Simon Dee

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Simon Dee
Born Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd
(1935-07-28)28 July 1935
Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Died 29 August 2009(2009-08-29) (aged 74)
Nationality British
Education Brighton College, Shrewsbury School
Known for Disc Jockey, Broadcaster
Spouse(s) Beryl "Bunny" Cooper (1959) - registered using name Carl N Dodd;
Sara M Le B Terry (1975);
Judith C Wilson (1995)
Children
Simon N Henty-Dodd (1962)
Domino Nicola S Henty-Dodd (1966)
Taliesin David Henty-Dodd (1976)
Cyril George Henty-Dodd (1994)

Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd[1] (28 July 1935 – 29 August 2009[2]), better known by his stage name Simon Dee, was a British television interviewer and radio disc jockey who hosted a twice-weekly BBC TV chat show, Dee Time, in the late 1960s. After moving to London Weekend Television (LWT) in 1970, he was dropped and his career never recovered.

He died of bone cancer in 2009.[2][3][4]

Early career[edit]

Dee was born on 28 July 1935, in Manchester, Lancashire, the only child of Cyril Edward Dodd (1906–1980)[5] and Doris Gwendoline Pilling (née Simon) (1907–1952) who married in 1934 in Salford (a Radio Caroline biography gave his birthplace as Ottawa, Canada).[6] He was educated at Brighton College[7] and Shrewsbury School.[8]

He served his compulsory national service in the Royal Air Force photo-reconnaissance unit, taking aerial photographs of the combat zone during the 1956 Suez Crisis, and being wounded in the face by a sniper in Cyprus. While stationed in Baghdad with RAF Intelligence, he auditioned for British Forces Radio.

Demobilised in 1958, his first civilian jobs included bouncer in a coffee bar, actor, photographic assistant to Balfour de Havilland (dismissed when he loaded the wrong film into the camera for a fashion shoot and none of the photos came out), builders' labourer, leaf-sweeper in Hyde Park, and vacuum cleaner salesman.[9]

Radio Caroline[edit]

In 1964 he joined Radio Caroline, a pirate radio ship broadcasting pop music from outside UK territorial waters. He witnessed the station's construction (and that of its rival station Radio Atlanta) at the Irish port of Greenore, and sailed with the ship to its anchorage off the coast of Essex. On 28 March, Easter Saturday, his was the first live voice on the radio station, welcoming listeners and handing over to the only other DJ on the ship at the time, Chris Moore, for the opening programme. (The first voice heard on the station, in pre-recorded promotions, was allegedly that of John Junkin).

In August 1964 Radio Atlanta merged with Caroline and became Radio Caroline South. Dee transferred to the former Atlanta ship when the original ship sailed to an anchorage off the Isle of Man to become Radio Caroline North.[10]

BBC[edit]

In 1965 Dee was given a job on the BBC Light Programme, introducing a late-night show on Saturdays. He also worked on Radio Luxembourg. He told a reporter at the time that he left Caroline "while the going was good".[11] After BBC Radio 1 opened in 1967, he introduced the Monday edition of Midday Spin and sometimes presented Top of the Pops on BBC TV.[9] He fell into early disfavour on Radio 1 after twice playing Scott Walker's recording of Jacques Brel's song 'Jackie', which had been banned by the BBC.[12]

In 1967 Dee began his early evening chat show Dee Time on BBC TV. The show became very popular, with up to 18 million viewers. It opened with sports presenter Len Martin announcing "It's Siiiiimon Dee!", imitating The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and closed with a famous film sequence of Dee driving off in an E-type Jaguar with blonde model Lorna McDonald.[13] Only two complete editions of Dee Time survive in the BBC archives; the programme was transmitted live and the BBC recorded contemporary live programmes only for any possible legal ramifications, wiping them after six weeks. He became very successful and adopted an extravagant lifestyle.[citation needed] Also in 1967, he was the host of the Miss World contest transmitted live on BBC1 from the Lyceum Ballroom, London.

In the 2004 Channel Four TV programme Dee Construction, fellow DJ Tony Blackburn recalled, "He used to drive up and down the King's Road in an Aston Martin driven by his secretary. To be honest, I thought that was a bit of a waste of money."[14] He had cameo roles in films, including The Italian Job (1969) and Doctor in Trouble (1970).

ITV[edit]

Owing to a disagreement between Dee and the BBC over his huge salary demands, his contract was reviewed in 1969 and he left the channel.[9] He was being paid £250 per show (equivalent to some £3500 today) and claimed ITV were offering him £1,000. It is said that the BBC's Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton not only refused the pay rise that Dee demanded, but said that he would cut his wages by 20 per cent "to test his loyalty".[14] He was offered £100,000 for a two-year contract with the ITV company London Weekend and commenced a series with them in January 1970.

Dee fell out with the station management and they terminated his contract after only a few months. There was friction between Dee and David Frost, part-owner of London Weekend, after whose show Dee's was broadcast.[citation needed] Both were talk shows, and Frost thought that some of Dee's items would make the shows too similar. Dee felt that Frost was deliberately sabotaging his show. After a bizarre interview with actor George Lazenby, who outlined at length his theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the show was dropped.[6]

Decline[edit]

In June 1970, Dee joined his former Radio Caroline boss, Ronan O'Rahilly, to campaign for pirate radio and against the Labour government's Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, issuing a poster[15] of Prime Minister Harold Wilson dressed as Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. Pirate radio had become a political issue and, in the run up to the general election that summer, Radio Caroline International launched a campaign in support of the Conservative Party, which supported commercial radio. Dee later claimed that there was an Establishment plot against him because of his open opposition to Wilson, and later released government files showing that he was being monitored by the Security Service.[16]

Having alienated both the BBC and independent television, Dee disappeared from the airwaves. He signed on for unemployment benefit at the Fulham labour exchange, giving rise to considerable press coverage. Unable to revive his show business career, he took a job as a bus driver. He had several court appearances and in 1974 served 28 days in Pentonville Prison for non-payment of rates on his former Chelsea home.[6][17] Every time he left his cell the prisoners on his wing shouted, "It's Siiiiiimon Dee!" He was so shocked by prison that he swore he would never get into debt again. On another occasion he was jailed for vandalising a lavatory seat with Petula Clark's face painted on it, which he thought was disrespectful to her. The magistrate who sentenced him was Bill Cotton.[14]

Later career[edit]

Dee later found some brief broadcasting jobs. In the late 1970s, he was signed to appear as holiday cover on the Reading-based Radio 210, but never made to air. In the late 1980s, he appeared to have established himself as host of Sounds of the '60s on BBC Radio 2, but this engagement came to an end amid disputes with the BBC about the show's location in Bristol and his wish for it to be transmitted live.[18] In 2003, Victor Lewis-Smith arranged for a one-off new live edition of Dee Time to be broadcast on Channel Four, following Dee Construction, which covered Dee's career.[6]

References and parodies[edit]

  • The British comedian Benny Hill parodied Dee and Dee Time as the character "Tommy Tupper" and his chat show "Tupper Time". Tupper's guests are a 107-year-old man who drops dead while being introduced, a vicar who strolls in with his flies unbuttoned, a celebrity actor who hardly says a word, and an actress who is very drunk. This sketch is included in the compilation film The Best of Benny Hill.[6]
  • In the fourth series of the BBC radio comedy programme Round the Horne, some shows featured "Radio Balls Pond Road", anchored by Dee, portrayed by Kenneth Williams, and the words, "Siiiiiimon Dee", would be followed by Hugh Paddick's deadpan addition of a suffix such as "-pressed", "-praved" or "-ceased".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus refers to Dee in its "The North Minehead By-Election" sketch, where Mr "Hilter", "Bimmler", and "Ron Vibbentrop" are hiding out in a guesthouse. One of the other guests thinks he recognises them: "Haven't I seen you on the television?" "Nicht. Nein. No." "Simon Dee show, or was it Frosty?" "Nein. No."
  • Stanley Baxter once parodied his show as "Bee Time".
  • An episode of Stephen Fry's 1988 radio programme, Saturday Night Fry, features the oarsman Charon, rowing people across the River Styx in the underworld, who made smalltalk (in the style of a taxi driver) by claiming he has carried a number of famous people in his boat, including Dee.
  • Actress Elizabeth Hurley has claimed that Dee was the model for the character Austin Powers in the spoof 1960s films of 1997–2002 .[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ His name is variously given as Cyril Nicholas Dodd, Carl Henty-Dodd, Nicholas Henty-Dodd and Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd.
  2. ^ a b Fallen Sixties Idol Simon Dee Dies at 74
  3. ^ TV chat show star Simon Dee dies
  4. ^ First TV chat king Simon Dee dies from bone cancer Daily Mail. Retrieved on 30 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Deaths", The Times, 20 September 1980, p. 24.
  6. ^ a b c d e Anthony Hayward Obituary: Simon Dee, The Guardian, 30 August 2009
  7. ^ "Formerly Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd - the charismatic BBC Radio 1 DJ and television chat show host". Old Brightonians. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Telegraph obituaries. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  9. ^ a b c "Obituary: Simon Dee". Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 30 August 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  10. ^ First voice on Caroline dies at 74 RadioToday 30 August 2009
  11. ^ Quoted in Jackpot, July 1966
  12. ^ Brian Matthew on Sounds of the '60s, Radio 2, 17 September 2011
  13. ^ Times obituary of Simon Dee, 31 August 2009; Richard Wiseman (2006) Whatever Happened to Simon Dee?
  14. ^ a b c "Simon agonises", The Times, 2 January 2004
  15. ^ "Simon Dee photograph". Offshoreradio.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  16. ^ Eddie Dyja, "Simon Dee", BFI Screen Online
  17. ^ Photo 8: Simon Dee leaves Pentonville Prison
  18. ^ Wiseman, op.cit.
  19. ^ Tim Teeman, The Times, 11 November 2006

External links[edit]