What a week it’s been for the Hairy Cornflake. The radio presenter – who hosts a show on northern radio network Magic on Saturdays and Sundays, but has been largely out of the public eye since leaving Radio 1 in 1993 – was all over the media when it emerged he had an unlikely and very famous fan.
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese democracy movement, told Radio Times she had enjoyed DLT’s long-running World Service requests programme A Jolly Good Show while under house arrest.
Since then, the phone’s been ringing off the hook. DLT’s been interviewed, profiled, namechecked in newspaper editorials and was a trending topic on Twitter. How’s he reacted?
“I’m just pleased that it’s somebody of a pro-democracy leaning who was listening to me. It could have been a lot worse,” he says, talking to RT from his Buckinghamshire home. “I’m touched that my programme helped her get through.
“I constantly get mail and phone calls from people saying this was great, I was feeling very down, I’ve just had an operation and you’ve cheered me up and blah blah blah – but you don’t think world leaders are in among that lot.”
So would Aung San Suu Kyi be DLT’s best ever celebrity fan? “That’s demeaning. She’s not a celebrity. She’s a world leader, effectively. The word celebrity has been brought down to a level I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”
Your most internationally significant fan, then? “I’ve met the Queen and Princess Di and had some fun with them, but in terms of listening to me, this has to be the one, yes.”
Where to now? National media comebacks have been mounted on the back of less publicity than this. “I don’t expect offers to be coming in suddenly. I’ve been doing this for 50-odd years now, I’m still working for Magic Gold Weekend. People talk about making a comeback, but I haven’t been away. I am more than happy on Magic Gold Weekend.”
So if Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan phoned you up tomorrow and said, ‘DLT, I want you to move your Magic Gold Weekend show to Radio 2,’ you would say..?
“I’d say I’m contracted to Magic. I don’t feel the need to be national. I’m having great fun. When you’re up there, you’re there to be kicked at and knocked down. I played the game for a long time.”
You won’t capitalise on your renewed public profile at all? “To me it’s not a renewed profile. It’s something I’ve had for a long time. There may be people in London who, when I left Radio 1, never heard of me after that and thought, ‘Oh, he must be dead.’ I’m not bothered. I am Dave Lee Travis. I’ve been this person for a long time. I’m very honoured that someone of such importance found a little solace in my programme. That’s the real reward from all this nonsense.”
Apart from your own career prospects, then, how about airing some more of your own views? You’ve got a direct seal of approval from one of the most respected political figures on earth!
“I’m not a political animal. What I am is a person who dislikes unfairness.”
So does politics feature on the Magic Gold Weekend show? “I’ll mouth off about something grossly unfair. Or if a local council has done something completely and utterly stupid, I’ll share that with the listeners. And I’m against any person who gets any sort of bonus when the company stock has gone down. That is insane.
“If they put 10p on the price of a cup of coffee in France, the whole country goes out on strike. Over here we go, oh well. We should care a bit more, stand up and be counted.”
Do you think we’ll do that? “We’re on the edge of something close to a general strike now. The blue touchpaper has been lit. If it goes off, it’s going to go off big time.”