Adams speaking at the
2010 Global Atheist Convention
Phillip Andrew Hedley Adams
12 July 1939
|Residence||Hunter Valley, New South Wales|
|Occupation||Film producer; journalist; broadcaster; former advertising executive|
|Known for||Revival of Australian cinema;|
|Spouse(s)||Rosemary Fawcett (div.)|
Phillip Andrew Hedley Adams AO FAHA FRSA (born 12 July 1939) is an Australian humanist, social commentator, broadcaster, public intellectual and farmer. He hosts Late Night Live, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) program on Radio National four nights a week. He also writes a weekly column for The Weekend Australian.
Adams has had careers in advertising and film production and has served on many non-profit boards including Wikileaks,Greenpeace Australia, Ausflag, Care Australia, Film Victoria, National Museum of Australia, both the Adelaide and Brisbane festivals of ideas, the Montsalvat Arts Society and the Don Dunstan Foundation.
Adams has been appointed both a member and subsequently an officer of the Order of Australia; and he has received numerous awards including six honorary doctorates from Australian universities; Republican of the Year 2005; the Senior ANZAC Fellowship; the Australian Humanist of the Year, the Golden Lion at Cannes; the Longford Award; a Walkley Award; and the Henry Lawson Australian Arts Award. In 1997 the International Astronomical Union named a minor planet orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter after him. A National Trust poll elected him one of Australia's 100 national living treasures.
Adams was born in Maryborough, Victoria, the only child of Congregational Church minister, the Reverend Charles Adams. His childhood was anything but idyllic and his parents separated when he was young. Interviewed in 2006, Adams said that:
My first memories were my mother... absolutely dependent on the begging bowl – that little round dish with a piece of cloth at the bottom where parishioners would put a couple of bob. When dad went off to the war, I was taken up by my grandparents... and lived on a dirt-poor farm... I lived in penury for the first 10, 15 years of my life. ... Mother dumped [my father] in favour of a rather sleazy businessman ... a sociopath who tried to murder me ... I spent my latter part of my childhood trying to protect my mother from this psycho.
Of his education he has said: "I was forced to leave school before completing my secondary education and the only job I could get was working in advertising."
Adams joined the Australian Communist Party at age 16, whilst employed in advertising, but left at age 19. He has often compared dogmatic belief in communism to dogmatic belief in Roman Catholicism.
Adams began his advertising career with Briggs & James and, later, with Brian Monahan and Lyle Dayman, became a partner in the agency Monahan Dayman Adams. They took that company to a successful public listing and Adams became a millionaire in the process. He developed successful campaigns such as Life. Be in it., Slip, Slop, Slap, Break down the Barriers' for the International Year of the Disabled Person and Care for Kids for the International Year of the Child, working with talent such as Fred Schepisi, Alex Stitt, Peter Best, Robyn Archer and Mimmo Cozzolino. Adams left the advertising industry in the 1980s. Monahan Dayman Adams purchased the successful Sydney agency MoJo in 1987 and carried on as MojoMDA. Its lineage can today be traced to Publicis Mojo, an Australian subsidiary of the French multinational advertising and communications company holding Publicis Groupe.
He wrote regular columns for The Age, The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the National Times, Nation Review, the Courier Mail, the Adelaide Advertiser, the Launceston Examiner, Australian Business, The Bulletin and was a contributor to the New York Times, the Financial Times and The Times of London. He currently writes a weekly column for The Australian.
Adams played a key role in the revival of the Australian film industry during the 1970s. He was the author of a 1969 report which led to legislation by Prime Minister John Gorton in 1970 for an Australian Film and Television Development Corporation (later the Australian Film Commission) and the Experimental Film Fund.
Together with Barry Jones, Adams was a motivating force behind the Australian Film Television and Radio School which was established under the Whitlam government. Adams played a key role in the development of the South Australian Film Corporation, which was created in 1972 and became a model for similar bodies in other Australian states; and in the establishment of the Australia Council and the Australian Film Development Corporation, later known as the Australian Film Commission, the Film Finance Corporation Australia, and Screen Australia. As head of delegation to the Cannes Film Festival, Adams signed Australia's first co-production agreements with France and the UK. He was Chairman of the Australian Film Institute, the Film and Television Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Film Commission, and Film Australia. He helped establish the Australian Caption Service, which provides services for hearing-impaired television viewers – and the Travelling Film Festival to take quality films into rural areas.
In the 1960s Adams co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed (as well as serving as cinematographer for) his first feature film Jack and Jill: A Postscript (1969); the first feature to win the AFI Award, and the first Australian film to win the Grand Prix at an international festival.
Adams produced or co-produced other features including the critically panned but hugely popular film adaptation of Barry Humphries' The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, directed by Bruce Beresford, which became the most successful Australian film ever made up to that time. Other films include The Naked Bunyip, Don's Party, The Getting of Wisdom, Lonely Hearts, We of the Never Never, Grendel Grendel Grendel, Fighting Back, Hearts and Minds and Abra Cadabra.
Adams initially presented a late-night program on Sydney commercial radio station 2UE during the late 1980s and early 1990s before succeeding Virginia Bell in 1991 as presenter of ABC Radio National's Late Night Live, interviewing guests on a wide range of topics including politics, science, philosophy, history and culture. Late Night Live is broadcast across Australia on ABC Radio National, as well as on Radio Australia and the Internet. The program is broadcast live from 22:00 AEST/ADST and is repeated the following day at 16:00 AEST/ADST. A serious discussion of world issues, the program is tempered with Adams' gentle and ironic humour. Regular contributors include Bruce Shapiro and Beatrix Campbell.
At times, Adams refers tongue-in-cheek to his listeners as "the listener" or "Gladys", as though he had only one listener; he also refers to listeners collectively as "Gladdies". In more recent years, Adams has begun introducing the show saying "Good evening Gladdies and Poddies", in reference to the show's growing podcast listener base.
The current theme music is the first movement of Brescianello's violin concerto no. 4 in e-minor, Op. 1. Until March 2016 the theme was a short extract from the Eliza Aria from the Wild Swans ballet by Elena Kats-Chernin Wild Swans Concert Suite, performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with soprano Jane Sheldon, chosen in 2010. From 2007 to 2010, the theme music was Kats-Chernin's "Russian Rag", which Adams humorously refers to as "The Waltz of the Wombat". The previous music was Bach's Concerto for oboe, violin and orchestra in C minor, BWV 1060: III. Allegro.
In 2007, a claim Adams had made on Late Night Live was questioned by the ABC's Media Watch program following an interview with filmmaker Anna Broinowski. During the interview with Broinowski, Adams had described a previous interview he had done with author Helen Dale as one of his "most chilling experiences" which had made his "blood freeze". Following Adams' claim, Dale lodged a complaint with the ABC to advise them she had never been on Late Night Live nor had she ever been interviewed by Adams. After the validity of his claim was questioned, Adams admitted he had been mistaken but insisted he had met Dale at some point in time, but had seemingly made no impression on her. Media Watch presenter Monica Attard questioned why Adams escalated a vague chance encounter to a "chilling" interview.
In 2010, in a broad and lengthy criticism of the ABC's handling of live breaking news following the 2010 Labor leadership spill, Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes accused Adams of "sheer insouciance". Holmes criticised Adams for largely ignoring the overthrow of an Australian prime minister on his program, despite it being broadcast live as events unfolded. Apart from two brief mentions of the spill, Adams ignored the story preferring to have a 20-minute discussion about Kyrgyzstan, following by a conversation with a guest about cooking. Holmes accused Adams of being blithe and asked why Adams would bother hosting a live radio program if live breaking news of major events was to be ignored.
Adams was the foundation chairman of the Commission for the Future, established by the Hawke government to build bridges between science and the community. In 1988 the Commission won a major United Nations award for educating Australia on the issue of greenhouse and climate change. He chaired the National Australia Day Council; whose principal task was to choose the Australian of the Year.
Adams was the inaugural chair for the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, established by the South Australian government, and chaired the advisory board for the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University. He has been a board member of Greenpeace, CARE Australia, the National Museum of Australia, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, the Adelaide Festival of Ideas and Brisbane's Ideas Festival. He was co-founder of the Australian Skeptics.
Adams is the author or editor of more than 20 books, including The Unspeakable Adams, Adams Versus God, The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes, Retreat from Tolerance, Talkback and A Billion Voices, Adams Ark, and, with Lee Burton, Emperors of the Air.
Robert Manne has described Adams as "the emblematic figurehead of the pro-Labor left intelligentsia". Adams had a close relationship with every Labor leader from Gough Whitlam to Kevin Rudd, advising on public relations, advertising and policy issues. In 2010, Adams resigned from the Labor Party after Rudd was defeated as the Leader of the Labor Party at the 2010 Labor leadership spill.
Adams is married to Patrice Newell. He has four daughters: three with his first wife, Rosemary Fawcett, and one with Newell. He lives on "Elmswood", a large property near Gundy in the Hunter Region in mid-northern New South Wales. He and his wife grow garlic and olives, and farm organically fed cattle. He has a home in Paddington, an inner suburb of Sydney. Prior to this, Adams lived for some time in "Stoneleigh", a heritage-listed house in Darlinghurst. Adams is a collector of rare antiquities, including Egyptian, Roman and Greek sculptures and artifacts.
He has written "I'd been an atheist since I was five."
Honours and awards
- Windgrove Laureate (2004)
- Senior ANZAC Fellow (1981)
- Henry Lawson Arts Award (1987)
- United Nations Media Award (2005)
- Multiple AFI Awards for various films
- Honorary Doctor of the University, Griffith University
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, Edith Cowan University (2003)
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Sydney (2005)
- Honorary Doctor of the University, University of South Australia (2010)
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, Macquarie University (2014)
- Honorary Doctorate, Australian Film, Television and Radio School, 2016
- Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 1992, for service to the Australian film and television industries
- Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 1987, for service to the arts, particularly to film and television
- Living Treasures by the National Trust in 1998
- Walkley Award for Broadcast Journalism (2004)
- Responsibility in Journalism Award 1998 (SCICOP) New York
- Australian Republican of the Year 2005 (Australian Republican Party)
- Australian Humanist of the Year 1987 – Awarded by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies
- Australian Centenary Medal (1 January 2001)  "For service to Australian society in journalism"
- Raymond Longford Award (the Australian film industry's highest accolade, in 1981, for "Outstanding Services to the Australian Film Industry"
- A minor planet, discovered by R.H. McNaught at Siding Spring (1990) was named "Phillipadams" by the International Astronomical Union (1997)
- Human Rights Medal awarded by the Australian Government's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2006) (Shared with Father Chris Riley)
- In 1996 the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSICOP) presented Adams with the Responsibility in Journalism Award.
- A Billion Voices
- Classic Columns
- Adams Ark (2004)
- Adams Versus God
- Retreat from Tolerance
- The Uncensored Adams
- The Inflammable Adams
- The Unspeakable Adams
- More Unspeakable Adams
- Adams with Added Enzymes
- Talkback: Emperors of the Air
- Adams Vs. God: The Rematch (2007)
- Harrold Cazneaux: The Quiet Observer
- The Big Questions (with Professor Paul Davies)
- More Big Questions (with Professor Paul Davies)
- Bedtime Stories – Tales from my 21 Years at Late Night Live
- With his partner Patrice Newell, he is the author of several joke books:
- The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes (1994)
- The Penguin Book of Jokes from Cyberspace (1995)
- The Penguin Book of More Australian Jokes (1996)
- The Penguin Book of Schoolyard Jokes (1997)
- A Personal History of the Australian Surf
- Hearts and Minds (1966) (producer)
- Jack and Jill: A Postscript (1970) (producer, writer, director)
- The Naked Bunyip (1970) (producer)
- The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) (producer)
- Don's Party (1976) (producer)
- The Getting of Wisdom (1978) (producer)
- Grendel Grendel Grendel (1981) (producer)
- Fighting Back (1982) (executive producer)
- Lonely Hearts (1982) (executive producer)
- We of the Never Never (1982) (executive producer)
- Kitty and the Bagman (1983) (producer)
- Abra Cadabra (1983) (producer)
- Dallas Doll (1994) as Radio Announcer
- Road to Nhill (1997) as God (voice)
- Adams' Australia (part of BBC TV's contribution to Australia's celebrations for its bicentenary).
- The Big Questions with Professor Paul Davies
- Death and Destiny filmed in Egypt with Paul Cox.
- More Big Questions with Professor Paul Davies
- Face The Press SBS
- Short Cuts ABC
- Four Corners
- This Day Tonight
- 7:30 Report
- Clive James
- Will Be Back After This Break (7 Network)
- Two Shot series 1 and 2 (ABC)
- Short and Sweet (2 6-part series, ABC)
- Talking Heads
- A Current Affair
- Sixty Minutes
- Australian Story
- Counterpoint with William F. Buckley Jr
- The Chaser's War on Everything
- Compere, Australian Film Institute Awards Telecast
- Co-presenter, the Australian Bicentennial Celebration
- "Bazza turns 30". The Age. Melbourne. 7 March 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- "National Living Treasures". National Trust of Australia. 2012. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 23 December Writing in The Monthly Professor Robert Manne described Adams as ‘perhaps the most remarkable broadcaster in the history of this country’. 2014. Check date values in:
- "Phillip Adams AO". Screen Forever. Screen Producers Australia. November 2014. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Adams, Phillip (19 July 2006). "Broadcaster Phillip Adams in conversation with Richard Fidler". The Backyard (Radio interview). Interviewed by Richard Fidler. Australia: ABC Radio National. Archived from the original (transcript and streaming audio) on 1 November 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Adams, Phillip; Croucher, Rowland (October 1998). "I Am Proud That". John Mark Ministries. Archived from the original on 5 January 2003. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Adams, Phillip (14 September 2006). "Phillip Adams" (transcript and streaming audio). Conversations with Richard Fidler (Radio interview). Interviewed by Richard Fidler. Australia: ABC Local Radio. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Stitt, Alexander; Adams, Phillip (1993–1994). "Animation cel of 'Norm' from the 'Life. Be in it' campaign, 1993 – 1994" (Acetate, paper, cardboard). Powerhouse Museum Collection Search 2.53. South Yarra, Victoria, Australia: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
- Victoria, SunSmart. "Page Not Found". SunSmart.
- Hood, Robert. "A Brief History of the Film Industry in Australia and New Zealand" (Appendix). Killer Koalas: Australian (and New Zealand) Horror Films. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Hodson, Bruce. "The Carlton Ripple and the Australian Film Revival". Screening the Past. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
- "About us: Late Night Live". ABC Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Luker, Philip (20 April 2011). Phillip Adams: The Ideas Man – A Life Revealed. JoJo Publishing. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-9870734-6-4.
- Attard, Monica (24 September 2007) Have we met?, Media Watch (Episode 30), Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- Holmes, Jonathan (29 June 2010) Breaking news is hard to do, Media Watch (Episode 21), Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- "Phillip Adams AO". Speaker Profile. The Celebrity Speakers Bureau. 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Manne, Robert (18 October 2004). "Labor must confront its identity crisis". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- Adams, Phillip. "Why I quit the Labor Party". The Australian.
- Adams, Phillip (1995). The Role of the Media.
- Adams, Phillip (16 July 2005). "Adams file". The Weekend Australian Magazine.
- "House "Stoneleigh" Including Interior, Front Fence and Grounds – NSW Environment & Heritage". www.environment.nsw.gov.au.
- "ECU Honorary Award Recipients" (PDF). Edith Cowan University.[permanent dead link]
- "Robyn Archer and Phillip Adams honoured". The University of Sydney. 4 May 2005.
- "Mr Phillip Adams AO". University of South Australia. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Phillip Adams AO receives honorary doctorate from Macquarie University". Macquarie University. 17 April 2014.
- "Adams, Phillip Andrew: Officer of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 1992.
- "Adams, Phillip Andrew Hedley: Member of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 1987.
- "CSICOP Award Winners". Skeptical Inquirer. 20 (5): 7. 1996.
- ABC Late Night Live podcasts
- Biography (ABC)
- Why We Need a Revolution Now
- My Life as Phillip Adams: A Memoir (Imre Salusinszky)
- Phillip Adams on IMDb