How public school sustained John Peel at the BBC

It used to be that we had a controller, name of Muggeridge, who was joint controller of Radio 1 and 2, quite a good idea. When the BBC was looking for a man to do this job, quite naturally they chose someone who until that time had been head of the Chinese section of the BBC World Service.

Once he had got the job he interviewed various DJs one after another, and I was last in. I think he thought I would do something unpredictable and startling, like rub heroin into the roots of his hair. He was sitting at his enormous desk, a sort of Dr Strangelove position. At some point in the conversation I mentioned public schools, and he brightened up a little at this idea, as if at some stage in my life I had actually met somebody who had been to a public school.

I said, ‘Actually, I went to one myself.’

He went, ‘Extraordinary! Which one?’

He was assuming it was some minor public school somewhere on the south coast. I said, ‘Shrewsbury.’ He said, ‘Good heavens!’ At this stage he was getting quite elated. ‘Which house were you in?’ I told him and he said, ‘How’s old Brookie?’

It was clear that he thought, whatever he looks like, and whatever sort of unspeakable music he plays on the radio, he is still one of us. I think for a long time it was this factor that sustained me at the BBC.”

John Peel, The Observer, 31 October 2004

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