Fran Kelly is an Australian radio presenter, current affairs journalist and political correspondent who hosted the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National program Breakfast from March 2005 to early December 2021.

Fran Kelly
Alma materSt Dominic's Priory College
OccupationAustralian radio presenter
Years active1988–present
Known forCurrent affairs journalism and political correspondence

Early life and educationEdit

Kelly grew up in Adelaide, South Australia. She matriculated from St Dominic's Priory College in North Adelaide in 1974 and, after missing out on a cadetship at The Advertiser, a couple of years later went to the University of Adelaide,[1] completing an arts degree and majoring in literature and classics[2] while also being involved in the women's movement, theatre and music.[1]

She then worked as an activities officer, booking bands and organising events, first at Flinders University and then La Trobe University in Melbourne from 1980. In Melbourne she fronted an all-female band called Toxic Shock, which released a single, "Intoxicated" in 1981.[1]

Career in journalismEdit

After realising that what she really wanted to do was journalism, in 1988 Kelly moved to Sydney to work on The Drum on Triple J.[1] In 1990 she became a reporter for ABC Radio National's current affairs programs AM and PM. Kelly became Canberra bureau chief, chief political correspondent with AM and PM, political editor for ABC's Radio National Breakfast and ABC television's The 7:30 Report and the ABC's Europe correspondent. In 2005 she returned to Australia to host Radio National Breakfast.[3]

Kelly was involved with the documentary series The Howard Years in 2008, for which she interviewed former US president George W. Bush.[1] She has appeared as a panellist and commentator on ABC TV's Insiders,[4] and hosted the show from August to December 2019.[5]

On 21 October 2021 Kelly announced that she was leaving RN Breakfast, although she would continue to work of the ABC in roles such as covering federal elections, continuing as co-host of the podcast The Party Room, and other future projects.[6] Her last show was on 2 December 2021.

In August 2022, Kelly was announced as the host of a new chat show on ABC TV called Frankly.[7] Her appointment attracted criticism from a number of newspaper columnists who all opined that the job should have been given to someone much younger.[8][9][10] This prompted a public debate about the apparent ageist attitudes and discrimination towards older women in the media.[11][12] ABC chair Ita Buttrose and Kelly's successor at RN Breakfast Patricia Karvelas were also criticised after they both defended Kelly against what they perceived to be ageist attitudes.[13][10]

Frankly debuted on ABC TV on 7 October 2022 with Shaun Micallef, Richard Harris and Kirsten Banks appearing as Kelly's first guests.[14] The program received generally mixed to positive reviews.[14][15]


In 2008 Kelly received a Same Same 25 award, recognising her as one of the country's most influential gay and lesbian Australians.[16] She was named by the(sydney)magazine[a] as one of Sydney's 100 most influential people of 2011,[1] and was described by the Australian electronic magazine Crikey as "one of the most influential media players in the country" in the same year.[18]

Political views and activismEdit

Kelly has described herself as an activist.[1] Kelly is a feminist, and stated in a 2012 interview that she's identified as such since her school years.[3]

In 2007, Kelly launched the Australian Human Rights Commission's "Same-Sex: Same Entitlements" inquiry.[3] She has been involved with One Just World's speaker forums, moderating a "Women of the World" forum for WOMADelaide and speaking on the "Stand Up Against Poverty" forum in 2009.[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Kelly has been with her partner, Marion Frith, for almost 30 years, with whom she is step-parent to her partner's three children from a previous relationship.[20]

On 21 October 2021, Frith was present at the studio to support Kelly for announcement of leaving RN Breakfast.[21]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Elliot, Tim (13 March 2012). "Making radio waves". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  2. ^ ABC Radio National, "Fran Kelly."
  3. ^ a b c Same Same 25, Fran Kelly: Presenter, Radio National Archived 29 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine." 2008.
  4. ^ "Fran Kelly". Platinum Speakers and Entertainers Bureau. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  5. ^ Moran, Robert (31 July 2019). "Fran Kelly to host ABC's Insiders until David Speers joins the broadcaster". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  6. ^ Johnson, Natasha (20 October 2021). "RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly announces she's leaving the program after 17 years". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  7. ^ Knox, David (10 August 2022). "Fran Kelly to host ABC chat show, Frankly". TV Tonight. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Thomas (15 August 2022). "Fran Kelly is fine and familiar, but she's not the future of the ABC". The Sydney Morning Herald. The possibilities are … oh wait, it’s Fran Kelly. On Wednesday, ABC confirmed the former RN Breakfast broadcaster, who is aged in her 60s, would be the host of Frankly, and frankly, I don’t know why I got my hopes up.
  9. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (8 October 2022). "Fran Kelly's Frankly shows the ABC is making only the safest of safe choices". The Guardian. a smidge awkward for anyone aware of the criticism that’s been levelled at the ABC for selecting Kelly for such a gig over somebody younger
  10. ^ a b Faruqi, Osman (7 October 2022). "Ita Buttrose has revealed she doesn't understand the ABC's biggest problem". The Sydney Morning Herald. Buttrose and Kelly’s Breakfast replacement Patricia Karvelas dismissed this critique as an example of “ageism”... Buttrose patronisingly discarded the criticism as the “ignorance of youth”.
  11. ^ Foster, Ally (22 August 2022). "Reason ABC star Fran Kelly is at the centre of a furious debate". Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  12. ^ Kenny, Chris (22 August 2022). "'Ageist': Fran Kelly criticised for being 'too old' to host talk show". Sky News Australia. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  13. ^ Madigan, Mary (10 October 2022). "Ita Buttrose calls out the ageist criticism being swung Fran Kelly's way". B & T. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  14. ^ a b Knox, David (8 October 2022). "Frankly leaves them wanting more". TV Tonight. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  15. ^ Quinn, Karl (8 October 2022). "Was Fran Kelly's new ABC chat show really worth staying in for?". The Age. Retrieved 10 October 2022. It was OK, nothing more, nothing less...there’s no reason to think Frankly can’t become a decent addition to the genre, but it will take time
  16. ^ Andrew Georgiou, ""Same Same 25 Honoured" Archived 5 January 2013 at, Time Out Sydney. 18 December 2008.
  17. ^ "Tribute to the (sydney) and (melbourne) magazines - now expired !". Dedece Blog. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  18. ^ Jason Whittaker, "The quality journalism project: early bird Fran Kelly", Crikey, 26 October 2011.
  19. ^ One Just World, "Kelly Forum Speakers and Moderators: Get to Know Fran Kelly"[permanent dead link].
  20. ^ Souter, Fenella (20 August 2021). "'A shout-out to all the step-parents out there': Fran and Marion on 30 years of love". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  21. ^ It’s time’: Fran Kelly to leave ABC RN Breakfast after 17 years at the helm, The Guardian, 2021-10-21