30 June, 2007

"It's all right, I won't make you Wally Of The Week"

An especially potent piece of television, this, what with an appearance from the ubiquitous Pain family ("four internationally known celebrities," cracks Noel) decked out in their Sunday best, a specially sleigh bell-enhanced version of the theme tune, that tiny studio set with Noel virtually sitting on top of his guests, and above all the 'Aches', one member of which here getting an inevitable "make the grade" plug from the continuity announcer.

It's rather frightening to see that picture of Colin Baker gurning at you during the opening titles. And were Thames the only ITV company who gave its permission to let a large size version of its ident be used?

"Funny way of handing in your notice, Noel!"

29 June, 2007

From everything on HP to HP on everything

A moment's pause to recall an age when, rather than seeking to assemble a government of "all the talents", a Prime Minister was merely happy to be associated with a condiment.

26 June, 2007

Photo clippage: Parky special

Petulant to the last, Michael "Mike" Parkinson has decided that, "after 25 years of doing my talk show", he's had enough.

Nice of him to refer to it as "my" show, thereby confirming what we all suspected: that he never really cared for us, the viewer, and was only ever interested in airing his obsessions in front of his favourite celebrities. It's also interesting to learn that he can't count. He did the show on the BBC from 1971-82, then again from 1998-2004, and finally on ITV from 2004-now. Which makes 21 years, not 25.

Anyway, by way of a cheery salute to the miserable bastard, further to this, here's a few of his finer moments, so described because all of them involved him keeping his mouth shut.

1) Parky's harem. Jill Tweedie, Mary Parkinson, Sylvia Duncan, Rita Dando and Mavis Nicholson prepare to take over Thames TV's Tea Break in 1971.

2) Adam Faith celebrates 25 years in the business in appropriate style: with Elton, Nick, Parky and Parky's cake-making son.

3) The wilderness years: Parky revives Going For A Song with Tony Slattery, Leslie Ash and Eric Knowles.

4) The Beeb's 1996 Christmas line-up: Parky, Martine...and Isobel Lang. What more could you need?

24 June, 2007

"Pickled in time, like gherkins in a jar"

"Steadily, triumphantly, all our favourites have returned in the rejuvenated time travels," booms Radio Times of Dr Who. "Cybermen, Daleks, Macra..."

Come again? The Macra? A "favourite"? If there's one thing RT never does well - apart from its radio listings pages - it's irony. Then again, maybe the Macra have proved to be surprisingly popular with the nation, and playgrounds are regularly filled with the spectacle of kids impersonating giant clicking clams.

Naturally this leads to speculation as to which "favourite" enemy will be returning next series to fall out of the sky along with the obligatory million rubber balls before landing on the obligatory Cardiff council estate close to the obligatory mixed-race/one-parent family.

Here's the latest shortlist:

1) The Raston Warrior Robot off of The Five Doctors. He was, after all, "a ruthless killing machine" dressed like a member of Hot Gossip. And it'd turn the entire series finale into a gaudy game of musical statues.

2) Sil off of Vengeance On Varos. A talking turd, this monster already has the distinction of enjoying one comeback by way of a cameo in the dreadful unending Trial Of A Time Lord saga, and hence deserves a far more fitting finale.

3) Kamelion off of The King's Demons/Planet Of Fire. This shape-changing alien was, according to John Nathan-Turner "ahead of its time", i.e. crap. Perhaps now its time has come.

4) The Malus off of The Awakening. An over-sized gurning mantelpiece with features like the Gorgs on Fraggle Rock, this should be brought back purely to allow someone to say "well, it's very much with Malus aforethought."

5) The Rani. Kate O'Mara mincing about in puffy-sleeved blouses and giant boots screaming about "blundering fools" and being "pickled in time, like gherkins in a jar"? She'd fit right in.

23 June, 2007

"And not much rhymes with Naughtie, Jim"

There was a great bit on this morning's Today programme when, as part of their coverage from the Glastonbury Festival, the lead singer from the group The Broken Family Band performed a song specially written for the occasion.

Apparently an avid fan of Today, he not only namechecked all the presenters but even included a mention of some of the reporters, like Environmental Correspondent Sarah Mukherjee. It was fantastic, and evoked the very best tradition of people penning songs about the programme on which they are being featured in, the grand high master of which was, of course, Lord Richard Stilgoe.

To hear it, and it is worth hearing, you'll have to wade through the 8.00-8.30am segment. It begins at 21 minutes, 20 seconds.

"I've been up all night so I can't be certain
But I think I just saw Edward Stourton..."

21 June, 2007

Photo clippage #20

The saviours of daytime radio, c. 1993.

20 June, 2007

The Creamguide 24: slight return

A few retrospective comments from some good folk.

"I thought," emails one anonymous reader, "I'd dreamt the bit about Sarah Kennedy's scotch egg (she only managed half!) which is why I came across your site by Googling 'Sarah Kennedy' + 'Scotch egg'." It's true.

"I was first introduced to Sarah's inimitable style about two years ago," they continue, "and have been constantly amazed ever since as to how she can be allowed to continue broadcasting. She is clearly mentally ill.

"Usually I get up as late as possible to minimise the amount of SK I have to listen to at a delicate hour. However this morning I awoke at 6.30 and was subjected to more than the recommended daily dose. I was trying to relay the highlights of the show to my other half, and they were pretty much the same as yours - the Independent climate-change skipping, summarising a piece of news as "you can't smoke in your house.. for half an hour...", newsreader trying to get out of going to Wimbleydon with her, and, spectacularly, the scotch eggs and ants incident.

"Describing her sideboard and the trays thereupon and how she was fattening up by eating half a scotch egg. Truly mindblowing."

Indeed. And there's more. All too much more.

"Sorry to inform you," says Scroggill, "but, yes, Radcliffe and Maconie reading the news was the best bit of the show. If I remember rightly, the headlines featured lots of sandshoes being found in a hollowed-out tree stump somewhere, and a re-appearance of Mohammed Al Fayed in the guise of a Mexican, reporting that Harrods was now completely out of purple Y-fronts due to the massive demand caused by Prince buying some earlier."

Lastly, this from another anonymous correspondent: "It's an honourable idea, but why torture yourself by doing the whole 24 hours in one go? Why not do 12 hours (00:00-12:00) one day and then 12 hours (12:00-00:00) the next? I mean, it's not going to be much of a difference, considering the 'stripped and stranded' nature of radio broadcasting."

Fair point, but I was trying to stick to the template as originally essayed by Select magazine in 1993, which was, as much for the sake of novelty as anything else, doing the whole lot in one go. The thing was always meant to be as much about what was on the radio as my reaction to and appreciation of what I was hearing.

"Sleep well..." they added. I did.

18 June, 2007

The Creamguide 24 live: Radio 2

And so...

BEST RECORD: The very first one, 'This Charming Man'. A close second was the new single by Crowded House, 'Don't Stop Now'.

WORST RECORD: 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy'. Or anything with Steve Wright singing.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?: Mercury is in retrograde. The Caspian Sea is not a sea, it's a lake. If you get TB, you'll be hung upside down till you get better. Someone in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been prosecuted for walking 11 dogs and carrying a 12th in his pocket. "Dooran Dooran" are playing at the Concert For Diana. The exchange rate in "the Eurozone" is rising. 'Badders' is short for Badminton. Word play is "the sort of thing Ken Bruce does". Stuart Maconie knows an impressive amount about Anglia Television. Town planning of the late 60/early 70s wasn't all bad. Alan Deddicoat is a Wimbledon ticket tout. Terry Wogan has pinched Alan Deddicoat's umbrella. People have forgotten about Billy Ray Cyrus.

ENTERTAINMENT: 3/5. It's a shame the most consummate broadcasters - Wogan and Bruce - turned up at the end of the 24 hours, when I was least receptive to bonhomie and affability. Simon Mayo's solitary yet inspired hour of chat and music deserves to be in a much better slot. Jools Holland, however, went out of his way to not make his 60 minutes sound interesting.

INFORMATION: 2/5. In most cases it's the wrong kind of information, and here Steve Wright is the worst offender. Who gives a shit about the temperature in Ontario, or the current conversion rate of the Euro to the dollar, or the fact that "Britain's favourite drink is tea"? His entire show is a travesty. Sarah Kennedy's idea of informed broadcasting is to recite the contents of the comment pages of the Daily Mail, followed by what she did for elevenses on Monday last. Vine was best at genuine human interest stories and not shameless scare-mongering. Radcliffe and Maconie go out of their way to impart information about everything under the sun plus knitwear. No complaints about the news, sport and travel reports.

MUSIC: 2/5. For all the endless vauntings in the media about the brilliance of Radio 2's mix of music, when you listen to it properly it's completely inconsistent. Wright, Evans and Kennedy all play a dreadful selection of records, the kind you'd find if you crossed, say, Atlantic 252 with Smooth FM. Wogan is better, but not much. Ken Bruce gets it just about right for a daytime DJ. Jeremy Vine has the best strike rate, but then he only has to play half a dozen over two hours. Radcliffe and Maconie, being after hours, can do what they like and, inevitably, it's ace.

FINAL VERDICT: "These terrorists - don't they have jobs to go to?"

11.54 Thanks to those of you who did join in, especially Claire for keeping me company for most of yesterday.

11.41 A nice treat to end with: Nicky Wire's 'Tracks Of My Years', which today are Carole King's 'I Feel The Earth Move' and Bowie's 'Sound And Vision'. "We stole a lot of the latter for a song called Roses In The Hospital," Nicky admits.

11.31 Deja vu: Jeremy Vine is here, trailing his show in half an hour. It sounds a bit more substantial than yesterday's, with items on suicides in a Northern Ireland secondary school, the legacy of Bernard Manning, and Britain's coastal path. Ken attempts some banter, but it's no Wogan/Jimmy Young.

11.23 The best thing on the playlist gets another welcome airing: 'Don't Stop Now' by Crowded House.

11.14 Enrique Iglesias is on tape to introduce another track from his new LP. "This is the most poppy song on the album," he assures.

11.02 Into the final hour. Ken plays 'Miss You' by the Rolling Stones, as if to taunt me with no let up of the ropey music. "I dare you to do BBC7 next," challenges TJ Worthington, "especially on a day when they're repeating an episode of Earthsearch, which will seem like it takes 24 hours in itself."

10.46 The other contestant, while no genius, still walks it thanks largely to recognising the theme tune from The Saint. He then gets the crucial 'Three In Ten' spot on, easily naming three hits by The Darts. It's actually quite exciting. His prize: a digital radio.

10.30 Popmaster. A few years ago this used to be introduced, via a jingle, as 'New Popmaster'. Now for some reason it's simply 'Popmaster'. The bloke who has first go is rubbish, despite boasting he "scored the occasional 30". He doesn't even know who Billy Ray Cyrus is.

10.18 The Love Song slot. It refuses to play. "There will now be a short pause, while we gather our emotions," busks Ken. Then it's into 'Miss You Nights' - unfortunately not the sublime Art Garfunkel version, but soppy old Cliff Richard.

09.50 Well, I'm really feeling the strain now. I can't really concentrate on what I'm hearing at all. As slick and agreeable as Ken is, his choice of music is really uninspiring. In fact, there's been loads of this kind of stuff during the last 24 hours: plastic soul, to coin a phrase. This week's playlist includes Simon Webbe, The Bees and Andrea Corr, none of which are blinding. Where are the hits?!

09.40 "Does," wonders a waspish listener, "Shirley Bassey's version of 'Get This Party Started' give a new meaning to the phrase 'extraordinary rendition'?"

09.38 Simon Webbe's 'Grace' plays for the fourth time in the last 24 hours.

09.30 A proper DJ handover, replete with references to Bandwagon and Workers Playtime, heralds the arrival of Ken Bruce and, thankfully, the last lap. Unfortunately, he opens with the 'Theme from Fame'.

09.19 A second Pause For Thought. "I'd like to talk about heroes," intones another vicar. "There aren't many of them around these days," sighs Tel.

09.11 "It's extraordinary how much liquid there is in one glass,"observes Tel, reading out yet another email, this time from someone who had the misfortune to knock a vessel of red wine over a bride's white dress. No wonder he doesn't need to turn up for this show until five minutes before it starts; Alan 'Barrowlands' Boyd plays the tunes, the nation writes the words.

08.53 "Any news about the roads in Northampton?" Tel is due to make some kind of public appearance there later on. A discussion ensues about "vodka belts". Tel waxes nostalgically about getting a police escort to a Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland, while Ken Bruce "got an escort to the police station".

08.51 "There's something about girlie's working with their hands that brings out the worst in men," avows Tel, with reference to Lynn's dexterity with a spanner. He then sings a rhyme in a mock-opera voice. Maybe I've missed something here. Well, I know I did, because I fell asleep.

08.45 "My husband tried to access http://www.togscalendar.com/ and ended up at a porn site," complains a listener.

08.43 I'm sorry, I've just been to sleep again.

08.19 "Yesterday I should have brought you cake," confesses Deadly. "It's admirable the way you open fetes. I used to close supermarkets," says Tel. A listener writes in to ask why, given how everyone on Radio 1 works in pairs ("Chappers and Dave, JK and Joel, Fearne and Reggie"), the same policy is not deployed on Radio 2. A comedy memo arrives from Dame Lesley Douglas, chastising Tel for pinching Deadly's umbrella. And so it goes on.

07.49 Lynn Bowles does the travel. A listener has already rustled up a poem based on her earlier exchanges with Sarah Kennedy about ants. An email from a Mr Ben D. Toy spins a jovial yarn about trying to "buy" Lynn's "greatest travel hits, volume 4" from a BBC shop. "We're a broad church here at the BBC," drawls Terry. "Well, definitely broad," adds Lynn.

07.46 "It's The Christians, and we could do with a few more of them round here."

07.35 Here's one: Hugh Bounder. "Isn't it funny about the phrase 'pear-shaped'?" "It will," sighs Tel, "always be a source of amazement to me that the BBC took off Balamory. Too expensive, they said. And then they put up another new building."

07.30 Well thank god that's over. Wake Up To Wogan is looming louchely into view. "The Lord loves a cheerful giver - I'm sorry about your umbrella Deadly." Any bets on how many anagrammed-monikers will get a mention?

07.25 "All this talk about ants, maybe I should be speaking to Ant and Dec."

07.21 Travel news from Lynn Bowles. During some news about railway delays, Sarah plays some sound effects of trains. She's like a work experience girl on hospital radio.

07.17 "It's Show Time!" booms a jingle. This slot has been running for ages - haven't they run out of musicals yet? Today various people have requested a song about dentists from The Little Shop Of Horrors. "Have you cleaned your teeth yet?" giggles Sarah.

07.10 And now it's 'Keep On Movin'' by Five.

06.58 She's playing some fucking Gilbert and Sullivan! Somebody tell me I'm still asleep and this is some hideous nightmare...

06.57 "The Independent is all about climate change, so I'm going to skip over that one..."

06.55 "These terrorists - don't they have jobs to go to?"

06.44 The papers. A few years ago I used to have to regularly get up around this time, and Sarah's paper "review" was the first thing I'd hear every day. It is, naturally, not a review at all, merely a long list of Sarah's favourite scare stories and rumour mongering, mostly from the Daily Mail and Express. "They'll have us working till our death beds," she mutters after spying a story about pension funds. "It's the opening day of Wimbleydon (sic)". No it's not, you stupid woman!

06.39 "When I got back in yesterday I went upstairs to get some lime juice, because my house is upside down, and I realised I'd left half a scotch egg on the sideboard over the weekend, because the Much Beloved is trying to fatten me up, and I discovered all these ants had invaded, so I moved all the trays and cleaning equipment and got some feather dusters..." ENOUGH!

06.38 Ggggmgmpphhh.

06.33 She plays a sound effect of people playing tennis. "You know what this is about, don't you?" she chides newsreader Alan Deddicoat. "It's to remind me to talk to you about buying those Wimbleydon (sic) tickets". I don't want to hear your sorting your social life, Sarah! Certainly not at this godawful hour of the day!

06.28 "Now you'll know that some of my teeth are a little unfortunate..."

06.23 Some harp music is playing. What is this, Morning Worship?

06.21 Pause For Thought. "I wonder," wonders a gently-voiced vicar, "can you make someone's day just by giving them a smile?"

06.15 Wake up to the sound of someone saying, "Nazi thugs...makes you want to pull the duvet up." Who else but Sarah Kennedy.

00.14 I fear I am going to miss Janice Long through an inadvertant need to escape into a better place, i.e. sleep.

00.01 So perfect, in fact, that I am nodding off.

23.44 An interview with Nick Drake's sister Gabrielle and the bloke who manages Nick's estate. They discuss that new album of early Drake rareities which Mark and Stuart were reviewing earlier. Perfect, in-your-ear, late-night listening.

23.41 He's playing Genesis. A song called 'Duchess' from, I think, 1980. I haven't heard this for, I think, 17 years, when someone at school leant me a copy of the 'Duke' album. Proustian rush time.

23.30 Anyway enough of that, because here are the reassuring tones of Simon Mayo. Even better, he kicks off with a bit of Gambo-esque trivia talk, noting how The Police may have got to number six in 1979 but have managed number three in 2007 with their new greatest hits album. He plays 'Can't Stand Losing You'.

23.29 He even messes up saying goodbye.

23.01 I'm afraid this is interminable. The "songs" go on forever, don't have any words, and all sound the same. Worse is the fact that even though it's on tape, and on the radio, Jools *still* sounds like he doesn't know what he's doing, gets his words wrong, and generally does his best to suck all energy and excitement from proceedings.

22.42 A quick look at the stats reveal only one person has looked at this blog since 8.20pm. Hmm. Still, that's one more than the number currently enjoying listening to Jools Holland. He's promising "a Jamaican evening". It's completely wrong to play ska at this time of night! You want something to settle you down, not pep you up!

22.34 Bollocks. It's Jools Holland "from the bowels of the BBC", and he's shouting. And now there's some boogie-woogie. There's a whole hour of this...

22.28 "Darn," rues Claire, "maybe I left it too late! Perhaps I'll drop Sarah Kennedy an email tomorrow morning. No, I won't. Or will I? Did she say Jiggs Wiggum?!"

22.22 I've just dipped into Radio 4 by way of an intermission, and heard Iain Lee on The World Tonight talking about Bernard Manning and insisting "yes, my jokes do shock people, but they don't offend them." Was that supposed to be a joke as well? If so it was certainly shocking, by virtue of being untrue.

22.00 Bad luck Claire: no on-air plug. Ah well, thanks for trying. Time for Big Band Special - and time for a bath.

21.49 About ten second of a beautiful version of 'All My Trials' sung by Nick and Gabrielle Drake. It's one of the highlights of the whole day.

21.33 Says Claire: "I missed the exciting bit too! Darn. I've taken you up on your challenge..."

21.26 There's an incredibly infectious, laidback, personable air to this show. When details of Radcliffe and Maconie's pairing were first announced, I feared it'd end up a competition for the microphone and a contest over who could better the other's dry quips. In fact it's like eavesdropping on unassuming, unpretentious off-mic banter, except on mic. Inspired.

21.09 The 'Show And Tell' spot. A long peroration from Mark on what 'School's Out' by Alice Cooper meant to him as a 14-year-old, culminating in him spinning his original vinyl copy on a specially rigged-up record player. Then some chatter about what happened at 9pm, which I missed because the phone rang. From the gist of their conversation, it appears Mark and Stuart had to read some news headlines themselves, possibly because of technical problems down in London! Typical - I miss potentially one of the best bits of the whole 24 hours. Did anyone hear exactly what happened?

20.53 A fifty-year-old town planner from Nottingham calls in to suggest another link in The Chain. A discussion ensues about late 60s/early 70s attitudes to urban redevelopment, followed by James Brown's version of 'Night Train', a song I used to play in my school jazz band.

20.31 Actually, I challenge someone to email the show to mention how the entire thing is being blogged live.

20.30 Thank goodness: Stuart corrects the ATV/Anglia confusion, "just in case people are thinking of writing in."

20.27 Chris Hughes has been in touch apropos my earlier remarks about Chris Evans being better than Johnnie Walker. "Ha, didn't you know it's against the radio law to slag off Johnnie Walker? I was reading the old duffer's autobiography in Waterstones today, actually - mainly the bit about him turning down an annual salary of £70,000 at GWR to do The Stereo Sequence on Radio One for £250 a show instead, then almost going bankrupt, then joining Richard Branson's Super Station ("The *SUPER* Station!") only for that to go pop, then joining GLR, then getting the sack from that. It was quite amusing, really."

20.24 The Chain, a simple yet effective feature involving listeners suggesting records which follow on thematically from each other goes horribly wrong when a caller contests that 'Sale Of The Century' was the most famous TV programme on the ITV channel...ATV. Even worse, this assertion is followed by the playing of said dreary record by Sleeper.

20.20 Yes it is! I've always thought this end bit is way better than the song proper.

20.18 Eh? 'Layla' is playing. I wonder if it'll be the full length version.

20.14 Mark notes that Stuart's face is bright red due to the think jumper he is wearing. Stuff And Nonsense, six items of topical news, one of which is nonsense, includes a reference to that Wurzels story noted here about, ooh, seven hours ago, and something about Shirley Bassey which was discussed during Steve Wright In The Afternoon. Can it be that the pair have actually spent the day listening to Radio 2?

20.11 The lads think the new Prince single, 'Guitar', is one of the best things he's done for ages. "I'd love to see him at one of his 31 shows at that broken tent in London." "Apparently he'd been spotted in Harrods, which I believe is a London Londis, buying a pair of purple Y-fronts." A bad impression of Mohammed Al Fayed follows, sounding like "a Mexican gringo".

20.03 Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie. This is more like it. The latter is back after two weeks sitting in for Chris Evans, and to commemorate this fact a listener has sent in a card featuring a drawing of Stuart depicted as a cow. "All of this badinage aside, it's lovely to be back. I've brought some new salad cream, the cowbells are all here..."

19.45 Steve Williams has been in touch. "Low point of the day for me so far has been that trailer for Steve Wright giving away tickets to the Diana concert, where throughout he didn't refer to 'my show' or 'me, Steve Wright', but instead continually, pedantically referred to 'Steve Wright In The Afternoon'. As John Peel once noted, 'I always found it very hard to talk to Steve Wright as he would never stop being Steve Wrightintheafternoon.'"

19.36 I'm somewhere in the middle of "an hour of rhythm and blues with me, Paul Jones." I haven't really been listening, to tell the truth. Instead I've been reading a book about the French Revolution. "I'm back and listening to this Paul Jones show," writes Claire. "I must admit to finding it quite dull. Ho hum."

18.48 Been a fairly forgettable two hours. An interview with a bowls player, capably handled by Johnny Saunders, keeps getting interrupted by Chris. The thing never really takes off, a bit like the whole show. Occasional flashes of imagination jostle with all-too-familiar obsessions. He takes the listeners for granted. He plays naff songs. Still, a big step up from what used to be in the slot, namely the ossified Johnnie Walker.

18.20 "Hello there." Chris does an impression of David Jacobs to introduce his Juke Box Jury feature, wherein listeners are asked to send in their opinion of the new single by - erk - Kulashaker. Is anybody else listening to this? From the dearth of blog correspondence, it seems not.

18.17 An entertaining discussion about yawning, involving an eminent GP on the phone, is followed by 'Tired Of Waiting For You' by The Kinks which Chris, unfortunately, sings along to. Loudly.

18.13 Chris expands on an earlier throwaway remark that Paul McCartney "is a bit nuts. He's entitled to be, he used to be in The Beatles." He also steers the conversation back to himself. "Doing The Big Breakfast sent me away with the fairies for three years. Gaby's never recovered. And don't even ask me about Ben the Boffin."

18.04 Chris plays 'Free As A Bird'. It's the first time I've heard this song on national radio since 1995. "Isn't Paul McCartney's new single great?" Time for tea.

17.50 He finally remembers to thank Stuart Maconie for sitting in for him during the past two weeks.

17.46 A competition involving people naming ten famous people from Italy bears an uncanny resemblance to the Number Nine game as once heard on Nicky Campbell.

17.43 People are writing in with pun-based names of TV shows that could be sold to India, like Daal Or No Daal. "We don't do word play," screams Chris, "we don't do it on this show. This isn't Ken Bruce or Nicky Campbell."

17.41 Chris has an irritating habit of wandering off-microphone, like he's not interested. As such his bantering with Johnny Saunders and Sally Boazman, while avuncular, sounds like it's going on in different rooms. Unlike Steve Wright, when it was literally in different rooms. He gives Johnny a hard time for forgetting the name of Nasser Hussein. That vindictiveness of old is still there.

17.34 One thing, however, never improves with Evans: his rank taste in music.

17.26 Business news. Except it's not - it's an interview about the dodgy practices involved in getting books branded as "recommended reading" in high street shops, conducted entirely by Philippa Busby. It's somewhat out of place, by dint of sounding like the Today programme.

17.21 An interview with someone making a TV series in India trying to convert the locals to the joys of traditional English food. A textbook teatime/drivetime feature. This wouldn't have been out of place on Nationwide, and that's no bad thing.

17.12 "Steve sounding as good as ever there," notes Chris, wrongly. He engages Sally Boazman (as he correctly refers to her) in some aimless banter. Then Holly, a small child, is on the phone. She has a "first" to share with the nation, and it is is that she had a sleepover at her friend's house. Hats off to Chris, he does this kind of thing very well.

17.05 And here's Chris Evans. "Good afternoon friendlings and thanks for tuning in." A typically bombastic opening gives way to weird musical clippage a la Fluff Freeman. Tonight's show is apparently titled "Keep it simple".

17.02 "And to top it all off," Claire adds, "Bernard Manning is dead!"

17.00 "He's finally gone!" beams Claire. "Hopefully you will receive this comment, what with Mercury being retrograde and all."

16.58 It's been a really soulless, antiseptic, interminable three hours. I'm sure some of it is down to the fact he sits locked away in his studio all by himself, refusing to let anyone else in. But it's also due to the fact he plays atrocious music, can't do interviews properly, only reads out sycophantic emails and, above all, revels in reading out pointless information. Tom writes to say: "Thank fuck that is over. That felt like the longest three hours of my life." On tomorrow's show: Rob Lowe and "from Dragon's Den, Peter Jones. Good evening!" And he's out, already bombing his way across Portland Place, running for that 17.10 train from Charing Cross. Where was the website of the day?

16.45 Just when you think things can't get any worse - it's astrology! Listeners have rung in wanting other people to make decisions for them. It's pure quackery. Apparently because "Mercury is in retrograde" and "Saturn is in Leo", one woman shouldn't open a high street business. Steve is anxious because time is almost up, the programme is almost over, and he needs enough time to play his appalling theme tune before the pips.

16.33 John Sessions and Phil Cornwell, men of a thousand voices, none of them anybody's, join Steve and the posse for more pre-recorded jocularity. There doesn't seem to be any reason for them being there, a distinction you could just as equally apply to everyone involved in the entire programme.

16.22 "The prospect of Steve W potentially singing along with 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy' is currently inducing nausea..." admits Claire. Thankfully it looks like we escaped that particular ordeal. Instead: stories from some local evening papers!

16.12 Another thing - why does Steve take the trouble to back-announce all the old, well-known records he plays, but never bothers with new stuff which listeners quite probably haven't heard of?

15.58 The Big Quiz descends into farce. Both contestants end up with the same number of points, then answer the tie-break question at exactly the same time - unsurprisingly, given it is "The Sahara and Gobi are both kinds of what?" The second tie-breaker is "Whose catchphrase is 'What's up doc?'" Some inane banter follows, because there's not enough time to play a proper record before that awful "theme tune" music is obligated to kick in before the news. Meanwhile I'm really concerned I haven't heard any more information about the exchange rates in "the Eurozone".

15.44 "Isn't is awful when someone says 'keep talking' and you never know what to say?" Steve jovially hails the caller taking part in the Big Quiz. The caller doesn't know what to say. A series of eccentric questions follow, one of which refers to the sport of 'Badders'. Does anybody in the world call badminton 'Badders'? Understandably the caller is flummoxed.

15.27 "Dame Shirley Bassey is here". Applause. "I can't remember the last time I met you - was it three years ago?" schmoozes Steve. The posse keep butting in. The questions Steve asks sound like they've been phrased by a Teaching English as a Foreign Language instructor. "You have managed to re-invent yourself three or four times; how have you done that?" She's done a version of 'Slave To The Rhythm' which is rubbish.

15.11 I'm easing the pain with some ironing.

15.10 Phil Collins!

15.07 "The 'non-stop' oldies aren't exactly non-stop, are they?" says Claire. Aye to that. "I just took a bit of a break - the sound of Steve Wright's voice gave me a sudden desire to go and make a cup of tea. For an hour. But, on the bright side, Kraftwerk!" True; it was the best song he's played so far. Sadly we've also had not one but two incidences of Steve's tuneless singing breaking into a record at the most inappropriate moment; once in 'Werewolves Of London', once in 'White Wedding'. We've also had some crap impressions: of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Russell Brand. This is, indeed, the full works.

15.00 The "non-stop oldies" stop for the news.

14.57 The "non-stop oldies" begin with 'Werewolves Of London'.

14.45 "That Captain Jack - I've really latched onto him," confesses Steve. "That Dr Who music, it's incredible what they've done to it. They should release it as a single." There's a competition to win tickets to the Diana memorial concert, featuring her favourite band "Dooran Dooran".

14.34 Steve reads out his favourite thing from the newspapers: a wacky survey. Today it's "things that annoy people at work". Number one: people taking calls on their mobile phones during meeting. "That does my head in! It drives me nuts!" shouts Steve. Then: a Talkie Bit! About working from home. Lest we forget, this and indeed everything in the show that doesn't feature Steve by himself is on tape. True. He doesn't allow anyone else in the studio with him when he's on air.

14.30 It's Amazing But True. Oh sorry, Factoids. "The Caspian Sea is not a sea, but a lake" says Tim Smith. The old woman is there. "Now, here's the Old Woman" Steve keeps saying, stupidly. I don't understand what the deal is with this lady. Is she supposed to be a comedy biddy, or just, well, a biddy? "Tea is Britain's favourite drink," reveals Tim.

14.21 You have to admit this is a very lazy show. All Steve's done so far is play records and read out useless information! Oh, and mention emails he's received, each and every one of which contains the line "love the show, Steve". And play a jingle that goes "Radio 2 FM". That's not the name of the station, dammit!

14.12 "It's 2.12 in Britain." We hear the temperatures in various obscure holiday resorts, followed by the exchange rate in "the Eurozone". Steve talks to a programme trail as if it was a real person.

14.06 "Here we are in DAB, online, on satellite..." Oh god. "How was your weekend? Eh? Oh, I know." What? Coming up: Shirley Bassey, Phil Cornwell, John Sessions, "the old woman" "website of the day" and, of course, Sally Traffic.

14.04 The first record: 'Poison' by Alice Cooper. What is this, Planet Rock? Bets, please, on when abouts during the next three hours Steve will start singing along.

14.03 Oh shit, here we go. That awful music. He's used it for fucking years! Cue the sound effect of riotous applause. "It's the big show - Steve Wright In The Afternoon." The wretched music goes on and on. Why doesn't he do something like, well, play a record?

14.00 Outside my window, somewhat appropriately, storm clouds are gathering.

13.55 "So they've only issued one fine," says Claire, "and this is actually a bit of a non-story and a complete waste of time. Well, I feel better for listening to that!" Hope you're not too under the weather, Claire. Especially given what's coming next.

13.53 Here's someone from the council to calm things down. There are no new rules, no fines, and only one person has been prosecuted - and that was for walking 11 dogs and carrying a 12th in his pocket. Thank heavens for that.

13.50 I knew it couldn't last. To end with, Jeremy's talking to someone from the borough, sorry, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, who owns six dogs and who is outraged by plans to limit the number of mongrels which can be walked by one person at any one time. "My local MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, has never had so much mail in protest," she foams.

13.47 Well, the last half hour or so has been filled with, on the whole, remarkably upbeat tales of folk who overcame appalling diseases as a child and who drew upon their struggles to live a fruitful adult life. You can be cynical about this kind of emotional showboating, and it's clearly getting people listening (judging by the number of callers), but some of the stories are really touching. The best bit of the show so far.

13.24 "We're all looking forward to The Arcade Fire tomorrow!"

13.18 "That's one of the most fascinating calls we've ever had on the programme," gurgles Jeremy. We've just been listening to an old woman talk about suffering from TB during the war, treatment for which included, among other things, being hung upside down. "We don't know we're born."

13.10 Tales of childhood illness. We're back in the forest of gloom. An expert reminisces about iron lungs. "I've never liked the Jeremy Vine show," says Tom, "it's the aural equivalent of eating gruel for lunch."

13.03 Shock news. The Wurzels have pulled out of Glastonbury because they've just found out they were scheduled to "only play a bandstand". Newsreader Fran Godfrey hands back to Jeremy with a "oo-arr, oo-arr". He chuckles politely.

12.53 "Goodness, the lines are lighting up," gasps Jeremy. If there's one thing guaranteed to get nutters ringing the BBC, it's the idea (not the likelihood, mind, just the idea) of the EU giving itself more powers. One person wants "civil action - we must take to the streets". Another accuses Tony Blair of "treason". What the hell is going on?! By the way, that person called Ian who just rang in to the programme was *not* me.

12.50 "There's no way you'll manage this, Ian," says Chris Hughes. "Three hours of Steve Wright is surely more than any sane man can bear. And then tonight you've got Jools Holland with his tedious brand of boogie-woogie and silly voice." Claire's also been in touch. "I'm one of those people who reads Creamguide every week and never emails you. I'm off sick from work today and I'll do a bit of Radio 2 listening later to be all interactive and that." Cheers!

12.47 Christ, it's Charles and Eddie.

12.44 Mudslinging between the Labour MP Denis McShane and UKIP's Nigel Farrage. Jeremy does his best to keep order. And, on balance, fails. "I don't care about Romania" shrieks Nigel.

12.38 An affable chat with Mark Mardell about the new EU treaty. This is more like it. Anything, frankly, for a change from joyless jobsworths and whingers. Mark says some ministers are trying to make the treaty "as titchy as possible".

12.30 A stream of sob stories is broken by someone calling in to say they're actually quite impressed with their local hospital. At least they're putting people on the air not merely to moan. "I shouted at a nurse to go and clean her hands," says one emailer. "We shouldn't shout at nurses," admonishes Jeremy.

12.20 This combination of ace music and grisly talking points is really uncomfortable. The first caller of the day goes on about "blood on the toilet seats" of her local maternity ward. Jeremy editorialises. "You'd think hospitals would be able to meet at least one of these cleanliness criteria." Someone emails to order "bring back matrons".

12.16 It's all been a bit grim so far. Thankfully, here's Aztec Camera with 'Somewhere In My Heart'.

12.11 First bit of blog correspondence - hooray! "So what's the recipe for the day?" asks Chris. By the sounds of it, a giant slice of humble pie, upon which Jeremy is forcing all his guests to feast. Someone emails Jeremy to say her mum is "fighting for her life" in a dirty ward. OK, but what's Jeremy supposed to do? A campaigner's up next, declaring she's "totally underwhelmed at the Minister." She gets away with plugging BUPA. So much for this.

12.08 "I'm just struggling for that bit of paper." Jane isn't properly prepared. "Let's go to the Minister now," cues Jeremy, "hi there." "Hi" replies the Minister. "What are you gonna do - go in with a mop and bucket?" Jeremy mocks.

12.05 You'd never have got that with Jimmy Young. Sadly what comes next you would almost certainly have got, and in spades: patients fretting about dirty bedsheets. Jeremy talks to BBC health correspondent Jane Draper. It's a very pedestrian exchange. "Why is that?" Jeremy prompts her, lamely.

12.03 First record of the shift. Wow - it's 'This Charming Man'!

12.00pm Here we go then, and up first it's, in the words of Jeremy Paxman, "Radio 2's Jeremy Vine". "Today," he booms, "how the NHS is struggling to meet official standards on cleanliness." Also he wants to hear our views on the EU treaty, losing your childhood to illness, and the inevitable what-the-hell-is-going-on talking point, "how one council wants to limit the number of dogs you can walk." But first, the news from Fran Godfrey.

The Creamguide 24: introduction

Five years ago, the Digi-Cream Times (or Radio Cream Times as it was then called) devoted several editions to ripping off something Select magazine had done nine years previously. Which was to spend 24 hours, or as near as, in the company of one of the UK's national radio stations.

This thankless assignment took in, variously, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, Jazz FM, Classic FM, Virgin Radio and Century, but never got round to the nation's favourite - Radio 2.

That is now about to be corrected. From 12pm today, I'm going to be listening to and documenting as much of the ensuing 24 hours of output on Radio 2 as I can physically stand. Unlike five years ago, however, it's going to be happening in real time.

I'd hate for this to be a solo affair, so if you're likely to be tuned into Radio 2 at any point during the next 24 hours, or even if you're not, please join in with whatever observations, comments and better still abuse you can muster. You never know, it might even turn out to be like those live blog things on the Guardian website where the writer ends up simply quoting from correspondents' emails instead of doing any proper work.

Anyhow, enough for now; I'll see you at 12pm.

16 June, 2007

"I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news..."

"...I was listening to the news." Obviously.

The current profusion of anniversaries and turning points and do-you-recall-what-you-were-doing-when archivery is all very well, but what about those really important historical moments - the ones you watched on the box and talked about with your mates in the playground/common room the morning after?

Those, after all, are the actual stuff of personal memories, and not the kind of things you heard about third hand from someone in the street or, in the case of Mrs Thatcher resigning, a classmate running down the corridor in the opposite direction shouting like a banshee.

Hence, instead of yet another countdown of 10 top TV moments that are actually things which would've happened anyway but by chance happened to be on TV (i.e. the moon landings), here are 10 possible candidates for proper, world-quaking, eye-glueing small screen happenings.

1) The last episode of Eldorado
"Marrrrrrrkkkuussss!" A car explodes for no reason; Jesse Birdsall manages to escape to live out his days sipping cocktails on a passenger ferry disguised as a private yacht.

2) Tom Baker changes into Peter Davidson
But not before briefly changing into a bloke in a white smock played by a camp dancer friend of John Nathan-Turner.

3) Andy Crane is gunged on Comic Relief
The levers being pulled by a suitably bathetic, framed-photo-of-Bob-Holness-boasting Fry and Laurie.

4) TV-am's Lisa Aziz breaks the news that Freddie Mercury is dead
A rare treat for anyone waiting to see Frost On Sunday.

5) The Word broadcasts the UK premiere of the video for Madonna's 'Justify My Love'
Terry Christian greets the viewing millions: "'Ello perverts!"

6) Mr Bronson's wig falls off for the first time
In a stroke a fearsome icon becomes a dreadful comedy cliche.

7) Phillip Schofield reveals he's leaving the Broom Cupboard
The shock only slightly alleviated by an ensuing comedy skit involving Michael Grade.

8) An edition of the missing words round on Have I Got News For You?, c. 1991
"I made Thatcher WHAT, boasts Lawson," asks Angus. "Is it 'swallow'?" replies Paul.

9) DI Frank Burnside leaves The Bill
Everyone stopped watching it round our way.

10) The last edition of the Channel 4 Daily
All the presenters rakishly threw their scripts in the air, in the process exhibiting more enthusiasm than in the whole of the preceding three and a half years on air.

14 June, 2007

The Macca Video Jukebox: part seven

From guest contributor David Pascoe...


Meet the band!

a) It was the opening track on Paul's other 1973 album, Red Rose Speedway.
b) It was used to start the seminal TV Special, James Paul McCartney.

a) Macca's early 70s hair at its longest and wildest.
b) The opening fish-eye lens shot.
c) Wings performing to a set inspired by Ken "far too many monitors" Adam.
d) The "witty" comments in classic News at 5.45 font.
e) Denny Seiwell being "(very) 185 pounds".
f) Some (very) off-key harmonies from Linda in the chorus.
g) "Many thousands".

VERDICT: "Why did I change my name?"

13 June, 2007

David Hatch RIP

The sometime Footlights stalwart, professional friend of John Cleese, creator of Week Ending, producer of Just A Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and latterday special advisor to John Birt has died at the age of 68.

Among his many justifiable achievements must surely count the dual honour of serving as, sequentially, Controller of both Radio 2 and 4, something that would never, and could never, happen nowadays, the former stint guided by his fondness for "sweet music".

He was also, along with Bill Cotton and Michael Grade, part of a triumvirate of programme-makers with light entertainment backgrounds to sit on the Beeb's Board of Management, the only time such a preponderance of variety-rooted personnel has ever been achieved.

After a life in the Corporation he quit in protest at Radio 5 being turned into Radio Five Live. "Everything one builds, one's successors tear down," he rued.

As ever, Kenneth Williams had plenty to say about the man in his diaries. An entry from July 1968 reads: "Had David Hatch on the phone asking me to do six programmes in his radio series Just A Minute - unfortunately it means working with that Parsons fellow, but I said yes, cos it will be a nice fill-in."

12 June, 2007

Advance notice to view

This time next week a rather special, erm, "event" should have just finished on this blog, and as such, absolutely nothing of note will be happening. However if you look in at some point before then, probably from next Monday morning onwards, there might well be evidence of said "event" in progress. Failing that, there'll just be a nice photo to admire.

As you were.

10 June, 2007

Photo clippage #19

On the set of Double Your Money in 1966. What a dilemma: 'Ballet' or 'Bible'?

08 June, 2007

Shiny-floor shows

Everyone's talking about them: Graham Norton, Steven Moffat (writer of "the scariest Dr Who episode ever - since the last one I mentioned" says Russell T Davies), even Terry Wogan on next week's Radio 2 breakfast show.

But just what are shiny-floor shows? Mercifully the answer to this question presents itself in the form of a ten-part list, which mercifully follows below:


A floor that magically materialised at different venues of the country at the downbeat of the BBC Dance Orchestra conductor's baton. Its most famous incarnation was at the top of the Blackpool Tower, a floor later to play host to the jumping of the shark by Peter Kay.


Not too shiny, this, in case any of the titular "people", who tended towards the octagenarian, were likely to slip and break a bone or several. That didn't stop your host from donning his shiniest loafers to loon about atop the polished proverbial, utilising the shininess to dash that bit faster between the contents of a pensioner's handbag, a deaf mute trying to sing It's A Long Way To Tipperary, and a pensioner dropping their handbag in hysterics at the sight of a deaf mute trying to sing It's A Long Way To Tipperary.


This floor was too big even for Brucie, who complained about the distance he needed to travel in order to essay even the simplest of shimmies. Sick of playing second fiddle to an acre of tiling, he soon jumped ship back to the more restrained shiny-floor fiefdom of The Generation Game.


Sir Terence himself fell afoul of this floor, famously ending up on his arse at the end of his very first thrice-weekly assignation upon the verdant lawns of Shepherd's Bush Green. Unlike on Parkinson, the all-important "chat area" was similarly non-carpeted, perhaps to encourage guests away from ludicrous back-slappery and more towards polished gossiping.


This floor had to be especially shiny in order for the partition to work properly. And to allow a stupid oaf to fall over while doing a stupid "comedy" turn at least twice a series.


The numerous shiny floors featured on the earliest incarnations of this misleading bingo game had the unusual distinction of not being real. They, along with that whooping audience (and, indeed, the present "National Lottery HQ") existed solely as computer graphics inside a VT machine stored close to the locked cupboard where all the episode of Have I Got News For You that contain disparaging references to Princess Diana are kept.


Beanbags somewhat obscured the shininess of this floor, but it was still kept well-polished for whenever Mr British Airways came to call.


An example of a bad shiny-floor show. The grouting and all-round non-stick decor made for an ugly juxtaposition with the presenter's demeanour, which wasn't that hard given the presenter was an ugly juxtaposition with himself.


A shiny-floor show for kids. In this instance the surface had to be maintained at an especially high standard in order that the host could break out into a sudden flurry of toe-tapping hoofery without fear of scuffing the ground or his soft shoes having any perilous purchase on the lino.


What happens when you try to bolt a shiny floor onto something that doesn't need one. A catastrophe.

06 June, 2007

Excitement, she wrote

It's taken roughly five months, but here we are: the entry about nothing. More precisely, the entry about search referrals.

Never before attempted in the Digi-Cream Times blog, and hopefully never to happen again, here are ten particularly notable queries in Google which have led people to this parish. Which blog entries generated the following results? And more intriguingly (barely), which ones are you responsible for?

1) knicker gusset
2) alpha bravo charlie delta
3) alan keith radio
4) michael staniforth
5) esther and abi ofarim
6) aubrey singer
7) jimmy young two heads are better than one
8) sarah kennedy bunty bagshaw
9) argentine melody video world cup 1978
10) cardiff the rift

04 June, 2007

"Laid off? I said, I've hardly been laid *on*!"

Of all the guest hosts to stand in for Wogan during his thrice-weekly residency on the verdant Shepherd's Bush Green, one of the most unlikely - and most entertaining - must surely be Kenneth Williams.

Someone has had the foresight to not only keep on video but also repost online an almost complete edition from his stint, hailing from 23rd April 1986. It's prefaced here with a monologue from a different episode that same week, but one that still finds Kenny on typically imperial bawling form ("Running buffet?...I almost caught up with it twice"), and which then dovetails into the outro from his last bash replete with Ramping Sid Rumpo and an audience singalong:

Note how the audience appear to be entirely over the age of 55.

Anyway, the episode proper begins with a rather stilted exchange with Stephen Fry:

It continues via predictably hysterical banter with Barbara Windsor:

Finally, the famous (if you've read the Williams diaries) Michael Palin chat which ends too early and forces Ken to ask Mike (bedecked in a typically over-stylised 80s suit) to rustle up some last-minute limericks:

03 June, 2007

Fixing a hole where the Rift gets in

More information about the conclusion to the present series of Dr Who has emerged.

It appears that just before Martha is taken hostage by a mysterious alien race, she accidentally destroys half of the TARDIS console in frustration at the Doctor's reticence. In response the Doctor offers up a protracted monologue wherein he finally, finally, says what he really feels about his companion.

"Martha my dear," he begins, "though I spend my days in conversation - please, remember me." Absent-mindedly wandering around the wrecked console room, he continues plaintively, "Martha my love - don't forget me." He pauses, half-staring into space. "Martha...my dear."

Noticing his companion is uncomfortably casting her eyes to the floor, the Doctor instantly switches from contemplation to aggression. "Hold your head up you silly girl," he snaps, gesturing to the damage all around them, "look what you've done!" Martha begins to sob, but the Doctor presses on. "When you find yourself in the thick of it," he barks, "help yourself to a bit of what is all around you - silly girl!"

Noticing that Martha is now openly weeping, the Doctor's mood changes again. "Take a good look around you," he orders. "Take a good look!" Martha follows the Doctor's instructions, only to see that her mentor is smiling broadly. "You're bound to see," he murmurs, "that you and me were meant to be for each other - silly girl!"

Hugging his companion affectionately, the Doctor then confides: "Martha my dear, you have always been my inspiration - please, be good to me." Walking her gently towards the TARDIS exit, he concludes wistfully, "Martha my love. Don't forget me. Martha my dear."

At which point he kicks her out the door and into the arms of a alien ship bound for a six-month residential course at a nearby drama school.

01 June, 2007

"Our intention is to put the fun right back into them"

A shoo-in for the dreariest sporting TV theme ever written is the lamentable effort mustered by BA Robertson for the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Here's a BBC continuity announcer giving a suitably lacklustre announcement to the aforementioned dirge, followed by Des Lynam - in an impressively branded V-necked blue jumper - bemoaning all those who have contrived to "take the fun" out of the tournament. He may as well have added Mr Robertson's name to the list.

Thanks to Chris Hughes for tracking this down.