ADAMS, PHILLIP (1939– )
A distinguished broadcaster and columnist well known for his left-wing politics, Phillip Adams has had an extensive media career and made a significant impact on Australia’s film and advertising industries.
Adams began work at Melbourne advertising agency Briggs and James at the age of 15 and, despite being a Communist Party member, moved up advertising’s creative ranks. In 1968 he became the creative director of his own agency, Monahan Dayman Adams, which expanded rapidly. He created campaigns such as ‘Life. Be in it’ and ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’. Following a collaboration on the ‘Celebration of a Nation’ Bicentenary campaign in 1988, his agency merged with Mojo and Adams soon departed.
Producing ads stimulated Adams’ interest in film. The award-winning Jack and Jill: A Postscript (1970) marked his directing debut. Notable productions included The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), Don’s Party (1976) and The Getting of Wisdom (1977). He was also key to persuading the Commonwealth government to support the creation of what would become the Australian Film Commission.
Adams’ first journalistic forays were as a freelancer for the Communist newspaper the Guardian. In the 1960s, he began writing for the Bulletin before becoming the Australian’s television critic. Sacked in 1969 for being a ‘satirist’, he moved on to Nation Review. After another stint at the Australian, he shifted to the Age, where his column was nationally syndicated in the 1980s. He later went back to the Australian, where his weekly column continues to appear. Adams has also written numerous books on topics such as atheism and politics, including Talkback: Emperors of the Air, with Lee Burton (1997), and a number of joke books, with partner Patrice Newell.
Adams’ broadcasting career began at 2UE Sydney in 1988. However, he was unwilling to adopt a populist approach, and left 2UE in 1990. The following year he took over Late Night Live on the ABC’s Radio National, where his blend of interviews, commentary and reports on current affairs has established a devoted national audience, and also won him a Walkley Award (with Chris Bullock, Mary Louise O’Callaghan and Paul Gough) in 2004.
He was awarded an AM in 1987 and an AO in 1992. Other awards include the Human Rights Medal (2006), the Raymond Longford Award (1981) and the United Nations Media Award (2005). Adams has won multiple Australian Film Institute Awards and holds honorary doctorates from several universities.
REFs: R. Crawford, But Wait, There’s More ... (2008); P. Luker, Phillip Adams (2000); http://www.theaustralian.com.au.