I accidentally started to introduce a radio program. A friend of mine was doing it—Russell Harty—and he got ill. [The show] was on Monday morning and called “Start the Week.” He rang me up; I said, “I’m no good, I’ll get nervous,” and he said, “No, no, it’ll be all right.” I got the hang of it, and I stayed there for about ten years. And then I got fired. Tony Blair wanted to build up the arts representation in the House of Lords—they wanted to put through a big arts [initiative], so they asked people like David Puttnam and myself to go in the Lords to help that through. So we did. And the BBC said I couldn’t be in the Lords and do “Start the Week” because it was a political program. It wasn’t. Doesn’t matter.
I was offered another program on Thursdays, which was traditionally known in the BBC as the death slot. Well, how could I resist? So I got a six-month contract for the death slot, on the condition that I could do it my way.
Sarah Larson interviews the radio and television broadcaster Melvyn Bragg about his journey from working-class roots to curator of culture.
I have always enjoyed Bragg’s work, particularly his series The Adventure in English. I have also followed the In Our Times podcast throughout the years, a priceless resource.