Monday, 31 August 2009

Bitterness destroys, but laughter lifts you!


One clear image that I have of the late 1960s is the Television personality that was Simon Dee who today (Sunday) passed away following a brief battle with bone cancer he was only 74 years young.

I remember Simon because his career as a pioneer chat show host seemed to have ended as soon as it started. And although he only appeared on our old black and white; his swinging sixties contribution reminds me of that time elapsed, even though I was an eleven year old school boy.

Simon Dee was one of the biggest stars in the country. But just a few years later, he suffered a sudden and spectacular fall from fame. His Dee Time show was watched by 15 million people and his casual, cocky, manner made him the embodiment of the Swinging Sixties.

In the process, his style paved the way for future chat show hosts from Michael Parkinson to Chris Evans. But by the start of the following decade, it was all over. "Everything just disappeared," he later said.
Dee went to public school in Shrewsbury with John Peel, before another school friend decided to launch a radio station on a ship in 1964. Dee was the first recruit and the first voice on the first offshore pirate radio station, Radio Caroline. Born Nicholas Henty-Dodd, he had changed his name to sound less posh.

And in 1969, he was at the top of a blacklist drawn up by a society aiming to stamp out the use of the phrase "yunno" on the airwaves.

Away from the studio, he did not shy away from tackling difficult issues, whether giving a speech against Enoch Powell, criticising Prime Minister Harold Wilson or campaigning against nuclear testing.

His downfall began when he came to renew his contract with the BBC in 1969.

He moved to LWT however the show was dropped six months into a two-year contract, to be replaced by a variety show fronted by Cliff Richard.

Dee himself believed the decision had more to do with his rivalry with fellow LWT host David Frost and his criticism of Harold Wilson.

His claims that his phone was tapped by security agencies seemed far-fetched, but documents later released proved that his calls were being monitored.

After going on the dole, he hit rock bottom just one year after his last show. In 1971, he was fined £10 for attacking bailiffs sent to make an inventory of his home in Chelsea.

He wept as he told the judge he had no money and was drawing £6.90 a week benefit to support his wife and three children.

"Everybody wants me back [on TV], except those in power," he claimed.

Earlier this year, in his first interview for 20 years, Dee reflected on his brief fame, saying: “I have no regrets. If you change your past, you change your present. Bitterness destroys, but laughter lifts you.

“It has all been enlightening and as a girlfriend said the other day, 'you've still got your hair.'”
Information: BBC

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