Simon Mayo left digging fingers into hands to stop losing it on BBC show after heartache

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Simon Mayo, 63, has spoken up about a time when he interviewed former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson and musician Billy Bragg. The former BBC Radio 1 host said that Billy sang a heartfelt song during the interview about losing his father to cancer. 

Simon explained that Billy had been listening to a conversation between him and Bob about the cancer foundation the latter had set up following the death of his daughter. 

Billy was then inspired to speak about his own father dying from cancer and said that he had written a song in his honour. 

Billy said at the time that his roadies would ask for a warning before he played the song live, as they would need to emotionally prepare for it. 

The radio host told Kate Thornton on her White Wine Question Time Podcast that the song Tank Park Salute, the title of which Billy refuses to explain, was then played on air. 

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Simon was left worrying he was going to “lose it” due to the emotional track.

To keep his composure, Simon was “digging his fingernails into his palms”.

Simon explained: “He introduced Tank Park Salute and said ‘I won’t explain the title and never have explained the title’.

“So we then played the song. 

“Bob is listening, Billy is listening, I’m listening for the first time. 

“As I mentioned earlier, my father had died about a year before. 

“I tell you now, I have a memory of feeling as though I was going to lose it. I was digging my fingernails into my palms just to make sure that I could still speak properly.”

Following this, he said that the three then went entirely off script for the rest of the conversation and spoke about grief. 

Simon explained the heartfelt moment prompted “so many people” to call in and say “that was amazing”.

He said that it wasn’t common back then for men to have those kinds of conversations publicly. 

Simon now hosts a Drivetime show on Greatest Hits Radio.

The star recently explained why he stopped working on BBC Radio 2’s Drivetime show. 

He said, talking to The Mirror last week, that he was annoyed at the decision to merge his show with Jo Whiley’s in order to attract more female viewers. 

Simon claimed: “When things are changed, people don’t like it.”

“The listeners felt annoyed.”

“Hopefully they’ll come over and find us on Greatest Hits,” he said.

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