‘A Bit of a Star’ – An Execrable Book of Photos by Dave Lee Travis

In 1986 Dave Lee Travis published 'A Bit of a Star' - a book of photographs of his favourite famous 'ladies'. He asked them what they didn't like about themselves or their life and took a photograph illustrating their phobia.

Lynsey de Paul – “She was tired of being small, so I reckoned that a short stretch on the rack would do the trick.”

In 1986 Dave Lee Travis published ‘A Bit of a Star’ – a book of photographs of his favourite famous ‘ladies’. He asked them what they didn’t like about themselves or their life and took a photograph illustrating their phobia. Thus Lynsey de Paul hated being short so the picture of her is in a medieval stretching rack.  Jenny Agutter hated living in suitcases so DLT had the brilliant idea of photographing her in a suitcase. High concept stuff, no wonder, as he mentions in his foreword, it took him eighteen months to come up with the idea. The book itself took three years to complete due to “my own pretty hectic schedule of radio and TV work.”

This ‘hectic schedule of radio and TV work’ slowed down for the ‘Hairy Cornflake’, as he often liked to refer to himself, when he resigned from BBC Radio One. It was 1992 and he started saying that he could not agree with changes that were being made to the radio station. The ‘hairy monster’, as he used to refer to himself before he became a breakfast DJ,  told his audience that changes were afoot that he could not tolerate:

…and I really want to put the record straight at this point and I thought you ought to know – changes are being made here which go against my principles and I just cannot agree with them.

In other words he jumped five minutes before he was pushed. It was the low point of his career until, that is, he was arrested on 15 November 2012 at his home by the Metropolitan Police as part of the Operation Yewtree. Two women accused him of sexual assault, one who was 17 at the time, claimed that Travis put his hand up her skirt in 1977. While the other, a BBC presenter, claimed Travis “jiggled her breasts” when she was live on BBC Radio 4 in the 1980s. On 23 September 2014, Travis was found guilty by a majority verdict of 10–2 of indecently assaulting a female researcher working on the Mrs Merton Show in 1995Almost two years later on 26 September 2014, he was sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years.

 

Cover of ‘A Bit of a Star’ by Dave Lee Travis and published in 1986

The book has only one review on Amazon by someone calling themselves Lenny Ectric:

Don’t buy this book if you are a fan of the big hairy cornflake – or ‘big hairy corn FAKE’ as I now call him – because it will shatter your illusions and break your tiny heart.

It’s almost as if this once modest intellectual giant has completely abandoned his one-man war on mediocrity; chauvinism; exploitation of the impressionable; vanity; humourlessness; going grey naturally and sexual assualt, in favour of vapidity and crummy pap snaps.

 

 

Linda Lusardi – “I’m not really sure whether or not it’s the in thing to wear ear muffs with a cocktail dress, but that’s how I chose to represent Linda’s dislike of her ears.”

Cleo Rocos – “This is a fairly tongue-in-cheek shot. Cleo likes her chest, which I suggested by the inclusion of the larger ‘jewel box’. A close inspection of this prop will reveal two concave dishes. I’m saying no more!”

Georgina Hale – “She likes the comfort of feeling protected, which is why I opted for a King Kong/Fay Wray type of shot.”

Sarah Greene – “This is a very literal translation of her dislike, which is being pulled in different directions and not being quite sure which way to go. The arms represent the pull of domesticity., business, sophistication and the unknown.”

Cheryl Baker – “She dislikes fire, and rather than taking the easy way out and have her putting one out I faced the challenge of picturing her blowing the flames away and off round the corner.”

Maureen Lipman – “When I approached Maureen about including her in the book the first thing she said to me was that she hates being photographed. Now, I considered that a challenge…”

Lulu – “This lady told me she had very fond memories of her childhood, when she was a bit of tomboy; all we really need to complete the photograph is a bowl of steaming gravy.”

Joanna Lumley – “In case there’s anyone out there who’s still unsure – she doesn’t like her hair.”

Kim Wilde – “She likes her eyes – hence the over-the-top protection.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Bonnie Langford – “She dislikes her nose, which is the reason I used a miniature road sign. The exclamation mark, as most motorists know, means among other things, accident.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Finola Hughes – “Look closely and you will see the tiny Chubb alarm box, which I had great fun making. Placing it on the garter suggests that Finola likes to look after her legs.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Liza Goddard – “This was another of the ideas which came to me the moment I spoke to her. The first thing Liza said to me was that the only things she liked where her face and her feet.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Gabrielle Drake – “Her eyes are the things she likes the most about herself, sos I decided on the simple idea of using goggles to suggest protection.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Floella Benjamin – “I would have thought this was one of the more obvious ones, but if you need help – she’s not very keen on her legs.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Janet Ellis – “How do you make sure that you don’t miss that vital meeting when you’re the type of person who hates being late? Answer: you get a watch with a good alarm.”

Dave Lee Travis 'A Bit of a Star'

Jenny Agutter – “She’s tired of living out of a suitcase, particularly between London and Los Angeles, hence the literal translation in this shot.”

A group of fifteen of radio’s best-known disc jockeys eating Christmas Lunch at Broadcasting House in 1980. Back L/R Simon Bates, Mike Read, Peter Powell, Tommy Vance, Adrian Love and Richard Skinner. Middle L/R Paul Burnett, Andy Peebles, John Peel, Steve Wright, Annie Nightingale, Paul Gambaccini, and Adrian Juste. Front L/R Dave Lee Travis and Jimmy Saville.

Dave Lee Travis

December 1972 TARGET

Radio Caroline disc jockeys Dave Lee Travis and Tony Prince on Radio Caroline boat, Ramsey harbourside

Dave Lee Travis London Calling Sept 1982

10th anniversary party for Radio 1, 1977. From left- Alan Freeman, Dave Lee Travis, Paul Gambaccini, unknown, David Jensen, Tony Blackburn

10th anniversary party for Radio 1, 1977. From left- Alan Freeman, Dave Lee Travis, Paul Gambaccini, unknown, David Jensen, Tony Blackburn

Dave Lee Travis