My Brighton: Bob Maddams

July 25, 2018



 Photo by Adam Bronkhorst



Travel writer and filmmaker

Are you local?


No, I was born in North London, but I’ve lived here for ten years. I worked in Ethiopia for eight years and when I returned to the UK I couldn’t go back to my old life as an ad man in London. It was one of those moments when you throw the cards up in the air. I needed something new; somewhere with a bit of media going on, and some access to London, so I picked Brighton.


What took you to Ethiopia?


I heard about a film school which trained street kids to become filmmakers and they needed people with TV experience to train them. We specialised in making what’s called ‘behaviour-change drama’, working with local people instead of professional actors. We travelled all over the country and made films about HIV/AIDS, FGM, girls’ education, women’s rights... it was a fantastic experience. I went out there for three months and stayed for seven years.   


What do you do now?


I have a company called Gooroo which offers creative communication training workshops. I train a lot of small businesses and charities who do their marketing inhouse. Google and Facebook will tell you how to use the platform, but they don’t tell you about the principles of creative communication.


What do you like most about living in Brighton?


The mix, I think. Practically everybody you bump into here has been somewhere, done something, and has a story to tell. It’s so full of characters and different types of people that it makes for a very vibrant place. I also like its sense of inclusion. If I hadn’t gone to Ethiopia, I’d have wished that I’d moved down here sooner. I honestly think I’m very lucky to live here.


What don’t you like about it?


Generally, the weather, although not today: it’s 30 degrees outside. Sometimes the rain hits you horizontally in the face. Of course, parking is terrible, but I feel sorry for the Council. There are just too many cars. And local affairs can get used as a bit of a political football for national issues, and that annoys me. But I think Caroline Lucas is great. Sending the first Green MP to Westminster sums up the individuality and creativity of what makes the city special. 


Where’s your favourite place in town?


Probably the Barley Mow pub sees too much of me. I live in Kemptown and as an area it’s fantastic. Like a mini Brighton within Brighton, with its own sense of identity. People know one another and - without being nosey or overbearing - keep an eye out for one another. 


Where do you like to eat?


The Barley Mow do an excellent pint and a pie, and there’s a fine Indian restaurant up St James’s Street, called Pavel, that punches way above its weight.


Where would you live if you didn’t live here?


I think I’d probably go back to Addis Ababa, but Sussex is a great place to live. If I didn’t live in Brighton I might scoot off to Shoreham, or further west. 


When did you last swim in the sea?


Here? That is still an unopened book. But I’m very excited about the plans for Sea Lanes, the open-air pool on the beach. If I had a few sea-swimming lessons there, I think I might be tempted.



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