herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

'I'm not a sex symbol - I'm a big, hairy, cuddly bear'

With his quirky catchphrases and over-the-top personality, Dave Lee Travis came to personify Radio 1 in its heyday when it pulled in massive audiences and its DJs were almost as famous as the artists whose records they played.

DLT - real name David Patrick Griffin - learned his trade in clubs and on pirate radio before joining the BBC in the late 1960s.

Dubbed the Hairy Cornflake as a result of the hirsute presenter's stint on the Radio 1 breakfast show, he was a fixture on the station for more than two decades and a regular on Top Of The Pops.

The larger-than-life star, who drove a yellow Pontiac he called the Flying Banana, even had a hit single of his own when his version of the trucking song Convoy GB, attributed to Laurie Lingo And The Dipsticks, was a top five hit in 1976.

But by the early 1990s, audiences for Radio 1 were falling and plans to bring in a new generation of DJs were under way.

Quit

DLT jumped before he was pushed when he famously quit Radio 1 live on air in 1993. However, he continued to do stints on other stations.

In his private life, Travis married Swedish girlfriend Marianne in 1971.

Although happily married, during his first trial Travis admitted that he had given in to "temptation" more than once during his career, as he enjoyed the celebrity status that being a Radio 1 DJ afforded him.

During his two trials, both defence and prosecution witnesses described the 6ft 1in defendant as a "gentle giant" and "larger than life" character who enjoyed giving bear hugs to all he met.

When asked to describe himself during the first case, he told jurors to much amusement: "I have never said, in my life, that I am a sex symbol. No, I am a big, hairy, cuddly bear."

Jurors heard that Travis's career ground to a halt when he was arrested in 2012, with his defence barrister Stephen Vullo saying the former star was "finished" and his reputation "totally ruined".

Scandal

He has also faced financial ruin and sold his house to pay private investigators to help in his defence case.

Mr Vullo said the fact that Travis had been investigated under Operation Yewtree - the inquiry set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal - had put him under a "massive intrusive microscope".

"Anybody that's ever had anything against him at all has really had the opportunity in the last two years to tell Operation Yewtree all about it," he added.

hnews@herald.ie

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