What's eating Noel Edmonds?

He's refusing to pay his TV licence, wants a blanket ban on immigration, and believes that orbs containing the souls of his dead parents are his constant companions
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Noel Edmonds used to be a chirpy chappy whose reassuringly opinion-free personality helped draw vast television and radio audiences for almost 40 years. But, in late middle age, the presenter has developed a lot of views on a lot of subjects. Some are what you would call forthright; others might be consigned to that section of his television show charmingly known as "Bonkers Britain".

Take the orbs. There are two, about the size of melons, which accompany Edmonds wherever he goes – or so he says. One sits on his arm, the other around the right shoulder. They are invisible to the naked eye, but show up, glowing, on digital photographs. They are, he explains, the souls of his father, Dudley, who died in 1990, and his mother, Lydia, who died in 2004.

Edmonds, 59, first noticed the orbs after his girlfriend, Liz Davies, 22 years his junior, introduced him to the theory of Cosmic Ordering. He claims to have loads of digital photographs of Mum and Dad, orbing.

The presenter worked for the BBC for 30 years, and is a multimillionaire, but refuses to pay his television licence fee, saying that he had would rather be prosecuted. He describes himself as "tolerant" and is leading a campaign for a society in which "people care a bit more". He wants a complete ban on immigration.

A sudden stream of announcements from Edmonds all coincided with the need to publicise a one-off television programme called Noel's HQ, which he hosted on Sky at the weekend. It is an updated version of that old favourite Jim'll Fix It, in which the former disc jockey Jimmy Savile went about granting viewers' wishes.

An Essex couple whose honeymoon plans had been ruined by the collapse of the travel firm XL found Edmonds knocking on their door to present them with a replacement five-day break in Malta. The prospective bride cried with gratitude. It was an example of how Edmonds proposes to create a society where people care more and blame one another less. "The politicians – and I'm talking about Gordon Brown – have had their day," he said. "They've had their chance to do it and look at the mess we're now in."

He went on BBC's Breakfast programme to denounce his old employers and let everyone know that he is breaking the law by refusing to stump up £139.50 for a licence – a protest against BBC advertisements warning people they are liable to be caught and prosecuted if they evade the fee. Too many organisations think it is OK to "badger, hector and threaten people," Edmonds said, adding, of course, that the BBC was not like that in his day.

In another promotional interview, Edmonds claimed that the time had come to say "enough is enough" and bar immigrants from coming to Britain. "I'm very straightforward on immigration. The bus is full," he said. "We haven't got enough energy, we haven't got enough electricity, we haven't got enough of a health service."

But perhaps most startling of all was the revelation he made when talking to the Sunday Mirror, about those orbs. "Orbs are little bundles of positive energy and they think they can move between 500 and 1,000 miles per hour," he said. "They look like little round planets, but they come in all shapes and sizes. Conventional photography can't pick them up, but digital cameras can.

"My belief is that these are something to do with some form of spiritual energy. And possibly because I miss my parents like mad, I like to think they are them. I've got loads of photos of me at home with two orbs that visit me. The two that I have are about the size of melons. One sits on my arm and the other is usually in the back of the shot, sitting just over my right shoulder. They like very happy occasions and positive environments, so if you are a positive person you will undoubtedly have orbs around you."

The son of a headmaster, Noel Ernest Edmonds began his career as a 19-year-old newsreader on Radio Luxembourg, before moving to the BBC as its youngest Radio 1 disc jockey in 1969. Later, he hosted the perennial television show Noel's House Party featuring Mr Blobby, who only ever said "Blobby!" and yet had a Christmas No 1 in 1993.

But when the show was taken off the air in 1999, Edmonds' career went through a rough patch, hitting rock bottom in 2004 with the break-up of his marriage reported in humiliating detail in the tabloid newspapers. In November 2004, Channel Five transmitted a tongue-in-cheek review of his career, entitled The Curse of Noel Edmonds.

But the following year he made a spectacular comeback hosting Channel 4's Deal or No Deal, which copied the format of a successful US show, allowing one of 22 contestants to beat the "banker" and win £250,000. It turned him into one of the country's highest-paid television celebrities. Last year, Sky appointed him to host Are You Smarter Than a 10-Year-Old?.

This exposure would seem like very good news for Cosmic Ordering, since it gives Edmonds the opening to publicise this branch of New Age theory in the same way that the former goalkeeper and sports commentator David Icke has drawn our attention to the previously overlooked activities of Fourth Dimension reptilian extra-terrestrial humanoids.

But the television host is not yet ready for a role as a New Age apostle. "I'm a very tolerant person and I'm open to new ideas; I'm not an evangelist," he said. "I don't go round telling people, 'You must try this'. But I don't pour scorn on any idea either."