First TV chat king Simon Dee dies from bone cancer

By Mail On Sunday Reporter
Last updated at 2:39 PM on 30th August 2009

Simon Dee, Britain’s first TV chat show host, today died after losing his battle with bone cancer .

Mr Dee, 74, was a major star in the late Sixties, attracting 18million viewers with his twice-weekly BBC show Dee Time.

Guests included Sammy Davis Jr, Lee Marvin, Charlton Heston, and .

He first found fame on pirate station Radio Caroline and, according to , his Sixties grooviness made him the inspiration for Austin Powers. 

TV Pioneer: Simon Dee in his heyday
Simon Dee recently

Pioneer: Simon Dee in the 1960s (left) and near his home in Winchester recently

The public school-educated star was even considered as a successor to for the role of .

But his TV career ended after a series of rows with management.

He was forced to go on the dole before becoming a bus driver.

It was only yesterday revealed that his bone cancer was terminal and that his condition was very grave,

Friends said Mr Dee had recently been admitted to Royal Hampshire County Hospital, near his home in Winchester.

His condition swiftly deteriorated and was understood to be so advanced that it was beyond treatment.

One friend, Roger Backhouse QC, said before his death: ‘Simon is being amazingly strong. His mind has not gone and he is still fun to be with.

Simon Dee, as the Radio Caroline DJ, presents the Radio Caroline First Birthday 'Bell' Award to The Beatles at the Twickenham Film Studios in 1965

Simon Dee, as the Radio Caroline DJ, presents the Radio Caroline First Birthday 'Bell' Award to The Beatles at the Twickenham Film Studios in 1965

'He is bearing himself in a very composed and dignified manner. He’s never shown any rancour or bitterness about his fall from grace.’

Tom Romita, who runs a newsagents in Winchester, added: ‘Simon is terminally ill. He’s got days left.

'He has got bone cancer and it is well advanced. It’s a case of them just making him comfortable.’

Another friend, John Harding, said: ‘Simon is being extremely brave.’

Mr Dee, whose real name Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd, moved to Winchester 15 years ago and lives in a tiny, one bedroom flat.

It was a world away from the life of luxury he lived in the 1960s.

At the height of his fame he compered Miss World, appeared on Juke Box Jury and Top of the Pops helped launch pirate pop station Radio Caroline.

Simon Dee
Austin Powers

Sixties icon: Mr Dee is thought to be the inspiration for Austin Powers (right)

Due to a disagreement between him and BBC bosses over his huge salary demands, his contract was reviewed in 1969 and he left the channel.

The former RAF photographer was offered £100,000 for a two-year contract with the independent channel LWT and commenced a series with them in January 1970.

But Mr Dee fell out with the LWT management as well and they terminated his contract after only a few months.

Having alienated both the BBC and independent television, he disappeared from the airwaves.

He signed on for unemployment benefit at the Fulham labour exchange and, unable to revive his showbusiness career, he took a job as a bus driver.

He also had several court appearances and in 1974 he served 28 days in Pentonville prison for non-payment of rates on his former Chelsea home.

Every time he left his cell, the prisoners on his wing shouted out his catchphrase, 'It's Siiiiiimon Dee!' 

 

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The comments below have been moderated in advance.

There's another part of my younger years gone. So sad that we all have to get old.

I will miss him and often wondered why it all went so wrong for him - I used to watch his show every week when I was a kid.

RIP.

Click to rate     Rating   93

I met him a few times professionaly. Once he was horrid when doing a photo-shoot for his range of 'Dee-Time' watches around London, but the next time, at the opening of his wife's chilren's clothes shop in Hampstead he was different. However, he was a main player in the swinging London scene of the sixties and may become an icon. Only time will tell.

Click to rate     Rating   36

Sad news, but this guy was worth £6m a year not like Woss. In his day he was so far in front of therest and even better than we get now!!

Click to rate     Rating   77

Simon was an innovator in his day, it was his contribution to the likes of Radio Caroline that broke the BBC's stranglehold on the pop music of that time. He may have been off the scene for many years but certainly not forgotten, God bless you Simon and rest in peace.

Click to rate     Rating   82

I remember him from my childhood. I wish I'd met him.

Click to rate     Rating   62

Lomax, Luton, I think you are looking at the 60s through rose coloured glasses. Remember,for example, that was the time when the Moors murders were happening and the Kray twins and Richardson gang were operating.

Click to rate     Rating   193

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