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Fallen star gives first interview in 20 years

A chance meeting with a forgotten 60s star led to an exclusive interview for a Hampshire weekly paper editor.

Ex-chat show king Simon Dee hadn’t given a press interview for more than 20 years, but when Hampshire Chronicle editor Keith Redbourn saw him sitting outside a coffee bar in Winchester, he tried his luck.

Dee, who moved to the city 15 years ago, duly agreed — with a little persuasion — and it led to a two-page spread in the Newsquest-owned title, with Dee making available some iconic pictures of him and guests on his shows from the ‘swinging sixties.’

The broadcaster, pictured left as he was then, was the first voice to be heard on the pioneering pirate station Radio Caroline in 1964, and he once had a twice-weekly live chat show watched by 15m viewers on BBC1.

Said Keith: “We’d tried before to get him to do an interview, but he always steadfastly refused.

“Here was another chance to speak to one of the main players of that iconic decade who had it all — then famously lost it.

“Looking back, he said he had no regrets about his past, rubbishing claims that he’d got too big for his boots, was arrogant, and put in unreasonable wage demands.

“There are many parallels with one of today’s biggest stars, Jonathan Ross, although Dee distanced himself from the controversial broadcaster, saying that his own style of interviewing was about the interviewee — not the interviewer.”

For a few short years at the end of the sixties, Dee was the biggest star on TV — once reportedly signing a £100,000 contract — and was mobbed in the streets by fans.

But he fell out with a succession of TV bosses, and was once reduced to signing on at Fulham labour exchange.


Andy Murrill (10/06/2009 08:51:22)
Editor does his first interview in 20 years! Well done Keith. How did you recognise him?

Michael (10/06/2009 11:24:05)
Andy, I think you will find that it was Simon Dee who hadn’t done an interview in 20 years, not the editor, who was doing what all good journos should – keeping his eyes open and recognising a story when saw one. So Keith wins the prize this time.

Richard Auty (10/06/2009 12:00:34)
Michael – don’t take Andy’s comment too seriously – he’s only pulling Keith’s leg. Andy and Keith know each other well and are former colleagues (Andy is editor of the Reading Post and Keith used to edit sister title The Wokingham Times – he was my editor there.)
Mind you, I’d like Keith to tell us how he recognised him as well!

Michael (10/06/2009 12:36:53)
Richard, I hope Keith gets the joke. If we didn’t know what you have just written, we might be tempted to think that Andy either can’t read or is accident-prone – not good attributes of an editor, are they? Anyway, i worked on the Reading Evening Post in its heyday when it was a cracking good paper. My, how quickly popularity disappears. Good, accurate journalism will never make enemies or lose sales. Right?

Andy Murrill (11/06/2009 07:59:49)
I was only joshing Michael. And, of course, Keith got the exclusive first interview with Lib Dem Mark Oaten after his sex scandal.