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From the mid-1990s, Peel's shows came to feature increasing amounts of live session material from the BBC's Maida Vale studios, alongside the regular sessions recorded at the same facility. Other live music on his shows included sessions from Peel Acres, as well performances from various festivals and Sound City events. Initially, tracks performed live by artists at Maida Vale were sent down the line to Peel at Radio One for immediate broadcast on his show. The DJ had used a similar system at the BBC Manchester studios when he sat in for Mark Radcliffe in spring 1996.

ExilesatBBCMV4

The Exiles playing their live Peel session at BBC Maida Vale Studio 4, 05 March 2003.

By the early 2000s, Peel was regularly presenting shows from a booth at Maida Vale, generally on Wednesdays, with artists booked for live sets in front of invited studio audiences and tickets for such events often offered as competition prizes. The 60 Foot Dolls were the live session guests for Peel's first show from the facility, on 21 April 1998. As well as regular live sessions, Maida Vale was also used for special live events such as Peel's 60th birthday celebrations, unique performances during Christmas season, lineups of UK finalists from the DMC World DJ Championship, and multi-artist label nights. The grime night special of 26 May 2004 is still seen as a pioneering event.

The use of Maida Vale for live sessions became less common after Peel's show start time was moved back to 11pm in July 2004, with the later slot causing logistical problems, leading to the use of "as live" performances recorded earlier in the day.

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