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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea