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Liz Kershaw talks about her autobiography, The Bird and the Beeb, examining the highs and hairy moments of her 40 year career

2nd October 2014
Venue: St Peter's Church, Oundle
Time: 7.30pm - 8.30pm

Broadcaster Liz Kershaw can’t remember a period in her life unaccompanied by a soundtrack blaring out of the radio.

"It would never have occurred to me I could be on the radio. I thought the people I listened to had been born into it somehow. It wasn’t something I could even aspire to in Rochdale."

She tackles the good days, when she formed a band with young TV mathematician Carol Vorderman, pioneered the TV phone vote while employed by BT, hosted Radio 1’s Evening Show in the late-1980s and successfully fought to save and transform BBC 6 Music. And then there’s the bad, when (much to her dismay) she found herself in the gossip columns as the rumoured soon-to-be-blushing bride of fellow BBC DJ Bruno Brookes, faced the sack, and crossed paths with Rochdale MP Cyril Smith and disgraced personality Jimmy Savile.

But it is the information on her formative years that offers a new look at local lass Liz. It may surprise some to find that she passed elocution exams at convent school, sat some of her O-levels aged 13, then eyed up a career in fashion, eventually joining retailer Littlewoods after university. “I had this half-baked idea if I got into fashion I could be jumping on planes to Italy, going to Milan and going through racks of garments, being part of the jet-set,” she laughs.

It certainly shocked Liz that anyone wanted to hear about her early years. But the book offers a fascinating insight into how she, and her younger brother Andy Kershaw, found their way into the world of broadcasting as a result of naivety and serendipity.
Serendipitously, says Liz, she found her way in to radio through columns on newspapers and short spots on local stations. It was a rollercoaster, and only now has she been able to write it down.

The whole book sounds like Liz. Her personality as well as her still pronounced regional accent come through in the colourful stories pulled from the memory banks (she hasn’t kept diaries or clippings of her activities - “I was pleasantly surprised to find how good the memory banks still were!”) and it’s a regional identity she never wants to lose.