Monday, August 31, 2009

How Dee-lightful

Sad about Simon Dee. A giant of the time and very much identified with the Swinging Sixties. Another icon of the era bites the dust.

I know he was difficult as a friend of mine wrote a book about him a few years ago - which he hated, obviously, but which was all true. It took years to do, after having first gained the man's trust in a letter-writing campaign in which Dee was pompous, rude, barking and revelatory all at once, and which went on for a good few years before he'd co-operate with the book.

I've seen and read all the letters, which should be published in their own right. But it was also very sad to see how far a once great man had fallen, now living round the corner from the leisure centre in the back streets of Winchester, a bitter, broken man who knew he'd blown it but was too proud to admit it.

My friend the author finally met the great man a few times, and though guarded and not exactly charming, he was interesting and good company, with many great stories to tell. But he would never admit how he was impossible to work with and how fame completely went to his head.

I'm glad he got to do the book - a lifelong dream, despite being at least 10 years younger than me, and so remembering even less of the Sixties. In fact none of it.

It's called something like Whatever Happened To Simon Dee by Richard Wiseman, and it's well worth a look. And no doubt coming to BBC4 soon. If it's not, it really should be.

1 comment:

LF Barfe said...

I have letters from Dee too, as I tried to set up an interview with him for Turned Out Nice Again. They were very pleasant and he seemed receptive, but who knows how it would have ended up? In the end, I had plenty of Dee Time material from members of the production team. On the few surviving recordings, he is immensely likeable, and was a half-decent interviewer. Although undoubtedly well prepared by researchers (most of whom went on to become producers and executives in their own right), he does seem to listen and follow up with good supplementary questions.

There was a flawed, but interesting Channel 4 documentary about him in 2003, called Deeconstruction, with which Richard had some involvement. I could have sworn I had Richard's book, but I found that I didn't have it. Now rectified.