Bedtime Stories: 21 Years Behind the Mike at RN’s Late Night Live. By Phillip Adams. Published by HarperCollins Australia.
Bedtime Stories begins with the famous quote from Lewis Carroll: “the time has come the walrus said to speak of many things….” And that is precisely what Phillip Adams has done over the last 21 years. In that time, he has discussed an enormity of topics with guests ranging from royalty to criminals, scientists, politicians and historians, in more than 10,000 interviews.
Adams’ latest publication follows from his previous book, In Bed with Phillip, and, in a way, provides the background and behind the scenes accounts of many of the interviews contained in that book. Late Night Live is an institution on ABC Radio National and so is Adams himself. In this book, he starts way back before LNL when he was still on commercial radio. If you want to understand why he has stuck with the ABC and LNL, there are some very revealing stories about his experiences on commercial radio and, judging by some of their recent disasters, not much has changed.
There are some fascinating insights into some of the LNL regulars, as well as some very strange people, such as Anu Singh who coldly and calculatingly murdered her boyfriend, and Billy Longley, the Painters and Dockers enforcer with whom Adams continued a long association. Adams even examines the interviews he never did, such as John Howard, and the ones he would have loved to have done, such as Dennis Potter. At one stage he interviewed Adolf Hitler, using an actor with a German accent and the words that Hitler had actually spoken.
Reading this book I realised that I’ve been listening to Adams for all of those 21 years, as ‘the listener’, Gladys. His explanation of how he started calling ‘the listener’ Gladys, says a lot about Adams’ philosophy of broadcasting and I think explains why he has endured on LNL for so long. The other reason, of course, is that his guests really are fascinating and have something to say.
Phillip Adams has interviewed some very prominent people, including Mikhail Gorgachev, Oliver Sachs and Morris West, to name a few and he hasn’t just concentrated on the like-minded. He has delved into the minds of political opposites and some very serious whackos. In providing the background to these interviews he talks as much about what worked well as what didn’t and some of the difficult guests and difficult moments on ‘the little wireless program’. This is a very entertaining book – in bed or out of bed.