Northern Ireland broadcasting king Colin Murray has told how he found success despite being dismissed as a “clown” at school.
he BBC 5 Live host also revealed that radio is the biggest love of his career and admitted that he was “miserable” and “fairly depressed” when he fronted Match Of The Day 2 on telly.
Dundonald man Colin (45) also believes that he grew up too soon because of the Troubles, which robbed him of part of his childhood.
He: “I sometimes look back and think if I’d been born 30 years later my teenage years would have been different because whatever I am would have been understood and help would have been given, rather than just, ‘You’re a clown’.
“I was just too hyperactive for school; my attention was continually swayed and I got bored incredibly quickly. I had energy to burn.
“I went from having bad tantrums to going into a shell for days. So I was kicked out of classes, suspended or moved on, and at 16 I had left school and left home.
“I wish I could have been the naïve 16-year-old who didn’t know about the birds and the bees, who didn’t know what alcohol tasted like, or how it felt when nicotine flows through your lungs.
“But for my generation and above, growing up in a working-class area in Northern Ireland during the Troubles brushed us all, and it certainly took away parts of our childhood.
“You had to grow up quickly. Both personally and professionally, I was an adult too soon. I wasn’t totally unhappy but wouldn’t say my younger self was a happy person. It was just all too soon.”
Colin told the latest edition of The Big Issue that he is grateful for his stellar broadcasting career, but that for him music and radio have always been more important that his TV roles.
He said: “I’ve covered a lot of sport in my broadcasting career, but music was my first and always my biggest love.
“The first actual scene I remember was rave, so I was a real underage raver too. I was never cool, I never listened to The Cure.
“I still have my Kylie Minogue bomber jacket. I love it. It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen.
“I took a picture of Bros when I went to the barber for a haircut and, what’s worse, I pointed to the f***ing bass player.
“It took me a long time to feel like I fitted in (at Radio 1).” But gradually radio became like an addiction for me. It still is.
“My unhappiest times have been when I’ve had less radio in my diary and more TV.
“When I presented Match of the Day 2 — those were three of the most miserable years of my life.
“I was fairly depressed for most of that. It wasn’t for me, way too much too soon.
“But I just love the connection radio brings. It’s not like anything else.”
Colin also spoke of a life-changing moment when he was decided to join a peace-building project as a teen that opened his eyes to the world — and called for today’s kids to get the same opportunity.
He said: “I was from an area of Belfast (the Ballybeen estate) with little diversity. Then when I was 18, I went to Canada on a cross-community exchange-style scheme, just before the ceasefire.
“The government paid for people who were from single-parent or low-income backgrounds to go on a trip to Toronto.
“A whole crowd of us, all 18, Protestant, Catholic, all from different parts of Ireland, were sent on this scheme.
“Most of us hadn’t seen any kind of diversity — and boom, our apartments were in the gay district.
“In 18 hours, I saw more kinds of diversity than I’d seen in 18 years. It blew the world wide open.
“It was the most important day of my teenage life. It was like that bit in The Wizard of Oz when everything goes from black-and-white to colour.
“It kicked every bit of small-mindedness out of me. I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t gone.
“If I had the power to redirect a few million pounds I’d take about 400,000 kids a year away for three, four weeks to areas where they’d get to see the kaleidoscopic reality of the world. Every kid should have that perspective.”
Meanwhile, the new Countdown presenter spoke poignantly about his love for his late grandad — who he believes was a spook for the security services.
He added: “If I could have one last conversation with anyone it would be my grandfather, JC.
“He had the traveler’s bug, borne out of a lifetime in the Armed Services, where, to the best of my knowledge, he was doing some form of MI6 work.
“He would pop up every now and then when I was a kid, and he was a real guide to me. He challenged me and talked to me and educated me and loved me the way I needed to be loved.
“He was so engaged and informed and hyper-intelligent, he could just hold my attention all day. He used to pay me 20p to pick the hard skin off his feet.
“He is definitely the most important moral guide in my life.
“I think about him all the time. If I could be with him one more time I would just go and sit and shut up while he talked. That would genuinely be the best thing ever.”