Miss Talbot by Scott Mills

20th December 2013 at 00:00
The Radio 1 DJ was the odd one out in his family, but an eccentric English teacher with a wicked sense of humour helped him to find his own path

She wasn't particularly tall but she was solid, even strapping. And although she could be very kindly and sweet, you knew that Miss Talbot could be very fierce if you crossed the line.

She was my English teacher throughout my secondary-school years, wore her brown hair long and straight, was in her forties and hailed from the North East of England. She had no time for people fooling about in class. One of her favourite phrases was: "If you don't do your work now, you can do it behind the bell." It didn't make a lot of sense but we all knew it meant detention.

Miss Talbot was my favourite teacher for a couple of reasons. First, I already knew that I wanted to be a radio DJ - I spent all my spare time in my bedroom at home with my two CD players and cassette recorders pretending I was a Radio 1 DJ - and was a bit of a nerd. I didn't understand maths, hated science and wasn't keen on geography, as it promised to teach us all about the world but taught us only about river deltas, which was rather boring. I couldn't see the point of things like metalwork. But I did like English. I was naturally a good speller and the other students' go-to person for a spellcheck.

Second, Miss Talbot was quite unusual among our teachers. She was strict but she had a wicked and slightly sarcastic sense of humour, very dry. She wasn't cruel, she was witty. You got the sense that she would be a fun person to have a drink with. She also set challenges with the work and was a bit eccentric: to this day, her house is renowned for its garish and overwhelming Christmas lights.

I also think that I was one of her favourite students - even if I wasn't always well behaved - and that helps. I once disrupted an entire English lesson with a hidden cassette recorder which intermittently released loud cow and sheep noises, and she didn't go mad about it. Although she did confiscate all my equipment when she discovered the source of the noise.

Miss Talbot made learning fun and her lessons were never boring. I thought she was great. She still teaches at the school and I have seen her since I left.

A few years ago, I lived with David Hasselhoff in the US for three months for a television programme, filming what he did and where he went; he then came to the UK in a swap. Although he didn't live with me, we visited Miss Talbot at my old school.

She had this kind of Scott Mills shrine in the corner of her classroom, just a school desk with poems I'd written and a few other things on it. All the students who had been good were allowed to sit at the "Scott Mills table".

I thought she had just set it up for the TV show but she assured me that it was there all the time and all the children wanted to sit at it. Even if I wasn't always well behaved at school, I seem belatedly to be setting a good example.

I was the odd one out in my family. My father owned a furniture removal business, my mum is a secretary and my brother is a carpenter and does things like barn conversions that I can't begin to understand.

But Miss Talbot gave us confidence. And she was my favourite teacher. I never told her at the time, so I thought it would be nice to tell her now.

The Scott Mills Show is on weekdays, 1-4pm, on BBC Radio 1. Mills hosted the Mind Media Awards, sponsored by Virgin Money Giving, in November

On the air

Scott Mills

Born: 28 March 1973, Eastleigh, Hampshire

Education: Shakespeare Infant School, Eastleigh; Crestwood School (secondary), Eastleigh

Career: Radio 1 DJ and television presenter.


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