29 December 2023

James Whale celebrates MBE after 50-year career in broadcasting

29 December 2023

James Whale has celebrated being made an MBE in the New Year Honours list for his services to broadcasting and to charity, despite his stage four kidney cancer being “a bit bad at the moment”.

The broadcaster and talk show host has been a popular voice on radio and TV for five decades, and still hosts a regular Saturday slot on TalkTV and TalkRadio.

“Nobody could have been more surprised than me, thank you to all the guys who made it possible over the years, everybody at TalkRadio and TV and everywhere,” Whale said on Twitter.

“I’ve worked since the 70s and the guys that run the charity Kidney Cancer UK, thank you, all this is for us.”

Whale began his career with Metro Radio in 1974 where he pioneered the late-night radio phone-in.

The 72-year-old rose to fame in the 1980s with his frank style, dry wit and no-nonsense approach on late-night programme The James Whale Radio Show, gaining a legion of loyal listeners.

Whale then spent 13 years at TalkSport before hosting the drivetime show on LBC and the breakfast show on BBC Essex.

During his career he also hosted Whale On, Dial Midnight and Central Weekend Live for ITV, and Talk About for BBC One.

Whale’s autobiography Almost A Celebrity: A Lifetime Of Night-Time was published in 2008 and he later launched a new version of The James Whale Radio Show.

Earlier this year, he was awarded the first ever Tric Recognition Award for his 50 years in broadcasting.

Richard Wallace, head of TalkTV, said about the MBE: “There are legends – and then there’s James Whale. This award is a fitting acknowledgement of a maverick talent who has entertained TV and radio audiences with inimitable style for more than 50 years.”

Dennie Morris, director of audio and news broadcasting, said: “James is not only a giant of radio and television, but one of the loveliest men I’ve ever met.

“His contribution to the industry and to charity over the years has been remarkable. I can think of no one more deserving of this honour.”

In 2016, Whale appeared on Celebrity Big Brother alongside Christopher Biggins and Frankie Grande – the brother of US pop star Ariana.

Whale was the sixth housemate to be evicted, alongside The Only Way Is Essex star Lewis Bloor, and on his exit admitted the show had been a bigger challenge than he had expected.

“I went in thinking it was the easiest money I would ever earn in my entire life,” he said.

Whale was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and had to have one of his kidneys removed.

In 2018, his wife Melinda died after being diagnosed with lung cancer and in August 2020, Whale revealed cancer had returned in his kidney, spine, brain and lungs.

The radio DJ’s past experience with cancer led him to form the James Whale Kidney Fund in 2006, which merged with Kidney Cancer UK in 2015.

Whale now hosts a weekly podcast with his second wife Nadine Talbot-Brown talking about their journey together with his stage four kidney cancer.

Appearing on TalkTV for A Lifetime Of Night-Time: The James Whale Story, which will air on Saturday at 10pm, Whale said his cancer “is a bit bad at the moment” but spoke of his desire to continue hosting his Saturday night show.

His wife described the show as his “reason for being” at the moment.

Whale said: “If I have a few more months that would be great, if I have until next Christmas or this coming Christmas would be nice wouldn’t it, but if I die tomorrow I’ve had an amazing time and I married an amazing lady.

“And I’ve had a lifetime of not having to have a job, I don’t work.”

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