Mike Read mid 1980s Radio 1 photocard

Mike Read is a British radio broadcaster who was a colleague of John Peel at Radio One from 1978 to 1991.

Relationship with John Peel

Many of the DJs of the era were extremely flamboyant and actively sought as much media coverage as they could get. Peel clearly had little respect for many of his colleagues for such behaviour, with Mike Read among those experiencing Peel's disdain.

"People like Mike Read and DLT would often complain that they couldn't go anywhere without being recognized, but of course would go everywhere in a tartan suit carrying a guitar, so they would have attracted attention in a lunatic asylum." [1]

After joining Radio One at the end of 1978, Read quickly graduated to presenting the night time programme before John Peel's show. Read stood in for Peel on occasions [2]. Consequently, in this early period at least, relations between the two appear to have been generally cordial judging by Peel's on air comments. The music played on Read's early evening show had a certain amount of overlap with Peel's own. On 19 November 1979 for example, Peel indicates that he is happy to loan Read his copy of The Beat's debut single so it can be played on his own programme. Nevertheless, Peel did lampoon Read's taste in shirts on one occasion [3].

Read took over the Breakfast Show on 05 January 1981. His tenure in that slot is chiefly remembered for his on-air decision in 1984 not to play the Frankie Goes To Hollywood single "Relax" due to supposedly obscene lyrics. In support of their DJ, BBC Radio banned the single from its shows two days later, although Kid Jensen and Peel continued to play the record throughout 1984.[4] Although this incident went down in Radio One folklore, Peel himself cast doubt on the simplicity of the issue.

"Well I was always told the only reason Mike Read made his little speech about it was because he had a lot of time on his hands leading up to a news bulletin, which was like half past something and he had 20 seconds to go, and he didn’t have enough time to do what we usually did and get his guitar out and sing 'Rubber Ball'. So he thought 'I’ve got to say something' and he launched into his damning. I don’t know if this is true or not and I don’t really care."

Furthermore, Peel would later describe the band's Top of the Pops performance of this song as his favourite ever from the show.[5]

In an interview for Smash Hits in January 1984 [6], Read mentions how proud he is that he has managed to introduce "less predictable" music onto his daytime show. Whereas previously such records "would be played by Peelie" before entering the mainstream and getting onto daytime radio, Read's approach means that "... we just play them straight away". According to Read, "It's pushed Peelie out into some strange left field, though".

Apologising for talking so much on his programme on 25 February 2003, Peel commented:

"At least it's not like Mike Read used to be when he was doing the breakfast show. Cos he would sit and he would talk for three or four, five minutes at a time and then play a tune on the guitar. He'd have his guitar with him in the studio... And you'd think, for God's sake play a record!"

Top Of The Pops


Mike Read hosts TOTP in January, 1979

Mike Read appeared as a co-host with Peel in occasional, multi-DJ episodes of Top of the Pops during the 1980s. They never appeared as joint hosts.

Other Shows Played



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