Tom Oliver has been known throughout Australia for over 50 years for his many performances in all areas of the entertainment industry.
He has had roles in eight films, and apart from literally dozens of guest roles, has appeared as a regular character in no less than ten different television series, ranging from the early “You Cant See Round Corners” and through “Bellbird”, “Number 96”, “Ben Hall” and “The Dismissal” in which he played Senator Reg Withers. For 25 years, he has been known internationally for his portrayal of Lou Carpenter in “Neighbours”.
He is equally at home on stage as he is in front of the cameras and has appeared in leading roles in numerous theatre productions with the major companies around Australia and England, in both dramatic and comedic roles.
Born in Hampshire, England, Tom’s early ambition was to be a jockey but he failed to gain an apprenticeship and at the age of 16, joined the Merchant Navy and set off to see the world via his second love - the sea.
After peeling 7 bucketfuls of potatoes a day while a galley boy on a cargo ship tramping around the Mediterranean, and nearly sinking in the Bay of Biscay, he signed on a passenger ship sailing between England and South Africa. After 4 voyages and spending most of his shore leave horse-riding in such places as The Valley of a Thousand Hills in Zululand, he decided to seek further foreign ports after being beaten up by the South African police in Capetown for what was termed as “fraternising with coloured people!” He signed on a ship sailing around the world by way of the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Tahiti, Fiji and on to Australia.
On his third voyage on this run, and in the days before The Great White Tourist had made his mark in the South Pacific, Tom decided that this was the best part of the world to be living when a foot-loose 18 year old, and jumped ship in Sydney in 1956.
Working his way back to England on a ship in 1959, he was back in the Pacific three months later, working on the British nuclear testing base on Christmas Island. (He is a member of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association). Returning to England in 1960, he decided to hitch-hike back to Australia via France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India - where he promptly caught infective hepatitis and was flown back where he started from! After recovering, Tom contacted the actor Albert Finney who gave him a letter of introduction to International Casting Service in Sydney - and Tom migrated to Australia in 1963. Two months later he was in New Guinea playing the lead in a television drama.
What started as a practising interest in amateur theatricals while still at school, has become a 50 year career for Tom Oliver making him known to theatre and television audiences not only in Australia but internationally.
Tom is Ambassador to NGO “Connecting Hands”, a Melbourne charity fighting human trafficking and child sex slavery in Cambodia. He is also Ambassador for the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, North Thailand a sanctuary for abused elephants whose numbers are declining rapidly in SE Asia. Tom, and his American wife Jan, live outside of Melbourne, Victoria, in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges.