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Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke
Image - ABC

At a time of much public distrust of politicians, there’s a former Prime Minister who is still embraced by many in the electorate as ‘one of the mob’, Bob Hawke.

With the help of those closest to the action, Hawke: The Larrikin and The Leader tells his story and explores the realities and contradictions that made Hawke the leader he was. This riveting two-part documentary will air on the ABC and iview on consecutive Sundays, 11 and 18 February at 7.40pm.

From the moment he arrived on the national scene as a fiery trade unionist, Hawke’s leadership abilities were obvious.  But he was also a man beset by demons, whose personal life nearly torpedoed his career.

“A Bob Hawke today, behaving in the same manner, would never become prime minister – he’d have been buried long before he got near the parliament”– Graham Richardson

From his barnstorming arrival on the national scene, to his eventual exit as the first Labor Prime Minister to be deposed by his own party, this documentary examines the paradoxes and impact of Hawke’s leadership and legacy.

“Hawke was brilliant…in a Machiavellian way, genius…” – Bill Kelty

Hawke: The Larrikin and The Leader draws on the most extensive television interviews ever conducted with Hawke, as well as firsthand accounts from those on all sides of politics and society, including John Howard, Bill Kelty, John Eales, Peter Garrett, Meredith Burgmann, Blanche d’Alpuget, Dennis Richardson and Susan Ryan.

 “I regard Bob Hawke as the best Labor Prime Minister this country has had” – John Howard

Hawke: The Larrikin and The Leader tells the story of a man riven with contradictions - the ruthlessly competitive Rhodes scholar hidden behind the public Aussie bloke; the fearless union campaigner who helped change the course of Australian workplace relations; the unreconstructed populist who was elected to lead the country after being in parliament for little more than two years, becoming Labor’s longest-serving Prime Minister and re-imagining and re-shaping Australia for the 21st century.

Four elections – that’s amazing when you think about it. Just plain amazing. And he was an extraordinary character – the likes of which we hadn’t seen before, and it looks like we won’t see again.”  - Graham Richardson

This documentary juxtaposes the personal and public personas, the strengths and weaknesses, the successes and failures, delivering a fascinating insight into one of the most contradictory and influential political personalities of our era.

A Southern Pictures production with funding from Screen Australia and the ABC, in association with Create NSW.


Hawke: The Larrikin and The Leader airs on 11 and 18 February on ABC and ABC iview at 7.40pm.