”

Presenter Jeremy Vine described Coleman as a “giant of radio”.

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Babe and Kath And Kim actor Magda Szubanski said she was “deeply sad” at news of Coleman’s death.

She tweeted: “What a terrible shame. Every time I saw him he was so damn warm and lovely and funny. My deepest condolences to his wife Margot, family and friends. RIP sweetheart.”

Author Kathy Lette, a long-time friend of the DJ and his neighbour in London, said he “lit up our days with love and laughter”.

She wrote: “RIP Jono Coleman – a lovley larrikin, whose appetite for life was as great as his passion for pies. Friends since our teens in Aussie TV land + neighbours in London (we called our street Vegemite Valley) he lit up our days with love + laughter. Sending love to Margot, Oscar + Em”.

The presenter’s family said they would “find the time to bring together all those close to him to celebrate his life when circumstances permit”.

They asked that people consider donating to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research or the Movember Foundation in place of flowers.

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