FORMER Radio One DJ Simon Bates is best remembered for his Our Tune slot, where he would read out poignant tales from listeners to the strains of the love theme from Romeo and Juliet.

A Sony Award winning broadcaster, Simon worked for Radio One between 1976 and 1993.

He has also worked for Classic FM and Smooth Radio. A little known fact is that Simon is also a qualified artificial inseminator.

You can follow him on Twitter @simonbatesuk or visit his website at

What was your first car?

First real car was a Ford Thames Van, below, which I used in New Zealand when I was working as an artificial inseminator, to carry the necessary goods around The Waikato, greeting my bovine clients with a cheery grin, before putting on the rubber gloves.

My first real real and much-loved car, was a Mini, which I bought for six hundred dollars in Sydney, Australia.

The Northern Echo:

My flat mate had a beaten up Jaguar XJ120 which he maintained himself and was his pride and joy, so the Mini was a kind of statement, because I couldn't change a tyre and everyone knew that once I started driving it.

It is no more, having been squashed in a Wednesday morning "incident" in Paddington, Sydney, by a garbage truck.

I have never quite got over its loss.

How many times did it take to pass your test?

My Grandmother taught me in the family Armstrong Siddley and I passed first time in Wolverhampton.

They were patient and tolerant blokes, the examiners in the 60s.

Who would be your ideal fantasy passenger and where would you go?

The Northern Echo:

Oh it's gotta be a good talker. So Chaucer, above, because his stories were all about being told on the open highway. It would also be a good chance to go back to Canterbury and compare notes.

What is your dream car?

The Northern Echo: The Land Rover Defender 90 was stolen from outside a farm shop

I have it. It's an old Landrover Defender. I can take it anywhere and it's welcome. Take my foot off the clutch and it does what it's supposed to without fuss. It sits happily on the motorway at 70. When we're snowed in, it doesn't grumble it gets me the five miles to the newsagent with no trouble. If a bit drops off, there's no problem, I just bolt another bit in its place. And who is going to key a Defender? No one!

How would you describe your driving style?


Tell me one driving anecdote from your past?

Getting done for speeding in Texas by a grumpy Sherriff, who relieved me of 40 dollars and commented on the length of my hair.

And then driving straight on for a drink in a bar about four miles on where the barman knew all about what had just happened and explained that everyone from out of State who drove down that road in that month was being fined because the Sherriff needed a new car.

What are you listening to?

The Northern Echo:

Andy Hamilton as Satan. Because he tells a great story and makes me laugh.

What do you drive now?

When not driving my beloved Defender I drive an Audi. Big, safe and responsive.