Veteran broadcaster Phillip Leishman dies

17:51, Feb 26 2013
PHILLIP LEISHMAN: Was a regular on New Zealand screens since making his first television appearance on Dunedin regional station DNTV2.

Timaru friends and family of broadcaster Phillip Leishman are remembering the "warm and caring man" who died after battling an aggressive form of cancer.

Mr Leishman grew up in Timaru, attending St Patrick's High School - now Roncalli College.

Speaking to the Herald, Mark Leishman said his brother still held the Roncalli College record for the 100 yard sprint.

"It was known as St. Patricks High School then. He was the top try scorer for the First XV and he still holds the 100 yards record. That was in 1969. The next year the system was changed to metres."

Both brothers were heavily involved with the South Canterbury Drama League.

"Phillip just loved performing. He moved into radio, then television. He left Timaru, then got a job in Wellington as a clerk as it was always his aim to get into radio."


Their parents, Dave and Noeline Leishman, who had a grocers shop on North St, retired to Auckland 26 years ago, where their 92-year-old mother still lives. Their father died two years ago.

Mark Leishman said his brother died very peacefully, surrounded by his three children.

"I was there with my brother and sister; he wasn’t in any pain. We've just been overwhelmed by support.

When you look at his upbringing he was groomed for broadcasting."

Former Green Party Rangitata candiate Kate Elsen, whose sister Jo is married to Mark Leishman, said there had been an outpouring of love for Mr Leishman in recent days.

"A lot of people have been sharing their own little stories. It's really good to know the Leishman boys are remembered here."

Ms Elsen fondly recalled family gatherings where Mr Leishman was the life and soul of the party. "He was a warm and caring man."

Leishman, 61, was operated on for a brain tumour in March 2012. The operation was a success but the cancer recently returned.

Leishman, once host of Wheel of Fortune, but most recently seen appearing on popular television production the HSBC Golf Club, first appeared on Dunedin regional station DNTV2 in the 1970s.

From there he moved to the nightly network bulletin as a sports news presenter, covering Olympic and Commonwealth Games between 1976 and 1998.

He worked on Turf Talk with Glynn Tucker in the mid to late 1970s, and hosted 1250 episodes of quiz show Wheel of Fortune alongside Lana Coc-Kroft in the early and mid 1990s.

In 1997 he joined up with journalist Phil Smith to form company Uplink, now Sportinc, to produce the golf programme which he has described as probably his most satisfying role.

In 2011 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting and the community.

Leishman said in an interview late last year that he wanted to be remembered as a "natural broadcaster" who loved his job.

Ms Elsen shared this video of the Leishman brothers singing Snoopy's Christmas on Facebook.