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Garry Bushell

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Garry Bushell

Garry Bushell
British journalist and presenter Garry Bushell with Pauline Black, lead singer of The Selecter
Personal details
Born (1955-05-13) 13 May 1955
Woolwich, London, England
Nationality English
Occupation Musician, music journalist, author

Garry Bushell (born 13 May 1955, Woolwich, South East London) is an English newspaper columnist, rock music journalist, television presenter, author and political activist. Bushell also sings in the Oi! band the Gonads and manages the New York City Oi! band Maninblack.[1] Bushell's recurring topical themes are comedy, country and class (social). He has campaigned for an English Parliament, a Benny Hill statue[2] and for variety and talent shows on TV. Although his TV column Bushell on the Box still appears weekly in the Daily Star Sunday, Bushell currently focuses on his band, novels and his one-man stand-up show.

Early life and music career

The son of a fireman, Bushell attended Charlton Manor School and situationist streak that led them to mix schoolboy hijinks with student activism. He worked for Shell as a messenger, and then the London Fire Brigade before attending North East London Polytechnic and the London College of Printing simultaneously. Bushell was an amateur boxer and a musician before becoming a full-time journalist.

Pink Tent evolved into the Gonads, an Oi! and punk pathetique band that has continued to perform in the 2000s.[3] They describe themselves as an "Oi-Tone" band because they play ska and street punk. Many of their songs are comical party tunes, but they have occasionally written more serious material. Two examples of their songs that include social commentary are "Dying for a Pint" (which comments on nightclub bouncer brutality) and "Jobs Not Jails" (a critique of the Margaret Thatcher government's policies). The Gonads have also played punk rock versions of old music hall numbers such as Gus Elen's "Half a Pint of Ale" and Charles Coburn's "Two Lovely Black Eyes." The band has released six studio albums, a split EP with Italian punk band Klasse Kriminale, and have had songs on compilation albums. They have toured the United States and have performed in Germany and Sweden.

Other Bushell musical projects have included the bands Prole, Orgasm Guerrillas and Lord Waistrel & the Cosh Boys. Prole was a socialist punk band that also included Steve Kent, the original guitarist of the Oi! band the Business. Bushell managed the Blood and Cockney Rejects, getting them their EMI deal. He also got Twisted Sister signed in the UK to Secret Records.[4] He compiled the first four Oi! compilation albums and contributed songs to later collections.

Journalism and writing

In 1973, at the age of 18, Bushell joined the International Socialists and started writing for their newspaper Socialist Worker. He also wrote for Temporary Hoarding, Rebel, and edited the North East London Polytechnic Student Union magazine Napalm.[5] From 1978 to 1985, he wrote for Sounds magazine, covering punk and other street-level music genres, such as 2 Tone, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and the mod revival. Bushell was at the forefront of covering the Oi! subgenre, also known as real punk or street punk.[6] In 1981, Bushell wrote the book Dance Craze – the 2-Tone story, and in 1984, he wrote the Iron Maiden biography Running Free.

During his time at Sounds, Bushell gained notoriety for writing negative and sarcastic reviews of the early punk incarnation of Adam and the Ants, which led to him being namechecked, along with veteran NME writer Nick Kent, in the band's song Press Darlings, containing the line "If passion ends in fashion, Bushell is the best dressed man in town."[7]

Bushell moved to Fleet Street in 1985, working for The Sun, Evening Standard and the Daily Mirror. He went back to The Sun to write its '"Bizarre" column and to be the show business editor. In 1991, he briefly became assistant editor of the Daily Star, where he wrote a current affairs column called "Walk Tall With Bushell", as well as his TV column. Three months later, he quit and returned to The Sun.

Bushell wrote an article urging ITV to ban comedian Julian Clary from appearing on live television, in the wake of Clary's appearance at the British Comedy Awards ceremony in December 1993. The article was considered detrimental to Clary's career by some, although Clary has continued to be seen on television and Bushell has since dismissed the controversy as "a storm in a teacup". Bushell appeared on Clary's own BBC TV show, All Rise With Julian Clary, and defended his stance; saying he objected to Clary's fisting joke rather than his homosexuality.

In 1994, Bushell was named critic of the year at the UK Press Awards.[8] In the mid-1990s, Bushell hosted the TV programme Bushell on the Box, commenting on the week's TV programmes. The show included rants, interviews, star guests and comedy sketches. It ran for 50 episodes and was number one on ITV's Night Network. The following year, Bushell became resident critic on Jonathan Ross's ITV series The Big Big Talent Show. He also hosted Garry Bushell Reveals All for Granada Men & Motors. He has appeared on a wide range of other shows, including Celebrity Squares, Drop! The Celebrity, Newsnight and The Southbank Show. In 2000, Comic Heritage (formerly the Dead Comics Society, now the Heritage Foundation) gave him an award for "Services To Comedy."

In 2001, Bushell's crime novel The Face was serialised in the Daily Star, leading to his dismissal from The Sun, even though the book's publisher John Blake admitted that Bushell had no knowledge of the serialisation deal. Two years after Bushell was fired, a poll of Sun readers named him their favourite columnist. In 2002, he published the book King of Telly: The Best of Bushell on the Box, containing highlights of his column.

After The Sun, Bushell wrote for The People until 18 February 2007 when he left to work on books and screenplays. He announced his resignation as a TV critic, stating that he was becoming depressed at the state of British television.[9] Bushell co-wrote the book Cockney Reject (about the punk band Cockney Rejects) and has written a film script for Join the Rejects – Get Yourself Killed. He has published his own autobiography, Bushell on the Rampage, a book attacking the BBC soap opera EastEnders called 1001 Reasons EastEnders is Pony, and a book on UK youth subcultures called Hoolies. He has also co-written the autobiography of Cockney comic Jimmy Jones, Now This is a Very True Story, published in 2011 and a new expanded version of Dance Craze, about 2-Tone, which is subtitled 'Rude Boys on the Road'. In May 2007, Bushell's column returned to the Daily Star Sunday.

In August 2007, Bushell made a remark during a humorous exchange on the talkSPORT programme Football First implying that homosexuality was a perversion, leading the regulator Ofcom to find the segment in breach of standards for failing to justify offensive material by the context in which it was presented.[10][11] A discussion about the 2008 European Cup Final, which was to be held in Moscow, digressed to the topic of a recent gay rights march in Russia. When Bushell, while making light of the arrest of activist Peter Tatchell, was questioned by a co-presenter because he appeared to find the situation amusing, he responded: "I would not go to another country and try and impose my views on them, it’s up to them what they do. I think there are a lot of things to put right in this country before you go around preaching the gospel of perversion."

Ofcom rejected talkSPORT's claims that the comments made had been "off the cuff", and talkSPORT issued a statement saying its staff had been "made aware" that what Bushell had said was "unacceptable".[10][12] Bushell later said that it was not homosexuality which he was referring to as a perversion, but the further lowering of the age of consent; and that his remarks were taken out of context. He has since left talkSPORT. In his 2009 book, The World According To..., Bushell says he made the remark to wind up another broadcaster. He has publicly praised many gay performers, and Dale Winton is the godfather of his daughter Jenna. Since November 2007, he has been the resident TV critic for Nuts TV. Also in 2007, he started presenting a monthly punk and ska podcast show on TotalRock, and the Heritage Foundation named Bushell "Critic of the Year". In 2009 he started an occasional punk and ska show called Rancid Sounds for Total Rock radio.[13]

Writing style

Bushell's columns are known for their similes and metaphors, such as describing something as being "as fair as Frank Bruno's arse" or (in his 1 May 2005 column) "Today's TV is so obsessively gay, it's a wonder the Radio Times doesn't come with a pink Versace wrap and a free glass of Muscadet". His humour angered some Sun executives, such as Rebekah Wade, but fans include Barbara Windsor, Dom Joly and Roy Hudd, who has called him "the Max Miller of the press." His tabloid column and writing style were regularly satirised in adult comic Viz, including a one-off comic strip titled Garry Bushell The Bear, about a homophobic, xenophobic brown bear.[14]

Responding to comments made by Bushell in 25 November 1993 issue of The Sun ("Liberal permissiveness is eating the fabric of our society. You want video nasties peddling stomach-churning filth? You got 'em. Western values? Who needs 'em!"), John Martin's book Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal says: "[w]hen Bushell isn't blustering about decency and Western values, he can be found gloating and cracking jokes in his column over such incidents as the death of several transvestites in a sex cinema fire."[15] Bushell aggressively dismissed the criticism on Richard Bacon’s Five Live show (October 2010), accusing militant gay activists and liberal intellectuals of distorting his views. Speaking to Philip Solomon on East Midlands radio, Bushell defended his writing style:

The humour I like is abrasive and acerbic; taken out of context it can seem cruel but that's true of everyone from Jackie Mason to Frankie Boyle. The key to getting it is not to take it out of context. As someone once said analysing a joke is like dissecting a frog; you can find out why it works but in the process you kill it.

Bushell's columns have always been coloured by feuds, the most famous and long-running of which were with Ben Elton, Jo Brand and Janet Street-Porter. He has also had feuds with Phill Jupitus, Les Dennis, Marcus Brigstocke and Arthur Smith, whom he dubbed "the world's worst comedian."


Bushell started his political activisim as a St. Patrick's Day is a holiday in Ireland.

In the 2005 General Election, he stood as a candidate for the English Democrats Party, who promote the establishment of an English Parliament, and who want England to leave the European Union. Bushell got 1,216 votes (3.4% share) in the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency, finishing fifth out of seven in a race won by Nick Raynsford of the Labour Party. The result represented the high point for the English Democrats in the election, and Bushell finished ahead of the UK Independence Party candidate in that constituency. Bushell also represented the party in South Staffordshire, in the delayed vote (due to the death of a candidate) on 23 June; winning 643 votes (2.51%). His campaign was supported by the Campaign for an English Parliament and Veritas. He considered running for Mayor of London against Ken Livingstone in 2008,[16][17] but he pulled out of the race in January 2008 and stood aside for Matt O'Connor. Bushell announced on 7 December 2011 that he would join and support UKIP.[18]

Elections contested

UK General elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes %
2005 Greenwich & Woolwich English Democrats 1,216 3.4
2005 Staffordshire South English Democrats 643 2.5


Bushell has five children; three with Carol Bushell and two with Tania Bushell, who performs as the country music singer Leah McCaffrey. In November 2006, Bushell appeared on the Channel 4 programme 100% English and offered a sample of his DNA for testing. The results suggested that he was 8% Sub-Saharan African, most likely the result of a single ancestor within the previous five generations.[19]

Bushell wrote on his website: "I’d be delighted if it were true... Only Nazis, and, it appears C4, think of national identity in terms of racial purity... Besides, you could apply the same tests to the French or Italians and get similar results, but no one questions their right to nationhood."


  1. ^ "The Official Online Press Kit!". Maninblack. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  2. ^ Eaton, Duncan (30 December 2006). "Hampshire town tipped to host statue for Benny Hill".  
  3. ^ "The Gonads". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  4. ^ Twisted Sister – The Official Story – authorized biography
  5. ^ "Garry Bushell Interview". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  6. ^ "Oi! – The Truth by Garry Bushell". Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  7. ^ "Press Darlings". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  8. ^ – Garry Bushell by Garry Johnson
  9. ^ "Bushell on the Box". 3 September 1939. Archived from the original on 16 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  10. ^ a b "Talksport rapped over gay jibes". BBC News. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  11. ^ Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin – Issue no. 91, 20 August 2007
  12. ^ TalkSport rapped for homophobia,, 20 August 2007
  13. ^ The Independent (Deborah Ross) For Garry, England and St George: Interview – Garry Bushell, 25 June 2001
  14. ^ "Viz Comic". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  15. ^ Martin, John. Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal. p. 72. ISBN 0-9533261-8-7.
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  17. ^ "Garry for Mayor". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  18. ^ "Bushell joins UKIP party"
  19. ^ The Herald (David Belcher) A rare breed – and pure annoying with it 14 November 2006

External links

  • Official Garry Bushell website
  • Garry Bushell at the Internet Movie Database
  • Official Gonads website
  • Bushell talks about what it is to be English
  • Bushell's monthly radio show podcast
  • Bushell's Official London Mayor campaign website
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