As he faces serious allegations of sexual harassment, many on-screen moments and comments by TV gardening star Don Burke are now being viewed in a different light.
For close to two decades he was the face of Friday night TV in Australia, with millions tuning in to watch his top rating program that earned him up to $7.2 million a year.
But the once beloved host of Burke’s Backyard now faces the reality of his reputation being in tatters, after the explosive harassment allegations by a number of women.
In response to the joint Sydney Morning Herald and ABC investigation, the 70-year-old denied the claims, describing the women as ‘bearing grudges against me’.
And a look back through the archives of Burke’s top rating program reveals vast use of sexual innuendo as part of the show, including during home visits with celebrities.
In the wake of sexual harassment allegations against Don Burke, archive footage has emerged of the TV host asking former swimwear model Annalise Braakensiek if her ‘breasts are real’
As the model (left) laughs awkwardly Burke (right) pushes on anyway, asking: ‘But are they?’
Beginning in the late 1980s, Burke’s Backyard was a staple of Australian television up until 2004, when it was unceremoniously dumped after a ratings decline.
Over the 17 years it was on air it became known for visiting the homes of the nation’s top celebrities, as well as providing gardening, food and lifestyle tips.
But during one segment with former swimsuit model Annalise Braakensiek, he asked a personal question in a rather roundabout way.
‘Cross my heart and promise to God I will not ask you the question that you know (is coming). I will not ask you the question – are your breasts real?’ Burke said.
As the model laughs awkwardly, he pushes on anyway, saying to her: ‘But are they?’
Contacted on Monday, Braaksensiek said she was ‘so sorry’ to read about the claims levelled against Burke and even described him as a ‘joy to have in my home’.
‘He was very flattering (regarding) my cooking (but not my terrible gardening skills – I sacked my gardener shortly thereafter, ha ha) but Don was not at all rude, nor did he make me feel uncomfortable whilst shooting.’
‘Everyone always assumes my breasts are fake, so he asked ‘are they real’ on TV, and I told him the truth ‘yes they are’.
Beginning in the late 1980s, Burke’s Backyard (pictured) was a staple of Australian television up until 2004, when it was unceremoniously dumped after a major ratings decline
Contacted on Monday, Braaksensiek (pictured) said she was ‘so sorry’ to read about the claims levelled against Burke and even described him as a ‘joy to have in my home’
‘No biggie! I don’t classify that as sexual harassment. My heart goes out for anyone who did experience it, with anyone… let alone him.
‘For me however, he was kind, fun and a joy to have in my home’.
In perhaps one of the most unusual segments ever aired on the show, Burke met with a seed propagator, who works to manipulate the ‘sexual activities’ of plants.
The footage of the gardener pollinating the philodendron shows her rubbing up and down the plant, as music suggestively plays in the background.
‘Looks like it’s not an unpleasant thing to do,’ Burke says to his guest.
In another interview with former children’s TV star Sophie Lee, Burke found himself forced to backtrack on ‘sexist’ comments about her being often cast in certain roles.
‘Most people probably wouldn’t have picked you coming from an academic type of family,’ Burke says during the 1992 interview.
‘Why not?’ Ms Lee snaps back.
‘Well if anything you’ve been typecast in the roles you’ve done as, not exactly… the bimbo, but I would say there are those that would criticise that particularly prior to the program ‘Sex’,’ the host responds, before later asking to ‘perve in her shed’.
In perhaps one of the most unusual segments ever aired on the show, Burke met with a seed propagator (pictured), with suggestive music playing as she acted ‘sexual activities’ of plants
Among his other close and personal moments with celebrities is an intimate singing session with Bardot star turned Bachelorette Sophie Monk.
In another he can be heard laughing in the background as Rose Porteous flirts with a cameraman, telling him she would make him her ‘toy boy’.
‘In another 20 years you can be my toy boy. I haven’t had a nip or a tuck yet, I keep my figure for you,’ Ms Porteous, the ex-wife of mining magnate Lang Hancock, said.
‘You’re a lucky boy Jason,’ Burke exclaims to his cameraman from the background.
Among the allegations made by against the TV star are that he made them audition topless for shows, while also groping multiple women – among them a teenage girl.
The Order of Australia Medal recipient’s accusers include former researchers, crew members, producers and TV hopefuls.
Children’s entertainer Wendy Dent (pictured) claims in the 1990s Burke told her he wanted her to audition topless for a role on his show
Louise Langdon (pictured) claimed he insisted she watch disgusting video of a woman having sex with a donkey, gaining pleasure from her reaction
Louise Langdon claimed he insisted she watch disgusting video of a woman having sex with a donkey, gaining pleasure from her reaction.
Ms Langdon, now a psychologist in the US, claimed he also indecently assaulted her.
‘It was things like pulling at my bra strap, flicking a bra strap… pulling up my shirt to see what colour underwear I was wearing,’ she told the ABC.
On a trip to Alice Springs for Burke’s radio show, Ms Langdon claimed he joked it was so hot she should remove her clothing as they sat together on a shuttle bus.
‘He decided that it was okay for him to put his hands on my T-shirt and try and pull my bra strap, my bra, off and somehow remove my clothing. He was trying to take my top off,’ she said.
Burke denied any of these incidents occurred and said researchers were not taken on location for taping, and he found no record of her being on such a trip.
In response to the claims Burke (pictured with wife Marea) denied any wrongdoing, describing the women as ‘bearing grudges against me’