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The Goodies

Daily Mail article about Bill Oddie: "Me and my school photo" (6 Jan 2012)
10/01/2012 03:14 GMT

Posted by lisa

The following article appears online at

Me and my school photo: Bill Oddie remembers answering back and eventually becoming a prefect

Last updated at 10:30 PM on 6th January 2012

Wildlife TV presenter and former Goodie Bill Oddie, 70, lives in London with his wife Laura. They have three daughters, Bonnie, Kate and Rosie.

This photo shows me sitting proudly as captain of the King Edwardís School (KES), Birmingham, rugby team. Iím holding a ball with 1959/60 written on it, so I was 18. I was captain of virtually every team I played in from Under-14s up.

I took and passed the 11-plus when I was only nine, so I left primary school for Halesowen Grammar School, but was then about 18 months younger than most of the other kids, which was a disadvantage for me at sport, the thing I enjoyed most.

Rugby captain: Bill Oddie (centre) writes, 'I'm holding a ball with 1959/60 written on it, so I was 18'

But when I was 12, my dad, who was trying to give me the education he never had, got me to take the exam for KES, the best school in Birmingham, and I was offered a place. I knew this move meant forsaking the presence of girls, but since I was very young and hadnít got very far in that direction, it didnít really matter. Anyway, King Edwardís Girlsí School was over the road.

KES was my whole life throughout my time there. Thatís against the background of my home life, which was boring and sometimes upsetting, because my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put in a mental home within a year of my joining the school. Sometimes I visited her, which was horrible.

Some teachers I got on well with, others I had an amiable bit of friction with, and one or two absolutely hated me, including the chief master, because Iíd answer back.

I still have a report in which Iím described as Ďidle and insolentí, but this was countered by my housemaster who said, ĎI donít recognise that person at all. Bill is extremely energetic and industrious and helpful.í

Legend has it that, the night before the Queen was due to pass by on a Royal visit to the city in 1955, some of the other boys and I went out and rearranged the traffic cones so the convoy would be diverted through the school grounds. I donít remember doing that but itís become an urban myth, like the one about The Goodies beating up John Peel in a nightclub, or my hitting John Craven over the head with a tripod in an argument over a cup of tea.

I donít think punishments included canes and rulers; it was usually detention. But the chief masterís way of punishing me was to not make me a prefect when all my friends were. It was vindictive and most people were shocked. But when I became rugby captain he had to make me a prefect Ė it came with the job. School productions were integral to my life and I wrote the school revue in my final year.

Bill thought he'd go on to do something with natural history, but showbusiness took over

I was offered a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge, a year before I was due to go there, so I protracted my last year at KES, prompting one teacher to write in a report: ĎIíve seen nothing of him at all this term Ė I presume heís playing rugby!í I went on to study English at Cambridge, thinking Iíd go on to do something with natural history Ė I intended to spend a year doing voluntary wardening on a bird observatory. But none of these things happened as showbusiness took over.

Billís new stage show, Bill Oddie: Un-Plucked, starts on 25 April at the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton, Somerset,

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