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Legendary broadcaster and entertainer Chris Needs’ life story comes to the stage

12 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Chris Needs

The life and times of the legendary BBC Radio Wales broadcaster, Chris Needs, is set to makes its way to the stage.

The uniquely talented entertainer and charity campaigner was nearing the completion of a script based on his extraordinary life when he suddenly passed away in July 2020.

Now, the team behind projects based on the lives of Richard Burton, Tom Jones and Dylan Thomas has turned its attention to the man listened to by thousands every evening on Radio Wales and across the world.

The search has begun for actors to portray Chris at various points in his life from school days in Cwmafan, stage shows around the world, radio and TV studios and eventually to Buckingham Palace where the Queen presented him with an MBE.

Creative Producer of the project is Gabe Cameron, Chris’ life partner and husband.

Gabe said: “It gives me great pleasure to announce that one of the many projects Chris had been working on is finally moving forward. Plans to bring Chris’ life story to the stage had been postponed initially due to the Coronavirus pandemic and then of course by Chris’ sudden death. I’m pleased to confirm I am working as part of the production team to bring this very special project to life.”

Broadcasting phenomenon

Chris Needs, MBE, was more than a radio presenter, he was described as a “veritable broadcasting phenomenon.” He found and then built up a dedicated audience at the end of the day’s schedule, creating a close-knit, mutually supportive community running into the thousands.

His “Friendly Garden” alone had over fifty thousand members, with membership cards and membership numbers which created a sense of belonging, of there being someone there to keep you company at day’s close.

Sometimes when he spoke to listeners about something personal, a hurt or an aching absence, he would comfort them, moving closer to the microphone as if it really was just the two of them.

During his weeknight, three-hour-long show, he made the airspace his own with gusto and panache, establishing his ‘garden,’ a safe space for its thousands of members and bringing pumping disco onto an otherwise sedate station playlist.

Women joined the garden in droves and men too, even though the latter could only join as “mere mortals.”

Project producer Karen Struel-White said: “We were in the final phases of preparing a production about Chris’ life when he was taken from us. As time has passed and with Gabe’s kind permission and central involvement, we will now get the opportunity to present a tantalizing glimpse into Chris’ very full life – the good and the bad, the happy and sad.”

Today would have been his 69th birthday. The stage show will premiere in Spring 2024 to coincide with his 70th.

Read the full tribute to Chris here

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