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Interview: On Meeting Sheila

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  • BBC, original station unknown
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Comments
  • Rebroadcast as part of the Purely Peel tribute, an interview from an unknown date in the in which Peel discusses meeting future wife Sheila at a filming of the How It Is TV show in Hammersmith. Sheila relates her side of the story in Margrave Of The Marshes (Bantam Press, hardback, p. 169-71).

Transcript

I used to be involved in a television programme called How It Is. There was a live studio audience for this, and for two weeks only it was moved from Lime Grove, where it was normally done, to what are now the Riverside studios in Hammersmith, which at that time were owned by the BBC.

And they went trawling around sort of local teachers training places for an audience and Sheila, my wife - or the Pig, as I usually refer to her; it’s a sort of affectionate name, obviously – was a customer at one of these teachers training places and her two mates, when they heard of this opportunity were very keen to come along, because sort of they quite liked me. She thought I was a complete twerp in fact, but decided to come along, because you used to get paid 10 shillings. She used to have very little money and spent most of her time, as far as I can tell, in pubs. So the 10 bob seemed to represent quite, you know, a windfall to her.

So they came along and I saw her up in the audience. And it’s one of those things, it sounds appallingly romantic, but I saw her up in the audience and she was wearing a very dark green jumper and she just looked so wonderful I thought, “I simply cannot let her get away.” You know, I’ve never been the kind of person who can go up to a person and, you know, start chatting them up, you know. I’m just too embarrassed really. And also, I just couldn’t bring myself to intrude into somebody’s life in that kind of way. Again, rather precious, but it’s true.

But one of the other people in the programme was a chap called Ronald Fletcher, who does a lot of sort of voice stuff for Radio 4 and things now, and Quote, Unquote – he does the quotes and things. And I said to him, “Look, I have to go before the end of the programme” - which was true. I said, “but can you give this note to the girl up there in the dark green jumper. And so he said yes. And I always tell this subsequently that I sent out 40 such notes that night and she was the only one to respond – but actually that’s simply not true, she knows. And it just said something like, “Peace and love, and will you phone this number.”

She was going to throw it in the bin of course, but her friends Terry and Gerry insisted that she phoned. And I asked her if she wanted to go out, and it was a lot of kind of voices off – “You’ve got to go, you’ve got to go,” and “I don’t want to go out,” “You must, you must, you must.” Anyway, so eventually she was persuaded and it went from there really. I fell very ill actually on the day that we first went out. I mean, I discovered I had jaundice and had to go to bed for something like 10 weeks, which wasn’t a very promising start.

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