This is the story of a young boy from the rough side of Tunbridge Wells (yes, there is one). A boy born in black and white (as his parents couldn’t afford colour) who would survive the trauma of terrifying 1960s children’s TV puppet shows and public information films, a family break up and being a gay teenager through the Glam Rock 1970s to go to London and become part of the new wave of youth culture in Punk and Disco. It’s the story of 70s and 80s youth subculture told through pioneering gay theatre productions, the world’s first ever gay radio pirate radio broadcasts and then finally becoming the first openly gay TV presenter on the seminal rock television show, The Tube.
Throughout all of these times this author’s story is that of an outsider, someone who experienced extraordinary people, times and events without ever venturing too far in. This is also the story of forgotten people, other outsiders; those who took risks, fought the system and whose names and feats have slipped away into obscurity. But above all this is a book which captures the zeitgeist of a 60s childhood, a teenage 70s and the explosion of youth culture in the early 80s.
From Bolan and Bowie to Frankie and Duran Duran, every cliché is there stuck rigid with nuclear hair gel and fabulous shoulder pads. If you’ve ever wondered what a TV presenter actually does whilst trying to figure out what’s going on around him, then this is the story for you.
Gary James is an actor, writer and broadcaster who was born and raised in Tunbridge Wells. After a stint with local operatic dramatic companies he moved to London in 1975 to seek fame and fortune in Pukka Theatre. He was a founding member of the Young People’s Theatre Scheme at the Royal Court Theatre and was then a member of the political touring theatre company, Gay Sweatshop. He also wrote and co-presented for the world’s first gay radio programme made by and for gay people in London and broadcast by a pirate radio station from an aerial secreted on the 13th floor balcony washing line of a tower block in Old Street. In 1982 Gary became one of the presenters of the seminal rock television show, The Tube, for the new national TV station – Channel 4. He also broadcast regularly on BBC London as well as others. He now lives in East Sussex with his partner and champion mouser cat.