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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Peel's life away from music
Peel in a music library
Peel agreed a 1.6m deal for his memoirs last year

While John Peel will be best remembered for his passion for music, his career has reached new audiences in recent years with the success of Radio 4's Home Truths magazine programme.

His strong commitment to family life made him an ideal presenter for the programme, which reflects on household trials and tribulations.

Whenever asked what the highlight of his life was, he would always answer "meeting my wife, Sheila", whom he affectionately referred to as Sheila The Pig because of her distinctive laugh.

Peel leaves behind four grown-up children.

Unsuccessful pilot

Home Truths evolved from a previous show, Offspring, the pilot of which was turned down by the BBC.

Originally the programme [Offspring] was turned down so they cut it a bit and they accepted it
John Peel
In 2001, Peel told the Radio 4 website: "'I first did a show called Offspring. Some nice middle-class women asked me to do a pilot for Radio 4.

"Originally the programme was turned down. So they cut it a bit and they accepted it. I did that for two or three years, in series of 13-programme runs."

After the success of Offspring, which ultimately scooped a Sony Award, the show was extended and aired on a Saturday morning, becoming Home Truths.

The formula earned the show three Sony Awards in its first year, although it was also nominated for best presenter.

"The only one we didn't win," said Peel.

"That kind of thing keeps you humble."

Huge impact

Jane Anderson, radio editor of the Radio Times, worked with Peel on his Family Album column in the magazine, a precursor to Offspring and Home Truths.

I've never heard anyone... who's been able to elicit a story that could be incredibly traumatic... and yet inject it with humour
Jane Anderson
Radio editor, Radio Times

She told BBC News: "The key thing to say about John is that, at the moment we're all thinking about the tremendous impact he's had on the world of music, but we shouldn't forget the huge impact there was also there, through Home Truths, on family life.

"I've never heard anyone in my years of listening to radio who's been able to elicit a story that could be incredibly traumatic - as so many of the stories he dealt with on Home Truths were - and yet inject it with humour."

He would be an "irreplaceable voice on radio, full stop," she added.

Another major project in his later years was writing his autobiography, which started a major bidding war between publishers last year.

The Archers
Peel fans were well aware of his love for The Archers

In April 2003 Transworld agreed to a total package worth up to 1.6 million for the memoirs.

At the time of the deal, it was reported that the contract would break records only believed to have been topped by David Beckham and Margaret Thatcher.

The planned release date was 2005.

Archers lover

In 1991, he achieved a lifetime ambition of appearing in his favourite radio show - Radio 4's daily soap opera - playing himself.

Listeners to his music shows had never been left in any doubt of his love for The Archers.

And in 2000 he said he had been "rather proud" of a cameo appearance in Brit-flick Five Seconds To Spare, also playing himself.

I rather liked the idea of being in a retirement home, looking through the TV schedules and seeing it there in years to come
John Peel
His co-stars included Max Beesley, Ray Winstone and Sean Pertwee.

He said at the time: "I play a grumpy old man who spends his whole life filing records."

He said the film appealed to him because it was something he could look back on proudly in his later years.

"I rather liked the idea of being in a retirement home, looking through the TV schedules and seeing it there in years to come," he said.

Sadly, this was one dream that was to remain unfulfilled.


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