The art of conversation is something which the human race thrives on in order to go about our everyday lives and make sense of the complex world around us. When radio and then later television began to gain momentum during the Fifties, producers were quick to realise that a large percentage of the audience didn’t just want to be entertained. They also were interested to learn a little about the stars who entertained them. Early attempts at the chat show format included the BBC’s In Town Tonight and Face To Face which irrespective of the formal pragmatics of the situation, perhaps offered a personal insight into public figures for the very first time. But of course whatever the airwaves could do, print could do quicker, easier and more efficiently.
Press Play, below, to listen to the full interview
Journalist and broadcaster John Hannam was born in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight and always had aspirations of following in the footsteps of his Variety heroes whom he’d grown up watching in the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, where his parents would often take him as a boy. Here, he saw the likes of Benny Hill, Eartha Kitt and Tommy Trinder who each left a definite impression on young John and this made him realise where his true calling lay. After contributing articles to The Stage magazine, John looked a little closer to home for his next venture into entertainment. The Isle Of Wight Evening Post was looking for a showbiz reporter to write a weekly column entitled ‘Stage Talk’ and with his connections to the world of entertainment, John became the perfect candidate.
John Hannam’s ‘Stage Talk’ got up close and personal with some of this country’s favourite stars and consequently made John a local hero. But he knew he had so much more to offer. In 1990 the Isle of Wight won the rights to create it’s very first commercial radio station and John was selected to front a Sunday afternoon chat show simply entitled John Hannam Meets. For over a quarter of a century, many Isle of Wight residents associated John Hannam with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for he provided the perfect accompaniment for Sunday lunch. Never afraid to move with the times, in summer 2016 John moved his successful radio show to an online podcast. You can listen to his interview archive at: www.johnhannam.com or on audioboom.
If that wasn’t enough, John has written several books about his life in entertainment and has recently self-published a memoir of his interviews with music stars of the Fifties and Sixties. The John Hannam Interviews is available to buy by clicking HERE and this also has information on how to purchase John’s other works. Take it from me, they’re a good read! Not just tales of some of the most prolific stars of the Twentieth century but a tidy reminder of showbiz days gone by. Very few people in Britain have a more extensive interview archive than John, so consequently this book is a tiny slice of British cultural history.
Over the last few years I’m delighted to say that John and I have developed a strong friendship and I have been lucky enough to get to know the man himself reasonably well. When I was organising the launch of Following The Money’s documentary launch last year, there was only ever one man with the charisma and professionalism to pull it off. I will always be forever grateful to John for his involvement in the early stages of my career and long may he reign over our airwaves.