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6 Music Plays It Again

6Music Monday 24th October - Thursday 27th October
BBC 6Music

A rare opportunity to hear John Peel's first ever broadcast on BBC Radio 1.

The 6 Music Plays It Again strand will be extended by half an hour this week as the network remembers the late, great broadcaster John Peel.

The week's programming begins with John's debut BBC radio broadcast, as Pete Drummond's co-presenter on Radio 1's Top Gear programme, back in October 1967. The playlist is typically eclectic, opening with Martha & the Vandellas, and embracing The Hollies, The Bee Gees, The Velvet Underground and session tracks from Pink Floyd along the way.

John's brief for the fledgling radio network was to look "over the horizons of pop" but he quickly stamped his own musical mark on the show. John Walters revealed that, in the beginning, there was a feeling at Radio 1 that John wouldn't be around for long – the records he played were too obscure, you couldn't sing along and his presentation style was "unlike anyone else". Nevertheless, a 1968 Melody Maker poll named him Best Radio DJ (above Breakfast Show host Tony Blackburn) whilst Top Gear was voted Best Radio Show. This success established a trend for garnering awards during a career at Radio 1 than far outlasted any of his more mainstream contemporaries – including a swathe of Sonys, NME's Godlike Genius Award in 1994 and an OBE in 1998.

Extracts from Peeling Back The Years, provide the opportunity to enjoy John Peel in conversation with his great friend and producer John Walters. Recorded in 1987, the series provides an insight into John Peel the music fan and the DJ.

John reveals that his yearning to have an audience, he could share the music he enjoyed with, drove him to seek his first job at WWR Radio in Dallas, Texas. Whilst he would have liked to believe that he broke into broadcasting because of his extensive knowledge of the blues, in retrospect he suspects it was because of the way he spoke: "In those days I used to talk like a minor member of the royal family. I had a perfectly extraordinary accent…It was very high-pitched, very nasal and embarrassing to hear now…I assume they put me on air because they thought people are not going to believe it when they hear this pillock!"

The series goes on to explore the British music scene, and John's own impact upon it, from the early 70s, through the punk explosion and into the 80s. The soundtrack to the interviews is provided by some of bands he championed, including The Ramones, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Captain Beefheart, The Undertones and, of course, The Fall (with whom he had an extended love affair).

The archive programming is introduced by 6 Music Presenters Tom Robinson and Steve Lamacq who got together, over a mic, to remember their friend and colleague. Both presenters were inspired by the inimitable DJ and music champion, and eventually enjoyed working with him, but when a young Tom Robinson sent a letter to his favourite pirate radio DJ he did not anticipate the lengthy correspondence that followed. These and other personal recollections frame the Peel highlights.

Presenters - Tom Robinson & Steve Lamacq

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