Ted Elliott

 Interview by Roland Beaney.

Where and when were you born? - Leigh-on-Sea Essex on April 1st 1953. Despite what other people say, my Mum and Dad insist I was born after midday so I’m not an April Fool.

Where do you live now? – In a small village halfway between Worcester and Stratford upon Avon, but I’m still an Essex boy at heart, married to an Essex girl. Yes she did wear white shoes and dance around her handbag. She still does from time to time.

What is your favourite part of the Country? –The Lake District is stunning but you can’t beat a plate of cockles and a pint sitting outside the Peter Boat in Old Leigh while looking across the Thames.

How did you get into radio? – My first experience of radio was at Eastwood High School for Boys. One of the teachers cleared out a stock room, put in a couple of record players and wired them up to the schools PA system. Myself and another boy, Steve Wright ( yes, him ) stepped forward. I had the 12.45 – 1.15 slot and Steve 1.15-1.45pm. We were both huge radio fans but in different ways. I was the typical Radio Caroline wanabee DJ with a pretend studio in my bedroom at home and Steve was a collector of American jingles. Later I helped out at the Free Radio Association in Rayleigh run by Geoff and June Pearl and then drifted through the 70’s as a ‘song plugger’ in London. My job was to get airplay for the records I was promoting, so most days I was banging on the doors of radio stations, especially Radio 1. I did of course try to promote my own cause without much luck, but it was a great learning experience hanging around the BBC and socialising with jocks and producers.

When and why did you first join Caroline? –February 5th 2009 was the first one. I was much too young to apply in the mid 60’s and by the early 70’s other events including the arrival of Mrs Ted and a mortgage took priority. The years rolled on, children arrived as did the bills, but I always remained a huge fan of Caroline and promised myself that one day I would apply.

What other radio stations have you been involved with? –Radio Basildon was the first, a community radio station piped into local homes and managed in the early 80’s by our dear departed Caroline friend Clive Thomas. After that I had a short spell as Entertainments Officer with The Chancellor Hall in Chelmsford where I met Caroline’s Robb Eden. Robb was running the Caroline Roadshow but was doing some part time work for Chiltern Radio in Dunstable. One day and completely out of the blue he offered me a job there writing and producing the commercials. So I pretended I knew all about it and spent around 9 months at Chiltern before upping sticks and moving to BRMB in Birmingham. Then it was Mercia Sound in Coventry and back again up the M6 to Xtra AM in Birmingham for the 10pm-1am show. I did 4 or 5 years as a Continuity Announcer with Central Television then back on the radio with the morning show for the launch of 100.7 Heart FM West Midlands. From there it was rock station ‘The Arrow’ at the start of the DAB revolution – and now best of all, Radio Caroline.

Incidentally, more money was taken behind the Chancellor Hall bar on a Caroline Roadshow night than for any other event. The cleaning up costs were even higher!

What are your earliest memories of Caroline? – Coming home from school, listening to Robbie Dale, having tea, a kick about in the street, doing homework then off to bed with Johnnie Walker!

What's your favourite station other than Caroline? – I don’t think that any other radio station has ever appealed to me as much as Caroline has throughout all its different era’s. Big L lacked the warmth, Radio 1 lacks the spirit and commercial radio lacks the vision. BBC Radio 2 had a golden period a couple of years ago but that now seems to have faded. These days if I am not listening to Caroline I listen to 5 Live. I quite enjoy Jack FM though if I’m passing through Oxford.

Who is the most famous person that you have met? – That’s quite difficult to answer really as I have met and worked with a lot of famous faces, particularly in my song plugging days. It was the nature of the job and I just got on with it. Sometimes it involved going on the road with them for long periods and arranging interviews and sessions at local stations as we passed through. Ones that spring to mind are George Benson, David Soul, ELO, Carlos Santana, Barry Manilow….oh and I did once meet the bloke who puts his hand up Basil Brush! As for the nicest, that has to be Noddy Holder – top geezer and all round good guy. I got to know Noddy when he joined Xtra am as a DJ. It was his first experience of radio presentation and he asked me to help produce his show.

Who influenced you the most? – I would say a combination of Robbie Dale and Johnnie Walker. At 13 and 14 years old, fascinated and intrigued by a bunch of blokes playing records and having fun on a boat, I guess they became role models. Robbie’s confidence and wit made a lasting impression on me, as did Johnnie’s enthusiasm for music, plus of course his rebellious streak.

What is the best and worst thing about radio today? – The best thing from a personal point of view is that it continues to give me a living, so I am grateful for that. The worst thing is that much of it sounds stale, repetitive and robotic. It’s stuck in a rut. Get rid of the shareholders looking for a quick profit and the enthusiasm and creativity will return.

How much music freedom do you have on Caroline? – We all have an amazing freedom of choice– but I think I’d be strung up if I played Susan Boyle for example! Listening to music, selecting tracks and being allowed to share them on the radio is what I always believed being a DJ was all about. Caroline has always embraced that philosophy and that’s what sets it apart from the rest.

What's the most embarrassing or funny thing that's happened to you? – I’ve had quite a few moments that are best forgotten, including the time ( name dropping time again I’m afraid ) that I got dropped off at Fenchurch Street Station by Cilla Black in her Rolls Royce during the rush hour – and proceeded to fall flat on my face as I got out of the car. I didn’t hang around to notice peoples reactions as Cilla got out of the car and yelled ‘ are you alright lovey?’. I ran straight up the steps and into the gents to hide for a while. The one that makes me cringe though is when I said the ‘?..’ word on Central Television. One morning after a programme called The Time The Place, I was given 12 seconds to tell the viewers that Coronation Street was on later at 7.30 but coming up next on Central, after the break - a Country Practice. The timing had to be precise because the control room at Thames TV in London were playing in the national ad break but they forgot to tell me that my 12 seconds had been cut to 10 seconds. The upshot was that my I was cut off as I was halfway through the word ‘Country’.

What do you do for your day job? – I call myself a ‘gob on a stick’! Voicing radio and TV ads, on hold messages, documentaries etc

What's your favourite food? - Greek

What do you dislike doing the most? – DIY. I’m absolutely useless, a real bodger. No patience.

Who would you like to get stuck with on a desert Island?- Mrs Ted of course but I wouldn’t be looking for a boat if Meg Ryan happened to be there.

What's the most important thing that you learnt about radio?- That you don’t have to look good to be on it.

What was the first record you bought?- This is going to make me appear very ancient but it was Follow a Star/Give a Night in June by Norman Wisdom. My Mum and Dad took me to see the film Follow a Star when I was very small and I asked if I could have the record as we left the cinema. Come to think of it, I didn’t actually pay for it so I’m not sure that counts. The first record I bought with my own money was Walk Away Renee by The Four Tops.

What are your favourite bands and who is your hero? – Led Zeppelin are way, way, way at the top.

Then its AC/DC, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Doobie Brothers, Porcupine Tree. It could be a long list so I’ll stop there. Real hero would be the footballer Jimmy Greaves. I have so many musical heroes but if pushed to pick one out I’d probably say Robert Plant.

What are your 5 most iconic tunes? – Again difficult, but off the top of my head -

The Ronettes – Baby I Love You

Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Led Zeppelin – Rock n Roll

Porcupine Tree – Trains

The Eagles – Take it Easy

Have you been on board the Ross Revenge? – Yes once, so far. I was on board Easter 2009 and it was fantastic. Having said that, my bed was uncomfortable, I couldn’t sleep and the toilet facilities are well, err, kind of difficult. But it didn’t matter. I would have been quite happy if the ropes were cut and we’d gone floating up the Thames and out into the North Sea. That’s probably because I regret missing out on the offshore years, even though I get sea sick at the thought of a glass bottom boat. I would have been a right nightmare! Mega respect though to those that did it and also to the Ross restoration crew. Regardless of whether Radio Caroline is offshore or onshore, it always sounds magic when its from the Ross.

What plans have you for the future? To carry on doing what I’m doing until I conk out.

Thank you Ted for answering my questions

Roland Beaney

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