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Phillip Adams Broadcaster and columnist who left school at 15. is a real renaissance man, He made a fortune in advertising, for collecting antiquities, developed a passion the Australian film industry, drove the revival of a fixture on ABC's Radio National and for nearly two decades has been

or 'Gladdies'. to his devoted listeners The son of a minister of religion, best-known atheists. he's one of Australia's is Phillip Adams. This week's talking head THEME MUSIC to have you here. Phillip, it's great Nice to be here, Peter. You lied. (Chuckles) Thanks for being on Talking Heads. cramming things in. You've spent a lifetime True. Bill Gates might have $60 billion, in hours. but even he is not a millionaire

for a bloke in the Western world The average life expectancy is about 620,000 hours. too young to know what's going on, And for some of them, you are for some you're too old, a third of them - you're asleep. you've got left - So, the handful of hours Peter, you've gotta pack it in. how many weeks you had left. You used to know I don't count anymore, Peter. Do you know now? to a handful of hours, I really am down talking to you. and this is 'Bang goes another one', But it'll be very pleasant. you wanna cram it in, On the one hand, a great beauty in staying still. on the other hand, there's very busy, While I am, in some ways, I'm also a hermit, at night, so, I sit in an empty radio studio voices from the ether, I'm back at the farm, the second I can miles away from anybody. to a party for 30 years. Haven't been it's a fact. This is not a complaint - and engaged at the same time - And, so, you can be quiet it's not a contradiction. life of Phillip Andrew Hedley Adams. Well, let's take a look at the early that I never admit to - Hedley. You've said the name

That's the key to everything. I'm deeply hurt. (Both laugh) I hate it. Childhood - a totalitarian regime very glad to escape. from which I was It's early 1940 and I've just learnt to walk, under the peppercorn trees and I'm waddling beside the house, and I look up and the sky's on fire, and I was absolutely terrified. THUNDER ROARS Thinking back, I realised

was my first sight of lightning, that what I saw of the apocalypse, and it gave me a sense which has never left me. So, that's how it begins for me. LIGHTNING CRACKS

a congregational minister - My dad was a 'congo' - and rushed inside, and when I saw that lighting his sermon. he would have been writing What with one thing and another, it started me thinking about... ..about God. ORGAN RESONATES I wanted to believe in him - was a professional God-botherer, my dad, after all, seemed to believe in God. and everyone I knew not for a second - I NEVER could believe, it just didn't make sense. CHEERING & APPLAUSE to the war - My father then goes off he's a chaplain in the army. SHIP FUNNEL TOOTS at the age of 2. I am moved to my grandparents' on the outskirts of Melbourne - And they had a tiny little farm and William Smith. Maude Rebecca Smith And they were sweet and kind to me, as grandparents are. But I lived in a sleep-out, and that intensified my loneliness. desperately concerned, And I am desperately, at the age of 5, about eternity and infinity - and terrifying concepts. I find them overwhelming into being a very introspective So, I think that drove me and an incredibly lonely kid. in clothes my mother made. I used to go to school because she was enjoying the war, I didn't see much of her and dolling up for the first time - working in the rationing

a minister's wife in a country town released from the poverty of being the most liberating experience to having, as many women did, the odd love affair. AND, I'm afraid, BOUNCY TUNE IS WHISTLED state schools in my childhood - I bounced around various

hated them all - couldn't do algebra, geometry, no good at anything - mathematics, woodwork - useless at sport, so uncoordinated, the playground by fellow students. and often beaten up in of the education system. So, not greatly enamoured the reverend - And my mother had dumped 'cause he got a bit... he'd been dumped by the church, getting drunk in charge of a pulpit, ..he was tippling a bit and

so, he's out of the scene.

I hardly ever saw him again - she wants to get me back, but, finally, my mother decides and I go off to live in the city in east Melbourne. in a cramped apartment my stepfather, who was a sociopath - My real struggle was with well, a psychopath. to my mother. He was incredibly cruel with my little fists And I used to try and beat him off

to protect her. My life was intolerable. trying to kill me, I think. He had a few goes

I once tried to kill him. I'm about 13 years' old,

this new weatherboard house, we're living in of my stepfather. and I'm in constant dread of psychological protection One thing which gave me a degree and that was to cover the walls of magazines and newspapers. with things I cut out all the walls were covered, Little by little, and, then, the ceiling. and paper Sistine ceiling. So, I had a sort of a cardboard as far away in time and space And there were things that were as they could possibly be. moment in my life occurs. And, then, the next most important GENTLE PIANO in the kids' library... I had read every book ..twice. my very first grown-up book - And, then, the librarian gave me John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath'. And I was instantly politicised. I got myself expelled from the boy scouts, and I joined the Communist Party. So, here was a huge change of life between being a boy scout, on the one hand,

leaving that, and becoming a communist. So, Phillip, what did 'Grapes of Wrath' open your mind to? I suddenly realised that injustice, social injustice, was something institutionalised.

And it made me feel less alone, in a sense. I realised that other people had troubles as well. So, I started wandering around the Yarra bank, which was the Hyde Park corner in Melbourne, where every sort of ratbag would be getting up on this little pile of earth and rocks. And there was the Communist Party. And I, gradually, got closer and closer to them, with my head swirling with Steinbeckian fantasies, and I said, "Excuse me, sir, can I join your party?" And I was 14 or 15 I think, at the time, and, of course, too young to join, so, they were quite sweet to me - gave me a role. If you're 14 or 15, that makes it the early '50s, and by - '56 was a turning point for you - the invasion of Hungary, was it? Well, most of us got out after Hungary. Were you a real believer in it? No, but I would have liked to have been a real believer. Where other young people were reading the Bible, I was struggling through turgid Marxist books, trying to make sense of it. But, you know, if I lived in a meaningless universe, if I didn't believe in God, I wanted to believe in something. But it didn't really work. So, Phillip, did you really try and kill your stepfather, as you say there? He was shaving with a cutthroat razor at the bathroom mirror, and I remember I rushed in and I shoved at his arm, in the hope that it would lead to decapitation. It failed - he didn't even get nicked. And there were times when he tried to kill me. There was a memorable occasion when he tried to run me over in his car, for example, or when he hunted me around the hills with a rifle. What impact did it have on you? It sort of mucks your head up to a large extent, and it took me many, many years to get his toxicity out of the system. Why did you make something of your life, rather than run off the rails?

The story you tell sounds like a perfect set-up for someone who's a disaster. Oh, I think I worked really hard on making it a disaster. They were years of confusion - I had no plans. I wasn't educated. Even my reading wasn't teaching me - it was confirming ideas that I was developing. Take my problems with religion - my attitude to God - I would work something out on my own, and, then, I would find validation in a book, months or even years later. The things that I decided were the greatest arguments against a belief in God, I'd later read in Bertrand Russell. So, I often argue that my awareness of mortality, my constant awareness of life's brevity, is the greatest aphrodisiac for living. It's only if you have a sense of your own mortality, a really intense sense, I think that you're truly alive. So these great big abstract, swirling ideas, must influence the way you live and for most people they don't. They live in total denial of mortality. They live in euphemisms. They live in self deception. Now you go into the workforce, not to university, the sort of world you describe yourself in is a pretty obvious fit for a world like advertising

which in those days had room for eccentrics.

To my astonishment I found most of them were run by communists.

Having failed to motivate the masses for revolution, they were motivating the masses for detergent. And so ad agencies were full of eccentrics, because it was a meritocracy.

It didn't matter what your education was - if you were clever with words, if you could draw a picture,

there was a job for you. So, it was a seething hot bed of truly creative and wacky people. Were there very many memorable moments in advertising that you created - let's have a look at some of them. (Sings) # Try touching your toes but if you can't then touch your knees # In the middle '70s, Alex Stitt and I invented Norm and the 'Life Be In It' campaign. (Sings) # Be in it... # And so we started to think, well, if we can make commercials

is it conceivable that we could make feature films? I made one for about $5,000 with my best friend, Brian Robinson. We did everything - cameramen, sound recording, editing with scissors and Sellotape. It was the first feature film to ever win the AFI Awards. There hadn't been any others. And Brian and I thought, well, if we can make a feature film - and we knew nothing about it - shouldn't there be a proper industry to do it? That's when Barry Jones and I started work to convince John Gorton that we should have one. I wrote a one-sheet report to John Gorton which started off - "We hold these truths to be self evident..." Aunt Edna and I have been having a bit of a chin wag, dear,

and we thought... I'm going to London with you, Barry. Come again! I'm going to London with you. The first feature film made with Australian government money was that wonderful documentary on wildlife, 'The Adventures of Barry McKenzie'.

which I did with Bruce Beresford and Barry Humphries. They loved it or they hated it. Overnight, Australia had a whole raft of government structures, state and federal, funding bodies, film schools, and we were - within two years! - a significant film-making country.

It was, I've gotta tell you, a cultural miracle. When someone calls me a liar I believe I'm entitled to object. You are perfectly entitled to object. Now shut up, I'm having an argument with your wife, alright? For someone with my grim experience of domestic life,

I nonetheless wanted to have a wonderful domestic life. I met Rosemary when I was 19, she was 15, 16. We were married about a year later as people did then.

Had three extraordinary kids, Rebecca, Megan and Saskia. People often ask me why am I so keen on ancient Egypt. Well, it's because ancient Egypt was a lot like the Australian film industry.

My three daughters were convinced that Max Gillies was me.

Huge empty monuments... During my 20s, the journalistic side of my life picks up speed. I'm writing regularly for the 'Bulletin', then the 'Australian', then 'The Age', 'Nation', 'Nation Review', the 'Sydney Morning Herald', the 'Adelaide Advertiser', you name it. So I really packed it in.

I met Patrice Newell when she turned up at my office to interrogate me for an SBS program on the film industry. After initial mutual suspicions we got on pretty well. He was pretty pompous, but he was flirtatious, as well. I suppose, the back of my mind somewhere, I knew something had happened. How can you stand there hoeing bloody vegetables when we've got a major crisis?

What's happened? No tea. We're out of tea. Phillip and I were both married at the time we met. The relationship didn't come easily in that way. You had to really believe that it was worth it to make it happen. Does that look like broccoli? I can't tell the difference. Well, you know me,

New South Wales, In 1986, having searched we bought Elmswood, our farm. my fourth daughter, And in 1992 I have and Patrice and I have our first, came to join us. and Aurora Alexandra Newell Adams in advertising change who you were? Phillip, how did all that success It gave me breathing space. of my life. It gave me a bit more control with a newspaper to be a columnist, For example, if I was negotiating need the job I didn't actually desperately

of autonomy, of independence, so I could demand a degree that perhaps others didn't enjoy. And it meant that I could travel. the pictures I'd stuck on the wall I could actually bring to life of the bedroom. and the ceiling

everywhere for me. At the time my column opened doors for example, to influence a Gorton, It made it possible for me, what I wanted for a film industry. a Whitlam, a McMahon, a Fraser on they'd listen to your arguments. You know, they'd take your calls, it wasn't money. That was the leverage - It was the newspaper column. Did you find that an aphrodisiac? it was to become influential. I always was astonished at how easy

that's a different phenomenon, I've never been powerful, on the levers, you've gotta have your hands now of a degree of influence. but I've had almost half a century And I found that enjoyable as sensibly as possible. and I tried to use it that rolled in with advertising Alongwith the dollars you went through the high-life - there was a time you had a Rolls Royce, didn't you? the ACTU next to Bob Hawke's Holden. I used to park my Ferrari up at and I'd say, And he'd get a bit shitty about it

is that everyone has a Ferrari." "Bob, my idea of socialism in fact go through a manic period But you're perfectly right, I did

when I bought silly cars. It didn't last long. It didn't last long. parsimonious and disapproving And Patrice is particularly of that sort of lifestyle. was something of a liberation. Clearly for you, meeting Patrice

very, very hard I'd spent a long time working the advertising industry. in an industry I didn't like,

I was doing - It was only one of many things half a dozen government agencies I was also running probably

at the time. newspaper columns, And I was churning out making films and so on, for me - and I decided - or things decided

that was simpler, quieter, calmer, that I wanted a life

perhaps more contemplative. Was it the end of vices for you? My vice is tea. It's not such a bad vice. a teapot spout straight into a vein. Oh, mate, I've been known to shove I don't do any of those things. But, no, I don't gamble, I have a really quiet life. collecting - My addictions are books,

either. although I don't do that anymore Well, an inch away from advertising from advertising there was this transition of people

into the film industry of purpose, didn't it, and that did give you a sense

and you had many, many roles - to get involved in that but also as a producer. as a catalyst, to do. Well, we had a lot of catching up We were a country that, arguably,

100 years ago started the film industry during the silent era We'd made lots and lots of films it all just disappeared. then, after the Ken Hall era, by the Americans and the Brits. We were put out of business So we hadn't, in fact, dreamed our own dreams, seen our own landscapes, we hadn't even talked in our own accent. Most Australian actors had never played an Australian on screen. Trained not to, actually. They really couldn't do an Australian accent to save themselves. So to sit there watching this sudden sort of volcanic eruption of creative energy in this country in the early '70s was a great privilege. And that continued well into the '80s but then it died. Yes, well, what happened, basically,

is that Hollywood started cannibalising us the way it always had in the past, and almost every film industry on earth, it came searching for the best and brightest and consumed them. And I still sit on Oscar nights feeling rather sad as this endless queue of Australians line up to get their Oscars,

which I see as the golden nail in the coffin of the Australian industry, because most of our creative energy is now offshore, and I think that's an immense tragedy.

Well, every night for the last 16 or 17 years you've met the 'Gladdies' in a secret rendezvous on Radio National. Let's see how that happens. THEME MUSIC FOR 'LATE NIGHT LIVE' PLAYS Ahhh, I think I hear it - yes, it's the waltz of the drunken wombat by Elena Kats Chernin. She calls it 'The Russian Rag' - I prefer my title and it's our theme. G'day, Gladdies and Podies, welcome to LNL. I get invited to come to Radio National and I get the gig at 'Late Night Live'.

And I've been doing it 16, 17 - I dunno, quite a lot of years. And I love it. This is the education I never had.

And they pay me to do it... standing barefoot in the snow for three days. I think that's fantastic, that's what I'd like to see. Every night I go in, I can talk to anyone in the world, on anything - what better job could there possibly be in Australian media? I decided I'd call the listener Gladys - the plural of which is Gladdies - lots and lots of them. I have no idea who they are but I love them all. I get oodles of emails from the Gladdies - and the maddies. The Gladdies get very grateful two-finger replies, the maddies get one finger - excuse me, I've gotta do some right now. (Reads aloud) A warning about addiction - this is how it starts. I'm making Barry McKenzie in London, I buy this little fella this little faience of an Egyptian god - 10 quid - and I was hooked. Surrounded by antiquities, I am an antiquity, a particularly dilapidated one

but, remarkably, I have a very young daughter. You're not 14 any more, you're 15 today. What do you want for your birthday? I want to go to the Ying Tong Goon Show at the Opera House. You've gotta complete a sentence. Ying tong yiddle i... ..Po. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. GOONS SING THE YING TONG SONG I do two columns a week these days for the Oz. I'm on the op ed page being very political on Tuesdays

and on Saturdays I just sort of waffle on about anything. I'm a writer who really doesn't write, I dictate. I've done thousands and thousands of columns, almost all of them on a dictaphone. And it's a great way to do it because thoughts just pour out of you

if you're not slowing down with fingers or with pens. If nuclear power is the answer the Prime Minister is clearly asking the wrong question. I recommend that everyone should write without writing. I think Tolstoy would have had much more fun if he'd simply dictated 'War and Peace'. I spend half the week in Sydney, half the week at the farm

with Patrice and Rory. Patrice runs the farm and runs it brilliantly. And I just do what I'm told. So I'm a serf at the weekends, I'm a peasant, and I just follow orders. Take these up, could be useful. Boiling water, herbal infusion. I would have to say the first part of my life wasn't too pleasant. But the last part of it has been extremely enjoyable. and I'm looking forward to the next 30 or 40 years with great anticipation. Being father to four daughters,

what have you learned from that experience? The first thing I learned is I'm glad they weren't sons. because sons, apart from having smelly socks, would want me to take them to the football, which I'd hate, and they'd break things. The great thing about daughters is they move amongst the antiquities and they don't knock them over. I've always lived in homes dominated by women, and I quite like that. I actually prefer women to men. I don't think much of our gender, I think we're pretty much a waste of space. I mean, 150 million people died in the last century

from wars and genocides. Women didn't do that. You know, pretty largely we blokes did it. We're pretty destructive. Do you go on collecting? No, because as I get older

my relationship to the pyramids, for example, change. When I was younger, when you felt immortal, you could dance around these great piles of stone,

these great paperweights in the desert, and these days you realise they win and you lose. You've had bouts of illness. Yes, I have.

There's a couple of times when I've thought that I mightn't make it through a surgical procedure. And the thing that fascinated me was that I was incredibly calm about it. I think it's because I've rehearsed death a lot over a long life. I've thought about it, so even when it's been pretty close I've been remarkably unconcerned by it. I was struck by the parallel universe between you as a child in your room, which seems like a cave, and you as a radio presenter darkening the studio almost to resemble a cave. Yes, I am drawn to isolation, I am drawn to the solitary, and to some extent this has always been a problem to those around me, because I'm not mad on having the house filled with other people. And no doubt other people are drawn to want a part of you. Look, you can hide in public life, you really can. Your performance, if you like. Yes, you develop a personna and you operate within it. I think everyone in public life does that to some extent.

And the reality behind that is - people would be astonished if they knew

what many of the totemic people in Australian life are really like. You know this. Professionally, they're often light years away from what they seem to be. I could mention Barry Jones, someone who's been on your couch with you. Well, Barry said, and it might be a good place to finish,

he talked about the abundant life,

what's the abundant life to you? The abundant life is beauty, the abundant life is the people you love, that you care for, the abundant life is ideas for me, it's the truckload of books that come in every week. It's being busy, too, it's really packing it in.

You've gotta be thinking from the moment you wake in the morning until the moment you go to sleep. And probably beyond that you should have, if possible, quite interesting dreams. Well, I've known you a long time but I think I know you better. So, it's been great talking to you. Thanks, Pete. Thanks, Phillip. Can I do this the other way around? Not tonight. Not tonight. That's Phillip Adams. We'll be back with another Talking Heads at the same time next week. In the meantime, have a look at our website: I'll see you soon.

And next week on Talking Heads - I was once going out to give a talk. I got into a taxi and the taxi driver said, "What do you do?" and I, you know, sex therapy, and he said, "I suppose you're a bit of a Bettina Arndt." You know, it was generic, like soap powder. Wednesday on 'The Cook and The Chef' - food that's made to move. This is the ghee and you've got the shammy. You just can't do it on your own. Maggie and Simon's perfect take-away. That's 'The Cook and The Chef, Wednesday, 6:30.

This program is not subtitled CC Tonight, CC Tonight, inundated but it could have been much worse in Maitland. The storm in Maitland. The storm passes but coastal areas still threat. Dumped baby doing well but concern for her parents. And three in a row for the of clay, Rafael Nadal. of clay, Rafael Nadal. Good evening, welcome to ABC News. I'm Virginia Haussegger. For some towns, the flood crisis is over but others further over but others further down the Hunter River face another anxious night. Residents low-lying areas near the low-lying areas near the coast have been warned there's a have been warned there's a wall of water heading their way. Newcastle is no longer considered to be under threat. Large tracks of farmland around Maitland have been inundated. The city centre