Review of The Soundtrack To My Life by Dermot O’Leary

Published: 9th October 2014
Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 304


The Soundtrack To My Life is Dermot’s personal memoir of a life in music told through the songs that were playing at key moments in his life. With a wonderful gift for storytelling, Dermot describes his journey from a childhood in Colchester with his Irish family, to some of the biggest jobs in TV and radio in the UK. It’s a story which is accompanied, in every scene, by music.

Dermot would be the first to admit, they are not all great songs. This isn’t Desert Island Discs; the songs chose him, not the other way round. Dermot went to his first gig at the age of nine, and saw Irish troubadour Brendan Shine, he roller-skated to Baby I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and got his first job in TV while the Macarana was playing everywhere. Constantly.

But, other songs playing in the background to his life – songs by The Smiths, Elbow, The Pogues or Bruce Springsteen, are tracks & artists which he truly loves and will always love, and not just for the memories they evoke.


Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for kindly sending me a review copy.

We all know who Dermot O’Leary is. If you don’t, clearly you haven’t watched T4, Big Brother’s Little Brother, The X Factor, The Brit Awards and The National Television Awards. He’s everywhere these days, including doing a voice over for Amazon Prime TV. Dermot believes that everyone has a soundtrack to their lives and I agree. His soundtrack ranges from Terry Wogan to Peter Andre (insert a big cheer here) to Beyonce. I knew I was going to enjoy this book just by reading the introduction as it’s extremely witty and he is brutally honest, including his typing skills.

“Four bars from a recognisable tune and you’ll be back to your first kiss…”

Dermot uses music to relate to certain aspects of his life as we all do. His Irish background was wonderful to read about before seeing pictures from his family archive. As a lot of autographies go, the readers  tend to learn much more about the person than intended and that was the case with Dermot. Did you know that he got an A in his A-Levels for Politics? No. Me either. But it certainly comes in handy for shushing Cheryl and Simon for disagreeing live on air. He’s not just a pretty face, oh no, he’s a brainbox as well. From college, he went on to University (before the heavy fees were introduced) and worked his peachy backside off.

During Soundtrack 15, Dermot hit an emotional note by mentioning Jade Goody. For those who don’t know, Jade was a contestant on Big Brother many years ago and rose to fame within an instant. She had a very bubbly personality and was very well loved. Dermot talks about her death in a lovely, warm manner and how she made an impact on his life.

The chapter on The X Factor was the one I was really looking forward to. When he was put forward for the job, to my surprise, he didn’t say yes straight away (but thankfully, he did). In fact, he lost a lot of sleep over making the right decision and even asked the previous host Kate Thornton for her blessing. I laughed quite a bit when he mentioned meeting Simon Cowell and discussing the job role with him – would he have to eat/drink something disgusting? I’ll let you be the guess of that one…

“It’s the first live show and I’m SHITTING MYSELF!”

Overall, this book has made me love Dermot even more. There is more to the man who says “your Saturday night starts right here!” He’s a true gent, a very witty man, unbelievably honest and highly passionate about music. Most of all, he’s a great hugger. I’ve got the opportunity to meet Dermot in December so make sure you keep your eye on a blog post all about my meet up.

Twitter: @radioleary