• John Peel's Music On BFBS
  • 1995-12-23
  • Start of show: "Howdy, it's another John Peel's Music On BFBS, a programme this week with a first class tale to tell, as George Formby once sang. That'll come up later on. I'll try not to talk too much, but it has been an interesting week. To start, though, this is..."
  • John tells the story of his appearance on This Is Your Life (transcribed below). Despite being asked not to mention who was in it, since it had not at that time been transmitted, he namechecks David Gedge, Paul Whitehouse and Mark E Smith.
  • He describes the Fast Show as "the funniest thing on TV by a mile."


  • None


(JP: 'About two months ago, three months ago, somebody said to me, "You know Rick Blaxill, who's the producer of Top Of The Pops is trying to get in touch with you?", and I thought, "I'm not going to fall for that one, I've been down that road before." You know, people say, "They're trying to get in touch with you from the Palace," and you phone up, "Sorry mate, we don't know what you're on about."...Eventually, he phoned me up at home himself, the producer, and said, "We'd like you to do another Top Of The Pops." Now, I've not done Top Of The Pops for 9 years and I didn't much enjoy the last few I did. I used to do it years and years and years ago with Kid Jensen (David Jensen), who's a man I like very much indeed anyway, and we had a thoroughly good time doing it: it was most amusing for us, anyway, if not for anybody else.
But I thought, well, I'll give it a go again, the children will quite enjoy it. I said to our Flossie, who watches Top Of The Pops, "Do you want to come with me?", and she said, "Oh, do I have to, Dad?" (traditional response)...I was a bit surprised that they'd asked me, really, because I'm not a vision of physical loveliness these days, and I'd be about three times the age of everybody else who was on the programme. But he said, "I'll make sure there's some things on the programme that you'll like." So I agreed to do it, and obviously you don't know who's going to be on it until a few days beforehand: and there's absolutely nobody on it that I like at all! In fact, there were several people that I've met and rather dislike: Mick Hucknall out of Simply Red, who I had a row with many years ago, and whom I've disliked intensely ever since, and Bjork, who I was once introduced to...and she just without a word turned around, walked to the other end of the room, and stood staring out of the window! and I thought, "That's a bit rude." And then there were other people like Boyzone and Everything But The Girl, things which you can take or leave. It was most odd.
But I did the programme and I hated it, to be honest. I mean, it was very stressful, 'cos the technology has changed a lot, and you've got these high-speed cameras whizzing about all over the place, and I kept forgetting to look. You're supposed to look. All cameras used to have a little red light just on top of the camera, and you'd look below that, and you were looking at the lens. These ones, which I hadn't sort of realised, have the little red lights about six inches to the left so I looked at that and I looked at the people who were watching as though I'd got a squint, so they'd stop everything and say, "John, can you remember to try and look at the lens?" And they'd have to back up two or three numbers because it's done so quickly and so cleverly that they have to go and get Boyzone back out of their dressing room, and "He's made a mess of the link again, lads! Sorry, you'll have to put your make-up on and come back up again and get on those stage clothes and stuff," and it was a disaster from that point of view.')
(JP: 'Everything seemed to pass off, fall into went on for like a good half hour longer than it should have done. I was really fed up with it, I'd got a blinding headache from the stress of it all. I had to do my introduction to Bjork three times, and on each occasion standing facing her about four, five feet away from her, and I had to spin through 180 degrees, which isn't easy for me to do when I'm not holding a microphone and trying to remember my amusing ad-libs. Of course, I'd written a really hostile review of her performance at the Reading Festival, and was thinking, is she a Guardian reader or not? Happily, it seems that she wasn't, 'cos she'd certainly have slapped me if she'd read the review which was very bitchy indeed, I'm pleased to say. [2] But she came on, did her number and things, which was fairly dreadful I felt. It came to the final link, and I'm doing the last link, and it's the only one where I have members of the audience actually standing behind me, and I thought, "Once this is over, another 10 minutes, maybe 12 at the most, I'll be in my car and I'll be on my way home, listening to the football, second half of the match, that kind of thing, stop in Baldock, get a bag of chips, everything's perfect, what a wonderful life! Top Of The Pops, it's a doddle!" And you get all these little girls pushing behind you, and at one time it would have been rather an erotic experience, but not when you're my age, I'm afraid....There's one person who's pushing really hard on me right hand...and I turned round to give the person who'd been pushing me a bit of a telling-off, and it was Michael Aspel! holding the little red book, the This Is Your Life book. Now I'm sufficiently streetwise, studio-wise, not to go, "Michael! For me? What a surprise!", just in case they say, "No, John Peel, not for you this time. Bjork, This Is Your Life!"....It was in fact for me.')
(JP: 'Back briefly to This Is Your Life...I was the victim, I think they call them the "hit" in the programme rather than the victim, for understandable reasons. The programme hasn't actually been out yet, and I swore a terrible oath not to reveal any details about it, who was on it, but it was quite wonderful. People, as is always the case with these things, appeared, in one case (someone) I'd not seen for forty years, always people that I liked, admired or whatever, people said some very nice things, one or two other people cropped up on film that I was pleased to see. I will tell you that Mark E. Smith appeared on film, looking very odd indeed. In a way, I was quite glad that he wasn't there in person, 'cos I think I should have been overwhelmed.
As soon as I'd been tagged, as it were, which was in Elstree, just north of London, I then had to drive the producer and somebody else round to the Teddington studio, which is diametrically through London, so we went all around the M25. Because I was very tired already, having done Top Of The Pops, I just wanted to go to bed, frankly, but you can't say no...When it actually does happen, what you want to know is, who have they found?....Curiosity, by and large, stopped me from crying throughout the whole process, but it was wonderful. Dreadzone, oddly enough, were the only band there in their entirety, and they kept coming up afterwards and saying what an honour it had been to be there, they were really sweet about it, which I appreciated a great deal. You get these strange juxtapositions, because they have a huge kind of party for you all afterwards...For example, Paul Whitehouse, out of the Fast Show....sitting there talking earnestly to Trevor, who runs our village shop,and you're thinking, what can they have possibly been talking about?....It was for me one of the best evenings of my entire life, quite marvellous.')


  • Peel Show 1995-12-23 (BFBS)
  • 01:54:14
  • Many thanks to Carsten from Berlin.
  1. John is playing this from a promo copy, when it was called 'Eyes Full Of Gold.'
  2. "The global success of Bjork has been built on her exotic background, the projection of herself as plain weird and a singing style so mannered as to make Kate Bush sound pedestrian by comparison." Reading Festival, from The Guardian, 28 August 1995. Reprinted in Olivetti Chronicles, pp. 333-4 (Corgi edition).
  3. JP understandably omits to name the LP on air.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.