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Paul Matthew Gambaccini (born April 2, 1949, New Yorkmarker) (nicknamed, 'The Professor of Pop') is a radio and television presenter in the United Kingdommarker. He has dual United Statesmarker and Britishmarker nationality, having become a British citizen in 2005.


Gambaccini studied at Dartmouth Collegemarker, where he obtained a degree in history and at University College, Oxfordmarker where he obtained a degree in politics, philosophy and economics. Having left Oxford Gambaccini was considering further study in law at Harvardmarker or Yalemarker but had the opportunity of writing for Rolling Stone magazine as British correspondent. He attributes his broadcasting career to this post and especially an interview in 1973 with Elton John which brought him to the attention of BBC Radio producer John Walters who arranged for him to present on BBC Radio 1. He has since returned to Oxfordmarker as the News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media, where he delivered a series of lectures in January and February 2009.

Broadcasting career

"The Great Gambo" as he was later known, started broadcasting on BBC Radio 1 in 1973 as a music reporter. He is known as a presenter of various US chart shows and presented the first of these in 1975. He was the only presenter of the Billboard US Top 30 singles chart in the UK every Saturday morning/afternoon in the mid to late 70s on Radio 1. The show continued until 1986 when he moved to independent radio. In 1990 he returned to Radio 1 but was sacrificed by controller Matthew Bannister in 1993. In 1992, Gambaccini became a founding presenter on the UK's classical music station Classic FM, where he presented the weekly Classical CD Chart. He left for BBC Radio 3 in 1995, where he presented an hour-long morning programme, in a slot formerly used for Composer of the Week. Gambaccini increased the audience, but came under attack as an example of the reforms that the controller was trying to introduce, but which did not go down well with the existing audience. Some listeners welcomed his presence, according to Radio 3 controller Nicholas Kenyon, as their musical tastes had developed from Radio 1's content. He returned to Classic FM in 1997.

Alongside his work in music radio, he contributed regularly to BBC Radio 4's long running arts programme Kaleidoscope until it ended in 1998, and had worked in this role on TV-am. In 1998, he joined BBC Radio 2, where he created his weekly America's Greatest Hits show. At the same time, in 2002, he quit Classic FM, to present a weekly chart show on London's Jazz FM until 2004. He was also a contributor to the London station LBC when it was taken over by Chrysalis.

He has worked widely in British radio and television, mainly related to music, films, and the arts. He narrated the BBC Radio adaptation of Espedair Street, the Iain Banks novel. He co-edited the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles from 1977 to 1996. He has presented the annual Ivor Novello Awards since 1990, the Music Industry Trust's Man of the Year Dinner since 1999 and the Sony Radio Academy Awards since 2000.

Gambaccini presents his weekly America's Greatest Hits show on BBC Radio 2 and contributes to various publications. He lives in the Southbank area of London.

From 24 March 2008, he took over as chairman of the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint from Edward Seckerson.

In August 2008, he returned to Classic FM, to present 'Paul Gambaccini's Hall of Heroes' series, on a Sunday evening between 9 and 10.

Charity work

He came out as gay during the 1980s and has been a supporter of gay-related charities. In 1995, he was named Philanthropist of the Year by the National Charity Fundraisers for his work on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust. He is patron of the London Gay Symphony Orchestra.


Gambaccini received the Outstanding Contribution to Music Radio award from the Radio Academy in 1996. He was nominated as Music Broadcaster of the Year in the Sony Radio Academy Awards in 2000, 2002 and 2003, winning in 2003.

Involvement in comics

Gambaccini has been a fan of comic books from an early age. He had fan letters printed in editions of titles such as Justice League of America and Amazing Spider-Man from the 1960s, inventing the term 'Brand Echh' which later became a catchphrase of Stan Lee's, and still retains an interest in comics fandom to the present day. A recurring character in The Flash, Paul Gambi, was based on his physical appearance and slightly modified name. Gambi was a tailor who produced the colourful costumes worn by the villains who fought The Flash. Gambaccini regularly visits comic conventions, including the Comic Expo. For a brief period in the 1990s he co-owned a comic shop in Londonmarker with Jonathan Ross in the same location as the original Forbidden Planet shop. In 2000 he also co-wrote, with Alastair King and Jane Edith Wilson, a musical about a comic book superhero called The Ultimate Man.


  • Television's Greatest Hits, with Rod Taylor, 1993, Network Books, ISBN 0-563-36247-2
  • Love Letters, 1996, Michael O'Mara Books, ISBN 1854796445
  • The McCartney Interviews: After the Break-up, 1996, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-5494-1
  • Close Encounters, 1998, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-6841-1
  • The Eurovision Companion (revised edition), 1999, Pavilion Books, ISBN 1-86205-243-3
  • Complete Book of the British Charts, with Tony Brown (editor), and Tim Rice, 2000, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-7670-8

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