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Bushell with Pauline Black, lead singer of The Selecter
13 May 1955 |
Woolwich, London, England
|Occupation||Musician, music journalist, author|
Garry Bushell (born 13 May 1955, Woolwich, South East London) is an English newspaper columnist, rock music journalist, television presenter, author and political activist. Bushell also sings in the Oi! band the Gonads and manages the New York City Oi! band Maninblack. Bushell's recurring topical themes are comedy, country and class. He has campaigned for an English Parliament, a Benny Hill statue and for variety and talent shows on TV. Although his TV column Bushell on the Box still appears weekly in the Daily Star Sunday, Bushell now focuses on his band, novels and his one-man stand-up show.
Early life and music career
The son of a fireman, Bushell attended Charlton Manor School and Colfe's School (which was then a grammar school). At secondary school, he first performed in the group Pink Tent, which was heavily influenced by Monty Python. They wrote songs and comedy sketches; performed at parties and at each other's houses. Bushell was involved in the National Union of School Students and the Schools Action Union, a socialist organisation that had a strong situationist streak that led them to mix schoolboy hijinks with student activism. He worked for Shell as a messenger, and then the London Fire Brigade before attending North East London Polytechnic and the London College of Printing simultaneously.
Pink Tent evolved into the Gonads, an Oi! and punk pathetique band that has continued to perform in the 2000s. They describe themselves as an "Oi-Tone" band because they play ska and street punk. Many of their songs are comical party tunes, but they have occasionally written more serious material. Two examples of their songs that include social commentary are "Dying for a Pint" (which comments on nightclub bouncer brutality) and "Jobs Not Jails" (a critique of the Margaret Thatcher government's policies).
Other Bushell musical projects have included the bands Prole, Orgasm Guerrillas and Lord Waistrel & the Cosh Boys. Prole was a socialist punk band that also included Steve Kent, the original guitarist of the Oi! band The Business. Bushell managed the Blood and Cockney Rejects, getting them their EMI deal. He also got Twisted Sister signed in the UK to Secret Records. He compiled the first four Oi! compilation albums and contributed songs to later collections.
Journalism and writing
In 1973, at the age of 18, Bushell joined the International Socialists and started writing for their newspaper Socialist Worker. He also wrote for Temporary Hoarding, Rebel, and edited the North East London Polytechnic Student Union magazine Napalm. From 1978 to 1985, he wrote for Sounds magazine, covering punk and other street-level music genres, such as 2 Tone, the new wave of British heavy metal and the mod revival. Bushell was at the forefront of covering the Oi! subgenre, also known as real punk or street punk. In 1981, Bushell wrote the book Dance Craze – the 2-Tone story, and in 1984, he wrote the Iron Maiden biography Running Free.
During his time at Sounds, Bushell gained notoriety for writing negative and sarcastic reviews of the early punk incarnation of Adam and the Ants, which led to him being namechecked, along with veteran NME writer Nick Kent, in the band's song Press Darlings, containing the line "If passion ends in fashion, Bushell is the best dressed man in town." Bushell also attracted the attentions of Scottish punk band The Exploited who described him as a "wanker" in their song 'Singalongabushell'.
Bushell moved to Fleet Street in 1985, working for The Sun, Evening Standard and the Daily Mirror. He went back to The Sun to write its "Bizarre" column and to be the showbusiness editor. In 1991, he briefly became assistant editor of the Daily Star, where he wrote a current affairs column called "Walk Tall With Bushell", as well as his TV column. Three months later, he quit and returned to The Sun.
Bushell wrote an article urging ITV to ban comedian Julian Clary from appearing on live television, in the wake of Clary's appearance at the British Comedy Awards in December 1993 (where Clary claimed to have been fisting then-Chancellor Norman Lamont backstage). The article was considered detrimental to Clary's career by some, although Clary has continued to be seen on television and Bushell has since dismissed the controversy as "a storm in a teacup". Bushell appeared on Clary's own BBC TV show, All Rise for Julian Clary, and defended his stance; saying he objected to Clary's fisting joke rather than his homosexuality.
In 1994, Bushell was named critic of the year at the UK Press Awards. In the mid-1990s, Bushell hosted the TV programme Bushell on the Box, commenting on the week's TV programmes. The show included rants, interviews, star guests and comedy sketches. It ran for 50 episodes and was number one on ITV's Night Network. The following year, Bushell became resident critic on Jonathan Ross's ITV series The Big Big Talent Show. He also hosted Garry Bushell Reveals All for Granada Men & Motors. He has appeared on a wide range of other shows, including Celebrity Squares, Drop! The Celebrity, Newsnight and The Southbank Show.
In 2001, Bushell's crime novel The Face was serialised in the Daily Star, leading to his dismissal from The Sun, even though the book's publisher John Blake admitted Bushell had no knowledge of the serialisation deal. Two years after Bushell was fired, a poll of Sun readers named him their favourite columnist. In 2002, he published the book King of Telly: The Best of Bushell on the Box, containing highlights of his column.
After The Sun, Bushell wrote for The People until 18 February 2007 when he left to work on books and screenplays. He announced his resignation as a TV critic, stating that he was becoming depressed at the state of British television. Bushell co-wrote the book Cockney Reject (about the punk band Cockney Rejects) and has written a film script for Join the Rejects – Get Yourself Killed. He has published his own autobiography, Bushell on the Rampage, a book attacking the BBC soap opera EastEnders called 1001 Reasons EastEnders is Pony, and a book on UK youth subcultures called Hoolies. He has also co-written the autobiography of Cockney comic Jimmy Jones, Now This is a Very True Story, published in 2011 and a new expanded version of Dance Craze, about 2-Tone, which is subtitled 'Rude Boys on the Road'. In May 2007, Bushell's column returned to the Daily Star Sunday.
In August 2007, Bushell made a remark during a humorous exchange on the talkSPORT programme Football First implying that homosexuality was a perversion, leading the regulator Ofcom to find the segment in breach of standards for failing to justify offensive material by the context in which it was presented.
Ofcom rejected talkSPORT's claims that the comments made had been "off the cuff", and talkSPORT issued a statement saying its staff had been "made aware" that what Bushell had said was "unacceptable". Bushell later said that it was not homosexuality which he was referring to as a perversion, but the further lowering of the age of consent; and that his remarks were taken out of context. He has since left talkSPORT. In his 2009 book, The World According To..., Bushell says he made the remark to wind up another broadcaster. He has publicly praised many gay performers, and Dale Winton is the godfather of his daughter Jenna. Since November 2007, he has been the resident TV critic for Nuts TV. Also in 2007, he started presenting a monthly punk and ska podcast show on TotalRock, and the Heritage Foundation named Bushell "Critic of the Year". In 2009 he started an occasional punk and ska show called Rancid Sounds for Total Rock radio.
Bushell's columns are known for their similes and metaphors, such as describing something as being "as fair as Frank Bruno's arse" or (in his 1 May 2005 column) "Today's TV is so obsessively gay, it's a wonder the Radio Times doesn't come with a pink Versace wrap and a free glass of Muscadet". His humour angered some Sun executives, such as Rebekah Wade, but fans include Barbara Windsor, Dom Joly and Roy Hudd, who has called him "the Max Miller of the press." His tabloid column and writing style were regularly satirised in adult comic Viz, including a one-off comic strip titled Garry Bushell The Bear, about a homophobic, xenophobic brown bear.
Responding to comments made by Bushell in the 25 November 1993 issue of The Sun ("Liberal permissiveness is eating the fabric of our society. You want video nasties peddling stomach-churning filth? You got 'em. Western values? Who needs 'em!"), John Martin's book Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal says: "[w]hen Bushell isn't blustering about decency and Western values, he can be found gloating and cracking jokes in his column over such incidents as the death of several transvestites in a sex cinema fire." Bushell aggressively dismissed the criticism on Richard Bacon’s Five Live show (October 2010), accusing militant gay activists and liberal intellectuals of distorting his views. Speaking to Philip Solomon on East Midlands radio, Bushell defended his writing style:
The humour I like is abrasive and acerbic; taken out of context it can seem cruel but that's true of everyone from Jackie Mason to Frankie Boyle. The key to getting it is not to take it out of context. As someone once said analysing a joke is like dissecting a frog; you can find out why it works but in the process you kill it.
Bushell started his political activisim as a socialist, and was a member of the Trotskyist International Socialists (which became the Socialist Workers Party). In 1986, in his '"On the Soap Box" column, Bushell raged against the middle classes, who he claimed had ruined the Labour Party. He has opposed the European Union and unfettered immigration, because he said it undercut working class wages. He has written articles supporting the Smithfield meat porters who were fighting to preserve their market, and in favour of the UDR Four, working class comedians and Page Three girls. In the 2000s, his focus has been on patriotism and individual liberty. He considers himself English rather than British, and has campaigned to have St George's Day recognised as a public holiday in England, in the same way St Patrick's Day is a holiday in Ireland.
In the 2005 General Election, he stood as a candidate for the English Democrats Party, who promote the establishment of an English Parliament, and who want England to leave the European Union. Bushell got 1,216 votes (3.4% share) in the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency, finishing fifth out of seven in a race won by Nick Raynsford of the Labour Party. The result represented the high point for the English Democrats in the election, and Bushell finished ahead of the UK Independence Party candidate in that constituency. Bushell also represented the party in South Staffordshire, in the delayed vote (due to the death of a candidate) on 23 June; winning 643 votes (2.51%). His campaign was supported by the Campaign for an English Parliament and Veritas. He considered running for Mayor of London against Ken Livingstone in 2008, but he pulled out of the race in January 2008 and stood aside for Matt O'Connor. Bushell announced on 7 December 2011 that he would join and support UKIP.
UK General elections
|Date of election||Constituency||Party||Votes||%|
|2005||Greenwich & Woolwich||English Democrats||1,216||3.4|
|2005||Staffordshire South||English Democrats||643||2.5|
Bushell has five children; three with Carol Bushell (Julie, Daniel, Robert) and two with Tania Bushell (Jenna, Ciara), who performs as the country music singer Leah McCaffrey. In November 2006, Bushell appeared on the Channel 4 programme 100% English and offered a sample of his DNA for testing. The results suggested that he was 8% Sub-Saharan African, most likely the result of a single ancestor within the previous five generations.
Bushell wrote on his website: "I'd be delighted if it were true... Only Nazis, and, it appears C4, think of national identity in terms of racial purity... Besides, you could apply the same tests to the French or Italians and get similar results, but no one questions their right to nationhood."
- "The Official Online Press Kit!". Maninblack. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- Eaton, Duncan (30 December 2006). "Hampshire town tipped to host statue for Benny Hill". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- "The Gonads". Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- Twisted Sister – The Official Story – authorized biography
- "Garry Bushell Interview". Peom.co.uk. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- "Oi! – The Truth by Garry Bushell". www.garry-bushell.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- "Press Darlings". Antlady.nl. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- www.garry-bushell.co.uk – Garry Bushell by Garry Johnson Archived 24 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Bushell on the Box". www.garry-bushell.co.uk. 3 September 1939. Archived from the original on 16 July 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- "Talksport rapped over gay jibes". BBC News. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2008.
- Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin – Issue no. 91, 20 August 2007
- TalkSport rapped for homophobia, MediaGuardian.co.uk, 20 August 2007
- The Independent (Deborah Ross) For Garry, England and St George: Interview – Garry Bushell, 25 June 2001
- "Viz Comic". Viz.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- Martin, John. Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal. p. 72. ISBN 0-9533261-8-7.
- "www.garry-bushell.co.uk". Garry-bushell.co.uk. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- "Garry for Mayor". Garryformayor.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- "Bushell joins UKIP party"
- The Herald (David Belcher) A rare breed – and pure annoying with it 14 November 2006