Television’s newest heart-throb has no time for romance. Though hundreds of girls write every week to 27-year-old John Edmunds, the smiling ABC announcer is resisting all attempts at courtship, and concentrates on his career.
“I’m much too busy,” he declares. “I don’t have any romantic attachments at all.
“I’ve been combining teaching with announcing until Christmas, but now I’ve decided to concentrate on my television commitments.”
At present he is announcing from the Birmingham studios, but he hopes to go on to straight acting. He would also like to work on television for schools — he taught French at a London grammar school until he resigned to go full-time on television.
He has made such a big impact that he often has difficulty getting away from the studios. One Sunday so many girls were waiting for him he had to be smuggled out dressed as a labourer.
But one woman was more persistent. She waited each Saturday and Sunday; telephoned; wrote scores of letters. For weeks Edmunds managed to elude her.
“One day, she caught up with me,” he recalls. “It was a hurried conversation as I was rather late. But she still managed to explain her feelings for me. It was terribly embarrassing.”
Many of the letters are pathetic, but he answers them all. One came from a mother in the Midlands who told him that her daughter had been taking a more than usual interest in the announcing spots. “The fact is,” wrote the mother, “she hasn’t a clue what you’ve said when I ask her afterwards.”
“I did answer this letter,” says Edmunds, “but not as the mother would have wished. She wanted me to write and say that I was happily married with three children!”
When Edmunds was still teaching and announcing “it was a case of scowling during weekdays and smiling at weekends,” he laughed.
“My pupils knew nothing of my double life. Strange to think that millions of viewers in the Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire had seen me but none of my pupils knew what I did with my week-ends.”
A Welshman, Edmunds was educated at Aberystwyth and went to the university there, where he took a first class honours degree in modern languages. He had a strong leaning towards the stage in those days, and during university vacations spent several seasons in repertory and two summer seasons at a holiday camp.
One of his enterprises was his own student repertory company called “The Adventurers.”
A great lover of Shakespeare, he toured French schools and universities with his own production of Twelfth Night.
“After I had obtained my degree, the Royal Navy decided it was time to teach me something about seamanship. I was called up, and served for three years and three weeks.
“But the strange part is,” he recalls, “for three years I studied at a university on a special Russian language course. The odd three weeks? I spent those swabbing decks.”
When he isn’t in Birmingham, Edmunds shares a flat in London with Richard Baker, a BBC TV news reader. In his spare time he enjoys reading Shakespeare, playgoing and cooking.
“Working in Birmingham these past few months has made me into a really good cook,” he admits. “I’ve watched Philip Harben at work, and obtained quite a few tips from the master.
“Every Monday I try out a new recipe at home – probably that’s the reason why my friend Dick Baker always stays out on a Monday!”
But good cook or not, girls are out. Though Edmunds does admit that Jayne Mansfield is his idea of a perfect film actress.