Jo Whiley on Glastonbury, Doctor Who… and singing like Billy Bragg

“We came home early because the weather was so bad and our tent was sliding down the hill.”

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What do you tune into religiously?

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I don’t think I’ve ever missed an episode of Doctor Who. I feel quite smug because all my children have fallen under the Doctor’s spell, too.

And on the radio?

I love Jeremy Vine’s show. I’ll plan a journey around when Jeremy’s on so I don’t miss it.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Repeats of Bullseye and Family Fortunes. I’d much rather watch a silly old game show than Britain’s Got Talent or any of those dancing competitions – the 90s outfits and prizes entertain me endlessly.

So you couldn’t be tempted by Strictly Come Dancing?

I couldn’t do it to my family and I wouldn’t do it to myself. It would be so humiliating; I’d be the comedy contestant. The only reality show I’d go on is Born Survivor: Bear Grylls – where he takes people to extreme places. I’d probably even eat maggots if he told me to!

What brings a tear to your eye?

One Born Every Minute. My oldest is 21 and she was there at the birth of my youngest, who’s now four and a half. So when One Born Every Minute started, we used to sit there weeping – “Oh Mum, it’s just like when you had Coco!”

What can’t you stand?

Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice make my skin crawl. The people who put themselves up for them can’t possibly know what it’s like to be exposed on TV – how cruel the public and the media are.

Do you and your husband (music business executive Steve Morton) share the same tastes?

If we ever get divorced, it’ll be over televisual differences. We can’t agree on anything. Our compromise is E! News, another guilty pleasure – it’s like a Stateside Heat magazine on TV. We went on holiday to LA last year and became obsessed by their obsession with celebrity culture.

Childhood favourite?

Play School and Play Away, because of Brian Cant the original and best children’s presenter. When I met my husband, we discovered this mutual love of Brian and bought vinyl copies of the soundtracks to Trumpton and Chigley, which he voiced.

Who was your idol in your adolescent years?

Watching Top of the Pops, I fell in love with Julian Cope from Teardrop Explodes. He was very beautiful and performed in bare feet.

After two decades as a DJ, who’s still on your wish list?

I think everybody wants Bowie. When he brought out the new album, we were all knocking on the radio controller’s door – “Me first!” And of course he didn’t do any interviews at all, which was classic.

You recently had Rod Stewart in session. Do you still get nervous?

Oh God, yes – the night before I’ll be stressing quite badly, trying to get my head around what questions to ask. On the day, I go swimming as it calms me down, and means I don’t arrive a bundle of nerves.

Have you ever been in a band?

No, I’ve no musical talent whatsoever. I enrolled for clarinet lessons at school and after four weeks the teacher had a word with my parents, saying maybe I should give it up. I sing like Billy Bragg.

How many times have you been to Glastonbury?

I’ve never wanted to count! I might have missed one because I was having a baby… I first went when I was in the sixth form – we came home early because the weather was so bad and our tent was sliding down the hill.

What will you be packing?

My new flowery rain mac and wellies. They’re the two essentials.


QUICKFIRE Q&A 

BBC Breakfast or Radio 4’s Today? Radio 4’s Today and Chris Evans on the school run

Michael Mcintyre or John Bishop? John Bishop 

News at Ten or HIGNFY? Both

Eastenders or Coronation Street? Neither 

Radio 1 or 6 Music? Radio 1 in the afternoon and 6 Music late at night. I’m a surfer. 


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Jo Whiley 8pm Tue– Thu R2; she hosts Glastonbury coverage from 5pm Fri R2