Thursday 21 September 2017

Lee Travis was Suu Kyi's lifeline

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi listened to Dave Lee Travis on the World Service (AP)
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi listened to Dave Lee Travis on the World Service (AP)

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has revealed the source of an unlikely lifeline when she was under house arrest - "Hairy Cornflake" Dave Lee Travis.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has spent 15 years under house arrest since 1989, said the DJ's request show on the World Service helped make her "world much more complete".

Asked about the cuts to the World Service, she told the Radio Times: "I feel very sorry about that. But I think the World Service has changed since my first bout of house arrest, which was from 1989 to 1995.

"Then I remember there were so many more different programmes on the service. But now, perhaps I'm not getting on to the right programme or perhaps I don't listen at the correct times but the programmes don't seem so varied. Am I wrong? Or have I been listening at the wrong times?"

Ms Suu Kyi, who is going to give two of the BBC's Reith Lectures, which she secretly recorded, said: "The first six years (under house arrest) the BBC ... I could be in touch with everything. With culture, with art, with books, with music.

"I haven't heard any music on the BBC World Service in a long time. Maybe I'm listening at the wrong times. But not one single piece of music."

Asked what kind of music she used to tune into on the World Service, she said: "I used to listen to all sorts of different programmes, not just classical music. I can't remember what the name of that programme ... Dave Travis? Was it?"

After broadcaster Eddie Mair, who conducted the Radio Times interview, asked if she meant Dave Lee Travis, Ms Suu Kyi responded: "Yes! Didn't he have a programme with all different sorts of music?

"I would listen to that quite happily because the listeners would write in and I had a chance to hear other people's words. It made my world much more complete. But now I don't hear any kind of music on the BBC."

Ms Suu Kyi said of being under house arrest: "We listen to the radio much more than the average person who's not under house arrest and we listen much more carefully because that's really our only line to the outside world."

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