Vale Basia Bonkowksi – an icon of Australian TV

It is with great sadness that Flinders University has learnt of the recent passing of Flinders University alumni and beloved TV star Basia Bonkowksi.

Basia was the host of SBS’s popular 1980s music television shows Rock Around the World and Continental Drift.

Writing and performing was Basia’s passion from an early age, although she enrolled in law at the University of Adelaide upon leaving high school. However, everything changed when Basia was 17, and she became ill with Hodgkins Lymphoma. The experience of being confronted with her mortality prompted a career rethink, and she switched to Flinders University and studied for an English Literature and Drama degree.

Armed with knowledge and skills from her degree, Basia’s television career was soon on a fast track. She became a household name through her charismatic hosting of SBS’s music television shows Rock Around the World and Continental Drift. Such was the strength of her cultural impact in the 1980s that Aussie pub rock band, Painters and Doctors, wrote a song about her, aptly named Basia. The song was a tribute to her ultra-cool presentation style, declaring, “She’s sitting there with her multi-coloured hair / She’s sitting there with that multi-cultured stare”.

After Basia and her husband Kimble Rendall adopted two children, William and Camille, she released “Jesse’s World”, a book about the international adoption process, inspired by their experiences as adoptive parents. Her second book, “Shimmer”, based on her mother’s life, was released in 2009.

In 2019, Basia was awarded a Flinders University Distinguished Alumni Award for her significant contribution to the creative arts as a television producer and presenter, author and movie reviewer.

We extend our deepest condolences to Basia’s friends, family and loved ones during this difficult time.

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