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Pobol: Chris Needs

Pobol: Chris Needs

How radio star Chris Needs turned torment into triumph

Despite being a tormented youngster and trying to kill himself, Chris Needs turned his life into an extraordinary and inspiring success story. S4C viewers will be given a insight into his remarkable life as part of the new series Pobol (People) on Wednesday, 28 March.

The programme Pobol: Chris Needs profiles the broadcaster, musician, author, linguist, actor and fund-raiser and discovers how Chris went from being viciously bullied for his sexuality to a man with literally thousands of friends.

Chris Needs' Friendly Garden is the late night BBC Wales show, which recruits listeners, and their pets, as members, and membership is heading towards a phenomenal 50,000.

Last year he almost died when reaction to medication produced throat sores which prevented him eating and he shed about seven stone in almost as many weeks.

With the help of his thousands of loyal listener friends - one man spent £37.50 a week sending him special honey - he has shrugged it off and is on the fund-raising trail again.

In the programme, produced by Nia Ceidiog from award-winning production company Ceidiog, we'll find out more about his life in his home village of Cwmafan near Port Talbot, where he and his partner Gabe run a family grocery shop, alongside a souvenirs, CDs and card charity shop.

The programme follows Chris since October 2011 and the climax will be a fund-raising concert which Chris is staging at the Grand Theatre in Swansea on 24 March which will feature many of his talented friends, including world-famous opera star Rebecca Evans.

Chris, 58, MBE. admits he is 'scarred' by the horrendous sexual abuse he suffered as a youngster and constant taunts about being gay. Even at school he was given 100 lines - 'I am a nancy boy and must change' - and was driven to a suicide attempt which failed only when the strap he tried to hang himself with, broke.

He speaks five languages, was a professional translator in Spain, has a doctorate in music, played piano for the legendary Dorothy Squires and for Bonnie Tyler, played Dylan Thomas in 2001 acting with Oscar-winning Hollywood legend Meryl Streep and penned the Cardiff Castle show for Shirley Bassey in 1995. His charity fund-raising for South Wales' hospitals helped him receive the MBE in 2005.

Producer Nia Ceidiog said, "He is a fascinating man. I've known him for many years and wanted to make a programme about him. A few months ago I decided to give him a call, He had not been well but was getting better and I thought it would be the right time to do the programme. S4C liked the idea and so we have been filming Chris for the past six months."

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