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Paul Gambaccini

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Paul Gambaccini
Gambaccini in 2010
Paul Matthew Gambaccini

(1949-04-02) 2 April 1949 (age 75)
Other namesThe Great Gambo
The Professor of Pop
Occupation(s)Broadcaster, author
Years active1967–present
Christopher Sherwood
(m. 2012)
AwardsRadio Academy Hall of Fame, 2005

Paul Matthew Gambaccini (born 2 April 1949) is an American-British radio and television presenter and author. He is a dual citizen of the United States and United Kingdom, having become a British citizen in 2005.

Known as "The Great Gambo"[1] and "The Professor of Pop",[2] Gambaccini was a BBC Radio 1 presenter for 16 years, including 11 years on a weekly show counting down the Billboard Top 30 songs. A regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's long-running arts programme Kaleidoscope, Gambaccini was a long-time TV morning show correspondent for British television, and makes regular appearances on other British TV magazine shows.

Gambaccini was the host of the 12-part Classic FM series Paul Gambaccini's Hall of Heroes, and chairs the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint. He was presenter of Pick of the Pops on BBC Radio 2 from 9 July 2016 to 7 October 2023 and America's Greatest Hits on Greatest Hits Radio on Saturday afternoons since February 2020. He now presents the Paul Gambaccini Collection on Radio 2 which began on 29 October 2023. Inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame in 2005, Gambaccini is the author of more than 15 books.


Born in the Bronx, New York City,[3] Gambaccini studied at Dartmouth College, where he obtained a degree in history in 1970.[3]

Gambaccini then migrated to the United Kingdom and attended University College, Oxford,[3] where he read politics, philosophy and economics. He has since returned to Oxford, where he delivered a series of lectures in January and February 2009, as the News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media. In February 2010 he was invited by the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Andrew Hamilton to deliver the inaugural LGBT lecture Out on Monday to the university's LGBT staff, students and faculty.

Broadcasting career[edit]

Gambaccini's broadcasting career began at Dartmouth College, where he was music director of the now-defunct WDCR, a college-owned-and-operated Top 40 radio station. Gambaccini may have first achieved wider prominence when his tips for playlisted songs likely to see greater chart action were published in the 11 May 1968 issue of the international trade publication Billboard, alongside similar tips from radio programming talent at major commercial stations across the United States.[4]

Having left Oxford, Gambaccini considered further study in law at Harvard or Yale, but had the opportunity of writing for Rolling Stone magazine, as British correspondent.[3] He attributes his broadcasting career to this post—especially an interview in 1973 with Elton John which brought him to the attention of BBC Radio producer John Walters who arranged for him to host on BBC Radio 1.[5][6] Gambaccini then started broadcasting in the UK, on BBC Radio 1, from September 1974, first as a music reporter on the John Peel Saturday show Rockspeak[citation needed] and as presenter of All American Heroes.[7] The following year, he started a show focussing on the weeks' music in the US chart which was to continue for over a decade.[8] The show was broadcast every Saturday afternoon until his last show on 8 February 1986. Thereafter, he moved to independent radio to host American Countdown. In 1990, he returned to Radio 1, but left during the tenure of controller Matthew Bannister in 1993.[citation needed]

In 1992 Gambaccini became a founding personality on the UK's classical music station Classic FM, where he hosted the weekly Classical CD Chart show. He left for BBC Radio 3 in 1995, where he broadcast an hour-long morning show, in a slot formerly used for Composer of the Week. He returned to Classic FM in 1997.

Alongside his work in music radio, he contributed regularly to BBC Radio 4's long-running arts programme Kaleidoscope between 1975 and 1998.

For 13 years Gambaccini reviewed films for breakfast television, first on TV-am and then GMTV. In the early 1980s he presented The Other Side of the Tracks on Channel 4, which ran for three series. His other television appearances include Pebble Mill at One, Call My Bluff, Music for the Millennium, and The South Bank Show.

In 1998, he joined BBC Radio 2. His first show was on 18 April 1998, once again opening the first of his weekly shows America's Greatest Hits with "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. In 2002, he quit his role at Classic FM, to present a weekly chart show on London's Jazz FM until 2004. He was also a contributor to the London station LBC when it was taken over by Chrysalis.[citation needed]

He has worked widely across the BBC and the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) as well as contributing to many television shows, mostly related to music, film, and the arts. He narrated the BBC Radio adaptation of Espedair Street, the Iain Banks novel.

Gambaccini has presented the annual Ivor Novello Awards since 1990,[9] the Parliamentary Jazz Awards since 2005, the Music Industry Trust's Man of the Year Dinner since 1999, and the Radio Academy Awards for a ten-year stretch from 1998 to 2008.

In August 2008, Gambaccini returned to Classic FM, to present a 12-part series Paul Gambaccini's Hall of Heroes on Sunday evenings between 9:00 and 10:00. In March 2008, he took over as chairman of the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint from Edward Seckerson; he was temporarily replaced in 2013 by Russell Davies and returned to the show in November 2014 after being cleared of allegations of historical sexual offences made against him. He returned to BBC Radio 2 with America's Greatest Hits on 15 November 2014, and hosted it until 2 July 2016, when he took over Pick of the Pops from Tony Blackburn, the following week.

He started his final America's Greatest Hits on the BBC with "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and ended it with Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling!".[10] Trevor Nelson took over the Saturday timeslot with his Rhythm Nation programme, that was allocated to Gambaccini's America's Greatest Hits programme for seven years.[citation needed] The show was revived on Greatest Hits Radio from February 2020 airing 5-7pm on Saturdays, with the first show starting off with "Born to Run", just like the final BBC Radio episode, and ending with "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" by Stevie Wonder. Gambaccini has also presented special shows on Greatest Hits Radio on bank holidays and over the Christmas holidays. On Boxing Day 2021, he co-presented a special show on Greatest Hits Radio paying tribute to Janice Long, whom he had discovered in 1982.

On 10 August 2023, it was announced that Gambaccini would leave Pick of the Pops on 7 October 2023 after seven & half years at the helm, to host a new live Sunday evening show for Radio 2, titled The Paul Gambaccini Collection, which will begin on 29 October. He announced the news on the show on 12 August, and he was replaced by the late Steve Wright.

On 22 October 2023, Gambaccini was interviewed by Wright in a special programme on Radio 2 to celebrate his 50 years of broadcasting on UK radio.


Gambaccini was co-author of The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and related titles, with Tim and Jo Rice, alongside Radio 1 colleague at that time, Mike Read, between 1977 and 1996. Gambaccini's own books include Love Letters, Radio Boy, Top 100 Albums and Track Records. The Ultimate Man, a musical about a comic book superhero, was co-written with Alastair King and Jane Edith Wilson, and produced at the Bridewell Theatre in London in 2000.[11]

Comic book fandom[edit]

Gambaccini was active in the realm of comic book fandom. As an American teenager in the 1960s his missives were regularly published in the letter columns of titles such as Justice League of America and The Amazing Spider-Man.[3] Gambaccini claims to have invented the term "Brand Echh", which later became widely used by Stan Lee.[3]

While still in high school,[3] Gambaccini began contributing to comics fanzines, including the publication Rocket's Blast Comicollector. In 1964[3] he succeeded Jerry Bails (the so-called "father of comic book fandom") as executive secretary of the Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors,[12] an umbrella organization for the burgeoning world of comics fandom [13] During 1964-65, he also published eight issues of Forum which was an Academy newsletter for ex-board members. As part of his involvement with the academy, Gambaccini helped organize the comics industry's first awards, the Alley Awards.

Gambaccini and television presenter Jonathan Ross co-owned Top 10 Comics, a comic shop in London which opened in 1989 and closed in 1995.[14][15] Gambaccini has been an official guest at many British comic conventions, including the United Kingdom Comic Art Convention (where he co-presented the 1990 Eagle Awards and the 1997 National Comics Awards), and Comics Festival UK.

A character introduced in The Flash #141 named Paul Gambi, a tailor specializing in super-villain outfits, is an homage to Paul Gambaccini,[16] who had written a letter to the Flash editor, later published in the letter column, asking the question, "Where do all these super-villains get their costumes?".

Operation Yewtree[edit]

On 1 November 2013, it was reported that Gambaccini had been arrested on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of an investigation by Operation Yewtree in the United Kingdom. He was released on bail and his spokesman said that he denied the allegations.[17] It was announced on 10 October 2014 that no charges would be brought.[18] Giving evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on 3 March 2015, Gambaccini said he believed he was used as "human fly paper" to encourage other people to come forward and make allegations against him.[19]

The BBC reported that he also said he suspected his bail was repeatedly extended until the end of high-profile cases involving other celebrities because "police did not want juries to hear a former Radio 1 DJ had been cleared of sexual wrongdoing". Gambaccini also argued in favour of a 28-day bail limit; Home Secretary Theresa May had announced in December 2014 that she was consulting on such a limit in all but exceptional cases. However, Gambaccini's allegations of a "witch-hunt" were denied by the Director of Public Prosecutions.[20] The 28-day limit came into effect in April 2017.[21]

Gambaccini wrote an account of his experience in his book Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the Yewtree, which was published in 2015.[22][23] In February 2016, Irish Supreme Court Judge Adrian Hardiman used a review of the book to criticize what he described as the radical undermining of the presumption of innocence, especially in sex cases, including Gambaccini's, by the methods used in Operation Yewtree (among other instances).[24]

In February 2017, Gambaccini sued the Metropolitan Police, citing a loss of £200,000 during his time under investigation.[25] In November 2018, he settled a claim against the Crown Prosecution Service, who agreed to pay him damages; the amount was not disclosed due to confidentiality clauses in the settlement agreement.[26][27]

Charity work[edit]

Gambaccini has been a supporter of gay-related charities. In 1995, he was named Philanthropist of the Year by the National Charity Fundraisers for his work on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust. He is a patron of the London Gay Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, he won an episode of celebrity Mastermind, with his chosen beneficiary charity being Stonewall.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Gambaccini has been openly gay for many years, claiming in 2013: "I was never 'in'."[29] In June 2012, he entered into a civil partnership with Christopher Sherwood.[30] One week later, they married in the New York Botanical Garden.[31] In 2013, Gambaccini claimed that he had been highlighted as a potential security risk by the BBC earlier in his career due to his sexuality, with a symbol resembling a Christmas tree on the cover of his personnel file: "It meant you were 'as camp as Christmas' and thus a potential security risk."[32] In fact, the symbol was a general indication that the subject should not be promoted or transferred without reference to the department responsible for security vetting, due to left-leaning sympathies (see: "Christmas tree" files). He lives in the Kennington area of London.[31]


  • 1995 – Philanthropist of the Year by the National Charity Fundraisers
  • 1996 – Outstanding Contribution to Music Radio Award from the Radio Academy
  • 2003 – Sony Radio Academy Award for Music Broadcaster of the Year
  • 2005 – Sony Radio Academy Silver Award for a Weekly Music Programme
  • 2005 – Inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame


  • A Conversation With Elton John and Bernie Taupin – Putnam Publishing Group 1975
  • Paul McCartney in his own words – Omnibus Press 1976
  • The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles with Tim Rice, Jo Rice and Mike Read – Guinness, first published 1977: several subsequent editions
  • Critic's Choice: Top 200 Albums – Omnibus Press 1978 (US title: Rock Critics' Choice: The Top 200 Albums)
  • Masters of Rock – Omnibus Press 1982
  • Track Records – Elm Tree Books 1985
  • Radio Boy: An Adolescent DJ's Story – Elm Tree Books 1986
  • Paul Gambaccini Presents the Top 100 Albums – GRR/Pavilion Books 1987 (US title: Critics' Choice: The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time)
  • United Kingdom Top 1000 Singles (with Tim Rice and Jo Rice) – Gullane Children's Books 1988
  • The Guinness Book of British Hit Albums (with Tim Rice and Jo Rice) – Guinness First published 1983: several subsequent editions
  • Hits of The 80s (with Jo Rice, Tim Rice and Tony Brown) – Guinness 1990
  • Top 40 Charts (with Tim Rice and Jo Rice) – Guinness 1992
  • Television's Greatest Hits (with Rod Taylor) – Network Books 1993
  • Love Letters – Michael O'Mara Books 1996
  • The McCartney Interviews: After the Break-up – Omnibus Press 1996
  • Close Encounters – Omnibus Press 1998
  • The Complete Eurovision Song Contest Companion (with Tim and Jo Rice and Tony Brown) – Pavilion Books 1998
  • The Eurovision Companion (revised edition), Pavilion Books 1999
  • Complete Book of the British Charts (with Tony Brown and Tim Rice) Omnibus Press 2000.
  • Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the Yewtree - Biteback Publishing 2015. Memoir.[23]



  1. ^ Burrell, Ian. "Paul Gambaccini: Here, there and everywhere," The Independent (9 April 2007)
  2. ^ Topping, Alexandra. "RIP rock'n'roll? Professor of pop reads the last rites: Rock songs in the charts fall to lowest level in 50 years, with only three tracks appearing in the top 100 best-sellers," The Guardian (10 January 2011).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Schelly, Bill. Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s, (McFarland, 2010), pp. 176–177.
  4. ^ "Programming Aids". Billboard. 11 May 1968. pp. 20–24.
  5. ^ Rosser, Michael (25 June 2009). "Paul Gambaccini, BBC Radio 2". Broadcast.
  6. ^ Paul Gambaccini (16 August 1973). "Elton John: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 1 England - 2 November 1974 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk.
  8. ^ "Radio Rewind - BBC Radio 1 People - Paul Gambaccini - Our Show". www.radiorewind.co.uk.
  9. ^ Thistlethwaite, Felicity (22 May 2014). "Paul Gambaccini hosts Ivor Novello awards six months after arrest under Operation Yewtree". Daily Express. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  10. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Paul Gambaccini with America's Greatest Hits, 02/07/2016".
  11. ^ Gardner, Lyn (11 May 2000). "The Ultimate Man". theguardian.com. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  12. ^ "With a Little Help From His Friends...," Alter Ego vol. 3, #25 (June 2003) pp. 14-19.
  13. ^ Schelly, Bill. "Jerry Bails' Ten Building Blocks of Fandom," Alter Ego vol. 3, #25 (June 2003), pp. 5-8.
  14. ^ "Media Monkey + Jonathan Ross: The Guardian's blog on advertising, marketing and the media industry," The Guardian (9 January 2013)
  15. ^ Urchin, Zoe. "Top Ten Soho comic book store 1989-1993". Wolfshead. Wolfshead Promotions. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  16. ^ Schelly, Bill (9 July 2010). Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. ISBN 9780786457625 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ "Paul Gambaccini arrested in Operation Yewtree inquiry", BBC News, 1 November 2013
  18. ^ "BBC News - No charges for broadcaster Paul Gambaccini in Yewtree case". BBC News. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  19. ^ "Paul Gambaccini backs 28-day bail limit after Operation Yewtree arrest". BBC News. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  20. ^ "Paul Gambaccini backs 28-day bail limit after Operation Yewtree arrest". BBC News. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  21. ^ Peck, Tom (2 April 2017). "Police bail for suspects capped at 28 days". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  22. ^ John Clarke (5 October 2015). "Love, Paul Gambaccini by Paul Gambaccini - book review: An absorbing account of a year of injustice". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  23. ^ a b Paul Gambaccini (2015). Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the Yewtree. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781849549943. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Hardiman questions methods of UK sex-claim inquiries". Irish Times. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  25. ^ O'Neill, Sean; Hamilton, Fiona (14 February 2017). "Victims of abuse inquiry blunders sue Met for £3m". The Times. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Paul Gambaccini wins CPS payout over unfounded sexual abuse claims". The Guardian, London. 2 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Paul Gambaccini secures CPS payout over unfounded abuse claims". BBC News. 3 November 2018.
  28. ^ title=Paul Gambaccini Is A DC Comics Mastermind Bleeding Cool 7 January 2010
  29. ^ Paul Gambaccini: The BBC singled me out as a ‘potential security threat’ for being gay. Pink News. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  30. ^ Youde, Kate (13 May 2012). "Paul Gambaccini: Ivor & me – celebrating a 25-year relationship". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  31. ^ a b Grice, Elizabeth (23 July 2013). "Paul Gambaccini, interview". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  32. ^ Paul Gambaccini: The BBC marked me out for being gay. The Daily Telegraph. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.

Sources consulted[edit]

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