07 December 2018
Veteran broadcaster Tom Edwards will reveal all about a life in which his pirate radio boss was murdered, he reached the top of the industry and spent three years in rehab, in an explosive new book set to be launched at Birmingham City University tomorrow.
Edwards, whose career started in pirate radio on an off-shore boat before working for the likes of the BBC and ITV, has written his memoir ‘Is There Anybody There’ to look back over his 53 years in the industry and battle against alcoholism.
Edwards ‘reveals all, both the good and the bad’ in the book which also details his time living rough on the streets of Norwich and how his friendship with the late Bob Monkhouse helped him turn his life around after reaching rock bottom.
The book will be officially launched at an event held at Birmingham City University’s Parkside Building, where the 73-year-old will speak about the revelations in the memoir and how recent illness helped him realise he needed to immortalise his anecdotes.
Among the tales that will be revealed in the book, Edwards will discuss how the breakdown of his relationship with the BBC and the passing of his mother contributed to his alcoholism.
He will also give behind the scenes accounts of his time in broadcasting including how his friend and fellow broadcaster ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton once distracted him during a live broadcast by baring his rear end – along with a daffodil.
Speaking ahead of the launch Tom Edwards said: “There are some things in the book which I’ve never talked about and it has been a difficult but cathartic process writing it. As hard as it was getting some of these details down, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t tell the full story. My full story.
“My pirate radio boss was murdered and the whole experience of broadcasting off-shore was often very scary. There were, of course, no mobile phones so we would have certain songs we would play to let people back in London know if we were in trouble.”
On the difficulties he experienced working with an addiction to alcohol Edwards continued: “My career nose-dived, it took me three years to reach rock bottom. There were two things which sent me over the edge, the breakdown of my relationship with the BBC and the death of my mother shortly afterwards.
“When I was at my lowest it was Bob Monkhouse, who I had only met once at the time, who came to my rescue and offered to help with anything I needed. And Bob would become a really dear friend after that.
“I’m glad that with the help of friends I was able to repair my relationship with the BBC and that badly burnt bridge has been rebuilt.”
Edwards began his career working as a Blue Coat at Pontins before pirate radio gave him the opportunity to begin broadcasting, with the passing of the Marine Broadcasting Offence Act in 1967 bringing an end to the 60s era of offshore broadcasting.
Following his time DJing from ‘the boat that rocked’, he spent decades working for a range of outlets including the BBC, ITV and Thames TV before his struggles with alcoholism would contribute to the end of that chapter of his life.
Speaking about his three years in rehabilitation (1995 – 1998) Edwards explains his desire to help others in need, his difficulties watching friends descend into the same battle and the impact of seeing celebrities such as Johnny Vegas and Paul Gascoigne publicly abuse alcohol.
He said: “You see the stories of Johnny Vegas in the news this week or Paul Gascoigne over the years and it brings it all back, I just want to help people who are going through the kind of difficulties I have.
“I’ve read hundreds of news bulletins, but the first time I led a therapy session was the first time I truly felt that I knew what I was talking about.
“I chose the title ‘Is There Anybody There’ because it’s a phrase I used to use during my 5am broadcasts to see if anybody was listening. Some decades later when I found myself lying drunk on the floor, I would ask the same question but for very different reasons.”
Tom now lives quietly in the village of Heckington, coping daily with the consequences of his actions and hopes that the people that read his book will learn from his mistakes.
Tom Edwards (right) is pictured in the studio