He presents the BBC 6Music breakfast show, and is a team captain on BBC2's Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Before life as a DJ, he was a Jobcentre clerk by day and Porky the Poet by night, later touring with acts including Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and The Housemartins. He lives in Leigh-on-Sea with his wife and his two daughters.
So, what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?
With 6Music, it was the fact that we were breaking in new technology with the DAB digital radio. And getting to play so many of my own records, about a dozen a day. Xfm radio says that it's alternative, but it is heavily rotated playlist pop - commercial jocks get one of their own tracks a week.
When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?
My mum got the Express and my dad brought home the Evening Standard - the classic Home Counties, Middle England collection. My dad was drawn to subculture shops where he bought me Oz and Private Eye.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Week in Review - the week's news in half an hour, with subtitles. I was a big Warner Bros fan - whoever saw that Tom and Jerry was on the telly would just shout, "Toons!" and we would come running from every corner of the house. On the radio, it was Jimmy Young, Tony Blackburn, and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?
Harry, my driver, puts on Five Live in the car - Wake Up to Money is one of the best factual shows on radio today. I used to listen to the World Service and Farming Today, but then I realised that I wasn't a farmer.
Do you consult any media sources during the working day?
In the studio, I skim the broadsheets in whatever order they fall in front of me, but don't bother with the tabloids - so many breakfast shows lean on that nonsense.
What is the best thing about your job?
First discovering and then meeting new bands. In the past few weeks, I've found a couple: Purple Wizard, a five-piece fronted by two girl guitar-players who play rowdy garage pop, very grungy with good harmonies; and Gogol Bordello, a Ukrainian who lives in New York and has a folky punk band.
And the worst?
The hours. My body clock has been thrown 12 hours out. I fall asleep at weekends and have to leave gigs halfway through.
What is the proudest achievement in your working life?
I have got two. The first was when Billy Bragg let me direct the video for his song "Sexuality". I came up with the gags and the visuals, and helped with the editing. And then it got nominated for a Brit award. The second is playing in the West End, when my mum got to see my name up in lights.
And what is your most embarrassing moment?
Poor Harvey Goldsmith booked me to do a gig with The Who at the Royal Albert Hall. There were all these bands, with me in the middle. They didn't want me to be there, I didn't want me to be there - it was just a nightmare.
At home, what do you tune in to?
Whatever CDs I find on the floor when I tidy up. I don't watch a lot of telly, and don't get the time to go to the cinema during the day any more, so I buy DVDs of TV series from the States. I'll watch a whole series of The West Wing or Lost, say, in three days.
What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?
The Observer, Blender (a US music mag), Q, Uncut, Mojo.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
I'd like to work in America - radio, comedy, telly, it doesn't matter. I'd love a show on NPR.
If you didn't work in the media what would you do?
After working in the Civil Service, I started training as a designer, so graphic design and illustration.
Who in the media do you most admire, and why?
John Humphrys, an excellent broadcaster. I like the fact that the BBC gives people a hard time. I met him once: we were talking current affairs and he started swearing beautifully. No, I won't tell you what he said.
1984: Quits the civil service to perform punk poetry, supporting The Style Council, The Housemartins and Billy Idol
1986: Takes a job at indie label Go! Discs and ends up as The Housemartins' press officer
1995: Gets his own show on BBC London radio, which runs for five years
1996: Sets off on his first UK tour, "Jedi, Steady, Go", a personal interpretation of the Star Wars story, and becomes a team captain on 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks'
2001: Makes his movie debut as an embittered sports journalist in Mike Bassett England Manager
2002: Joins BBC 6 Music, where he remains the Breakfast Show hostReuse content