Benjamin Rory Slade (born 22 April 1976) was the longest serving presenter of the cult BBC 1 network children's magazine programme, Why Don't You? He joined the series in 1988 as a member of the Cardiff presenting team (known as "the gang") wearing his trademark flat cap. These Cardiff programmes were the first written by the celebrated TV writer Russell T. Davies. Davies used this opportunity to weave a dramatic storyline into the various activities, games and 'makes' to make the programme more appealing. It worked with audiences exceeding 2.3 million in the 9:30am weekday school holiday slot. Slade's character became synonymous with "Why Don't You...?" and with Davies' scripts. As such he was asked to join the Newcastle "gang" (presenting team) which also featured Ant McPartlin and he subsequently appeared as a lead character/presenter in two further series with two different Liverpool "gangs". All of these episodes were written and directed by Russell T Davies who went on to write and produce Doctor Who, Torchwood, Queer as Folk and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Davies' scripts featuring Slade as a young, mad inventor were acknowledged as his first forays into writing television drama and undoubtedly helped launch his impressive writing career. Slade last appeared as a guest presenter on the final series directed by Trevor Stephenson-Long before pursuing a successful career in education. He is credited as the longest serving presenter in the cult television show's near 21-year run on network BBC 1.
Slade is featured in Russell T Davies' biography: The T is for Television: The Small Screen Adventures of Russell T Davies (2008). In the book Davies reveals that he had great plans for Slade and some other characters from the series in a new TV Drama. However the casting was overruled by the then head of Children's Television, Anna Home.
Slade has also appeared in a wide range of television and stage productions and concerts (he is a keen musician - pianist, keyboard player and violinist). He was a member of the HTV Wales Drama Workshop where he studied acting and performance with Peter Wooldridge alongside Mali Harries, Jan Anderson, and Hollywood actor, Ioan Gruffudd.
Following graduation (with a first class honours degree in 1998), Slade embarked on a successful teaching career culminating (in 2007) in becoming the youngest (state) secondary school Headteacher in the country. He is now an Education Executive and Headmaster for the largest independent school company in the UK.
Slade has made regular contributions to both print and broadcast media on a wide range of educational issues. Furthermore he has been involved in several pilots for Two Four Productions and Maverick Television including "The Headmaster's Office", "The Drugs Education Show" and he narrowly missed out on being the featured headteacher and school for the "Educating Essex" and "Educating Yorkshire" series. He also contributed to Channel 5's "50 Greatest Kids TV Shows" (2013)and is currently working on sketch comedy concepts with actress and comediene, Harriet Collings.
- New heads are on younger shoulders as ambitious teachers seek top job, Alexandra Frean, 21 July 2008, Times online
- In praise of summer mischief, Finlo Rohrer, BBC news magazine, 17 July 2008
- "Why Don't You...?". Wikipedia. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- McGown, Alistair. "BFI Screenonline: Why Don't You (1973 - 94)". BFI. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- Aldridge; Murray, Mark; Andy (2008). T is for Television: The Small Screen Adventures of Russell T Davies. London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-905287-84-4.