Time now for the next instalment of our series reviewing and rating the occupants of the welly boot sticker imperial phase Radio 1. We must apologise for the wonky text that rendered last week’s final paragraph about Noel almost unreadable, and many thanks to those who wrote in concerned, especially those who suggested it may have been obscured for legal reasons. It hadn’t, it was just a quirk of the HTML, and we have no idea how that managed to happen. Still, if you want to see the whole thing in a readable form, check it out on the website. And to make up for messing you around, watch out three and a bit minutes in here for – yes! – another visit to Noel’s Gas Disco! And a brilliant TV Times ad. Thanks to TVC’s Chris Hughes for this, and a belated thanks for the first gas disco clip as well, as we nicked it off him on Twitter.
Michael Galvin, one of those who wrote in, also says, “As a foreigner around these parts, I have to admit to never hearing Radio 1 during my formative years, so most of the current Creamguide bit in the middle is lost on me. If they didn’t appear on TOTP in the 80s with their name appearing underneath, I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of lineup (*cough* Dave Cash *cough*). However, I’m sure I’m not alone in not having any idea what the headlines in each paragraph are referencing, “WHY AREN’T THERE ANY LITTLE GIRLS CALLED WENDY ANYMORE?”, “STANDING IN FOR PIP SCHOFIELD IN JOSEPH’S COAT”, etc etc. Any chance of a primer on what the gubbins you’re talking about?” Well, Michael, we recommend you start here and carry on for the other three parts.
And you’ll certainly know these two…
LOTS OF SCARS IN THE STY: At home in Liverpool, young Maurice Cole liked nothing better than to mess around with tapes and make up his own radio shows, and was eventually persuaded to send a copy of The Maurice Cole Quarter Of An Hour to the BBC, who invited him to be interviewed about it live on the Home Service. They offered him an audition as a presenter but feeling he wouldn’t quite fit, they recommended he tried the pirate stations, and he promptly got a job on Radio London, changing his name to Kenny Everett along the way. On London he presented with Dave Cash and was hugely popular, but got the sack for slagging off mental US religious show The World Tomorrow on air. He then spent a not very happy time on Radio Luxembourg before Radio 1 came into existence and Kenny was there on day one.
I LOVE TUESDAYS, DON’T YOU: Such was Kenny’s technical excellence that he was originally put to use in creating the various trailers for the new station, back when it was still going under the name of Radio 247. Unfortunately when it finally started, there were too many DJs and not enough slots, so Ken was stuck on Midday Spin for an hour a week. Later he graduated to a daily evening show but simply couldn’t cope with the non-stop tape fiddling that required, so was moved to Saturday mornings, before he, cough, went in 1970. But in 1973 he was back, with an hour-long show pre-recorded in his home studio which the Beeb (a name he invented) would hack to pieces to remove the naughty bits and stick out on Sunday afternoon.
I LOVE THE BEATLES, DON’T YOU: We all know that Kenny loved sound of all kind, with a particularly catholic musical taste. Invariably he loved fellow Scousers The Beatles, and was sent by Radio London to report from their American tour, which involved him sticking a tape recorder in the air at their gigs then playing it down the phone to the ship, the resultant show being completely inaudible and unintelligible but very exciting. Later he was a massive fan of the likes of Queen, being given a pre-release copy of Bohemian Rhapsody on the proviso he didn’t play it on air, which of course he promptly did, several times. And as well as the best in music, Kenny also played the worst in music with his highly memorable World’s Worst Record Show.
WHY AREN’T THERE ANY LITTLE GIRLS CALLED WENDY ANYMORE?: Kenny’s features were always relentlessly silly, and generally involved lots of tape fiddling. As TJ Worthington pointed out, he wasn’t paired with his old mucker Dave Cash on Radio 1 to avoid potential embarrassments – and a lot of good that did – but he could of course talk to himself many times, and his butler Crisp. Our favourite Ken story, though, is from his Capital days where he spent the whole show talking to his guest co-host Harry Nillson, who didn’t say a word, until the very last minute when he thanked Kenny for inviting him on.
EUROCRATS, BEAUROCRATS AND OTHER BONKERS-CRATS: Kenny was harmless, really, but for some reason seemed to land himself in trouble quite a lot. The legend is that he was sacked in 1970 for joking about the Transport Minister’s wife bribing a driving test examiner, but in fact that was just a convenient last straw for the Beeb who were sick of him slagging off the station in the papers, although Ken was just being nice to journalists who were asking him questions. Indeed the Beeb demanded he stopped talking about Radio 1 policy, so the next time someone asked, he said he was sorry but he was no longer allowed to talk about how awful Radio 1 was. When he came back in 1973 his pre-recorded shows could be safely vetted although seemingly the biggest problem there was that his wireless workshop at home was kitted out with lots of technology but did not include a working clock so the shows always massively under or overran.
WHY DON’T YOU SEND ME YOUR KNICKERS?: We know much about Kenny’s lifestyle now but during his Radio 1 DJs he was seemingly happily married to his wife Lee, and indeed his second spell on the Nation’s Favourite came while they were ensconced in the middle of the Welsh countryside. Everyone loved Cuddly Ken, though, so nobody batted an eyelid when he came out.
STANDING IN FOR PIP SCHOFIELD IN JOSEPH’S COAT: uring Ken’s first spell on Radio 1, his most regular telly exposure was on the fondly remembered miscellany Nice Time, although he almost didn’t get the job as when the producers approached his agent, they were told they didn’t want to hire him because he was unreliable, but eventually they got him, and Kenny got a new agent. In the interregnum between his spells on Radio 1, he appeared on loads of shows for LWT, most notably The Kenny Everett Explosion, but he didn’t much like them as nobody seemed to know what he could do on telly, eventually being reduced to bringing in a monkey and letting the cameras keep rolling in the hope that either Ken or the primate might do something funny. Of course, there was plenty more TV work after he left Radio 1.
A BIG HELLO TO ALL YOU TRUCKERS OUT THERE: Kenny’s rather abrupt departure first time around saw him fill time by contributing to various local BBC stations with rather half-arsed shows, but his departure the second time was almost as abrupt as he was signed up by the newly opened Capital Radio and so left Radio 1 after just six months, staying at Capital for the next decade or so, including a spell on the breakfast show with Dave Cash again. He was back within the bosom of the Beeb in the early eighties (“the BBC and I have settled our old differences, and they’ve allowed me back on as long as I don’t say pubes”), both on the telly and on Radio 2, but after a few more naughty bits he went back to Capital, and then Capital Gold when that started, broadcasting on there every day until 1994 when he sadly had to give it up as he was too ill.
TOPULARS OF THE POPULARS: Like all the original Radio 1 jocks, Ken made a brief appearance on a long-lost Pops in 1967, but didn’t appear again until his return to the station in 1973, and was a regular presenter for much of the year, including as one of the hosts on the five hundredth show. Unfortunately for us, only one of his episodes exists in the archives, and it’s unedited to boot, and we can only offer you a brief clip in this montage of oddities. What a shame.
LOTS OF SCARS IN THE STY: So why is he called Fluff, then? It was suggested it was because he was prone to gaffes, but apparently it’s because as a boy broadcaster he had a particular liking for woolly jumpers. His broadcasting career actually began in Australia, where he was born and lived until he was thirty, before an intended brief sabbatical in London led to him staying there for good and getting a job at the BBC, still in the days of the Light Programme. In the early sixties he took on the mantle of Pick of the Pops, back when it was part of a Saturday night strand called Trad Tavern, where his frantic approach was certainly a diversion from the norm, and he was the first person on British radio to present the charts in reverse order. When Radio 1 started, Fluff simply ported the show over to the new network.
I LOVE TUESDAYS, DON’T YOU: In fact Fluff was only a daily Radio 1 presenter for a year, as when Pick of the Pops ended in 1972, to make way for a new Top 20 show, Fluff moved to weekday afternoons, in which era he was also the first person to present the Radio 1 Roadshow. But in 1973 he gave up weekdays and moved to a Saturday afternoon rock slot, which he continued until leaving Radio 1 in 1979. He was back in 1988, though, presenting a new Pick of the Pops and the post-midnight series Night Rockin’, which moved earlier and earlier in the schedules, eventually ending up as the teatime Saturday Rock Show.
I LOVE THE BEATLES, DON’T YOU: Fluff actually wanted to be an opera singer when he was growing up, and indeed was very keen on the classics, but his spell on Radio 1 is most associated with his role of the voice of rock, playing the likes of ELP and Genesis on his Saturday show. When he returned, he played very much the same kind of thing, although in his later years he did move with the times a bit and played grunge alongside the more familiar rock and metal.
WHY AREN’T THERE ANY LITTLE GIRLS CALLED WENDY ANYMORE?: One of Fluff’s big interests was youth clubs, as he was President of the British Youth Club Association for a while, and in the mid-seventies presented a weekly Radio 1 show linking various youth clubs together. But for Fluff it was all about the music, and specifically how he presented it, with his various catchphrases and demented over-the-top jingles making for a fantastically entertaining audio experience, with many DJs being quick to cite him as one of the most inventive and original broadcasters there’s ever been.
EUROCRATS, BEAUROCRATS AND OTHER BONKERS-CRATS: Fluff never took himself seriously, and was highly modest about his own achievements, saying that the best he could hope for was to be half as interesting as the records he played, and saying that if he were to die, his shows would still carry on with the same records as anyone could do his job. Everyone who met him also said that Fluff was one of the nicest men you could hope to meet, with Jo Whiley saying he was the veteran DJ who made her most welcome when she joined the station.
WHY DON’T YOU SEND ME YOUR KNICKERS?: Fluff’s sexuality raised a few eyebrows at one point, as he revealed that he was celibate but had previously been bisexual. Indeed Simon Mayo recently revealed that when Fluff came on his show in 1988 to promote his return to the station, he was introduced to Mayo and kissed him full on the mouth.
STANDING IN FOR PIP SCHOFIELD IN JOSEPH’S COAT: Perhaps Fluff’s most famous extra-curricular activity during his Radio 1 DJs was his legendary adverts for Brentford Nylons, as parodied by Smashie and Nicey, of course. Lest we forget that, while he was clearly among those who had made up Dave Nice’s personality, he was clearly amused by the whole thing, so much so he turned up, as he did on The Young Ones.
A BIG HELLO TO ALL YOU TRUCKERS OUT THERE: irst time Fluff quit he went to Capital, before Johnny Beerling got him back after the ratings for Sunday lunchtimes had plummeted since Mike Read took over from Jimmy Savile. He stopped doing Pick of the Pops at the end of 1992, announcing he would never present it ever again, but stayed with the Rock Show until the Bannister revamp, no doubt aware he was hardly the hip young gunslinger the new regime required. He was still around, though, fronting a revamped version of his epic seventies series The Story of Pop and doing links for comedy show The Knowledge, but his day job was now on Capital again, where he presented – surprise! – Pick of the Pops again, and then in 1997 on Radio 2, where he presented – surprise! – Pick of the Pops yet again, as well as another series where he linked popular classics in his trademark frantic style. Sadly he retired in 2000 after he decided his health was so bad he physically couldn’t broadcast anymore, but he had his marbles intact and enjoyed a happy retirement until he died the other year.
TOPULARS OF THE POPULARS: Fluff was a Pops presenter from day, er, two, and did it more or less every month for the show’s first six years, though sadly the only one that still exists is Boxing Day 1967, as seen on BBC4 of course, and also here with an extra bonus bit of the recording of a trailer, where Fluff’s the only one trying to hold things together. He left the rota at Christmas 1969, but came back for the anniversaries, and here’s a fabulous clip with two of our greatest ever DJs together.