EDUCATION IS…Dave Berry

Welcome to Hello World’s interview series showcasing the work of individuals and organisations that are championing education and helping marginalised communities to shape their own future.

Education is… Recognising the talents of others 

Dave Berry is an award-winning TV Presenter, Radio Host and Writer. BAFTA nominated in the category ‘Best Presenter’ only a year into his first TV slot on children’s favourite, Nickelodeon, Dave went on to front shows on MTV, Channel 4, ITV, the BBC as well as VH1 in the US. 

He has been at the helm of three UK Breakfast Radio Shows: XFM, Capital and his current home on Absolute Radio. He writes for Q Magazine, The Guardian, The Independent and Empire Magazine.

‘Dave Berry’s DadPod’ is one the most downloaded ‘Parents and Kids’ podcasts in the world.

If you could write on your own school report, what comments would you make?

I would love to make a few key changes to one particular entry on a school report to make it appear as though I was joking at the time and not – as I actually was – deadly serious…

During the final week of my school work experience placement at the Ministry of Health in London my form tutor came to visit me to see how I was getting on. I was fifteen years old and had asked permission to use the large office meeting room. In preparation for Mrs Glynn’s arrival I had sat myself at the head of the expansive boardroom table. 

When she arrived I gestured for her to take a seat, asked if I could “get somebody to make her a tea or coffee.” (SOMEBODY?! I’m the work experience kid!) I then proceeded to spell out – in no uncertain terms – how I had come to realise I was “too mature for school,” thought it “best for everybody if I leave now” but hoped we’d “stay in touch.” I was just one imaginary step away from pressing an intercom button and asking “Susan” to cancel my 4 o clock! 

I cringe every time I think about that day and needless to say I returned to my schooling a week later. 

What did you dream of becoming as a child and what obstacles got in your way?

As a kid I wanted to be a comic book illustrator or a video game designer. The obstacles I faced were simply the brilliance and talent of my fellow pupils. 

I consider myself a positive person and I have given plenty of things a go in life. I genuinely am a believer in the old adage that it is better to know you gave something a shot in life (and potentially fail) than to live with the fact you never tried. However, I also believe it is wise to acknowledge the talents of others and to be honest with yourself.

I loved dreaming up and drawing weird and wonderful characters as much as I did playing video games. But at thirteen years of age I could see those classmates who had a real talent for art, design and technology. It was important to realise that – while I loved reading 2000AD and playing Street Fighter 2 – my destiny lay elsewhere.

You created a podcast, ‘Dave Berry’s Dadpod’ – what inspired the show and what lessons has it taught you?

In 2018 my wife and I discovered we were having our first baby. The feelings of utter joy, uncertainty and downright fear were like nothing I had ever experienced before. I began talking about our journey on my radio show and subsequently received lots of well-wishing and welcome “Dadvice” from our listeners. This evolved into me asking some of my show guests for their parenting tips. 

One day I will have the great joy of playing our daughter the audio of Benedict Cumberbatch telling me I should spend as much time as possible on my ablutions or Sir Michael Caine saying it’s best to sleep farthest away from the cot or Tim Minchin playing the sound of childbirth on my boyhood electric keyboard! 

I decided to expand this into a podcast and I am so pleased that I did. Some incredible parents have joined me and been informative, funny and touching in equal measure. The best part of course are the messages we receive from both new and more experienced Mum’s and Dad’s expressing their joy at our little Pod.

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