Tom was born in Norwich. He began his career as a newspaper journalist on the Eastern Evening News and when Anglia TV opened, he worked on in-house commercials and even had a small role in one of their dramas. He compered a weekly live pop show, Beat on the Border, from Border TV in Carlisle and returned years later to the ITV regional company as an announcer/newsreader.
In the summer of 1964, he worked as a blue coat at Pontin’s Pakefield camp near Norwich and then spent several years as a pirate radio disc-jockey for Radio City and on Radio Caroline South before it closed. In 1967, he began newsreading and presenting on Look East, BBC TV’s regional news programmes from Norwich – he remained there for several years. In January 1968, he joined the newly created BBC Radio 2 network as an announcer/newsreader – he would announce on The Morecambe and Wise Show and Pop Score (he also presented on the latter: January 1968 – March 1968, May 1970, December 1970 – June 1971 and April 1972 – July 1984). Tom co-presented alongside Maggie Clews, the first regional opt-out from Norwich on BBC Radio 4 called Happy Weekend, Everybody (1968 – 1970). It was a 35-minute show billed as “your songs, your music, whatever you’re up to.”
In 1968, he co-presented Top of the Pops with Jimmy Savile from Lime Grove Studios and in February 1973 compered an edition of Come Dancing from Great Yarmouth with Sir Terry Wogan. In 1979, he left the BBC staff and went freelance. He then worked at various ITV regional companies including a brief stint at Tyne Tees in 1979 and then weekends on ATV (c. 1981), Anglia TV in Norwich (joining in 1982), Grampian TV in Aberdeen, Southern TV in Southampton, LWT and on HTV West in Cardiff (c. 1984). However he was best known as a familiar announcer to weekday London viewers on Thames Television from their Euston Road studios in London (1979 – 1988). He even read a story on the popular children’s lunchtime series Rainbow. Tom left Thames TV to move to the United States and did some presenting for KHJ Channel Nine and some trails for America’s Top Ten with DJ Casey Kasem.
In 1990, Tom returned to the UK and to BBC Norwich, where he read the news on Look East and presented Look East Extra at the weekends. He also presented the BBC One Breakfast Time regional news opt-out. In 1992, he was told by his editor, Graham Henshaw, they wanted a new face for the breakfast TV slot and asked him to train a new lady which he refused to do and left the job.
He also presented a late-night show on BBC Radio Norfolk (1990 – 1992) and returned many years later in the 2010s to occasionally present specials, including one about pirate radio (21st April 2014) where he chatted to Keith Skues.
Sadly Tom stopped working in the mid-1990s due to a long battle with alcohol and spent a short time in prison for being drunk and incapable, and three years in rehab. He has been sober ever since. Bob Monkhouse asked him to do the voiceover for his new BBC One daytime quiz show Wipe Out (1998 – 2003). Speaking to The Sun in 2017, Tom credits Bob with getting back into work again: “He was a lovely man. He took me under his protective wing, in a way. I like to think he thought of me maybe as another son he might have wanted. He lost his two sons – Simon died from a smack overdose in Thailand in 2001 and his other son Gary was very ill from birth. We had a marvellous relationship. I thought the world of him, I’m very honoured to have had him as a friend.”
Since 2004, Tom has joined ex-colleagues including Johnnie Walker for many reunions for pirate radio. In 2017, Walker invited Tom on to a special two-part programme on pirate radio for BBC Radio 2.
Tom was interviewed for Let’s Talk magazine in 2016: “I joined Anglia TV back in 1982 as one of the regular team of announcers along with Patrick Anthony, Katie Glass, Michael Speake and Helen McDermott and I’d always wanted to do the job but had failed a couple of auditions, before a lovely chap called Ray Castle, who was deputy head of presentation at Anglia, gave me a chance. My first shift taught me the continuity announcer’s most important lesson. A programme went down and I was left having to fill an unscheduled gap while the backroom boys pressed this and pulled that until ‘normal service was resumed’. It was Katie Glass who advised me: ‘Always have a minute of nothing you can talk about’ which makes no sense at all until you’re sitting there, with a transmission controller cutting you up into vision to fill time while he works out what didn’t happen when it should. You have to be calm and collected whilst not knowing what the dickens is going on – no earpieces back then!”
In 2018, Tom’s autobiography Is Anybody There? was published by Kaleidoscope Publishing. He now lives in Lincolnshire.
Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Tom in September 2017 and asked him about his career: “I spent three years at sea in pirate radio from 1965 to 1967 on both Radio City, then the Radio Caroline South ship the Mi Amigo. When I worked for City for two years, we sailed out to the shivering sand towers out of Whitstable harbour, so I lived there in the town, which I loved, with Peter Cushing as my neighbour. I worked for Thames TV for nearly a decade. When working most weeks at Thames, I worked weekends usually at HTV in Cardiff then Bristol, also ATV, Southern, Border, Anglia and Tyne Tees. Then I went to LA for two years and returned home to Norwich and rejoined BBC East doing stuff for Look East and the radio shows for Radio Norfolk. These days I live in a small village in Lincolnshire and at 72 I only work when asked to. I love to write these days.”
Video Clips on the Internet
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PICTURED: Tom Edwards. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: Thames.