Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman 1927-2006

A look back at the life of the much-loved DJ

Much-loved DJ Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman was born on July 6, 1927 in Melbourne. Educated in his home city, after leaving school he worked as an accountant for one of Australia’s largest timber companies.

In 1952 his radio career began when he was invited to audition at a radio announcer and commenced working for ‘teenager’s station’ 7LA. After moving briefly to another station, 3KZ, in 1957 he took an agreed nine-month trip around the world with the verbal promise to return to Melbourne by January 1958.

After getting to London, he decided to stay. He started his British career as a summer relief disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg, and continued to present late-evening programmes on the station until the early Seventies.

In 1961 Freeman moved to the BBC, presenting the ‘Records Around Five’ show, which was introduced by what became his signature tune ‘At The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal’.

In September 1961 he introduced ‘Pick Of The Pops’, which he fronted until 1972. It was around this time other BBC presenters gave him his nickname ‘Fluff’, because of his habit of turning up for his show in woolly jumpers.

In April 1973 Freeman joined Radio 1, taking over the afternoon drivetime slot from Terry Wogan. On Saturday evenings he also presented his iconic ‘Rock Show’ from 1973 until 1978.

Freeman left the BBC to work for Capital Radio from 1979 to 1988, reviving both ‘Pick Of The Pops’ and ‘The Rock Show’. He returned to the BBC and Radio 1 in 1989 , but was an early part of then Radio 1 controller Matthew Bannister‘s clear-out of the ‘old guard’ in 1993.

Freeman then moved to Virgin Radio with ‘The Rock Show’ in the 1990s. He also he very breif spells on XFM and Capital Gold. Freeman returned to the BBC on Radio 2, taking ‘Pick Of The Pops’ back to its home from 1997 until 2000.

He became famous for his many memorable catchphrases such as ‘Alright, pop pickers? Alright!’ and ‘Not ‘arf!’. The style has been much parodied since, and he was the model for Harry Enfield‘s popular character Dave Nice, part of the duo Smashey & Nicey. ‘Fluff’ took it in good spirit, and contributed to the show. He also played ‘God’ in two episodes of cult comedy ‘The Young Ones’ in 1984.

He was awarded the CBE in 1998. In May 2000 he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards. But by then he was suffering from severe arthritis and in need of a Zimmer Frame to get around.

Freeman lived his later years as a resident of Brinsworth House, a retirement home for actors and performers run by the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund. It was here he died on Monday November 27, aged 79.