"I never liked school, and I never actually liked children": Watch The Smiths' Morrissey and Johnny Marr get grilled by school kids in this priceless 1984 TV footage

The Smiths on Data Run, 1984
(Image credit: ScottishTeeVee)

In April 1984, one month after their self-titled debut album crashed into the UK charts at number two, The Smiths frontman Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr were invited to appear on ITV Saturday morning children’s TV show Data Run.

In a break from convention, it was decided that, rather than be interviewed by presenter Edwina Lawrie, the younger sister of pop star Lulu, the two rising Mancunian musicians would be interrogated by a class of school children. The result was a rather sweet, and entertaining, interview like no other.

The segment, aired on April 7, 1984, opens with Morrissey - for reasons unknown billed as 'Paul Morressey' - and Marr introducing themselves and responding to a very straight-forward opening question: "Why do you call yourselves The Smiths?"

"We called ourselves The Smiths because you decided we were called The Smiths," says Marr, pointing at his bandmate.

"And I decided, because it was the most ordinary name, and I think it's time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces," Morrissey adds. 

After looking at an issue of Sounds magazine featuring the band on the cover, one young school boy then asks Morrissey, "Why do you hold flowers when you sing?"

"Why do I hold flowers?" Morrissey muses. "I think flowers are very beautiful things, very nice and innocent things. They don't harm anybody, they don't burp, and they don't do anything ugly. So why not? It's better, I think, than waving socks about."

The Smiths duo then serenade their tiny interrogators by playing a brief unplugged version of This Charming Man, The Smith's second single.

"This Charming Man is about being charming, which so very few people are these days," Morrissey explains. "I think it's nice to instill these words into people's brains, and who knows, it might rub off on a new generation. We don't have to be violent or ugly or arrogant, just be charming, and what a pleasant world that would be."

Later in the segment, Morrissey admits that, when he was nine years old - presumably the age of his interviewers - he was "an obstreperous little bully".

"I never liked school, and I never actually liked children, which made life terribly difficult," he acknowledges.

For more revelations from The Smiths' duo, watch the footage below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.