Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Gerry Anderson: Gary Glitter was a great guy

Gerry Anderson and Gail Edgar in Cafe Vaudeville.
Gerry Anderson and Gail Edgar in Cafe Vaudeville.

Veteran radio presenter Gerry Anderson has defended convicted paedophile Gary Glitter — claiming no one is completely evil.

The Radio Ulster favourite interviewed the now-shamed glam-rock singer — real name Paul Gadd — on his BBC chat show Anderson on the Box in the mid-nineties.

Recalling Glitter’s time on the show, Gerry said: “He was great. I don’t care what anybody says about him.

“I know he’s probably done things, but nobody is all bad. I really liked him — he was funny.”

Perverted Glitter has convictions for downloading child porn in England and was recently released from jail in Vietnam after serving a three-year term for sexually abusing young girls. The disgraced singer (64) is now living in hiding in England.

Popular presenter Gerry recalled how Glitter changed into his costume and wig after filming on his show in Belfast had ended to meet a fan.

“This woman came up to me with her daughter who was 21 or 22 years old, blind and terribly scarred and she looked as though she had been burned,” he said.

“The woman said her daughter was a big Gary fan and asked could she meet him.

“I said I don’t know, he’s in there now and he’s probably got his wig off! I went back and I knocked the door and Gary’s standing there in his underpants and baldy head and I said, ‘Gary I hate to bother you, but there’s a girl out here — she’s had a rough time, she’s blind. She wants to meet you.’

Gerry said Glitter got dressed up and chatted to the fan for an hour.

He added: “He came out and he first of all, not in a sleazy way, said, ‘Oh my God, look at your hair. Your hair is beautiful.’

“When she walked out she was ten feet above the ground. I remember saying to myself I couldn’t have done that. I’d never seen anything done as well as that.

“Any time I see him I always remember that. He didn’t have to do that.

“Afterwards he didn’t say anything, he just said, ‘That’s good’ and away he went.”

Gerry admitted he’s confused by his experience of Glitter in contrast with the shamed singer’s portrayal in the media.

“Sometimes Press hound people. Sometimes they find a victim. And right enough they have committed a crime, but sometimes it’s easy for the Press to really give them a hard time.

“I’m not saying Gary Glitter was anyway innocent or anything, but sometimes you suspect when you have met somebody and what you have discovered about that person is totally opposite of what you read every day.

“You begin to wonder. It confuses you.”

In in-depth interview with Sunday Life the smooth-talking presenter also:

  • Admitted that he was too shy to meet his hero Kirk Douglas;
  • Described what it was like to be Britain’s most hated man while he was presenting a show on Radio Four;
  • Recalled an accidental ‘shoplifting’ incident; and
  • Revealed his love of writing and his plans for the future.
  • The popular broadcaster, who’s famous for his gift of the gab, was making a documentary in the States when the owner of the hotel he was staying in revealed that Kirk Douglas lived next door. But despite being a fan of the Hollywood legend, a starstruck Gerry said no because he didn’t know what to say to him.

“I said does he really live next door? I’ve always wanted to meet him.

“He gave me a pair of binoculars and I could see him over the wall reading next to his pool,” he recalled.

The hotel owner told Gerry he knew the star and offered to introduce him, but shyness took over.

“I said I can’t. He’s a huge hero of mine but what would I say to him?

“I loved all your movies? I think you’re great? How many times has he heard that?”

But Gerry’s lowest point was when he famously left Radio Ulster to host an afternoon show on Radio Four in the mid-Nineties.

As the presenter of the beleaguered ‘Anderson Country’ afternoon show, Gerry was dubbed ‘the most hated man in Britain’.

He was amazed by the level of vitriol waged against him.

“I was called the most hated man in Britain. I felt like phoning the Yorkshire Ripper and saying, ‘You’re all right, kid’.”

Gerry said he knew “almost right away” that the show wasn’t going to succeed but he finished his year’s contract.

And while he says he never had a problem with Radio Four bosses — he still presents documentaries for the station — he said doing the show each day was a struggle.

“It was like going up the gallows,” he admitted.

“A lot of people liked it, but the opinion formers and the people who write the ‘Angry from Eastbourne’ and the retired colonels and the Margaret Thatcher people — the retired pink-haired ladies — they hated my guts.

“The type of people who were listening — the aggressively intellectual — they regarded me as the first barbarian over the wall.

“They hated me. They hated me. They hated my guts.

“It took the wind out of my sails in a big way.

“I was lucky I was offered my job back in Radio Ulster — I was finished, I was washed up.”

Gerry also recalled the time he accidentally left an airport shop with a book about the Holocaust which he hadn’t paid for.

“I was looking at this book and this guy came over to me and started talking to me as if he’d known me all my life.

“I got embarrassed because I had no idea who he was.

“So I said, “Oops I must go and get this flight’,” he said.

“I went out and I still had the book so I felt the heavy hand on the shoulder and the man said ‘You haven’t paid for that’.

“I said, ‘I’ll pay for it now’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry’.

“I said, ‘I’ll tell you what happened’ and he said, ‘Come with me, sir’. So, the whole 12 degrees.”

Despite claiming he doesn’t make plans, Gerry, who famously toured Canada and America with showbands in the Sixties, revealed some of the exciting

projects he has in the pipeline. His second book, ‘Heads — A Day In The Life’ is just out and he’s already thinking of a sequel.

He explained: “It’s about 24 hours of a day in a band.

“The last chapter is the demise of the band. When we went to Canada on a tour we were a very disaffected band.”

“I was never in a band that was happy and that was the great thing about it. I was always in the band that was miserable.

“It’s far more interesting.”

Gerry said he never thought he would write the book because he was convinced that someone else would beat him to it.

“There seems to be a buzz about this one and if it does well there will be interest in another one.

“I’m very proud of this one because it’s exactly what I wanted to do.

“I have no idea what people are going to think of it,” he said.

In the book he also recounts giving Phil Lynott a tenner days after the Thin Lizzy star had appeared on Top of the Pops.

“He said, ‘Lend us a tenner’. I gave him a tenner and he said, ‘Things are never what they seem’. His statue is outside a pub in Harry Street just off Grafton Street in Dublin. I often stand at it and say, ‘You owe me money, you b*****d!’ How often do you get to stand in front of a statue of somebody who owes you money?”

As well as writing more, early next year Gerry is going to Mexico to film a documentary about an Antrim man called James Kirker.

“He left just at the beginning of the 19th century and went to America. He became a pirate, a trapper, a scalp hunter, a general in the Mexican army, a goldminer, a Mississippi gambler — he has the most wonderful story.”

Gerry said he has no plans to retire but jokes he’ll probably ‘be’ retired.

He added: “I didn’t get into this until I was 40. I fell into this by accident so every day’s a bonus and I’m going to do this until somebody stops me or else I drop dead. I love it.”

Heads — A Day in the Life is published by Gill & Macmillan, priced £11.99. Gerry will be signing copies of the book in Waterstones, Belfast, next Saturday at 3pm.

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