'Hairy Cornflake' sustained Myanmar's Suu Kyi

21st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The dulcet tones of a British disc jockey known as the "Hairy Cornflake" helped Aung San Suu Kyi endure her long years of house arrest, the Myanmar democracy icon has revealed.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, who was released in November by Myanmar's military junta, said listening to a music request show hosted by DJ Dave Lee Travis on the BBC World Service "completed my world".

Asked about threatened cuts to the World Service by Britain's coalition government, Suu Kyi told the Radio Times magazine: "I used to listen to all sorts of different programmes, not just classical music. I can't remember... the name of that programme... Dave Travis? Was it?"

Told that she was probably referring to Dave Lee Travis -- who earned his nickname because of his bushy black beard -- she said: "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."

Myanmar's junta freed Suu Kyi last year after seven years of house arrest.

In total she has spent most of the last two decades after the junta refused to recognise her National League for Democracy's victory in elections in 1990.

She has British connections as she studied at Oxford University and was married to British academic Michael Aris, who died in 1999.

Travis, who presented the show on the World Service from 1981 to 2001 before it was axed by the BBC, said it was a "pleasant surprise" to find out that his broadcasting had helped sustain one of the world's top rights campaigners.

"It came as a pleasant surprise that a leader of a country listened to my programme to get a bit of jollity in her life," Travis told BBC radio.

"I think it just goes to show that these people have normal moments as well as political ones."

Travis rose to fame on pirate radio and became a household name in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing on radio and television shows before quitting his radio show live on air in 1993.

© 2011 AFP

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