Phillip Adams

Phillip Adams
Phillip Adams

Phillip Adams AO (born 1939) is an Australian broadcaster on the Radio National network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), filmmaker, author, archaeologist, controversialist, social commentator and satirist. He is the author of over 20 books that have sold over a million copies, including The Unspeakable Adams, Adams Versus God, The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes, Retreat from Tolerance, Talkback and A Billion Voices and Adams Ark (published in 2004).


Personal life

Born in Maryborough, Victoria), the son and only child of a Congregational Church minister, he is a self-confessed atheist who sometimes talks about spiritual matters in his interviews. Phillip Adams lives on Elmswood, a cattle property specialising in the production of chemical-free beef, in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. He is a collector of rare antiques, including Egyptian, Roman and Greek sculptures and artefacts.

Adams partner is Patrice Newell.

Public life

An Australian social icon (he is one of the Australian Living Treasures) who could also be described as an iconoclast, and a left-wing radical thinker. For almost 40 years, Adams' columns in major newspapers and magazines have provoked discussion and outrage. He is in demand as a speaker, chairman and moderator at public and private sector conferences. In his speaking engagements, broadcasts and writing, Phillip attempts to tackle serious issues in the 21st century using wit, humour and provocative opinions to challenge thought and stimulate debate.

Adams played a crucial role in breathing life back into the Australian film industry during the 1970s [1] ( The title developed from his authorship of a report that led Prime Minister John Gorton to revive the local film industry. In conjunction to this was his role, with Barry Jones, in creating the Experimental Film Fund and his strong support for the Australian Film and Television School. Additionally he devised the South Australian Film Corporation for Premier Don Dunstan, which became a model for similar bodies in all other States.

As a consultant to prime ministers and premiers, Adams played a key role in the establishment of the Australia Council, the Australian Film Development Corporation, the Australian Film Commission, and the Australian Film Finance Corporation.

Adams has been Chair of the Australian Film Institute, the Australian Film Commission, the Commission for the Future, the Film Radio and Television Board, Film Australia and the National Australian Day Council. He is Chairman of the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University in Canberra. His board memberships have included Greenpeace, CARE Australia, The National Museum of Australia, Adelaide's Festival of Ideas and Brisbane's Ideas at the Powerhouse.

As a broadcaster, Adams has interviewed over 15,000 prominent politicians, philosophers, economists, scientists, theologians, historians, archaeologists, novelists and scholars. His radio program, Late Night Live is broadcast twice a day over the 250-station network of ABC's Radio National and around the world on Radio Australia and the World Wide Web. The program attempts a serious discussion of world issues, often with a humorous and satirical bent. Adams addresses all listeners to the program as "Gladys" (a sort of half-humorous and half-serious way of saying that his program is not popular, and for a single listener, but neither is the case).

He also writes a weekly column in the broadsheet The Australian newspaper's weekend magazine.

Chairmanships, boards and membership

Current chairmanships

Current board memberships

Previous chairmanships

Previous board memberships



Defence for Children International, DCI - Australia



  • The Unspeakable Adams
  • Adams Versus God
  • Talkback
  • Retreat From Tolerance
  • A Billion Voices
  • Adams Ark, (2004)

With his partner Patrice Newell, he is the author of several joke books:

  • The Penguin Book of Australian Jokes (1994)
  • The Penguin Book of Jokes from Cyberspace (1995)
  • The Penguin Book of More Australian Jokes (1996)
  • The Penguin Book of Schoolyard Jokes (1997)



Acting roles


  • Adams' Australia (part of BBC TV's contribution to Australia's celebrations for its bicentenary).
  • The Big Questions with Professor Paul Davies
  • Death and Destiny filmed in Egypt with Paul Cox.


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