Dotun Adebayo

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Dotun Adebayo
Born Oludotun Adebayo
(1960-08-25) 25 August 1960 (age 55)
Lagos, Nigeria
Other names The Referee
Occupation Radio broadcaster, Writer

Oludotun Adebayo MBE (born 25 August 1960) is a British radio presenter, writer and publisher. Adebayo, who is Nigerian-born, is best known for his work on Up All Night on BBC Radio 5 Live, as well as the obituary programme Brief Lives.

Early life[edit]

Adebayo was born in Lagos, Nigeria,[1] but moved with his family to the UK at the age of six. As a young boy he joined the National Youth Theatre, where he starred in Killing Time by Barrie Keeffe, Julius Caesar by Shakespeare and several other productions. The American playwright Tennessee Williams chose Adebayo to play a small part in the world premiere of his last play, The Red Devil Battery Sign, in which Adebayo acted opposite Pierce Brosnan.[1] Adebayo also acted opposite Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in The Oblong Box at the age of eight, and Michael Elphick in Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier's The Element of Crime.

As well as claiming to have been the first black Teddy boy in London in his early teens, Adebayo also won a Rotary Club public-speaking award as a teenager, and worked for the BBC from when he was aged 12 on the radio programme Network Africa.


Adebayo was educated at Woodlands Park Junior School in Tottenham, where he was in the year below Winston Silcott. He then went on to Stationers' Company's Comprehensive School in Hornsey, North London, followed by Stockholm University, where he studied Literature. While there, he had a reggae segment inside a Saturday-night radio programme on Sveriges Radio P3. He then returned to the UK to study Philosophy at the Wivenhoe Park campus of the University of Essex.


While studying at the University of Essex, and presenting two programmes on the student radio station, in 1987 Adebayo was elected president of the University of Essex Students' Union to serve in the 1987/8 academic year. Standing as an independent, he defeated Labour Students candidate Asad Rehman.

However, Adebayo resigned the sabbatical post within a few months to take up a job with The Voice, Britain's main black newspaper, where he was music editor until 1991. His columns and articles have been published in Pride Magazine and the New Nation, as well as broadsheet and tabloid newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, London Evening Standard and the News of the World.[2] Some of these columns were compiled into Can I Have My Balls Back Please (2000) and its sequel Sperm Bandits (2002). He is working on his first novel, Promised Land, an epic saga spanning 50 years in the lives of Britain's richest black family.

In 1993, while appearing on Channel 4's The Devil's Advocate opposite presenter Darcus Howe, he was spotted by GLR programme executive Gloria Abramov who was looking for a new presenter for the Black London programme. His broadcasting work on BBC London 94.9 gave him the opportunity to present other programmes, such as the Saturday night reggae show, and he eventually "presented everything except travel!" On his half-week of the Up All Night show on BBC Radio 5 Live, he presents both the World Football Phone-In and the Virtual Jukebox.[3]

Adebayo's television work includes writing and presenting the docudrama Sperm Bandits, the documentary White Girls Are Easy (both for Channel 4), and the weekly show Heavy TV.

Adebayo founded the publishing company X Press, producing black fiction such as Baby Father; Yardie, which became the first black British bestseller when it was published in 1992; and Cop Killer, which gained instant notoriety when 200 bullets were sent out to the press to promote the title. He is also responsible for the Nia imprint of literary black fiction, including titles such as J. California Cooper's In Search of Satisfaction, and the 20/20 imprint for current generic fiction such as the bestseller Curvy Lovebox.

Adebayo is co-founder of Colourtelly, Britain's first general-interest black internet television station. To save costs, Adebayo uses his own house as the studio. When it launched on 1 August 2007, Adebayo had the aim of attracting 6000 subscribers in order to break even.

In October 1999, he was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth II.[4] Ten years later he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2009.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Adebayo is married to the singer Carroll Thompson, and the couple have two daughters. His younger brother Diran Adebayo is a novelist. A football fan, Adebayo supports Charlton Athletic and his nephew Tobi Adebayo-Rowling is a professional footballer.


  1. ^ a b "Radio presenter delivers memorial lecture". Policy Studies Institute. November 1, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Broadcasting today: Dotun Adebayo". Lecture list. Retrieved February 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Dotun Adebayo's Virtual Jukebox". 
  4. ^ "Queen's Diamond Jubilee: TV and Radio guide". The Telegraph. United Kingdom. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59090. p. 13. 13 June 2009.

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