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CriteriaEdit

Peel's catchphrases and references over the years will be familiar to regular listeners, but some of the more esoteric lines will escape those who did not grow up with his shows. This 'mini-dictionary' aims to cover those grey areas, in places where the subject itself does not warrant a page of its own or maybe if the listener simply needs a quick explanation. Please add any further items that are felt to be necessary alphabetically, with any appropriate references either to Wikipedia or to this Wiki.

AEdit

  • "Actually...". Normally used as a sentence adverb to indicate that the following statement contradicts what the speaker has just said, but (over-)used by JP to highlight any surprising fact.
  • Andy Piles. Unflattering nickname for Andy Peebles, never a Peel favourite.
  • Archers, The. Both Peel and John Walters were big fans of Radio 4's "everyday story of country folk" and became founder members of the Bill Grundy Fan Club. In 1991, JP appeared on the soap opera as himself, something he was later able to discuss with Princess Margaret (who had done the same thing). He also claimed his show was heard in the background on one programme.
  • "As if it could be anybody / anything else". John's way of expressing the unique qualities of the person or thing just named. For example, "That was Melt-Banana, as if it could be anybody else."
  • "As you do". Phrase appended in passim by John to any unusual activity mentioned by listeners or in a record, with the implication that this was an acquired taste.

BEdit

  • Beards. Peel had one, as did John Walters - along with DLT and Bob Harris, among others - while Russ Knight at KLIF in Dallas was known as the "Weird Beard". JP grew his at the age of 27, shaving it off only once but growing it back immediately after finding the face in the mirror looked like an "awful fusion between my mother and Mussolini" (see 02 May 2001). Even so, on Room 101, he selected "men with beards" as one of the things he would banish to oblivion.
  • Beast, The. Not at all affectionate nickname for Simon Bates.
  • "Before we're very much older". Upcoming happenings were referred to in this fashion after John was scolded for overuse of "in the not too distant future" (see below).
  • Best band in the world. When referring to The Fall; with numerous variations.
  • Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! Approximation of vocals on grindcore tracks. Slap-A-Ham Records put out an album called Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! - The Record, a title Peel was sometimes willing to have a go at pronouncing.
  • Breasts. John's obsessive labelling of himself as 'fat' led him to include a number of references to this part of his anatomy. However, he seemed to find similar mentions with regard to females unbearably sexist - with the exception of his lasting affection for 1960s US pop starlet Annette Funicello, who was more renowned for her figure than for her musical abilities.
  • Brian, Our. Peel's on-air name for Sue Foster, the programme secretary in the early Eighties amongst whose duties was the typing up of the show's running order.
  • "By test the best." Advertising slogan from the 1940s (really), seen by Peel promoting condoms in a barber's he frequented in Neston. He appended this recommendation to some of his BFBS shows, pondering on occasion the merits of such a job. (e.g. 05 July 1992 (BFBS)).

CEdit

  • "Chapter 12: The Difficult Years." Phrase employed by John (in the manner of a fictional autobiographer) to imply that the email / letter / session information he was reading seemed just a little too long-winded.
  • "Chart-bound sound!" A phrase of unknown origin (most likely in 1960s US pop radio and the British offshore stations that imitated it), but common to Radio 1 DJs to indicate a record that was expected to sell well enough to make the UK Top 40. Used ironically by John to indicate a record that he liked, but that was not obviously radio-friendly.
  • Coronation Street. Seemingly interminable Northern soap opera that has been running on British TV since 1960. Peel's occasional references to it are less than flattering. In 30 January 2000 (BFBS), he claimed never to have watched an entire episode, but was planning to merely in order to see a commercial featuring his voiceover in the ad break. A reggae version of the theme tune by Izzy Royal was found in John Peel's Record Box.
  • Cunt, John Peel Is A. Printed up as a t-shirt and worn by JP, following reported chant along the same lines by Reading Festival crowd of  1976, apparently encouraged by the man himself after rain  had caused a fault in Van De Graaf Generator's equipment on stage, stopping the performance. This was to appease the crowds while repairs were made.

DEdit

  • Dancing. An activity Peel claimed he always avoided in public, with the exception of his favourite Faces gig, in Sunderland in 1973, when he danced on stage. In 18 December 1992, he said that he had only danced three times since leaving school (where he was forced to take classes with his brother Francis): it is now known that these are the above occasion, in Russia with the Pig, and on the preceding night at a darts club dinner in Stowmarket, to (of all things) a Whitney Houston record.
  • Dancing Jack Peel. Perhaps surprising that Peel should give himself this nickname, used in the early 1970s. (See introduction to the misleadingly named Friday Night Is Boogie Night show of 10 March 1972.) [1]
  • Dandelion 1. Rolling Stones song, flipside of "We Love You", recorded in summer 1967 after their release from prison on appeal against sentence for drugs offences. Important record for JP in final days of Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. 2. Peel's pet hamster (died February 1968, succeeded by Biscuit and Duffle). 3. Peel's record label (1969-1974). 4. Internet radio station inspired by Peel that has organized and broadcast the Festive Fifty since 2006.
  • "Dearly beloved." Used occasionally by Peel, not in the manner of a priest, to address his listeners.
  • Desert Island Discs. (See also Desert Island Discs.) Long-running (since 1942) talk / music programme where famous guests are invited to choose eight records to take with them to a desert island. Peel appeared once in 1990, and thereafter frequently bemoaned the fact that he was not invited again, since his choices would inevitably be different. (He also mistakenly believed that Arthur Askey had been on the programme three times: it was in fact four times, 1942, 1955, 1968 and 1980, the most appearances of any castaway, as guests are referred to.) He was interviewed by the third presenter of only four in the show's history, Sue Lawley. John was obviously a frequent listener, since he mentions editions featuring Elvis Costello, John Lee Hooker and Neil Jordan among others.
  • Dibbler Small Australian mammal, also known as the "Speckled Marsupial Mouse". Believed extinct, but rediscovered in 1967. Peel interpreted this event as a sign of hope that the human race would soon turn away from violence and destruction, and the dibbler was frequently mentioned on the Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. PG listeners responded by sending in information about the creature from reference books. Unfortunately for the PG vision of humans and small creatures living together in gentleness and peace, the dibbler turned out to be a carnivore.
  • "Dr. Peel." Peel received several honorary doctorates during his career, two of them in the same year (1999), and went to the extent of buying a cheap stethoscope to commemorate them. On 08 November 2001, during a session at Peel Acres, the DJ asked the White Stripes if they wanted a break. Jack White: "We can stop for now, Mr. Peel." JP: "Dr. Peel, if you don’t mind." He also claimed these honours allowed him to "loosen clothing in a responsible manner", though there is no record of him putting this spurious accolade into practice.

EEdit

  • Eddie Lee Beppeaux Plausible-sounding name which Peel sometimes mentioned on his shows around 1970-73, particularly when listing a band line-up on a session or record ("and that's Eddie Lee Beppeaux on guitar.."). May have sent collectors and discographers on fruitless searches through catalogues of obscure singles by 1950s Louisiana rockabilly guitarists. Peel used the name when, in 1970, he co-produced the second LP by the Danish band Burnin' Red Ivanhoe and it also appears as the producer credit on Stackwaddy's LP "Bugger Off".
  • Emergency Tape. A backup recording of chart music lurked somewhere in the BBC, ready to kick in automatically if there were more than a few seconds of silence on the show. Peel would often chime in with a few words before songs during live events to try and prevent this happening (although he wasn't always successful).
  • Eurovision. The annual televised song contest had a strange and enduring appeal for JP, although this eventually appeared to wear off (slightly). See Nul Points: A Brief History Of The Eurovision Song Contest.
  • "Excellent." Epithet applied by Peel to songs or session tracks he really liked....so much so that he sent up his usage of it himself in Smashie And Nicey: The End Of An Era.

FEdit

  • "Fades in slowly." Peel was always keen to alert listeners to tracks that began quietly. Also the name of a Peel tribute blog.
  • The Firm. 1. Referred to regularly on the Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. Peel befriended this group of streetwise East End Jewish ex-mods and pranksters at the UFO club in 1967; they shared with him a love of blues and leader Peter Shertser lent him records to play on the PG. More information on their activities can be found in Jonathon Green's Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-–71 (1988 and subsequent editions). 2. Novelty group who had a 1987 UK #1 hit with 'Star Trekkin', as recalled by Peel on Funk Me Up, Scotty.
  • Fluff. Universal nickname for Alan Freeman. On numerous occasions down the years, including the show of 08 February 1992, John refers to the studio telephone as the 'Fluff line'; however, this was not Peel's own phrase, but Freeman's term for the phone line where listeners could call him and request songs during his rock show (which at that time preceded Peel's on Saturday nights).
  • Foreign Language AnnouncersPeel would often use unidentified speakers of foreign languages varying from Scottish Gaelic to Swahili and Russian to Punjabi. 
  • French. Studied at school by JP and the only foreign language of which he appeared to have any knowledge. He attempted the pronunciation of French bands and titles of songs with moderate success on air, but when he was up against a native speaker (for example, when on holiday), he tended to rely on Sheila's considerable ability.
  • "Fuddledumph". If a band's song ended with the dying sounds of guitars, on occasion there would be a brief drum roll to bring it to a natural conclusion, and such an ending was described by JP with this onomatopoeic expression, followed up with either "just waiting for that" or "no, I don't think so" if it did not materialise.

GEdit

  • Gardener's Question Time. This long-running (since 1947) and rather anodyne BBC panel show was mentioned by John whenever he wished to vent his feelings about the Corporation wiping invaluable session recordings, viz. 14 August 1982 (Peel's Pleasures): "Tapes were sent back and reused for something like Gardeners' Question Time, which are now kept forever in steel-lined cases in a mineshaft somewhere in the Home Counties." The implication is that the BBC misdirected their priorities in choosing to keep material that had no intrinsic re-broadcast value.
  • German. Although he recorded many programmes for German radio stations, John had no ability in the language and remarked on one BFBS programme that some listeners were so amused by his attempts to pronounce titles or band names in that language that they made off-air compilations of his efforts. [2]
  • "Golden Gasser". Alleged US radio slang of yesteryear for old records. Used by Peel as the name of a regular slot on the Peel Out In The States series and occasionally elsewhere.
  • Guitaring Peel's term for the flamboyant guitar-playing he especially liked, whether from psychedelic-era guitarists (Glenn Campbell of The Misunderstood, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix) or rock'n'roll players (Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, Link Wray). In a BBC World Service show in 1987 Peel referred to The Untold Fables (garage/psychedelic revivalists from late 80's) guitarist Jon Niederbrach's playing in "For My Woman" as "neat guitaring".

HEdit

  • Helen Llewellyn Product 19 "A Day in the Life of John Peel: Born at the age of four in a charcoal burner's cottage on the fringe of the Black Forest, he was christened Helen Llewellyn Product 19, and named car of the year...."[3]. Now the name of an indie label.
  • "H2SO4" When Peel first tried to drop the Grinderswitch sig tune he claims he was contacted by somebody senior in the BBC whose job title sounded like H2SO4 to explain to him why this was not possible. H2SO4 is the chemical formula for sulphuric acid.

IEdit

  • "I must confess...". Frequently used phrase of John's, usually prefacing some negative personal opinion.
  • "If I recall correctly..." Phrase used by Peel when he was unsure of the accuracy of the information he was about to impart to his listeners.
  • "In session tonight..." A familiar phrase that gave a name to both Ken Garner's first book on sessions and a Peel TV tribute in 2004, although Peel's initial Top Gear shows were on weekend afternoons. While sessions were always a vital part of JP's Radio One shows, other programmes did have them too.
  • "Instead..." This was usually heard by a listener expecting Peel to play something requested. That was the usual way Peel fulfilled requests.
  • "In the not too distant future." JP constantly directed the listener's attention to something due to happen soon in this way, until he was brought to book [4]. (The phrase was also overused in the 1970s by Bob Harris). It was replaced by "before we're very much older", unlike "of course" (see below), which survived audience disapproval.
  • "It goes (a little) something like this." DJs playing new records or those by new bands (and even bands themselves, when introducing a song they had written) were rather too fond of this cliché, so when John used it, the sense was always ironic.

JEdit

KEdit

LEdit

  • Laird, The. Affectionate nickname for David Jensen and a reference to his Scottish heritage.
  • Lammo. Affectionate nickname for Steve Lamacq.
  • LP Long-playing record, format of recorded music introduced in the early 1950s when the young John Ravenscroft began his record collection. In the late 1960s sales of LPs overtook those of singles; the underground/progressive music Peel played then was associated with the album format, although JP always had a liking for good pop singles. Peel never truly came to terms with the compact disc and in his shows of the 2000s was still referring to new CDs as "LPs".

MEdit

  • "Mighty". Term of special approval, as in "the mighty Fall" and "the mighty Wah!" (who did officially become The Mighty Wah!). Peel's use of the term may come from his love of Liverpool FC, who were commonly known as "the mighty Reds" by their fans, as in the Kop chant "Come on, you mighty Reds...".

NEdit

  • Nice. Adjective much used by Peel and others during the hippy era, its vagueness reflecting the anti-intellectualism of the hippy culture. Left JP open to parody (e.g. by Peter Cook on Christmas 1968 Private Eye flexidisc, Viv Stanshall in 1968 Bonzo Dog Band session for Top Gear), therefore later abandoned. Also The Nice, a favourite group of JP from 1967-1970; they recorded the theme for Top Gear, and he recorded a promotional single for their first LP.
  • "Not, I suspect, the name he/she was born with." Indication by JP that the artist concerned was not only operating under a pseudonym (e.g. Ricardo Autobahn), but also that he felt this pseudonym to be obviously over the top.

OEdit

  • "Of course." Normally used to highlight some fact that is plainly obvious, but frequently appended by JP to just about anything that he felt didn't really need saying (but was said nevertheless). A listener chided him for this [5] and John apologised and promised to stop his too frequent employment of this "mindless mannerism." Naturally, he didn't, and can be heard saying it many years later....frequently.
  • "Offensive content" warnings. Eventually instituted to deal with the problem of Rude words (see below). Most notable were those created by Andrew Morrison.
  • "Of this parish." Used to describe someone with a close work connection, such as a colleague on the show or at Radio One.

PEdit

  • Pedal steel guitar. The one instrument above all others that Peel often said he would like to be able to play.
  • Peel Acres. John's home in Stowmarket since 1973, but also used before that to describe anywhere he was living at the time.
  • Peel's Big 45. In the mid 70s (for how long is unknown), John picked a record that he believed to be a necessary purchase for his listeners. The title was later re-used for the 'Pig's Big 78' (see below).
  • Pig, The. Peel's (believe it or not) affectionate nickname for his wife Sheila, referring to her habit of snorting like a pig when she laughed.
  • Pig's Big 78. A constant feature of John's shows from 2000 to the end, whereby Sheila would play a found 78 rpm record and furnish a brief introduction. It was an offshoot of her introductions to the Peelenium. A variant of Peel's earlier feature, 'Peel's Big 45' (see above).

QEdit

REdit

  • Roadshow. 1. John Peel Roadshow: Lighthearted term for JP's own live gigs, which he described as "one man and a box of records", although a couple of female dancers were allegedly involved for a short period in the 1970s. 2. Radio 1 Roadshow: Large-scale events featuring many of the station's DJs and large crowds. Inspired the name of Peel's own gigs and also provided one of his favourite stories, involving the Bay City Rollers and a Womble on a speedboat (see Mallory Park).
  • Rhythm Pals. Collective term of endearment for John and David Jensen, since they shared a liking for certain bands.
  • Rock. When spoken by Peel with a kind of Stateside growl, a disparaging term for rock music of the kind favoured by his colleagues Tommy Vance and Alan Freeman.
  • "Rude word(s)" - Apart from his continual problems with lyrics or titles from British artists, Peel always feared some foreign language tracks would contain bad language. Usually as a joke, he would alert listeners to this possibility (and on at least one occasion, in a session by Die Toten Hosen, his fears were realised, causing him to cease playing their material thereafter). See also "Offensive content" warnings (above).

SEdit

  • "Secreted About My Person." Phrase employed to get out of playing listener requests, for example, "I'm afraid I don't have any Dreadzone records secreted about my person." Possibly hinting at the ridiculous idea that he would constantly carry his entire record collection with him to every show.
  • Shed. Extension to Peel Acres that housed JP's huge record collection. During shows from home he would sometimes attempt to meet listener email requests by dispatching a family member to search for the item in question (or even head off himself during a long track). "John Peel's Shed" later became the name of a radio show, blog and stage production by Peel listener and competition winner John Osbourne.
  • Sheena's Barmy Army. Group of (possibly ironic) devotees of Scottish singer Sheena Easton who were mentioned frequently by Peel on his shows of the early 1980s. The DJ wore a "Sheena Barmy Army" jumper on the 1982 Top Of The Pops Christmas Day special.
  • Sheena Easton Cambodian Barmy Army A group of devotees hailing from North Yorkshire, two of whom placed the Green Wool on Uncle John's wrist at a roadshow in Norwich in 1982. If you look closely at photos of John over the following years, said wool can be seen changing colour.
  • "Shocking." Whether John ever meant this adjective to be taken seriously is open to conjecture: it could refer to anything from people admitting taping his programme at home to swearing on record.
  • "Sig." The signature tune most closely associated with JP's programmes is Pickin' The Blues by Grinderswitch, used at the start of the John Peel Show from its launch in 1975 until the early 1990s and for his BBC World Service shows until the end. Others included the Top Gear theme written by producer Bernie Andrews and performed most notably by The Nice, "Dragster" by Johnny Fortune (for Peel's BFBS programmes) and "Let's Go Tripping" by surf guitar king Dick Dale (for Home Truths). The documentary series Peeling Back The Years employed "Blue Tango" by Ray Martin, the first record Peel ever bought.
  • Snibri. A deity said by Peel to have been worshipped by Walters and himself. Defined on 01 November 1979 as "the god of small coincidences which work to your advantage."
  • "Starts quietly." Used as an alternative to 'fades in slowly'.
  • Sweet Eating Game. Brought to the attention of listeners after an online trawl during the show of 25 July 2000. "The rules are simple - have a sweet whenever one of the following occurs: John plays a record at the wrong speed; John plays a record that "Starts a bit quietly"; John starts mumbling something incomprehensible to a member of his family or his producer..." Read the full list (and listen to related clips) here, and watch out for tooth decay. One hardy listener suggested playing with alcohol instead of sweets.

TEdit

  • "Teen terrific." Rather outdated slang which Peel claimed to have lifted from the cover of an LP by Bill Black's Combo (see 22 October 1993, 11 September 2002). Occasionally used to describe either his shows, if they were going well, or a good record.
  • "Thanks for listening." Peel's sign-off at the end of a show, used throughout his radio career.
  • "That all-important number .... slot." JP attributed this meaningless epithet to Andy Peebles (see 24 December 2003). It indicates (in a jocular fashion) a position in the Festive Fifty that is not important at all.
  • "That golden year." Radio 1's Golden Hour was a strand hosted from the 70s to 90s mainly by Tony Blackburn and Simon Bates, neither DJ being a Peel favourite (to say the least). It featured records from a particular year, and occasionally if John played an older record, he would add a postscript containing this expression culled from the feature plus the track's date in a kind of Blackburn twang.
  • "The twang's the thang." Approximate name of a 1959 Duane Eddy LP, and a phrase frequently deployed by Peel in connection with the guitarist - or for tracks by other artists with a suitable sound.
  • Timmy Bannockburn. Nickname for Tony Blackburn, dating from a period when their relationship was at a low ebb.
  • Tits. See Breasts.
  • Twerp. Expression dating from at least the beginning of the 20th century, frequently used in a typically self-deprecating way by John to underline his stupid or foolish behaviour.

UEdit

  • "Unless I'm very much mistaken..." See "If I recall correctly...."

VEdit

  • Voice, The. Sheila's pseudonym for her introductions to the Peelenium. When she began the 'Pig's Big 78' in 2000, JP hailed her with the words, "The Voice returns!"

WEdit

  • Webcam. Seemingly first used for Peel's show on 15 September 1999. For a while, he made attempts to set up interesting visuals for online viewers, such as by acting out song titles, although this didn't last long. (See [6] [7], [8].)
  • Welsh. Peel played tracks in this language as early as 1978 and gave large amounts of airtime to Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Datblygu (who only recorded in that language). He also frequently expressed regret that he had never learned it. Given this, it was surprising and distressing that a listener accused him of neglecting Welsh and urged him to "die soon". [9]
  • "White boys with guitars." John used this phrase, and other variants of it, to express his dissatisfaction with the fact that little or no black music, which he played a considerable amount of, made the Festive Fifty, with a disproportionate amount of indie taking its place. The comment first appears just before the number one song on 28 December 1988 and finally on 25 December 2003 (as "cute white kids strumming guitars").
  • White Rabbit, The. JP's nickname, used during his Radio London shows but never thereafter (due to the fact that they were separated and subsequently divorced), for his first wife. Taken from the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name.
  • World's Most Boring Man, The. The phrase that followed his name on a rubber stamp Peel used to sign letters during the 1970s.
  • Wrong Speed. Playing records at the incorrect number of rpm never failed to annoy and embarrass Peel, although it was such a well-known trait that one of the tribute compilations released after his death was given the title Right Time, Wrong Speed. (See list on Wrong Speed Moment category page.)

XEdit

YEdit

  • Yank Sizzler. A regular spot on Peel Out In The States, not approved of by the man himself, where John would feature an American record that he felt would do well in the future, or serve as a good starting point for the band played. Since used as the title of a series of Peel-inspired podcasts.
  • Yodeling: Regular listeners would have noticed a recurring yodeling fixation. [10]

ZEdit

  • "Z. Any African country beginning with..." According to Peel (eg, 02 January 1993), such nations are "awash with devastating guitar players." Examples would include Zimbabwe and Zaire.
  • Zane Grey. A name that Peel would mistakenly call Zane Lowe. Zane Grey was an American author who wrote adventure novels and stories. 

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