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A Huge Career Highlight

For many Leicester festival-goers, this year’s Radio 2 in the Park will hold some unforgettable memories; great music, immense joy – and James Blunt crowdsurfing across Victoria Park in a dinghy to name but a few…

For Radio 2’s OJ Borg however, September’s epic festival was probably even more memorable, due to his prominent role, and personal connection to the city itself…

The DJ (full name Oliver James Borg D’Anastasi), was actually born right here in Leicester and spent his youth ‘hanging out’ in Victoria Park (or ‘Vicky Park’ as it’s more affectionately known). So when he was tasked with opening the festival on September 16 in front of over 35,000 people, it must have been quite a moment – quite the homecoming indeed!

Picture: James Watkins

“It was an honour and it will go down as one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my career,” he told Pukaar at the event.

“I’ve been lucky enough to do some great things, but that was very much a high point – a huge career highlight for sure (tinged with a slight terror I must admit!).

“It was so nerve-racking, my knees were shaking,” he went on to reveal.

“I know people say ‘that’s just a cliché’, but my kneecaps were actually vibrating! However, everyone was so lovely and wonderful, those nerves soon melted away.

“When you’ve been doing this for a while, you realise that you need to take these amazing moments and just enjoy them…”

OJ has fond memories of growing up in Leicester and playing ‘ultimate frisbee’ and basketball at Victoria Park, making his festival experience even more surreal.

“We used to come to the park and just hang out. I’d spend most of my summers playing basketball here. You’d get a quid from your mum and a bottle of juice and you’d literally spend all day long just picking games,” he revealed. “I loved it, absolutely loved it…”

Picture: James Watkins

OJ left Leicester at the age of 20 in order to attend university in Manchester. He began working for Radio 2 in 2018, where he regularly hosts the late night show.

He has also been among the cover stars presenting some of the biggest slots on the station, including for legends such as Steve Wright and Sara Cox.

However, he cut his broadcasting teeth right here in Leicester – at Leicester Hospital Radio Fox to be precise.
He also did some TV presenting on Leicester Cable 7 – a popular community channel, which operated in the city between 1992 and 2000.

As for work, OJ earned money in his early years by working at some of Leicester’s former bars.

This included being a glass collector in Brannigans, where he accidentally stepped on Leicester R&B star Mark Morrison’s foot!

“However, he was really lovely about it,” the DJ is keen to point out.

Asked what he loves most about Leicester, he doesn’t miss a beat.

“The people for sure. They are down to earth – there’s no airs and graces, and that’s what’s lovely about Leicester,” said the 44-year-old.

“Tickets for the [Radio 2] event sold out in two hours because it’s a great place to come, and everyone is so unbelievably up for it. For me, I’ve also been able to take a wonderful trip down memory lane, which has been absolutely amazing!”

Picture: Sarah Jeynes

This year’s BBC Radio 2 in the Park featured a killer line up, with Tears for Fears headlining on the Saturday and Kylie Minogue on the Sunday (September 17).

Other highlights included spirited performances by Sam Ryder, Texas, Rick Astley and Busted. Ultimately though, that image of James Blunt riding out over ‘Vicky Park’ on a patriotic dingy, will live on forever and a day. The stuff of absolute Leicester legend…

Picture: Sarah Jeynes