Jon Holmes interview: The controversial broadcaster on being inappropriate ... and getting away with it

Holmes is a Bafta-and Sony Award-winning broadcaster and writer, the creator of Radio 4 programme 'Dead Ringers', and the host of the XFM Breakfast Show

Click to follow

I still hold the record for the largest Ofcom fine for taste and decency offences It was early on in my career [at Virgin Radio, in 2002] for a feature I did called "Swearing Radio Hangman". It cost us £75,000. I wasn't being a renegade DJ: everything was signed off by management, who seemed to think it was funny – until Ofcom got involved. Then I was fired.

On-Air prank phone calls are a minefield The one last year when two Australian DJs phoned the hospital Kate Middleton was at and impersonated the Queen had a tragic end [the nurse who routed the call subsequently committed suicide]. I'm sure everyone involved was utterly mortified, but sh*t happens, and you can't stop doing these things on the off chance that something bad like that will happen.

I'm drawn to the inappropriate I remember at the birth of my first daughter, during the most beautiful moment of it all (I was at the head end), I got distracted by the gaping top of the trainee midwife, as I could see her breasts. I've never told my wife about it.

I only ever notice my height when interviewing Hollywood A-listers Inevitably, after interviewing them, there's a photo of me and them and I look like their child. [Holmes is 5ft 4in.] In particular, there's a photo of me with Chris Pine – Captain Kirk from the new Star Trek movies – I came up to his belt loops and looked like a puppet, and he thought it was hilarious. I'm like, "Go on, laugh at me!" The only one I have any bonding with is Daniel Radcliffe, who is the same height as me and is totally fine with it.


Most people who are looking to find their birth parents have a gap to fill People who are adopted often have abandonment issues, but I've never had that, because my parents are so brilliant. I knew from day one that I was adopted and they made it seem normal to me. They always said: "You were picked out of the line – we could have had any child, but we chose you to be our baby boy." It was a smart way to make me feel special, so I don't have an urge to do the tracing thing.

You can get away with a lot in America by being British I got pulled over for doing 115mph in a rental car on a highway in Texas. The state trooper bent me over the bonnet and threatened me with jail time. But then he found out I was British, so he cut me some slack and de-arrested me. You have to put the accent on, though, and say things like, "I'm terribly good friends with the Queen." I got pulled over by the police in Alabama and got away with it as the trooper took a map of the London Underground that I had on me as a bribe: he thought it was fantastic.

Bouncers are stupid As a teenager I used to try to get into nightclubs underage, dressed like Don Johnson from Miami Vice: I wanted to give the impression to the bouncers that I'd just parked the Ferrari Testarossa round the corner, and while this was Nuneaton and not Miami, that I was still the kind of guy who has a yacht. And you know what? It actually worked!

Heavy metal from the 1980s is my guilty pleasure I have a collection of CDs in my car to sing along loudly to that would embarrass most people to the point of denying it. My favourite is The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock. I've also got Def Leppard. Oh, and the soundtrack album from Young Guns II.

Jon Holmes, 39, is a Bafta- and Sony Award-winning broadcaster and writer, the creator of Radio 4 programme 'Dead Ringers', and the host of the XFM Breakfast Show. His memoir, 'A Portrait of an Idiot as a Young Man', is out on Thursday (£12.99, Orion)