Horrid Go-Ahead Boy

POPULAR BBC broadcaster and journalist, John Tidmarsh O.B.E has once more put pen to paper, this time to write his memoirs, and his autobiography 'HorridGo-Ahead Boy' has just been published. John kindly invited the Observer into his home to chat about his book, his life and his affinity with Bexhill-on-Sea.

Thursday, 1st July 2010, 5:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:15 pm

Recovering from a recent hip operation and sporting what he describes as his "Ernest Hemingway hat" John warmly talked of a career that spanned over forty years.

He travelled the world, met and interviewed hundreds of people including royalty, presidents, movie stars, celebrities, and politicians. But his book only contains details of a few of the interviews with the many famous people he's met and the reason for this, he said, is because his book "is all about me!"

The lack of a running list of celebrity interviews, with the exception of a select few, which John describes as "Interesting People" (E.G Audrey Hepburn, Henry Kissinger, Richard Attenborough, Dudley Moore), does not detract from a book that gives a fascinating insight into the life of a talented journalist who, amongst his many achievements, secured the only interview given by the late Sir Alistair Cooke on the 50th anniversary of his weekly 'Letter from America.'

British born broadcaster/journalist Sir Alistair, who died in 2004, moved to America and became a US citizen.

His regular series of fifteen minute broadcasts, which gave a perspective of life in America, ran for 58 years.

It was the worlds longest-running speech radio programme and included Sir Alistair's eyewitness account of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

A CD of John's Alistair Cooke interview accompanies the book.

'Horrid Go-Ahead Boy' (a description Noel Coward once applied to John, hence the title) chronicles his life from when he was born on 13th August 1928 and tells of happy holidays visiting his grandparent's home in Bexhill, including what he describes as "my own distant brush with Nazi Germany" one summer's day whilst playing on the beach in front of the De La Warr Pavilion:

"People on the beach were getting excited and, looking up, I could see why. It was the German airship, the Hindenberg. Why were they so close to our shore? My guess is they were filming our beaches to plan an invasion later."

John, now 82, describes his book as: "A story of an incredibly lucky life."

His career started at the age of 16 when he landed a job as a junior reporter on the Western Daily Press.

Later, as a BBC journalist and broadcaster John went on to present the BBC's World Services most popular programme Outlook, a position he was to hold for thirty years.

John covered many exciting and dangerous missions, including the Civil Rights March led by Martin Luther King, and reported from such troubled places as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Vietnam and Somalia; the later of which he describes as: "A hell of an adventure '“ one of the most dangerous places I've ever been."

During the early 1990's as the Beirut hostages were being released it transpired that Outlook had been a vital lifeline to the hostages during their imprisonment.

Shortly after his release, one of the hostages, journalist John McCarthy joined the Outlook team.

Modestly, John was reluctant to make mention of his O.B.E, which he received in 1997 for services to broadcasting.

He proudly boasts that he "broadcast from every continent apart from Antarctica- but I still plan to go there one day!" and said:

"You know what O.B.E stands for don't you? Other Buggers' Efforts. I just enjoyed myself!"

John moved to Bexhill two years ago, he said: "Bexhill does hold some nostalgia for me. I'm feeling very relaxed here and have some wonderful neighbours."

John still travels a lot, but these days it's for pleasure and, finding the British climate too harsh, he prefers to spend the winter months in Australia with his son who lives in Melbourne.

Of his book John said: "I hope people enjoy it that's all" and of his future plans he said: "I do think that death will be the next great adventure."

Horrid Go-Ahead Boy is published by Book Guild Publishing and is out now priced 16.99. For further information visit the website at: www.bookguild.co.uk