JOURNALISTS from around the world had for years tried to interview infamous crime twins, the Krays, but failed — all except one man, local television presenter Fred Dinenage, who will lift the lid on the terrible, fascinating secrets he managed to unlock from them.

The ex-Meridian Tonight anchor, 81, will bring his new show, Ronnie, Reggie and Me — his definitive insight into the lives of Britain's most notorious gangsters — to Shanklin Theatre, on October 19.

Fred, now retired, was a friendly face on the south's television screens, spanning seven decades.

The popular presenter will provide a rare insight into the Krays' criminal activities, the lavish lifestyle they enjoyed, the A-list celebrities they socialised with and the lives they eventually made behind bars.

But if that isn't interesting enough, Fred will talk about how, by chance, the opportunity to interview them fell into his lap. 

Fred went on to pen the London gangland bosses' autobiographies.

About 35 years ago, former TVS news programme, Coast to Coast, ran a story on a man's efforts to raise money for hospital equipment. 

A few days later, Fred received a letter from Reggie Kray in HMP Parkhurst. Kray offered to help by 'commissioning' prisoners to paint pictures for auction — including one of his own.  

"One of them was brightly coloured, of two boxers in a ring, childlike really, signed 'R.Kray'. They went to auction and made thousands. 

"A Sotherbys expert looked at the paintings. Reggie loved what he said and wrote me another letter saying 'If you're ever on the Island, come and see me'. 

"It was an invitation I couldn't refuse. I went to Parkhurst and that's how it started. It was extraordinary."

Meeting Reggie broke the ice for Fred. Unhappy by the way other writers had 'falsely' portrayed him and Ronnie, Reggie asked if he knew anybody who could write their story.

"I'd never written a book, but I suddenly found myself saying, 'I could do that'," said Fred.

"Reggie said I'd have to meet Ronnie, in Broadmoor hospital for the criminally insane, and 'if he likes you, you can do it — but if he doesn't, you can't'."

Fred got the green light and became one of the few allowed into their inner circle, gaining an unparalleled insight into their lives.

After amassing a wealth of material, Fred published Our Story in 1988. It proved popular.

Fred then wrote about Ronnie's life in Broadmoor, My Story, published five years later. 

"There were some top villains in there, including the Yorkshire Ripper, who wasn't allowed to talk to Ronnie — or even look at him." 

During Fred's show, video of the Krays in Parkhurst and Broadmoor will be shown.

Interviewing the Krays concerned Fred that nefarious characters from their past were keeping a beady eye on him.

"On the first day I went to see Ronnie, as I was walking towards Broadmoor's huge, black intimidating gates, a white Rolls Royce, with blackened windows, came up alongside me.

"A window rolled down, a puff of cigar smoke came out and a voice said he was a friend of Ronnie's. He asked if I was going to write a fair and honest book. I said yes, I hope so.

"I hope so too. I'll be watching," he said, and with that, the window rolled up and the car left.

"I later discovered it was Joey Pyle, who ran London's underworld at that time.

"When the book was published, he rang me, said he liked the book and thanked me. When I put the phone down, there was a sigh of relief."

Fred believes he never really got the Krays' full story.

They were notorious in the 1960s — attracting an endless amount of A-list celebrities, including the likes of Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston and Judy Garland.

"It's quite extraordinary the appeal the Krays held for celebrities. My first book showed them to be killers. They were quite forthright about that."

Fred may not have made a mint from his books, but George Clooney was recently photographed with My Story in his back pocket.

"I've heard nothing — but I'd be very happy if I did!"

Fred, who adores the Island, its people and pace of life, is looking forward to visiting Shanklin Theatre for the first time.