Simon Dee, the first voice to be heard on Radio Caroline in 1964, has died of bone cancer at the age of 74. Mr Dee (whose real name was Cyril Henty-Dodd) left Radio Caroline in 1965 after being ‘head hunted’ by the BBC who gave him a show on the Light Programme. He also did some programmes for Radio Luxembourg. He was one of the original DJs on BBC Radio 1 which launched in 1967.
The same year, Simon Dee became a TV chat show host on the BBC, but his career was relatively brief due to a dispute over his salary demands. He moved to London Weekend Television, but fell out with them too after only a few months. This ended his show business career, and he signed on at the labour exchange and took a job as bus driver. In 1974, he served 28 days in prison because he could not pay the rates on his home to the council.
He did make a couple of brief comebacks on radio: In the late 1970’s he was with Radio 210 in Reading, and a decade later he hosted an oldies programme on BBC Radio 2. But for the last two decades, he lived in anonymity in a small apartment in Winchester.
In my opinion, Simon Dee’s contribution to broadcasting is grossly underestimated. In 1964, while fellow Radio Caroline DJs seemed to be going through the motions of announcing the records, Simon Dee always brought a spontaneity to his shows, which were broadcast live. He set the pattern for the way offshore radio, and subsequently radio in general, developed in the UK. He was ill-advised to go into television, and had he chosen to stay in radio I feel sure he would have remained popular like his fellow ex-Caroline DJ Johnnie Walker.