Thursday, October 13, 2005

Just waiting for that

It's not every week that Dermot'n'Natasha on BBC Breakfast are found interviewing Laura Cantrell, but this is the much-vaunted John Peel Day. For all the idea's faults, and there are many - let's get it straight after yesterday's post that an all-star single really is pushing our collective luck, although even here you could hardly state "this Tom Ravenscroft knows nothing about John Peel!" - surely for the BBC it was damned if they do, damned if they don't, and by the way how do you know exactly what John would have thought? In one of the autobiography extracts in the Telegraph this week Sheila noted that friends and family were worried about the late starts that came for cynics to symbolise the end of his Radio 1 tenure but he, after seeing the likes of Walker and Kershaw be moved aside, was just happy to still be on the station. (We'd argue, by the way, that even this wasn't the worst slot he'd ever had, if you discount the thought about what time a 65 year old with diabetes should be working - it's easily forgotten now that in the mid-90s, a time on Radio 1 now cemented as Matthew Bannister's new broom bringing in a new music ethos across the network, the arbiter of the new did a total of four hours a week on Saturday afternoons as the dance warm-up and a dead slot on Sunday evenings.) We're fairly sure unknown bands play gigs most nights, however.

Further scheduling news - Tom Robinson chats to Sheila on Home Truths on the 22nd, with Margrave Of The Marshes as Radio 4's Book Of The Week for the following week, with Michael Angelis (Chrissie from Boys From The Blackstuff) and Carolyn Pickles (Emmerdale chiefly, but she's been in all sorts) handling the readings. BBC4 have a special night on the actual death anniversary, mostly repeats - their own Fall documentary, Peel's own Beefheart documentary, the live archive clips from their special night last year, PJ Harvey live and Peel's Undertones documentary.

Go on then, commenters, where were you when you heard? We, for no good reason, turned Radio 1 on during Colin & Edith and wondered why they were reading texts and emails from people who'd met John in a shocked, low tone.


Ant said...

This one's not spam.

I was at home, and a friend sent me a text message, so I switched on the radio. Was especially weird, as a couple of months previous, Peel had telephones me one afternoon, with a question about the 7" single my band had out at the time. "Hello, it's John Peel from Fabulous Radio 1 here". I'd spoken to him once before, in the early 90s, and he'd greeted me in the same cheeky, self-effacing way.

I went to college with Ryan Gilbey, who helped finish Margrave Of The Marshes with Sheila and the kids. In his Guardian article about the process, he mentioned how spidery Peel's handwriting was. I rifled through my records to find a Finitribe 12" I'd one in a competition on his late 80s BBC Cambridge show. On the inner sleeve he had scrawled "Enjoy! John Peel". And yes, the handwriting, even from that small sample, seemed barely penetrable.

Of course, none of us could know for sure how he would have reacted to the commemoration. But I think Andy Kershaw's assertation that he wouldn't have liked it is probably quite accurate :

"He'd think it was maudlin. He would also object on the grounds it was nostalgia-driven. "

Ian Snappish said...

I was in America at the time. I had finally hooked up my friend Laura's wireless connection, and I went onto the BBC website to discover the news. I walked through the rest of the day in something of a daze, playing 'Teenage Kicks' and 'Come Out 2Nite' on my shiny new music player. I ended up in a record shop, and bought the first Fall album that I saw.

It was bizarre, really; I really wanted to be back home, as I found it difficult to explain to my friends why I was quite so upset. "A DJ died back home" doesn't seem like something you'd get too torn up about…

Matt said...

I was taking a quick break from some no-doubt thrilling work, which turned into an afternoon being unable to do any work whatsoever. I'd like to think that I read about it first on some unlikely website or messageboard (and goodness knows every messageboard I looked at had some sort of thread about him) but I suspect it was something dull like the BBC website having it all over the front page.

Those Saurday and (especially) Sunday programmes were the first Peel shows I really listened to. I remember being startled when Lamacq sat in for him when Sheila was ill, and missing having the aimiable old bloke talking to me in my miserable student bedroom. I think that's the thing I miss the most now.

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