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Early life and career
Brookes attended Bradwell and Seabridge secondary schools. He became a disc jockey through youth club discos in his home town before he sent a successful audition tape to his local station, BBC Radio Stoke. He used to wash cars to raise money for buying equipment. He spent three years there before being recruited by BBC Radio 1, the national pop network, where he worked as a stand-in presenter for Steve Wright before taking over the teatime show from Peter Powell.
In addition to this show, Brookes presented a rundown of the UK Top 40 singles chart on Sunday evenings between 1986 and 1990 and between 1992 and 1995.
In 1989, Brookes moved to the weekend breakfast show, co-hosting with Liz Kershaw, and also regularly deputised for Simon Mayo on the weekday breakfast show. Three years later he moved to the weekday early breakfast slot, where he remained until he was sacked in 1995 by Trevor Dann, who said "...why is Bruno on? you know, he seems to have a charmed life, because if the view was 'we must get rid of the dinosaurs', you know we've got this behemoth striding the airwaves of dawn" in the BBC TV documentary Blood on the Carpet: Walking with Disc Jockeys in 2001.
Bruno, along with another former chart show presenter Mark Goodier, returned to the station for a one-off Top 40 countdown show on Sunday 30 September 2007, providing new pre-recorded inserts into the show, which was hosted by the then-current (but outgoing) presenters JK and Joel. This special show formed part of the station's celebrations of the 40th birthday of BBC Radio 1.
Brookes was also an early supporter of the fledgling acid house scene by championing Stakker Humanoid, a November 1988 hit for Humanoid (AKA Brian Dougans). In a recent interview with The Guardian, Brookes explained that he was given a white label of the record and immediately fell under its spell. "It just got to me. I remember listening to it and thinking it was one step ahead of everything techno that was coming out. It wasn't copying anything else; it was just fabulous." As a result he played the record twice in one show – a very unusual step for a prime-time radio DJ.
"Killing in the Name" controversy
While presenting the Top 40, Brookes accidentally played the full uncensored version of "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine on 21 February 1993. The song contains 17 instances of extreme expletives. Brookes was not made aware of the language in the track and, as a new entry, included it in the broadcast. Unfortunately, Brookes also was working on the rest of the show with his studio monitoring headphone volume lowered and not paying full attention; it was only when his producer brought to his attention what was being broadcast that Brookes quickly brought the track to a fade and continued. By this point, however, it was too late and the station immediately received numerous complaints. It should be also noted that he was recording an advertisement for next week's Top 40 while the song was being played. This incident has been and still is referred to by numerous rock media, such as Kerrang!.
During his period at Radio 1, Brookes was on the Top of the Pops host roster and also presented Beat the Teacher on BBC television, a popular teenagers' quiz where pupils would take on teachers in a general knowledge game based on noughts and crosses. He was the last of the show's three presenters, following Howard Stableford and ex-Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones. He also hosted the dating show Love at First Sight and the angling show Tight Lines on Sky.
He also appeared in the Brass Eye series in which he read an appeal against the fictitious drug, cake.
After the BBC
After Radio 1, Brookes worked for numerous radio stations, presenting a networked show called Bruno at the Millhouse, while hosting a daily mid-morning slot for Leeds station Radio Aire. He ran a DJ school in Newbury, and was Chris Moyles' manager for a while.
He was also involved in a public spat with ex-Radio 1 colleague Bob Harris, whom Brookes had lent money for a flat. When Harris lost his job and was unable to clear the debt, Brookes laid an unsuccessful claim to his extensive and valuable record collection.
In recent years, Brookes has kept a low public profile but has been financially successful with his company Storm, launched in April 2000, which was the UK's first 24-hour internet radio station. Storm Radio was renamed Immedia in 2002, and the company floated in December 2003. Brookes' stake was valued at flotation at over £2 million. Immedia PLC supplies live in-store radio for UK retail companies including: Game, Lloyd's pharmacy, Spar, Ikea and HSBC bank.
Brookes returned to the BBC with a guest appearance on BBC Radio Berkshire on Sunday 18 May 2008 and a further appearance on that station on Saturday 5 July 2008 and another appearance on Sunday 30 November 2008.
In 2007 Brookes revealed in an interview with Nuts magazine that he had a tattoo of a pirate on his left thigh. He acquired it during the 1985 Radio 1 Roadshow tour as part of a bet with his producer, who in return drank a pint of vinegar.
In May 2006, Brookes suffered a heart attack and was treated at St. Thomas' Hospital, London where he was interviewed by Nadia Sawalha as a patient on BBC One's City Hospital. In the interview he said he would try to give up smoking which he acknowledged as the main reason for his illness.
|BBC Radio One
chart show presenter
30 March 1986 – 23 September 1990
|BBC Radio One
chart show presenter
15 March 1992 – 15 April 1995
- Aircheck Tracker geocities.com
- "Radio 1 is right on song". Glasgow Evening Times. 2 March 1989. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
- Stuart Aitken (11 November 2013). "Stakker Humanoid: how the Future Sound of London won hearts and minds". guardian.co.uk.
- "rage: Articles/Interviews". Musicfanclubs.org. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Finn, Gary (14 November 1998). "Bruno Brookes, 37, joins Trendy Tories". The Independent (London). Retrieved 31 January 2011.
- Davies, Hugh (25 October 2000). "Ex-lover denies that he beat up Anthea Turner". Belfast Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Ex-Radio 1 star has heart attack", BBC, 27 May 2006.