Twas a few nights before Christmas when two radio personalities made some tantalising claims about ‘diva demands’ by the unpaid host of Carols by Candlelight.
Twas a few nights before Christmas when two radio personalities made some tantalising claims about ‘diva demands’ by the unpaid host of Carols by Candlelight.

Bizarre Plucka Duck rumour put to bed

Diva demands of a furnished marquee, pricey wine and a cameo appearance by Plucka Duck dressed up as Father Christmas make for a tantalising yuletide tale.

But Daryl Somers says claims he was fired from hosting Ballarat's Carols by Candlelight last year because of his over-the-top demands are simply untrue.

The three-time Gold Logie winner feels vindicated after a costly legal stoush was settled this week when entertainment journalist Peter Ford and TV presenter Basil Zempilas personally apologised for their "false comments."

"There were a lot of false allegations made against me and I thought, not this time I need to get to the bottom of this," Somers said.

"It came down to a full and unreserved apology been issued to me from Peter Ford and Basil Zempilas."

Somers and Ford say they are bound from talking directly about the allegations and apologies made.

But Page 13 isn't.

'Twas a few nights before Christmas and Ford went on Sunrise presenter Basil Zemplis's 6PR Perth radio show saying Somers, 68, lost his free charity gig hosting the Victorian gold mining town's Carols by Candlelight because of his "diva demands".

"He checked into the hotel where he was put up for the night and ran up a bar tab of over $500," Ford said on-air in December.

Other demands, he said, included a furnished marquee to serve as Somers dressing room and insisting on former co-star Plucka Duck appearing dressed as Father Christmas.

Plucka Duck was not part of the carols deal, although it wasn’t an unwelcome idea.
Plucka Duck was not part of the carols deal, although it wasn’t an unwelcome idea.

Somers said he was "incredibly disappointed" by the comments, which as the apology indicated were simply incorrect.

Page 13 understands Ford's correction and apology detailed:

- that Somers did not insist on Plucka Duck making a cameo at the carols (but that the idea of using Plucka Duck was greeted with excitement by the committee);

- that Somers did not run up excessive expenses but had instead offered his services and those of his production team for free;

- that an allegation Somers ran up a wine tab at the Provincial Hotel at the committee's expense was wrong, as Daryl paid for those expenses himself;

- and that Somers did not lose the hosting role because of any demands he made, but was unable to host for personal reasons.

The Ballarat Carols committee also issued a statement confirming he pulled out of the hosting gig because of personal reasons.

Peter Ford issued Somers with an apology.
Peter Ford issued Somers with an apology.

"I was defending my integrity. These comments were wrong," Somers told Page 13 yesterday.

"The matter has been resolved to my satisfaction as I do have apologies from Peter Ford and Basil Zempilas."

Zempilas also issued an apology this week, acknowledging disparaging comments were made and that Somers was of good character and someone who had made an enormous contribution over many years.

Veteran entertainment reporter Peter Ford, who is no shrinking violet, told Page 13 Somers should, um, "piss off."

The entertainment journalist said he expected to cop a degree of flack when he so often dished it out. But Somers legal demands wore him down over the past three months.

"There truly comes a point, after almost 10 weeks of this stuff back and forth over a two-minute radio cross where I just need to say, 'mate stop coming after me and causing havoc in my life and great distress to my family.

"You got everything you wanted from me and now you're giving interviews about it. Just piss off."

Ford was only winding up.

"Daryl seems weirdly focused on me. I've mentioned his name on air literally five times in the past 10 years.

"I have zero interest in the man."

Somers insists he has no issue with Ford, just that he wanted to right the wrong by clearing his name and getting an "unreserved apology".

Plenty of red faces here!

alice.coster@news.com.au

Seven’s Basil Zempilas was on-air when the comments were made.
Seven’s Basil Zempilas was on-air when the comments were made.