John Pidgeon’s writing career began in 1971 with film reviews for the BFI’s Monthly Film Bulletin, a script for a BBC2 Film Night special on pop films, and A Guide To British R&B for a publisher who went bust three weeks before delivery of the manuscript John had spent six months writing.

In 1972, having convinced editor Nick Logan that what New Musical Express’s Gig Guide needed was a section on music films, John soon branched out into reviewing the unwanted albums at the back of the review cupboard. He was also encouraged by Clapham neighbour Charlie Gillett to become involved with Let It Rock before the ahead-of-its-time music monthly’s launch in October 1972. Although his first contribution was a less than comprehensive Eric Clapton discography, within a year he had become editor. By then, on Gillett’s recommendation, he was also writing scripts for Radio 1’s milestone documentary series, The Story Of Pop. While continuing to script documentary series for the network, he also wrote a novelisation of Slade In Flame, a biography of Eric Clapton, and a history of Rod Stewart and the Faces, all for Panther.

He had accompanied the Faces on their December 1972 UK tour to write a roadie’s diary, and roadied again for the band a year later as a replacement for a crew member hospitalised after a fight on the opening date. His association with the band led to a songwriting partnership with Ian McLagan, which in turn led to publishing deals with Island and Virgin Music. Ringo Starr recorded ‘Tonight’ (co-written for the reformed Small Faces with McLagan), and Runner’s ‘Run For Your Life’ (co-written with the group’s singer and guitarist Steve Gould) was covered by Sammy Hagar.

While Richard Williams was editor of Time Out, John had written an Eric Clapton cover story and interviewed QPR’s Stan Bowles, his football hero, and when Williams assumed editorship of Melody Maker, John returned to music journalism, writing the first major article on the Police in 1978. A year later he was back in radio, scripting documentaries for Capital Radio, where The Story Of Pop’s producer Tim Blackmore was now Head of Music. For the 1980 series Making Waves: The Sound Of The Seventies John spent weeks in the States collecting interviews, including one recorded at Michael Jackson’s Encino home, where, in a bizarre three-way conversation, John was asked to direct his questions via fourteen-year-old Janet Jackson, who then relayed them to her brother. The Sounds Of The City, a musical history of London from skiffle, via pub-rock, to punk, followed, then Ebony And Ivory, tracing the links between black and white music. John also devised and produced a pair of long-running series presented by Roger Scott, Jukebox Saturday Night and The View From The Top. Between 1986 and 1989 he also produced and wrote for Capital’s ground-breaking comedy show Brunch, whose regular performers included Angus Deayton and Jan Ravens.

With Roger Scott’s move to Radio 1 in 1988, John devised Classic Albums, which he and Scott produced for the network as a pioneering independent production. He set up John Pidgeon Productions after Scott died the following year, the company becoming Gilmour Broadcasting in 1996. Among many music and comedy programmes made for BBC radio, John’s personal highlights included documentaries on Crowded House and Pete Townshend’s Lifehouse for Radio 1, four series of the award-winning Talking Comedy, Chic Murray: The Comic’s Comic, presented by Robbie Coltrane, Frying Tonight, a history of fish and chips with Rick Stein, and Spinal Tap: All The Way To 11, all for Radio 2.

In 1999, at fifty-two, he was unexpectedly approached by the BBC to run Radio Entertainment, and over the next six years reinvigorated the in-house production unit’s comedy output, nurturing Dead Ringers, Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh. He was appointed a Fellow of the Radio Academy in 2003.

Since leaving the BBC at the end of 2005, with the notable exception of Music To Die For, a feature series about the use of music in modern crime fiction, presented by Inspector Rebus’s creator Ian Rankin, and Ross Noble On, a stand-up series with the Geordie comic, both for Radio 4, John has avoided radio work to write, travel, paint, garden and realise a long-held ambition to set cryptic crosswords. Since February 2010 he has been the Telegraph Toughie’s Petitjean.

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