apart, Derek Jameson is the best known person in Britain, according to the
critic Auberon Waugh. Derek is a national institution, the slum kid who
became editor of several newspapers and went on to stardom in radio and
Oddly enough, his success in show business came by accident. Derek still
regards himself as a newspaperman. He began work in Fleet Street as a
messenger boy at the age of 14 and rose through the ranks to become
managing editor of the Daily Mirror and Editor of the Daily Express, Daily
Star and News of the World.
Along the way he inflicted bingo on the nation and established his
reputation as a circulation builder. Asked to launch the Daily Star, the
first new national tabloid for 75 years, he took it to over a million
copies within a year. Similarly, Derek put on half-a-million readers at
the Daily Express, languishing at less than two million when he joined it.
Fate plays some strange tricks. In 1984, Derek found himself broke and
unemployed. Rupert Murdoch had fired him because of differences at the
News of the World (and later made him chief test pilot of SKY TV) and he
then lost all his money in a disastrous libel action against the BBC.
Radio Four had called him "an East End boy made bad".
It was the BBC, recognising his gifts as a communicator, that came along
subsequently and turned him into a celebrity with television series like
"Do They Mean Us" and his popular breakfast show on Radio 2. He
went on to present a chat show for six years with his wife Ellen,
establishing the largest late night radio audience in Europe.
At present he is busy on the after-dinner circuit - the Guild of
Toastmasters named him "Least boring speaker in Britain" - and
freelancing in radio and television as well as writing a weekly column in
the Brighton ARGUS.
Derek was born in total poverty in the East End where, without parents, he
grew up in a home for waifs and strays. He has told his extraordinary
story in his best-selling autobiography "Touched by Angels". The
second volume, "Last of the Hot Metal Men," chronicles the dying
days of the old Fleet Street.
He has never lost touch with his roots. Much of his fame rests on his
gravely Cockney voice, which he regards as unique because it contains
elements of Manchester, where he worked for eight years, and wartime days
as an evacuee in Hertfordshire. When he called Directory Enquiries
recently the operator asked: "Is that Derek Jameson".
TV CREDITS: Do They Mean Us? (BBC), Headliners (Thames), People (BBC).
Jameson Tonight (SKY), Breakfast with Frost (Stand-in presenter), This
Morning (Stand-in presenter with Ellen) and numerous appearances in news
documentaries, chat shows and panel games.
2000 Derek Jameson. All rights reserved.