Hero or Villain? Dave Lee Travis

 

Across the dark years of the last decades, certain beacons shine. Mandela. Havel. Luther King. And to that pantheon we can add another name. Travis.

But don't take my word for it – rather, trust the judgement of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy champion. For, following 15 years of house arrest, Suu Kyi has embarked on a two-week tour of Europe, during which she will address both houses of Parliament, receive the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991, and meet the 67-year-old Magic AM Saturday-morning show presenter.

It was last year that the 66-year-old Suu Kyi revealed what an inspiration the self-styled Hairy Cornflake had been to her. While confined to her home in Rangoon, she regularly tuned in to his World Service radio show, enjoying its variety of music: "It made my world much more complete."

For his part, Travis revealed last week that he was "quite excited" about the proposed meeting, but added, with typical insouciance, that he "won't be at a loss for words. I'm just fascinated to hear more about her time [under house arrest] and what she liked about [my programme]". He went on, with the integrity that has long marked his broadcasting: "I tried very hard to get the pronunciation right for words in the countries I was talking about."

As his illustrious new friend will appreciate, Travis's career was born of oppression: in 1965, with the pirate radio station Radio Caroline, which broadcast in bold defiance of the BBC's radio monopoly. Travis bravely bowed to the inevitable, though, and joined Radio 1 in 1968, enjoying a sparkling career. (Who did not feel fire in their veins when "Quack quack oops!" rang out during his "snooker on the radio" quiz?) Then came the small-minded critics. First, in the early Nineties, the characters Smashie and Nicey created by comedians (so-called!) Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. Travis held his counsel before dealing with them, magisterially: "This Smashie and Nicey crap – is that funny? It doesn't raise a smile with me."

But the forces of oppression were circling once more: in August 1993, the new controller of Radio 1 began an infamous putsch of the station's titans. Travis did not go gently into that good night, resigning on air in October that year: "Changes are being made here which go against my principles and I just cannot agree with them..." Aung San Suu Kyi couldn't have put it better herself.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?