My Mentor: Iain Lee on Danny Baker

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The Independent Online

'I sat in the studio saying nothing for two hours, a nervous wreck in front of him'

I started listening to Danny Baker about 20 years ago when he was on GLR [Greater London Radio] on Saturdays or Sundays. GLR had an amazing line up back then, with Danny, Chris Evans and Chris Morris. I had grown up listening to more traditional radio and just to hear someone talking rubbish when you are 15 is exciting. Danny made me laugh out loud, and hearing someone being very very funny is inspiring.

I rediscovered him five years later when he was doing the breakfast show on Five Live. For much of it he was talking about football, which I absolutely hate, but he even managed to make that funny and appealing to me.

He also used to have a late night chat show on BBC1 and I went to see it a few times. In one episode he said there was no one to end the show and I ended up playing out on Del Amitri's drums.

The next day I went and watched him do his radio show in the morning, but I sat in the studio saying nothing for two or three hours, a complete nervous wreck in front of him.

As I became more and more interested in speech radio I found a few cool and interesting people, but Danny was the constant. When I started at Xfm years ago I just stole a load of my ideas from him and to people who listened to both shows it must have been blatantly obvious.

He always has really brilliant beats playing under his pieces, whether it's a little bit of oom-pah music or the theme from Star Trek, which just makes them sound bigger and more mysterious.

Speech radio was usually quiet and staid and this was obscure, and my bringing that into speech radio is a nod to him.

He also inspired me to do his own podcasts in my bedroom, which can be quite ramshackle and hit and miss, but it's a chance to swear a bit and be a little ruder.

Loads of people say I remind them of him, or point out things I nicked from him, but I've never had the courage to go up to him and ask him whether he knows or likes my show.

Iain Lee's new radio show for Virgin is on Sundays at 10pm