Profile: Dave Lee Travis: Dave Lee Travis was born David Patrick Griffin on 25th May 1945, two weeks after VE Day celebrations, in Buxton, Derbyshire, of working-class parents, Joe & Marian Griffin - who both had theatre roots. His parents were working in London up to the time Marian was about to give birth. She decided she wanted to be home in Manchester to give birth. On the way, she became ill and stopped off in the tiny Derbyshire village of Eyam. There being no facilities nor a direct route to Manchester, Dave's parents travelled on to Buxton, where again there was no direct link to Manchester. This is where Dave was therefore born.
At the age of 11, he went to grammar school in Manchester where his main interest was art. But he also had a liking for dismantling and rebuilding radios, to such an extent that he frustrated his mother when he attempted to fit a radio into the headboard of his bed - drilling two holes for the knobs!
Dave consequently aimed at a career in his favourite subject on leaving school, and started out by designing interiors for stores. It was during this period that he started working as a DJ in the local clubs and ballrooms in the Manchester area under his stage name of Dave Lee Travis.. He met up with a man who would be the future controller of BBC Radio 2, Jeff Mullin.
A meeting with Herman's Hermits led to a tour of America with the group as their manager. During this time, Dave even presented some American radio shows, and gathered a huge audience in a comparatively short time. On returning to the UK, Dave jumped aboard Radio Caroline South's ship the Mi Amigo, enjoying regular rations of one case of beer and a carton of cigarettes. In 1967, he jumped ship to the sister Radio Caroline North station aboard the Queen Frederica anchored off the Isle Of Man. He escaped after two and a half years at sea, just before the Marine Offences Act took a grip that year. On leaving the ships, he went home to Manchester. This is where, in 1967 he met his future wife, Marianna, a Swede by birth who had visited a club Dave was working at.
By the September, the BBC had decided the Light Programme had to come to end to be replaced by new pop station Radio 1. At the end of the year, Dave made his debut presenting the 'Pop North' show from Manchester.
In 1971, he proposed, was engaged to and after three days was married to Marianna.
In 1973 he moved to BBC Radio 1 HQ in London presenting his own tea-time show 'It's DLT OK!' at 4:30pm Monday to Thursday. Dave's voice has become instantly recognisable around the world, partially due to 20 years presenting the BBC World Service programme 'A Jolly Good Show', a programme he continued to present beyond his BBC Radio 1 stint up 1998. Also in 1978, an on-air parody of the US hit Convoy, Convoy GB led to a release of the song as a single along with fellow DJ Paul Burnett. The song reached No.4 and so, to give it a further push, it was suggested Dave & Paul go on 'Top Of The Pops'. Once seen dressed as a pair of chickens, it's alleged that the song never sold another copy! That very same year, in May, Dave took control of the flagship BBC Radio 1 breakfast show. David 'Kid' Jensen took over Dave's teatime show.
Dave Lee Travis carved out quite a time presenting 'Top Of The Pops' during the 70s and early 80s - and during this period, matching his hobby of photography, he was voted the 'National Hairdressing Federation's' 'Head Of The Year' in 1980 and also, with his penchant for smoking, 'Pipe-man Of The Year' in 1982. He even took the photo that was featured on a 1983 Radio Times shot to publicise a show he presented 'Photo Assignment'.
Dave's other TV work apart from Top Of The Pops, included 'The Golden Oldie Picture Show' which saw Dave introducing tracks that never really had a video made for them, but deserved a TV airing. Instead the BBC made a video to go with the song.
Dave is still very much interested in art - his other interests are archery and motor racing including drag racing - in 1974 he became the first DJ to winn his class outright at a major international drag racing meeting. Dave was able to take a car from Zero to 226mph in just six seconds.
He presented the weekday lunchtime show (early 70's), teatime show (mid 70's) breakfast show (late 70's) weekend mid-morning show (83-93) and invented the feature ''snooker on the radio'' on his later weekend show.
A classic moment was when Dave was 'Gotcha'd' by Noel Edmonds on his BBCTV House Party show. This involved two 'pub teams' playing Dave's 'Double Top' radio darts show, with Noel, one of the stooges. The scam involved both sets of teams getting no questions right at all, resulting in a lengthy quiz, interspersed with several records and a verbally fuming Dave Lee Travis. Finally, on a mobile phone, Noel entered the studio whilst talking in the same funny voice and revealed all. Jokingly, Dave said Noel would never work in radio again. Funny that isn't it!
In 1987, he published his book 'A Bit Of A Star' which he dedicated to his late father Joe. The book pictured celebrities in poses they'd hate to be in! A popular part of Dave's radio style is his relationship with listeners using the telephone. A particular moment on-air was in 1990, in the days before mobile phones and pagers when Dave was required to start an urgent search for Glyn Jones, who was awaiting a kidney transplant. The hospital was frantically trying to get hold of Glyn to let him know a kidney had become available and that surgery was imminent. As Glyn was a loyal DLT listener, he took his radio everywhere. Dave's on-air announcement got the message through. Once the Police understood this was not part of a wide-up, Glyn was escorted at top speed for his operation to take place.
Dave was probably the presenter who revolted the most when, Radio 1 was arguably massacred by Matthew Bannister into the shadow of it's former self it is today. Due to leave in a further ten weeks when his contract expired anyway, he famously resigned on air on the 8th August 1993. Live on air, Dave told his loyal audience that changes were afoot that he could not tolerate - '....and I really want to put the record straight at this point and I thought you ought to know - changes are being made here which go against my principal and I just cannot agree with them.....' hence the end of Dave Lee Travis' BBC Radio 1 career. At the same time, other DJs, deemed 'old relics/fossils/school' by Bannister were also shown the door, or left voluntarily, irrespective of length of service or merit. Although he offered his services to Radio 2, station management declined his offer. His weekend BBC Radio 1 morning slot was filled with Danny Baker. Speaking on the recollection of that time in 2000, Dave said that although he thought it was not good to trawl up things such as that, he felt that he and Radio 1 had both reached a turning point, and that there were a lot of people in the front line who couldn't speak up about the pending changes, so Dave figured he had to do it for them.
It will not be of a surprise to know that audience figures for the Saturday morning show formerly hosted by Dave plummeted from 15 million to 7 million within weeks of his departure.
Dave disappeared off the radio dial for some considerable time, finally reappearing on Classic Gold, where to be honest it sounded like he was only working to pay the bills. Much like other big names on GOLD radio nowadays - restricted by liner cards and men in suits. On 21st January 2000, whilst on-air reading out a station telephone number during a link out of The Beatles' 'You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello', with the desk being controlled not by Dave but by a Tech-Op, Michael Aspel visited with his red book to say 'DLT, T.I.Y.L - or Dave Lee Travis, This Is Your Life!'. The visit was kept secret by backroom staff at the station - and when the surprise was spring - Dave said 'No, no, no, you have got to be kidding!'. Such was the nature of Dave's shock, it took another broadcast experienced man, i.e. Michael, to say 'Sorry, we're still on the air'. (Perhaps an ulterior reason for the statement? Ed) Rumour has it that Dave demanded a record be played quick sharp. The show aired on BBC February 7th 2000 - with appearances from the likes of Keith Hampshire and Mike Ahern. Dave's time at 'Classic Gold' ended on 9th March 2002.
When Derby's Trent-FM was GWR'd into what it is today, (RAM-FM) Dave's was the first voice to be heard saying in a whispered voice ...'I know you're out there ... I know you're listening ' then in normal voice '.... is it 10 o'clock yet? Yes it is....' He then 'welcomed' everybody to the new service stating he would be on during a Sunday morning (networked, although not admitted on air).
Dave Lee Travis is still the second longest serving Radio 1 presenter ahead of Annie Nightingale & below John Peel, and another interesting and little known fact is that DLT has an 80ft granite cliff named after him in Cornwall!
Whereabouts: Dave currently lives with his wife on a small farm in Buckinghamshire. Rumours persisted in late 2002 that he would be joining Saga 106.6 across the East Midlands for 2003, or Capital Gold Birmingham. But neither have been proved accurate.
Meanwhile, Dave features on Garrison Radio for the Army, Sunday from 10:00am-1:00pm. You can listen on line to DLT on a pre-recorded 1'15" segment of a show at www.audiohost.rackhost.net/garrison. Dave has his own answerphone to leave requests and dedications for Army staff....The DLT hotline, call 07050 2 56789.
UPDATE: February 2003: The hairy cornflake is returning to the BBC - ten years after leaving Radio 1 - to BBC Three Counties Radio - from March 9th 2003 - oddly the date he last appeared on Classic Gold a year previously. Dave Lee Travis, born in the Derbyshire Peak District town of Buxton, but now a Buckinghamshire resident, has been asked to work on the station he's been listening to for information for some time. He will present a Sunday programme from 9am - 12noon and aims to have stimulating conversation with his listeners and to hear them laugh when entering competitions and relish a diverse range of music. Whether he gets what he wants remains to be seen. The last time DLT worked for Auntie, he revolted, and resigned, live on-air when faced with the hatchet wielding of the then Radio 1 boss Matthew Bannister. His new show looks set to include not just the BBC local radio standard of bucket loads of chat, but some music too. The station broadcasts to Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
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