TV Cream

TV: J is for...

James Whale Radio Show, The

Moping dickTRANSFERRED FROM RADIO (God knows, or cares, where), this plucky and “controversial” show kept the original title, to heartbreakingly ironic effect (see also THE GRUMBLEWEEDS RADIO SHOW). The bearded homunculus in charge was a hate-filled, hate-inspiring figure, taking on all-comers on the phone in what proved to be a try out for late 90s medium wave no-go area Talk Radio (which The Whale quickly moved to). Basically a rubbish radio chat show on the telly, with Whale sat at a mixing desk then in later shows in Radio Aire reception. He had guests and took calls from punters, utilising an all-powerful button-in-the-hand to kick out anyone who came on with “Oh, you ignorant cu-” type comments (which was, predictably enough, everyone). Videos (from the likes of late-period PiL, late-period DuranDuran, late-period Spandau Ballet etc.) modified the tedium. Later the shower moved up a gear for WHALE ON…, a proper TV chat show, with early appearances by Charlie Chuck, “streetkids” painting murals in the background, and token “outrageous” content (characterised by Peter Baynham as “the bit where a lady comes on in just her bra, and James Whale smiles.”) Mid-90s, it went one further and became THE JAMES WHALE SHOW, drafting in top “showbiz gossip” kid Baz Bamigboye, top punchable camp waistcoated Tory MP (as was) Jerry Hayes, and a very fat lawyer who helped with garden shed planning permission-type disputes from viewers’ letters. All were produced by Mike “Cue The Music” Mansfield.



  1. B B Beyer

    November 22, 2009 at 12:53 am

    “James Whale, James Whale, the most famous man in the whole world ever
    Now give him a ring
    Give him a ring
    On four double five three six two”

    …memories of his Radio Aire show when I was a student in Leeds (1988-87).

    He was a right ***t even then…

  2. LeGrandPierre

    November 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I remember watching the show where an emotional Wayne Hussey tried to climb inside his own shoe. I can’t have been the only viewer who’d already tried that.

  3. Brian Rowland

    November 27, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Pedantry: Mike Mansfield took charge of Whale On etc, but the Radio Show era (89-91ish) was in fact produced at Yorkshire Television by Ian Bolt.

    I remember one glossy now-defunct monthly (The Face? Blitz?) running an unlikely interview with Whale not long after the show first started, and the thing that seemed to bother the man more than anything else was that London’s LWT wasn’t taking the show whereas most of the rest of the ITV regions were.

    Actually, Whale had been around for years even before going on air at Aire. He started on Metro Radio in Newcastle around the mid-70s.

    Who used to perform that HM-type theme tune for the Radio Show incarnation? I keep wondering if one of these days, someone will reveal it was an embryonic line-up of The Wildhearts or someone similar.

    I’m sorry, however, to know that the portly lawyer was Gary Jacobs, who like Whale was there at the 1995 birth of Talk Radio.

    Got some downright weird guests, though. I remember seeing Jerry Sadowitz on there more than once, and didn’t Victor Lewis Smith and Paul Sparks turn up from time to time? Oh, and of course, Rob Newman behaving like a prat.

  4. jon

    November 28, 2009 at 11:08 am

    who was the pissed up comic who whale told to shut up? was it vic reeves?

    a nasty person though, ive no idea why he was so popular

  5. jon

    November 28, 2009 at 11:55 am

    ^^^whale not reeves^^^ 🙂

  6. gman

    April 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I remember his last attempt at reviving his show, when he turned up on Men and Motors, surrounded by loads of women with their tits out, and the only fanny we got to see was him

  7. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    When he had Ivor Biggun (Doc Cox) on the show, a caller bellowed “YOU’RE A FUCKING CUNT!” down the phone at him. There spoke the opinion of millions…

  8. Neil M

    September 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Is there any archive footage of The James Whale Radio Show from Around October 1990? I’m interested in the episode which started with two gay men kissing and James Whale asking the Audience “What do you think about that?”. I was the first caller on.. “Neil form Cardiff”, after holding out for a minute or so and pretending to have a debate me and a few house mates shouted ” Cunt, you’re a fucking cunt” down the phone before he had a chance to press his button. I would love to watch it back.

  9. chris

    March 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Me and my girlfriend called the James Whale show in 1990 one night and managed to get out a very loud and clear ‘James Whale you fucking cunt’ before being cut off.

  10. barriejohn

    September 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Terrible show, but worth watching for the inimitable Charlie Chuck.


  11. barriejohn

    September 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    The solicitor was Gary Jacobs. who had much media exposure at the time. Reputedly 30 stone, he died of a heart attack following surgery in 2002, aged just 56!

    Cleo Rocos may have been the “lady…in just her bra”!!

  12. Matt

    January 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    It wasn’t Cleo Rocos. She was called ‘Cookie’. Whale made her read stuff off a clip board while she tried to keep her knockers in.

  13. IanW1968

    November 29, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I used to live near the Yorkshire studios on Burley Road in Leeds and we would wander over pissed sometimes. Wasn’t one of the Nolan sisters often on it (the one with the large chest..Linda maybe?). One of the Viz blokes was on it drunk as a skunk once and annoyed Whale.

  14. Droogie

    July 30, 2020 at 3:01 am

    A tacky train wreck of a tv show that was unavoidable If you stumbled in late from the pub on a Friday. It’s late time slot meant the only other TV alternative available would be an Open University module on BBC2. My main memories are of dreadful live bands, regular appearances by the likes of Bernard Manning and Linda Nolan, Charlie Chuck and a young Steve Coogan doing his comedy character Duncan Thickett. There was also a piece where they visited a dog rescue centre and filmed a stray dog that nobody wanted being put down by lethal injection live on camera just for the shock value. This was one of the nastiest and most cynical bits of TV I’ve ever seen.
    ( If only the vet had injected James Whale instead , it would’ve been perfectly acceptable.)

  15. Glenn Aylett

    July 31, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I would liken Whale’s programmes to an early version of The Jeremy Kyle Show, but only seen by insomniacs and drunks. However, I wonder if Kyle in 1990 was sitting at home making notes for something even bigger and vastly more notorious.

    • Droogie

      August 1, 2020 at 12:17 am

      It was a strange show with how it’s edgy late night vibe had the likes of Jerry Sadowitz, Rob Newman and Steve Coogan perform. But then you’d have topless lady magicians and Bernard Manning and Kevin Bloody Wilson appear too. Weird show.

  16. Glenn Aylett

    June 13, 2022 at 6:21 pm

    One good thing to come out of Whale’s career, he left Metro Radio in the early eighties and his place was taken by Alan Robson, the phone in legend whose show ran on various North East stations until earlier this year.

  17. Tom Ronson

    October 27, 2022 at 1:08 am

    An episode I’d like to see again appears to have attracted a fair amount of notoriety, but it doesn’t seem to be available to watch anywhere online – not even on YouTube, which has a fair old wodge of episodes. The episode to which I am referring has Whale losing his temper with Rob Newman, who in those days was ‘Rob Newman of The Mary Whitehouse Experience fame,’ and Newman got a spurious form of revenge by shouting ‘SHE’S GOT CANCER!’ as Whale was doing a serious piece to camera about his mother, who was unwell at the time. Whale looked absolutely furious and asked the audience ‘Did anyone here think that was funny? Because I didn’t.’ Real car crash telly. Uncomfortable stuff.
    Later episodes were called Whale On, and they really were appalling. Cleo Rocos was passably amusing when she was playing second banana to Kenny Everett, but left to her own devices she was roughly as embarrassing as Pamela Stephenson chucking eggs around the TV AM studio or trying to sit on Reginald Bosanquet’s shoulders on Parkinson.

  18. Droogie

    December 19, 2022 at 4:33 am

    I recently read the excellent autobiography by Miki Berenyi- the frontwoman of indie band Lush. She reminded me of an unpleasant incident on The James Whale Show when the Red Hot Chilli Peppers made an early appearance. This was when they were at their moronic frat-boy worst, and performed a pathetically juvenile a cappella song about pussy farts complete with “hilarious” raspberries noises. At the end of the show they all grabbed guest Cleo Rocos – lifting her up and touching her inappropriately ( one of them sticking his ugly face up her skirt.) Poor Cleo gives timid cries of help while everyone else just looks on. Miki from Lush later had Chilli Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis try chatting her up after a gig a few years later. Remembering his crass behaviour on The James Whale Show she wasn’t having any of it, inspiring her to write the hit song Ladykillers about what a sleaze Kiedis was.

    • Palimpsest

      May 29, 2023 at 3:16 am

      I remember the Chilli’s a cappella at the time and thinking it was pathetic. When they attacked Cleo Rocos I at first thought this was a setup, but her discomfort left me feeling empty and uneasy. Having just watched this on You Tube for the first time in probably over thirty years distance hasn’t done much for the ending. Curiously, I can’t recall anything about this episode, or some of the others I’ve rewatched, either I was too drunk to be paying much attention at the time or was ITV censoring this?

  19. Glenn Aylett

    May 29, 2023 at 11:58 am

    I could never stand The Red Hot Chilli Peppers or most of these weird beard rock bands from America that did well before Britpop and this awful behaviour to Cleo Rocos sums them up. Also for all I’m no prude, this behaviour was shocking and the ITC should have kicked Whale off the television.

  20. Richardpd

    May 29, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    Like a lot of grunge era bands the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have had a lot of misuse of drugs over they years, which might explain things.

    A few years later things seemed to have been tightened up, with guests on TFI Friday getting out hand causing a warning to be issued.

    Rob Newman seemed to lose it a bit in the mid 1990s, falling out with comedy parter David Baddiel & refusing to perform anywhere but a live venue for a few years.

    • Droogie

      June 4, 2023 at 8:33 pm

      @RichardPd I used to live near Rob Newman when I resided in Kentish Town. Always found him a tad pretentious, even in his stand-up days. He had that Russell Brand thing of desperately wanting to be seen as deep and intellectual rather than being someone telling jokes. There was an interesting documentary on him a while back after he stopped doing stand-up to write books instead. He remortgaged his house so he could concentrate on writing a novel about globalization that he thought was going to be a world-changing masterpiece., Sadly that didn’t happen. He’s since returned to stand-up playing to smaller audiences on the art centre circuit.

  21. Glenn Aylett

    May 29, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    There were a lot of drugs around in the music scene in the early nineties and you only have to look at Shaun Ryder’s addled behaviour on The Word to see what effects they had on people. Still anyone else but Whale would have stopped The Red Hot Chilli Peppers behaving like they did.

  22. Droogie

    May 29, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    @GlennAylett I similarly didn’t much care for those American alternative bands – The Chili’s, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails etc. With the exception of Iggy Pop, I loathe bands who perform bare chested! The only artist I have any respect for who came out of that Lollapalooza lot is Henry Rollins, but only for his spoken word stuff. When Britpop came along it was almost a relief to see bands with cool clothes and hair who didn’t take themselves too seriously compared to the American lot.

    • Glenn Aylett

      May 29, 2023 at 8:27 pm

      @ Droogie, they were droning, dirty looking bores who sounded like they couldn’t be bothered, not surprising, since many were gone on drugs. The whole grunge thing left me cold and when Britpop came, it killed grunge off very quickly. I’d much rather listen to a witty, hummable Britpop song like Country Life than some American droning about how awful his life was. You can see when Britpop came along why grunge quickly died out.

  23. Richardpd

    May 29, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    My Dad was pleased when Britpop came along because the years after Madchester faded away was about the only time there weren’t any “lads with guitars” bands high in the charts since the 1950s!

    He also used to joke that Pearl Jam used to spend so much time touring that they hardly found the time to record any new material!

  24. Glenn Aylett

    June 1, 2023 at 6:48 pm

    @ Richardpd, the 1991-93 era wasn’t much good for British guitar music. The rave scene had made bands and guitar music redundant for a large chunk of young people and new trends like shoegazing were only of interest to readers of Melody Maker. Britpop, apart from sweeping away grunge and shoegazing, at least got people interested in British guitar bands and nostalgia again. Also it coincided with an upturn in the economy and people feeling more confident after the long recession.

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