Lauren Laverne Husband: Lauren Laverne is at a Radio 4 studio in her new role as host of Late Night Woman’s Hour. It is, in fact, a bit of a homecoming, she explains as she peels a banana. Her mother is a devotee of Woman’s Hour. She and her brother used to scream to be heard above the blues or the radio in the home where she grew up. “My first memory of Radio 4 is of my mother’s father, who worked in shipyards.
He became really into it towards the end of his life when he was in his early 70s. Thus, he was at his Sunderland home on the Ford Estate, listening to Radio 4. He’d retired, and since my mother is one of nine, the family had matured and everything, and he now had time to listen to the radio. And he adored it.”
Laverne’s grandfathers (one being a miner) are often mentioned in her interviews. As a result, it is fair to infer that she is proud of her working-class ancestry. Laverne’s father, like her mother, was one of six children. However, both parents – “60s grammar-school kids, that typical working-class thing” – worked hard and held down university jobs to ensure that Laverne enjoyed a nice childhood growing up in Barnes, Sunderland.
“It was a home brimming with music, literature, and ideas that were not common where I lived. There has always been a significant amount of – what we would today refer to as alternative culture,” she adds. “We were this odd tiny middle-class outpost of a large working-class family, and it was a really wonderful situation. Because we had all of the benefits associated with middle class status, but also possessed a genuine sense of place in history and culture that dated all the way back to our origins.”
Is she concerned that her own children will be more estranged from their ancestors? “Well, you know, they’re a part of my family as well, and they have their own extended family, with whom they have their own connection, with my parents, my cousins, and the area where I grew up,” she explains. She is seated in a rotating chair, her head whirling side to side as she contemplates. “They’ve seen the seashore that inspired The Walrus and the Carpenter!” The actual issue was economic, to which Lewis Carroll – a love she inherited from her father – provided an unexpected response. I’m curious whether she’s concerned about the advantages her children have in comparison to her grandfathers’ lives – does she sometimes feel the need to alter their perspective?
“My father mentioned something to me last week that I found very intriguing. He said that one does not teach children the value of money; rather, one teaches them the worth of people. That, for me, is the crux of the matter. What is the definition of a pound? What is the value of a gold bar? It’s really more about how you treat people, which is something I strive to do.”
In many respects, Laverne does not need another radio program. She already presents a daily program on 6 Music, provides narration for a children’s show, and fills in time with a variety of documentaries, award presentations, and live events – the Mercury, the Turner, the Baftas, and Glastonbury. She is the author of an adolescent novel. When she counts the BBC radio stations on which she has presented – “I’m not sure about 4 Extra, but definitely 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5” – she runs out of fingers. She finds time to contact her mother “many times a day” somewhere in there.