Jeremy Beadle

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Jeremy Beadle

Beadle in 2005
Born(1948-04-12)12 April 1948
Hackney, London, England
Died30 January 2008(2008-01-30) (aged 59)
London, England
Resting placeHighgate Cemetery
Occupation(s)TV presenter, radio presenter, writer and producer.
Years active1970–2008
SpouseSusan Marshall
ChildrenTwo, two stepchildren[1]

Jeremy James Anthony Gibson-Beadle MBE (12 April 1948 – 30 January 2008) was an English television presenter, radio presenter, writer and producer. From the 1980s to the late 1990s he was a regular face on British television, and in two years appeared in 50 weeks of the year.[2]

Early life[edit]

Beadle was born in Hackney, east London, on 12 April 1948. His father, a Fleet Street sports reporter, abandoned Jeremy's mother, Marji (9 July 1921 – 4 July 2004), when he learned that she was pregnant. Before Jeremy reached the age of two he was frequently hospitalised and had undergone surgery for Poland syndrome, a rare disorder that stunted growth in his right hand.[3]

His mother worked as a secretary to help pay to raise him, including a stint for the boxing promoter Jack Solomons.[4] Beadle did not enjoy school and was frequently in trouble. He was eventually expelled from his secondary school, Orpington County Secondary Boys' School.[3][5] A teacher remarked, "Beadle, you waffle like a champion but know nothing."

After his expulsion, he travelled and worked in Europe. He had a number of jobs, at one point taking photographs of topless models,[3] and worked as a sky-diving instructor, lavatory attendant and tour guide.[4] He briefly worked as a tour guide at the York dungeons.[4] He often said that he gave the best London tour because he realised that what people wanted was stories of blood, sex and death.[4]

Beadle was chosen in 1970 by Tony Elliott, the founder of Time Out, to set up a Manchester edition of the magazine, a venture that was short-lived,[6] though he subsequently maintained a connection with the publication in London. In 1972, North West Arts Association asked him to organise the Bickershaw Festival,[3] and he worked on further musical events over the next couple of years.

In 1973, as an early member of the Campaign for Real Ale, he was elected to their National Executive and secured the campaign's first television or radio coverage in a one-hour programme on BBC Radio London, which he hosted.[7] During this period his talent for practical jokes became evident, although occasionally this rebounded on him, such as when colleagues left him naked in front of 400 women arriving for their shift.[5] He then started writing for radio and television, going on to provide material for stars such as Sir Terry Wogan, Michael Aspel, Noel Edmonds and Kenny Everett.[3]

Later public life[edit]

Radio and television[edit]

Beadle began supplying odd facts and questions to radio and television game shows, such as Celebrity Squares. He sent a number of questions to Bob Monkhouse, the host, without the answers and Monkhouse was so impressed he rang Jeremy to ask him to work on the show.[4] His presenting style on the phone-in programme Nightline on LBC in London, which he hosted between September 1979 and 22 June 1980 (when he was sacked), led to a cult following. He introduced himself as Jeremy James Anthony Gibson-Beadlebum: "Jeremy James Anthony Gibson-Beadle is my name and a bum is what I am," he explained. He teased his producer as 'Butch' Bavin Cook (b. 12 June).

On 31 May 1980, he began co-presenting the children's television show Fun Factory with his LBC co-star Thérèse Birch, Kevin Day and Billy Boyle. On Capital Radio Beadle presented Beadle's Odditarium, a music show concentrating on strange, bizarre and rare recordings all taken from the archives of producer Phil Swern. From 5 October 1986, Beadle presented Beadle's Brainbusters on the independent local radio network, with questions written by Beadle and Paul Donnelley. He also became renowned for his off-air pranks and intellectually challenging quizzes. He wrote, devised and presented many television pilots for the highly successful game show company Action Time, then run by Jeremy Fox, the son of Paul Fox. Beadle wrote and presented The Deceivers, a BBC2 television series recounting the history of swindlers and hoaxers.[8] The success of this led to using the same format for Eureka, which told the background behind everyday inventions. He hosted a US game show pilot in 1985 called Family Follies, which did not make it to a full series.

Beadle then went on to become nationally famous as one of the presenters of LWT's Game for a Laugh, the first programme made by ITV to beat the BBC's shows in the Saturday night ratings battle.[4] This was followed by a hidden-camera style practical joke show, Beadle's About (1986–1996), which became the world's longest continuously running hidden-camera show.

From 1990 to 1997, Beadle presented You've Been Framed!, a family show featuring humorous clips from viewers' home video recordings. An offshoot of this was Beadle's Hotshots, featuring viewers' intentionally funny parodies and sketches, some of which were re-edited and even reshot by a young Edgar Wright in his first industry job; other sketches and scripts were produced by writer/director Chris Barfoot. In total, Beadle hit the UK Number One ratings slot four times.

In 1995, reflecting his days on LBC, he presented a relatively short-lived but popular Sunday late-evening show on the newly launched Talk Radio UK. As well as his considerable television output as writer, presenter and producer, he appeared in numerous pantomimes and acted as ringmaster for many circuses, notably for Gerry Cottle's. He also worked as a consultant for many television companies, wrote books, and presented quizzes both commercially and for charity. As a radio presenter, he chaired a brief revival of Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? on BBC Radio 4. In 2007 he started to work on the Bickershaw Festival 40th Anniversary Boxed set project for 2012 in conjunction with Chris Hewitt, who had worked with Beadle on the original event in 1972. (Chris Hewitt continued to work on the project after Beadle died.)

Beadle was living in Highgate, north London, when he was the subject of This Is Your Life on 26 January 1994. He was surprised by Michael Aspel during a school carol concert at a church in nearby Hampstead on 8 December 1993.[citation needed]


Beadle wanted to be the British Robert L. Ripley.[4] A love of trivia was born when his mother bought him The Guinness Book of Records for Christmas when he was a small boy.[4] This led him to write Today's the Day (published in the UK by WH Allen in 1979 and by Signet in the United States two years later), researched in his own library of 27,000 volumes. The book recounts – for any given day of the year – around half a dozen notable births, deaths or events that occurred on that date, linked to odd or amusing facts. Beadle briefly performed a similar duty on television's TV-am, informing each morning's viewers of prominent events on this date in past years. The scripts were written by Beadle and Paul Donnelley.[9] The format was briefly revived when GMTV replaced TV-am as the ITV breakfast franchise in 1993.

For more than two years Beadle wrote a daily cartoon series of Today's the Day for the Daily Express.[4] He worked alongside Irving Wallace and his son David Wallechinsky and daughter Amy Wallace as the biggest contributor to the sex and death chapters of The Book of Lists and was the London editor of The People's Almanac 2. The Wallaces' book The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People (Dell (US) Hutchinson (UK), 1981) was researched in part in Beadle's library, which contained an extensive collection of erotic literature.[4]

In autumn 2007, three new books by Beadle were published: Firsts, Lasts & Onlys: Crime, Firsts, Lasts & Onlys: Military (both co-authored by the celebrated writer Ian Harrison) and Beadle's Miscellany, the first hundred quizzes from his weekly puzzlers in The Independent. He guest-edited the January 2008 edition of True Detective, which featured contributions from his friends who are crime experts including James Morton,[10] Paul Donnelley,[11] Andrew Rose and Matthew Spicer.

In 1995, Beadle wrote the foreword to Who Was Jack the Ripper?, a collection of theories and observations about the Victorian serial murderer, published by the veteran true crime book dealer Camille Woolf. It included contributions from experts such as Martin Fido, Colin Wilson, Donald Rumbelow, Colin Kendell and Richard Whittington-Egan. In his foreword, Beadle coined the collective noun to describe those interested in the subject "a speculation of Ripperologists".

General knowledge[edit]

Renowned for his general knowledge, Beadle was host of Win Beadle's Money', based on the US format Win Ben Stein's Money. Beadle lost his money only eight times in 52 shows. He also wrote a quiz for The Independent every Saturday. He occasionally appeared as a panellist on Radio 4's Quote... Unquote and in dictionary corner for Channel 4's Countdown.

Beadle was also a winner on the game show 19 Keys, presented by Richard Bacon, defeating Nick Weir, Nicholas Parsons and fellow Game for a Laugh presenter Henry Kelly.

Charity work[edit]

An estimate of Beadle's total charitable fund raising is around £100 million.[12]

In the 2001 New Year Honours Beadle was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to charity.[13] He was a keen supporter of the charity Children With Leukaemia, a disease he suffered from himself in 2005. He helped raise money for charities with Plastermind, his "outrageous quiz for those who don't like quizzes", as well as a school video venture called CamClass.[14]

Beadle was a patron of The Philip Green Memorial Trust, and he hosted an annual quiz party to raise money for disadvantaged children. Beadle was also the patron of Reach, an organisation providing support and advice for children in the UK with hand or arm deficiencies, and their parents.[15]

He was a Freemason,[16] initiated in the Westminster City Council Lodge No. 2882, under the United Grand Lodge of England. Although he did not join until after his television heyday was over, he quickly became involved with all aspects of English Freemasonry, and particularly its charitable work, often using his celebrity status to assist in raising funds for Masonic charities.[17]

Health and disability[edit]

Beadle had Poland syndrome,[18] which manifested itself as a disproportionately small right hand.[1] In 2004, Beadle was diagnosed with kidney cancer and underwent a successful operation to remove it.[19] In April 2005, a blood test during a routine post-op medical check-up led to his being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.[20] Beadle was successfully treated for this, though two serious illnesses in such a short space of time were detrimental to his general state of health.


Grave, Highgate Cemetery

On 25 January 2008, it was reported that Beadle had been admitted to a north London hospital, and was subsequently placed in a critical care unit with pneumonia.[21] He died on 30 January 2008 at the age of 59.[12] His body was subsequently cremated at Marylebone Crematorium on 14 February 2008,[22] and the ashes were buried in a grave at Highgate Cemetery, the distinctive headstone reflecting his bibliophile inclination with a stack of sculpted stone tomes, with the inscription: Writer, Presenter, Curator of Oddities.


On 2 February 2008, ITV dedicated that day's episode of You've Been Framed to Beadle and promoted a tribute webpage to him over the show's credits. The channel's official tribute to Jeremy Beadle was broadcast on 4 February 2008 where various celebrity friends including Alan Sugar paid tribute.[23]

A further tribute was aired on Friday 16 May, An Audience Without Jeremy Beadle, hosted by Chris Tarrant and with contributions from Alan Sugar, Henry Kelly, Ken Campbell and Anneka Rice.[24]

His obituary in The Daily Telegraph claimed that he "was the most avidly watched presenter on television".[25] On 15 August 2010 he was the subject of an ITV documentary, The Unforgettable Jeremy Beadle.

TV appearances[edit]



  • Today's the Day – A Chronicle of the Curious, a book of anniversaries (1979, US edition 1981)
  • The Book of Outlawed Inventions (with Chris Winn)
  • Beadle's About (with Robert Randell)
  • How to Make Your Own Video Blockbuster (with Mark Leigh and Mike Lepine)
  • Watch Out! My Autobiography (with Alec Lom)
  • The Gossip's Guide to Madame Tussaud's (pulped because of unflattering comments about Kemal Atatürk)
  • Firsts, Lasts & Onlys Crime (with Ian Harrison) (2007)
  • Firsts, Lasts & Onlys Military (with Ian Harrison) (2007)
  • Beadle's Miscellany (2007)


  • The Best of Beadle's About
  • You've Been Framed
  • You've Been Framed Again
  • Jeremy Beadle's Beginners Guide to Practical Joking
  • The Story of Crime
  • Bickershaw Festival 1972
  • Bickershaw Festival Volume 2


  • True Detective January 2008 (Guest Editor. First in 57 years)


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Jeremy Beadle". BBC News. London. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  2. ^ The Unforgettable Jeremy Beadle, ITV
  3. ^ a b c d e James Macintyre, "Jeremy Beadle, king of the TV practical jokers, dies aged 59", The Independent, 31 January 2008
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Beadle, Watch Out! My Autobiography
  5. ^ a b Barker, Dennis (31 January 2008). "Obituary: Jeremy Beadle". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  6. ^ Tony Elliott "'I think he'd rather not have been a clown'", The Guardian, 1 February 2008
  7. ^ "What's Brewing", March 2008 edition.
  8. ^ Hodgson, Martin (31 January 2008). "Veteran TV joker Jeremy Beadle dies of pneumonia, aged 59". Guardian media section. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  9. ^ "PAUL DONNELLEY". Archived from the original on 4 March 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  10. ^ "Invalid Site". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  11. ^ " - Home".
  12. ^ a b "TV presenter Beadle dies aged 59". BBC News. London. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  13. ^ "No. 56070". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2000. p. 14.
  14. ^ "Now Beadle's about helping good causes". The Guardian. London. 16 November 2002. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  15. ^ "Who's Who in Reach". Archived from the original on 28 January 2007. Retrieved 11 February 2007.
  16. ^ "What is Freemasonry?". North Kent Lodge No 2499. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  17. ^ See this website for citation.
  18. ^ Burt, Jennifer (20 October 1997). "Jeremy was a role model for children". Leicester (UK) Mercury.
  19. ^ "Beadle in hospital with pneumonia". BBC. 25 January 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Jeremy Beadle's death frightened my family'". South Wales Echo. 27 February 2008.
  21. ^ Hilton, Beth (25 January 2008). "Beadle seriously ill with pneumonia". Digital Spy. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  22. ^ Hilton, Beth (15 February 2008). "Mourners gather for Beadle's funeral". Digital Spy. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Jeremy Beadle dies". ITV plc. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2008.
  24. ^ "Comedy – An Audience Without Jeremy Beadle – ITV Entertainment". Retrieved 27 July 2008.
  25. ^ Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 30 January 2008

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Host of You've Been Framed!
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Host of Chain Letters
Succeeded by