Suu Kyi reveals DJ Dave Lee Travis 'lifeline'

DJ Dave Lee Travis in the 70s Image copyright bbc
Image caption DJ Dave Lee Travis also hosted Top of the Pops between 1972 and 1984

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said Dave Lee Travis' BBC World Service music request show gave her a lifeline under house arrest.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has spent 15 years under house arrest since 1989, said A Jolly Good Show had made her "world much more complete".

Travis, who presented the show from 1981-2001, said he was "touched" but "not surprised" she remembered it.

Ms Suu Kyi also said she felt "very sorry" about cuts to the World Service.

Ms Suu Kyi, who is due to give two of the BBC's Reith Lectures - which have been secretly recorded - told the Radio Times: "I used to listen to all sorts of different programmes, not just classical music. I can't remember... the name of that programme... Dave Travis? Was it?"

After interviewer Eddie Mair, who presents BBC Radio 4's PM programme, asked if she meant Dave Lee Travis, Ms Suu Kyi said: "Yes! Didn't he have a programme with all different sorts of music?

"I would listen to that quite happily because the listeners would write in and I had a chance to hear other people's words."

'In touch'

The long-time campaigner for civil rights and freedom of speech in Burma said those under house arrest listened to the radio much more - and much more carefully - than the average person "because that's really our only line to the outside world".

And the World Service had enabled her to be "in touch with everything... with culture, with art, with books, with music".

But she added the World Service had changed since her first period under house arrest, 1989-95.

"Then I remember there were so many more different programmes on the service. But now, perhaps I'm not getting on to the right programme or perhaps I don't listen at the correct times but the programmes don't seem so varied," she said.

"I haven't heard any music on the BBC World Service in a long time. Maybe I'm listening at the wrong times. But not one single piece of music.

"Am I wrong? Or have I been listening at the wrong times?"

Travis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was delighted his show had made such an impact.

"We take radio, like the Today Programme, as extremely serious, well there's a few obviously funny bits in it as well but generally it's quite serious. And then you have currently other radio stations playing pop music and never the twain shall meet.

"I think it's rather nice - and it came as a pleasant surprise to me - that a leader of a country in the world, especially one that's been very repressed, listened to my programme, to get a bit of jollity in her life."

BBC producers used the code name Maggie Philbin - the former Tomorrow's World presenter - to keep Ms Suu Kyi's involvement in the Reith Lectures secret.

Aung San Suu Kyi's Reith Lectures will be broadcast at 0900 BST on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, 28 June and 5 July. Each lecture will also broadcast on the BBC World Service and will be available for download via the programme podcast. Follow the Reith Lectures on Twitter.

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