After graduating from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in history, he toyed with ideas of becoming an actor and got involved in commercial production for radio in order to gain his Equity card. At university, his best friend had been the actor Iain Glen. His car at Aberdeen University was a yellow VW Beetle. He worked at Northsound Radio in Aberdeen from 1981 to 1986, first as a jingle writer, before going on to host the breakfast show.
He worked at London station Capital Radio from 1986-7 and joined BBC Radio 1 in 1987, presenting a Saturday night show from 10pm-midnight. In early 1988, he took over the weekend early morning show from 6-8am from Simon Mayo and in October 1988 he presented the Monday-Thursday late-evening music and interview show which he named Into The Night, which went out from 10pm-midnight. Guests included political figures, with Campbell interviewing John Major in 1991 after Conservative Party chairman Chris Patten recommended the show to the Prime Minister when Radio 1 sent an invitation to No.10. He was also regularly joined by Frankie Howerd in the last years of the comedian's life. In August 1993, he also took over a Sunday morning show from 10am-1pm, following the on-air resignation of Dave Lee Travis.
Campbell left the network briefly in October 1993 to care for his sick wife. In early 1994, he took over the weekday drivetime show from 4-7pm, and in 1995 he took over the afternoon show from 2-4pm. Campbell attracted a large audience, and when Radio 2 wanted a replacement for Jimmy Young, he revealed that he was the BBC's choice and detailed a series of meetings between himself and the controller of Radio 2. However, the BBC later claimed that Campbell had initiated the meetings himself, and his public revelations prompted the wrath of Greg Dyke
He supports Scottish football club Hearts.
Campbell presented the British version (produced by Scottish Television for the ITV network) of Wheel of Fortune from 1988 to 1996, and presented Top of the Pops quite frequently from 1988 to 1991 and again from 1994 to 1997. In the 1990s Campbell fronted the regional discussion series Central Weekend on Central Television in the English Midlands.
Campbell left BBC Radio 1 in October 1997 and joined BBC Radio 5 Live when offered the job by Roger Mosey the station's head, the news and sport network. He presented the mid-morning programme on 5 Live before moving to his current breakfast slot, which he currently co-presents with Shelagh Fogarty and where his sense of humour comes to the fore. He also presents BBC consumer show Watchdog and a newer, interactive programme called Now You're Talking. Campbell has won four Sony Awards, including a Gold Award in 2007 for the 5 Live Breakfast programme as Best News and Current Affairs Programme [with Shelagh Fogarty].
In 2006, Campbell starred in the celebrity duet singing show Just the Two of Us, with Beverley Knight. Currently, aside from his Watchdog presenting duties, he fronts For The Rest Of Your Life for Endemol, a daytime game show on ITV1 which began in May 2007. Campbell featured in the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? aired 11th July 2007 where he is seen tracing his adoptive family's roots in Scotland and Australia. He is Patron of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF). He presents the Sunday morning religious programme The Big Questions on BBC One.
Campbell married his second wife, journalist Tina (Christina) Ritchie who is former head of Virgin Radio News, in December 1997 in Kensington and the couple have four daughters (born December 1998, June 2000, January 2002 and June 2004). In 1989 during his first marriage, he had traced his birth mother and after having children of his own with Ritchie, Campbell decided to find his Irish biological father in 2002 and in doing so discovered that his grandfather was in the IRA at the time of Michael Collins and his biological father and cousin had both been in the IRA and indeed his cousin was killed by British troops in Armagh in 1973. Naturally this all came as a surprise to his birth mother's Protestant family, his birth parents having only known each other fleetingly, in 1960. . In 2004, he wrote Blue-Eyed Son, his account of tracing both his birth parents and his extended family in Ireland , in which he also confesses to adultery against his first wife in a Holiday Inn in Birmingham. Both sides of his birth families helped with and contributed to the book.
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