TV Cream

Radio 5: The Programmes

6-0-6

A curiously balletic artistic impression of 'football'BAKER-helmed ostensible post-match analysis, which through its hosts’ love of esoterica became the first stirrings of that strange mid-nineties drive to make football ‘accessible’ to non-sports fans. Phone-ins about inexplicable terrace fashions and the current whereabouts of retired players abounded, though by 1993 it had been rebranded – under the guardianship of David Mellor, no less – as a straight ahead ‘just the facts’ opinion-driven show providing endless coffer-swelling for libel-happy referees.

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  1. Simon Tyers

    July 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Ah, no, Baker alone hosted it until 1993, then Duncan McKenzie took over, and only then Mellor (and Richard Littlejohn after him, just to really ram it into the ground) Danny Kelly was only ever a stand-in, as was Nick Hancock for a bit.

  2. Chris Hughes

    July 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I remember Jimmy Hill doing it at the end of 1992/93 season, too.

    On the subject of Danny Kelly, I’m going to mention the most underrated sports radio programme of all time, namely the Friday edition of John Inverdale’s Drive-In during the dying days of Radio 5. Basically, it consisted of Invers and Danny talking about the most hardcore sports trivia and ephemera imaginable, eg finding out what Subbuteo Angling consisted of (it turned out to be a board game, disappointingly) and how to generate realistic results for your imaginary football league (something to do with counting words on the specific page of a book, I forget the exact details). It was ace.

  3. Hornet

    June 3, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Please don’t get the legendary early 90’s 6-0-6 mixed up with the current very poor incarnation of the show. Baker’s genius was that it was a football phone in that was more about how it was to be a fan than moaning about how pony John Terry is. It was complementary at the time to the growing football fanzine movement. Now it’s just a mong-fest for ‘fans’ of the big 4 clubs to moan (you never hear the great anecdotes from the lower leagues any more!). It Nadir was probably when it was hosted by Tim Lovejoy or Spoony, Mellor was just a figure of hate/fun.

  4. David Pascoe

    June 4, 2010 at 9:41 am

    I still remember driving home late one Wednesday evening in early 1997 and hearing Danny Baker hosting the midweek edition. He had completely lost his rag and sense of perspective over Mike Reed awarding a controversial extra-time penalty to Chelsea which had knocked Leicster City out of the FA Cup 5th round. He was incandescent and used it as a platform for his (freely confessed) prejudices against referees to come out in as forceful a manner as it was possible to do without swearing.

    One bloke phoned in straight after his rant to tell him he was talking rubbish and Baker’s response was “Lose him! Lose him! I’m not interested in balance….” It was scorching stuff and the edgiest football phone-in I’ve ever heard split as it was between disoconsolate Leicster fans, embarrassed but unrepentant Chelsea fans, referee haters and referee defenders.

    Next day, Baker was gone. Sacked for supposed incitement to violence. This extract from the Guardian, covering his return to FiveLive recaps the main points:

    His return began with six editions of 5 Live’s 606 football phone-in during Euro 2008, the first tentative steps in resuming a relationship that combusted in 1997 when Baker lambasted the referee Mike Reed in his Wednesday evening show, The Baker Line.

    Baker told listeners: “I hope any hacks out there do their job and hope Radio 5 does its job and would doorstep this man like he was a member of Oasis. Mr Mike Reed, you are going to be the sacrificial lamb cos what you did tonight was wrong, dangerous … I would ask all football supporters where he’s playing on Saturday, barrack him on behalf of everyone else … really get on his back and whenever he comes by use words like fraud, you’re no good, and you were wrong, Mr Reed.”

    When callers were put through on air to tell him he was wrong, Baker told his producer: “What is the matter with you in there? Will you stop putting through calls that are just from smartarses who want to be contrary? Give me back my old producer, someone. For God’s sake, for the love of God, I’m not looking for people who agree with us … as usual, Radio 5 and the BBC just want to sit on the fence and say, ‘Let’s give the other point of view in case my bosses come down on me.'”

    The situation was serious enough for corporation top brass to get involved. The then BBC News chief executive Tony Hall said Baker “crossed the dividing line between being lively, humorous or controversial and being insulting to the audience. This is something we cannot tolerate.” Baker now describes it as a “complete aberration”, albeit one that has tarred the popular view of his broadcasting style. Talk Radio subsequently hired him because they were looking for a “shock jock”, he remembers, and they were in for a disappointment.

    “In people’s memories I was stood there saying, ‘Burn his house down’, which is not true,” says Baker. “To be absolutely frank the more the BBC took away my regular producers and put in people to manage me the worse [it became]. Never ever do that. I am very sensitive to being sat on.”

  5. David Pascoe

    June 4, 2010 at 10:09 am

    And here’s a sample of that fateful night:

    http://www.internettreehouse.co.uk/audio/produce3.mp3

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