BBC Radio Wales broadcaster Chris Needs has died at the age of 68, Andy Howells pays tribute with an archive interview with Chris prior to a live show in Newport during September 2013.
Chris Needs from Cwmafan, Neath, Port Talbot joined BBC Radio Wales in 1996 and hosted his nightly show, The Friendly Garden, for 18 years, died on Sunday July 26 from a heart condition.
As well as radio presenting, Chris was also a classical pianist and actor. He was awarded an MBE in 2005.
Chris’ nightly show, The Friendly Garden drew in thousands of listeners on weeknights as he chatted to listeners and played their requests.
Chris Needs – Radio Star
Chris explained to Andy Howells in September 2013:
“It was always looming for me to do it. As long as I was in front of an audience I didn’t care! When I started my very first show on the radio, I knew this was for me! It clicked within a minute.”
Prior to joining BBC Radio Wales in 1996, Chris had worked in Benidorm, Spain and Gibraltar.
Chris recalled “I was always in nightclubs, theatres, pantomimes and cabaret shows, I’ve always been a night bird and when this came along, radio in the night, it suited me so well!”
The Friendly Garden
Chris’s relationship with his Friendly Garden listeners was always a two-way friendship. When he became seriously ill due to a reaction to prescribed drugs, he found it was his audience who were there for him.
“I lost 7 stone in 8 weeks,” remembered Chris, “They all wrote to me, came to visit me. They were incredible all the way.”
Two years later and two stone heavier Chris got his life back and was grateful of the support of his friends and listeners.
“It’s a friendly garden,” he said of his weeknight show, “We do share each other’s problems and if people just want a good old chat it’s there. I love it!”
“People deserve a good laugh today”
Chris even went on tour with his live show, bringing the community spirit to the stage while raising funds for his Hospital Appeal set up by his late mother. The show featured his own stand-up routine along with music and songs from special guests.
“I’ve fallen off the stage how many times I don’t know,” said Chris of his show,” its good clean family fun, a lot of nonsense and valleys humour – its lovely. We all sing. We do the garden anthem and I chat to the audience face to face as if I’m on the radio. You think “Oh hang on I know this woman’s voice and put a face to her!”
Chris, who took inspiration in his youth from Welsh comedy legend Ryan Davies as well as Larry Grayson and Bruce Forsyth will no doubt be remembered for the joy he brought many of his fans, several of whom he got to know personally.
Of his humour Chris said, “Its good clean fun, innuendo and people deserve a good laugh today.”
- Chris Needs MBE 12 March 1954 – 26 July 2020
- Photo of Chris Needs by Damian George