DID the early shift prior to Ray Moore, accompanied by a tape of a tweeting bird called Percy (Edwards, see?), and later the sadly less-Adventure-Serial-than-it-sounds Tony Brandon Meets The Saturday People. Prone to lapsing into Scots accent at every available opportunity, a la DLT or Mike Read, only slightly less offensive. And probably slightly more convincing too.
FOOTBALL TRANSFER-esque signing from BBC Radio Scotland, enticed Londonwards in the mid-seventies with the promise of a headlining slot; didn’t go quite according to plan, due to schedule reshuffling and Woganic tussling over the Eurovision ‘gig’, but still won over legions of daytime listeners (not to mention stoking the boiler for those Radio 2 Summer ‘Railshows’, bringing consumer advice and Jim Reeves records to the elderly and infirm) and after years on the ‘bench’ got his big break when Wogan temporarily ditched Radio 2 in favour of evening TV chat shenanigans. Celtic twang proved an unpopular substitute for Irish blarney, so mid-mornings beckoned, where he remains to this day, with annoyingly ‘popular’ Gambaccini-tastic quiz Popmaster in tow.
TV CREAM SAYS: "TODAY'S POPMASTER HAS NO PRIZES WHATSOEVER DUE TO OUR
CURRENT COMPLIANCE GUIDELINES"
LONG-SERVING wheel-taker of Two’s Bisto-centric Sunday lunchtime inspiration-freeness All Time Greats, maintaining similar slightly over-concerned patter no doubt perfected in his days with Forces Radio, and probably delivered to the exact same audience too. Now broadcasts live from customised (ie it has a webcam) shack in the Grampian Mountains; recent polling revealed the most played ‘Great’ to be, not surprisingly, Begin The Beguine. The Radio Times once printed a letter from a concerned correspondent worried about the effect of a gruelling three-hour stint on Des’s health. He’s only playing records!
TV CREAM SAYS: "ALRIGHT SAM, YOU CAN GO OUT IN A MINUTE!"
UNSUITABLY monickered for those sung Radio 2 jingles (“Johhhhhhhn Duuuunnnnnnnn!”) Breakfast Special swivel chair-occupier in pre-Wogan Long Wave days, later hotfooted it over to drivetime duties with his daily ‘After Six’ interviews and first incarnation of the still-going Mystery Voice competition. Also, it has been noticed, spoke ‘BBC English’ like his life depended on it.
TV CREAM SAYS: "BUSY OLD FOOL, UNRULY SUN, WHY DOST THOU THUS, THROUGH
WINDOWS AND THROUGH CURTAINS, CALL ON US?"
BACK in the seventies and eighties, the self-proclaimedly Diminutive David Hamilton divided his time between his Radio 2 afternoon show and Thames continuity duties, ably assisted by a splendid tonsural concoction – a suspiciously toupee-like middle bit, with lustrous side-ramparts on either wing of his face, and all of it bright yellow. Madness did jingles for his Radio 2 show, and indeed his love of the ‘new’ bands later led to his famous quitting over a regime chance-related insistence that he should stick to playing ‘golden oldies’. And that’s possibly the only time on these pages you’ll read about someone leaving a radio station in a huff for a laudable reason.
TV CREAM SAYS: "BUT FIRST, HERE'S A ROTTEN OLD BBC PROGRAMME!"
EMERGENCY STANDBY meeting of ‘blarney’ quota during Old Tel’s wanderings in televisual Peter Egan-interviewing, courtesy of scarily bouffanted hostess of TV’s We Love TV. Much was made of her status as the first long-term solo female presenter on Radio 2, though coverage of feminist issues was noticeably thin on the ground.
TV CREAM SAYS: "PLEASE CALL IN AND TELL US WHICH HYMN YOU'D LIKE TO HEAR TODAY
ON SOUNDING BRASS"
PIONEERING bandleader-turned-DJ who single-handledly dragged the BBC out of the chaps-in-suits era by playing nothing but pesky ‘gramaphone records’, interspersed with his comic repartee and mangled clips of Tony Hancock going into space or something, on weekly light programme effort Record Roundabout, getting away with it mainly by virtue of being a chap-in-suit himself. Wound up on Radio 2 after a short tenure on Radio 1, and continued broadcasting right up until literally days before his death. A huge influence on Kenny Everett, and for that reason alone, his name should be much better known than it is.
TV CREAM SAYS: "IT'S SAT-UR-DAYY!"
ADVANCED-LEVEL Big Band-fixated roller-back-of-the-clock extraordinaire who started in the dim and distant past of Radio Newsreel, Housewives Choice and Pick Of The Pops, which he inherited from Alan Dell in 1957, though it has to be said that rock’n'roll and indeed most of what came after was never really his ‘bag’. A much publicised “spat” with Pete Murray was in fact all cooked up for publicity (“people wrote to say they enjoyed the insults more than the pop records!”) though greater fame was acquired through his Man With The Triangle Nose-esque playing of multiple parts in snail-paced ancient radio sci-fi saga Journey Into Space. Proceeded to sidle around the network, most famously hosting the ultimate schedule filler Our Kind Of Music, and dallied on Radio 4 (Any Questions?, complete with on-air pelting with stones of Enoch Powell) besides moonlighting on telly (Come Dancing, Juke Box Jury and the early years of TOTP). Currently holding on in the Sunday night graveyard shift, “opening the cabinet marked…The David Jacobs Collection!”, and occasionally roped in by Radcliffe and Maconie for brilliantly punning Clapton-centric feature ‘Jacobs’ Cream Crackers’.
TV CREAM SAYS: "ELVIS WAS NEVER REALLY MY KIND OF SINGER..."
“MORNIN’ MORNIN’, Jameson ‘ere!”. Unfortunately. Non-regular listeners must have got the impression the cabby sent to pick up the regular morning DJ had returned empty-handed and gone on air himself. Former tabloid editor and self-styled man of the people, forever droning on in his “bunker” about ver Great British Public. Lasted longer than Ken Bruce who preceded him and Brian Hayes who followed, mind. Later shunted off to late-nite Horlicksathon (yeah, we know what we said) with missus Ellen.
TV CREAM SAYS: "DO THEY MEAN US? THEY SURELY DO!"
CYNIC PAR EXCELLENCE of the R2 nightshift for the best part of 20 years of whom the dreaded TOGs offered approving words during long period as Wogan’s default stand-in in the late 90s, though daytime depping (and promotion potential) later became scarce thanks to BBC liking for untrained ‘celeb’ presenters and his own hapless battles of wit with the Popmaster format. Arrived from mid-80s BBC Essex to become a night-time announcer and newsreader and progressed, often by accident, to world-weary dead-of-night raconteur on self-dubbed ‘The Best Time Of The Day’, a thriving show that relies almost entirely on creative listenership and impossibly dry tone. Voice frequently provokes the assumption that he is a) smug; and b) 20 years older than his real age (born in 1956, ackcherloi) but is a notable survivor; deliberately refuses to mention Sarah Kennedy being on after him (they fell out when he read her news and travel in the ’90s and she turned up tired and emotional once too often) and endorses ‘truck writing season’, the fingerscribing of in-jokes and acronyms like ‘SLAP MY TOP’, ‘SCOF’ and ‘BAG’ into the dirt on the nation’s haulage vehicles, to the bafflement of those who dare to sleep at night. Lived on canal boat christened ‘The Blue Pig’ when the night-time schedule came from Birmingham. Not popular with Russell Brand fans.
TV CREAM SAYS: "MY NAME IS HESTON SCRATCHWOOD JUNIOR"
FROM Saturday Club hip young gunslinger (well, sort of) in the sixties, to the 21st century, which finds him in almost exactly the same slot, playing exactly the same records. In between, did respected arts and chat sequence Round Midnight.
TV CREAM SAYS: "THEY'VE ALREADY EXHAUSTED BOTH MY OTHER 'CATCHPHRASES' ON
EARLY SHOW ultra-dry behemoth of fond remembrance, who died of cancer in the late eighties. Listeners will recall references to Gatport Airwick, abominable loads and the ‘bog-eyed jog’, as well as regular fill-in stints for El Tel on breakfast, whence Wogan’s Winner got renamed Moore’s Horse. See also surprise 1986 chart challenger O’ My Father Had A Rabbit, which briefly did battle with Pet Shop Boys, Swing Out Sister, The Communards and The Housemartins. No, really.
TV CREAM SAYS: "GATHERING SPEED FOR CHILDREN IN NEED - IT'S THE BOG-EYED JOG!"
DING-DONG! Onetime top pop-picker and regular face on Juke Box Jury (wherein he described Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play as, um, ‘a con’), turned ultrasmooth compere of mid-morning roving doorchime-themed Open House show, a bit like the Radio One Roadshow, but Coming To You Live from the Women’s Institute rather than Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Served-him-right dismissal resulted from on-air bigging up of Tories and urging Breakfast Time viewers to put their ‘X’ in Maggie’s box, catapulting him towards LBC and, lest we forget, Vintage Quiz.
TV CREAM SAYS: "DING DONG"
SERIAL-defecting grumpy bastard outstaying his welcome on Sunday mornings with a subtle blend of moaning, whingeing, pomposity, outrageous pronouncements on sport, and ‘the very best in music’ (ie Jamie Cullum, Jamie Cullum, Jamie Cullum, Jamie Cullum, and a load of ‘big band’ drivel lasting for eight minutes plus which he insisted on smugly praising at front and end whilst simultaneously scoffing at ‘pop rubbish’ like, erm, Pet Sounds), interspersed with ‘highbrow’ chatter with the sort of broadsheet columnists you wished had bloody well stayed on the printed page. Made Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs look tolerable in comparison, frankly. Left in 2007 amidst a load of self-perpetuated ‘end of an era’ hoo-ha to concentrate on his hobbies of sneering at anyone who wasn’t as clever as or a ‘journalist’ like him, moaning about young girls dying of cancer, and droning on and on and on and on and on about Billy fucking Connolly.
TV CREAM SAYS: "MOAN MOAN MOAN MOAN GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK"
BELIEVE it or not, time was when Old Tel was at the very forefront of the pop music explosion, starting off as a DJ and game show host on Ireland’s RTE before setting sail for the mainland and winding up on The Light Programme’s pop-music-at-lunchtime-er-than-thou Midday Spin. When Radio 1 arrived he jumped ship (though not as literally as his ex-Pirate contemporaries, mind), oddly shunted into fairly offbeat Late Night Special slot before taking over afternoons at the tail-end of the sixties. At this time a combination of threadbare transmitter funding, GPO stringency and general internal Bring Back The Third Programme stuffiness still meant that Radios 1 and 2 shared a good deal of each other’s output, including Wogan’s show, and it was this familiarity to lovers of Levin-decried ‘weary pap’, combined with a growing sense that he was somewhat too square of persona and indeed wide of lapel to sit comfortably with the crowd wowing their audiences with Suzi Quatro and Atomic Rooster, meant that by early 1972 his taking over of 2′s Breakfast slot was pretty much a done deal.
And it was on 2, with his pisstake-friendly playlist, blaring ‘break’-festooned theme music, and general honing of refusal to take himself (or indeed anything) seriously and cultivation of whimsically dissenting “I don’t know what’s going on here but I wish it would stop” persona, that the Wogan Story really began. As the decade drew on, so the listening figures drew out, reaching ridiculous levels of popularity in tandem with an equally ridiculous amount of listener-adored running jokes, from the surreal semi-mocking references to humdrum encounters with prominent BBC ‘suits’, to audience-penned poems about ‘Wogan’ at large, to the not-at-all seriously intended Fight The Flab campaign, and most famously his tongue-in-cheek obsession with megabuck BBC TV import Dallas, the affectionate mockery helping ironically to boost viewing figures and even leading to the Wogan-dubbed ‘Poison Dwarf’ catching on as a national term of reference.
The music wasn’t much to get excited about, maybe, but his love of making fun even of records and artists he actually liked – an influence on DJs as diverse as Steve Wright and Chris Morris – was the real point, enough so that it almost made those endless airings for Kenny Rogers’ latest waxing tolerable. Almost. And that’s not even getting started on his habit of improvising ridiculous self-skewed lyrics over the top of records (oooh, going to reach for your lawyers again, Mighty Sodding Boosh?), which infamously turned a rendition of The Floral Dance that didn’t even feature his vocals into a chart hit. The Wogan version, and magisterial TOTP appearances, needless to say followed soon afterwards.
In fact, a top pop chart smash was just the start of it – by the turn of the decade, Wogan was such a phenomenon, helped in no small part by his ease of lampoonability for TV comics (notable repeat offenders including The Goodies, The Barron Knights and Kenny Everett, the latter of whom dispensed with the need for wigs and accents by just getting the real thing on to make absurdist fun of), that he was visible somewhere on television practically every hour of the day, not least in his own late night chat show. In 1984 that became a thrice-weekly early evening chat show, occasioning abandonment of radio duties. In fact, his contract with Radio 2 ended two days before the BBC1 one started, giving rise to an hilarious publicity photo of him grumpily wielding an oversized P45.
By 1992, his once-all-conquering Shepherd’s Bush-bemoanings were at a somewhat premature end (shunted from its slot to make way for Eldorado, no less), and after a year or so of wandering around somewhat loose-edged TV vehicles that didn’t really catch on, he was welcomed back to Breakfast by Radio 2 with open arms. This was Wogan 2.0 in more ways than one – the puns, the surrealist whimsy and the music-mockery were if anything more intense and unhinged than ever, with the host seemingly forever on the verge of losing control of the runaway oddness (not least when he started reading out old Janet And John stories), while the show now also attracted a not-particularly-small army of TOGs, a ferociously loyal band of ‘silver surfers’ who would obey his every command – and more often than not ones he hadn’t actually made – with an infectious sense of fun. All in all, Wake Up To Wogan was one of the more successful updated reinvention of a Cream Era staple for the modern age (and there were plenty that weren’t), drawing in a crowd of younger listeners and playing a huge part in Radio 2′s sadly probably soon-to-be-dismantled repositioning. His eventual retirement from Breakfast was a headline-dominating event, though within mere weeks he was back and hosting the distinctly chat show-esque Weekend Wogan…
TV CREAM SAYS: "'WHAT'S THAT?', I HEAR YOU CRY, 'WOGAN'S GONE POTTY!'"
Former balladeer and Light Programme crooner turned Pink Floyd-baited mid-morning stalwart of Radio 1, before shifting over to 2 in 1973, becoming ‘Mrs. Thatcher’s Favourite Broadcaster’ in the process (as if that was something worth repeating to people). Debatable ‘highlight’ of syrupy request-heavy meanderfest was a daily recipe, heralded by the voice of chipmunkesque chef-type creation Raymondo (that nationally-adopted catchphrase in full: “What’s the recipe of the day, Jim?”). Until recently could still be heard every lunchtime with his Legal Beagle and that fantastic theme music, up to enforced ‘retirement’ with attendant public outcry and time-honoured column-based ‘blasting’ of his former paymasters.