Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Judge Jules, DJ

'I did law - hence my daft name'


"Judge" Jules, aka Julius O'Riordan, is the Radio 1 DJ whose show goes out on Saturday evenings. His "Judgement Sundays" are held at the Eden club in Ibiza from 11 June until mid-September. Also entitled Judgement Sundays, his DJ mix compilation is released early in July.

At 11 I went to Highgate Wood School in north London, which had a delicate balance between enough middle-class kids for you to pursue an academic career, and quite rough kids so you didn't end up with a silver spoon in your mouth; you had a streetwise view of London. It worked for me. I'm tall - at least 6ft when I was 16 - and can look after myself, though I'm not a bruiser. If I hadn't come from a family that was quite academic, it might have been different.

My grandmother was one of the first women to go to Cambridge. My uncle (not Rick Stein, another one) is a senior professor at Oxford in physiology, which is their posh word for medicine. My mother, who died when I was 19, was a teacher; my father was a TV director when I was at school and then taught acting at Rada.

I did all right at most O-levels, getting nine at decent grades. History is the subject I was most interested in but not geography, because I fancied the girl who sat next to me and spent more of the time looking at her legs than learning about faultlines and spits.

My father was in the parent-teacher association and I think he fell out with the headmaster, who said, "Either you leave or I do." I was a bit disappointed because I was leaving my friends but went to a private school, University College School, in Hampstead. It was quite a culture shock. I went from being comfortably off compared to most people, to being without question the least well off; I wasn't made to feel this but I picked up on it when kids turned up on their 17th birthday with a brand-new car. I did have kudos from coming from a comprehensive.

Academically I did all right, which is a credit to Highgate Wood, and I did well enough at A-levels in English, history and economics to go to the LSE, a tough university to get into. The reason I enjoyed history is that I had a very enthusiastic teacher; you need to be a good storyteller.

I did law - hence my daft name: friends started calling me "Judge". I enjoyed contract law, largely because I knew I wanted to go into the music business, where it would be very useful: "Where there's a hit, there's a writ." I did an optional course on women and the law. I was one of two guys in a class of women, which was great. I must have been on something when I chose the course on the Russian and Yugoslavian legal system; I can't say it's proved very useful to me. I wasn't exactly a gold star student but I was able to bolt down information a month before my exams. People who probably got better degrees than me lent me their notes. I'm quite proud of getting a 2:2 - not a Third!

I was putting on illegal parties in derelict buildings. The police would inevitably turn up at 2 a.m. on a Saturday when they didn't have much manpower. With four policemen facing a thousand young people, all they needed was gentle persuasion from me that it was just a party for my law student chums. I only ended up in a cell once. It was a party in this huge, empty house in Holland Park Avenue, right next door to Richard Branson's. I'm totally absorbed in the DJ-ing; I've got my headphones on, mixing, totally in my own world - and the next thing I know, I look up and there are no dancers or partygoers, just 50 to a hundred riot police. They thought I was the promoter, not the £100-hired-for-one-night-only DJ. I got arrested and bundled into a van all on my own.

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