David Icke – I spoke to the conspiracy theorist about fame, a fixed link and the Island’s future…

The first time I met David Icke was in 1985. At that time, he was one of the most famous faces on television, via Grandstand, Newsnight, Saturday Superstore, The Nine O’Clock News and the sudden birth of live TV snooker.

The venue was IW Steam Railway at Havenstreet. He first came on my radio show in 1991, a few months before his controversial appearance on the Wogan TV show, which changed his life forever. A year or so later, I was stood at the back of Sandown Pavilion awaiting the appearance of Jethro. Suddenly, I was joined by David.  I had a dilemma following his startling revelation on that television chat show… Would he laugh at the Cornishman’s rude jokes? I decided to laugh when he laughed – and we didn’t stop for the next hour. This time, I met up with the former professional footballer at his Ryde home.

What made you decide to finally move to the Isle of Wight?
I joined the BBC outside broadcast unit which meant I didn’t have to live near London and I had more days free. It had to be the Island. It was my favourite place. I used to come as a schoolboy when dad could just about afford it. We had family holidays and I loved it and could have a whole week of railway excursions. When I married Linda, in 1971, we came here on our honeymoon. We are still very close and she lives not far from me.

When you first came here there was criticism from certain locals that you tried to do and say things much too quickly. Some resented you speaking your mind.  What did you feel at the time?
Some people just wouldn’t listen to me. If I was talking sense, it didn’t matter if I’d been here two minutes or 200 years. How long did you have to be here before you could say what was happening was ridiculous ?  An enormous number of people agreed with me. I’ve been like this all my life. If something’s wrong, I just can’t walk away.

You’ve gone on record as being firmly against the Island’s regeneration project. What are your thoughts?
My biggest worry is this. During my near 40 years here I have observed certain things so many times. For instance, whenever you have a situation that the number of hands in the air can turn a piece of land with agricultural value into a piece of land with building value, you are bound to have enormous amounts of corruption. This regeneration project, which I’ve read in detail, most of which is just a vacuous
generalisation, is an open cheque book for a few people to make an absolute killing. If they are allowed to do it, they will destroy everything this Island stands for. Where does it end? We have a hospital here  hanging on for its life. How will they cope with more people here? Do they want us to have no fields between Newport and Freshwater? It’s ludicrous.

There is a stronger feeling these days towards a fixed link to the mainland. How do you stand on this one? 
I have never been in favour of one but I can understand why there is now this drive towards it. It’s the cost of the ferries. Everybody, in some way, is affected by that monopolistic exploitation of the Isle of Wight. That’s just what it is. Our tourist industry is being fundamentally impacted by the prices they charge.

When you appeared on Wogan and ended up headline news all around the world, it changed your life forever. In hindsight, what are your thoughts?
It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Most people live in a kind of prison for fear of what other people might think of them. The pressure to do that has never been greater, with political correctness and the fear that you can’t have an opinion that someone else doesn’t agree with. Often people are not being themselves, they are just being the person other people think they should be. What happened to me was that immense historical level of ridicule set me free from that prison. I can’t tell you what a freedom it is when you don’t give a damn what other people think of you.

Now, you are off on a European tour and venues sell out. How do the public react to your thoughts these days?
It’s quite amazing. I was in London recently filming the movie Renegade, which is about my life. Taxi drivers stopped their cabs to get out and talk to me, a Muslim lady and her two daughters came to talk to me and so did a man of Indian descent. People want to chat and hear my views. This also happens all across the world. It makes me think that what I’m doing is now getting out there.

You became famous and made such an impact as a television presenter. Do you watch much today?
Television channels have been chasing a smaller and smaller slice of the advertising potential. This has driven so much television down into the realms of cheap and cheerful. The quality has really gone down.  When the sound bite television came in from America everything had to be short and snappy and therefore had no substance. I don’t watch mainstream television, other than to see what they want us to believe. I prefer radio because there is just one voice to concentrate on and  their interviews are longer but I do like the History Channel.

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