TV boss’s 1st job was Peters’ roadie

HE MAY be at the helm of the nation’s most-watched TV channel, but for the controller of BBC1 it was a Welsh rock ‘n’ roll legend who set him on the road to success.

Danny Cohen, 36, was last year named the youngest ever controller of the channel but he was given his first foot on the employment ladder by The Alarm’s frontman Mike Peters – forging a bond that has since seen him become godfather to Peters’ son.

The singer’s Prestatyn home town is this weekend the venue for The Gathering, an annual three-day event held every January to celebrate his life and work.

And much of its ongoing success is down to Danny, who organised many of the early fan conventions held in Rhyl and Llandudno as part of his work with The MPO (Mike Peters Organisation).

Now into its 19th year, The Gathering will see Alarm fans from around the world descend on the Pontins Holiday Camp in Prestatyn to watch performances from Mike and The Alarm. Special guests include Big Country – which whom Peters recently toured – former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s outfit The Philistines and the late Stuart Cable’s band Killing For Company.

“I met Mike and his wife Jules about 18 years ago,” says Danny, who made his name as head of E4 and controller of BBC3. “I was at Oxford University and I would go to see Mike and The Alarm play.

“I would then meet them at gigs. We got on really well and I started to sell The Alarm’s T-shirts and merchandise when I was on my university holidays.

“For a year after I left Oxford I worked for them as a tour manager on a tour of the US.

“After that I organised The Gathering for many years until the TV side of my life took over.

“I was on board for the very first Gathering but I think it was from the second one onwards that I helped organise.”

Cohen, who has an incredible track record in television, bringing such hits as Skins, The Inbetweeners, Fonejacker, Supernanny and Being Human to our TV screens, says The Gathering is unique in rock ‘n’ roll, as is the man who he describes as “an inspiration”.

“I learnt a lot from him in making the most of your experiences. Working for them was quite a formative experience for me.”

Despite the huge responsibility his job carries, Cohen – whose favourite Mike Peters songs are Rescue Me and Gone Elvis – confesses he still loves The Alarm and tries to see the band play as often as he can.

“Whenever The Alarm play London I try to get there, but as you can imagine with my job there’s a lot going on at the moment!”

Peters told Wales on Sunday: “It was obvious from the first moment that I met Danny that he was destined to do great things. He’s a person who makes things happen and gets things done.

“He’s very single-minded and determined but is also very caring and has stood by me and my family through two cancer battles.

“We travelled thousands of miles across America in the ’90s and Danny was very instrumental in the philosophy behind The Alarm’s presence on the internet.

“Danny co-produced The Gathering weekend for 17 years with my wife Jules until his television career took over. Danny also edited our 21st Century fanzine whilst a student at Oxford University.

“Danny is like a brother to me.”

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