Once more, with feelings, the way it was
News about, not from ... Brian Henderson's return to the small screen after a decade will be a one-off appearance.
THE iconic newscaster Brian Henderson is returning to television, but like a true performer he is returning for a one-night-only engagement.
A decade after he ended an extraordinary 46-year career reading Australia's most watched nightly news bulletin on Channel Nine, ''Hendo'' has been lured out of retirement by Foxtel.
The 81-year-old will narrate a documentary, The Train: The Granville Rail Disaster, which explores the aftermath of the 1977 rail disaster and the heroism of rescue workers who attended it.
And the way he was ... Henderson facing the cameras in 1957.
Though the date was not chosen deliberately, it comes serendipitously on the 10th anniversary of Henderson's retirement.
Since retiring, the veteran newscaster says, there have been occasional pangs of regret, but only momentary ones.
''It was a hell of a long time to do news, and I was very lucky I was in it at the stage I was, the early times anyway, because there weren't as many options, and I worked with very good people,'' he says.
When Henderson stepped down from his position at Nine, the network was at the top of the ratings ladder and winning a long-standing war with Channel Seven.
Watching Nine's ratings decline from the sidelines was difficult, he says, and in recent years he was greatly heartened by Nine's clawback.
''I still refer to Channel Nine as 'we', but I am not one of them, I am an outsider, I have left, but it's hard not to use that word,'' Henderson says.
On Nine's current chief executive, David Gyngell, who recently pulled off the deal of the decade in convincing Nine's creditors to exchange their debt for equity, he says: ''David is a really good risk-taker.''
Henderson agreed to narrate the Granville documentary because its producers - Graham McNeice and Rob Hurst - are old friends and colleagues. It will be screened on Foxtel in January.
The disaster claimed the lives of 83 people and left more than 200 injured when a morning commuter train came off the tracks and slammed into the supports of an overhead road bridge.
For Henderson, what remains clear in his memory of the disaster is the ''horrifying'' images.
The veteran newsman admits nightly news has been a tough habit to break.
''I still watch Nine News, I want to see how Peter [Overton] is going,'' he says. ''But I like to keep a check on the lot, I watch the ABC. It's a hard habit to break and anyway, news is interesting.''
Henderson admits he tries to watch the news as a viewer, but can't resist taking mental notes on style and delivery.
''I try to watch it as a viewer, but I'm like an ex-footballer,'' he says. ''I'll think, that's the wrong emphasis, or sometimes think 'they can't do another bloody whale story, they've done two this week'. It intrudes into my resolution to watch as a viewer.''
At the age of 81, Henderson still looks fighting fit. He and his wife, Mardi, are just back from a holiday to Thailand.
But Henderson rules out a permanent return to the small screen. ''No, I look different now, I sound different. And what am I now? 81?'' he says. ''I have very fond memories but I wouldn't even contemplate it. I went out around about the right time.''