Wednesday, 23 December 2009

To Plymouth, and beyond!

I've written recently about the challenge of reminding radio management that I can do things other than reading the news. Well, I'm delighted to report a glimmer of opportunity. On Christmas Day, I'll be live across BBC Local Radio's South-West cluster of stations, broadcasting a mix of music and whatever-else-comes-our-way between 7 and 10pm.

If your Christmas Day has started to sag by 7pm, and you're in search of something that isn't festive tv, you can listen online .

This show necessitates a trip to Plymouth, which could be "interesting" given the current weather conditions! I'll be packing blankets, a shovel and a prized 1968 edition of The Blue Peter Guide to Building Your Own Igloo Using 3 Old Coat Hangers and a Blue Peter Badge. Oh yes, and some Kendal Mint Cake. And some mince pies. And soup in a flask. At least if I come face to face with the Abysmal Snowman, I'll have something to offer him by way of refreshment.

small note for Equipment anoraks: it also affords an opportunity to use one of the last survivors of the "old BBC" way of working: a desk on which the faders go up to close, down to open. Marvellous! I never thought I'd get to use one again. All I need now is to find one with quadrant faders and I'll be delirious!!

And just before we leave talk of the old Radio 2 breakfast ways behind, here's a souvenir pic of the Wake Up to Wogan team, in the studio at the end of the final show:
(LtoR) CN, Alan Boyd, Lynn Bowles, Sir Tel, Alan Dedicoat, John Marsh.

Happy Days! I don't know about you, but I'm very much focused on January 2010 as a fresh new canvas, perfectly poised to have exciting new opportunities slapped onto it.

Friday, 18 December 2009

End of Term

Well, the last day of Wake Up To Wogan is upon us. It would be fair to say that the atmosphere here in Western House is.....charged!

There aren't many truly dry eyes in the house, and I wouldn't bank on any of them staying dry all the way to 9.30

I'm about to go and join Sir Terry in the studio for our final burst of in-show badinage. And, in recognition of the many happy splutterings and utterings inspired by my Bus capers, (and Sir Terry's bemused incredulity at how how I spend my spare time) I shall be giving him a parting gift. Here's an exclusive preview....

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Radio 2 - Scoffing for Britain

There are many things I'll miss when my era of participating in Radio 2's unique breakfast show comes to an end this Friday. Not least, the wide variety of edible offerings sent in to the programme by wellwishers.

Here's a sample of today's delights: Pork Pie, Curry and Christmas Pudding. Sadly, the sausage rolls, doughnuts and mince pies moved too quickly to be photographed. But not quickly enough to escape my attention, naturally.

Changed - and leaner - times ahead, I fear!

A Big Day Ahead

I'm writing this from Radio 2 HQ, where the excitement is palpable.

The great day has arrived.

Sir Terry Wogan's last breakfast show? No, that's not til Friday.

No, this is a more pressing matter....

What you need to know is this: On Wednesday 25th November, none other than Chris Evans became trapped in the loo, when the door lock jammed. He was eventually released. (whether this is a good thing you may speculate but I couldn't possibly comment) Something of a fuss ensued and, with a turn of speed not normally associated with the contractors who look after the premises, a sign was posted on the door. Not the sign seen above, no, the first one promised a repair date of 1st December. A chap duly turned up, spent several hours dismantling the lock and muttering darkly. Then he disappeared and, some time later, the sign was changed.

Once upon a time, someone would have popped out to the ironmongery shop down the road and purchased a new lock. We live in a different world now, of course, and I reckon the Executive Action Plan looks something like this:

1) Form committee to examine history of Toilet Door Lock Incidents in the workplace.
2) Working Party to study similar incidents in other large organisations.
3) Health & Safety to conduct full risk assessment before concluding that lockable doors are inherently dangerous.
4) Various manufacturers invited to tender for the provision of new doors.
5) Cheapest tender chosen.
6) Door supplied. Wrong size.
7) Door adapted. 300% budget overshoot.
8) Original door lock refitted.
9) Chris Evans gets locked in again.
10) Repeat as required.

It's a bit like the Procurement debacles of the Ministry of Defence. Only with us, nobody dies. They just get locked in the loo.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Another day another bus

I'm heading for Cheshire this weekend, to Oulton Park racing circuit near Winsford, where I shall have the pleasure of declaring an old bus open for business.

Not just any old bus! This is one London's fine Routemasters entering a whole new phase of life as a mobile fundraising HQ for St Luke's Cheshire Hospice.

It's a great story. The Bentley Motor Company, based in Crewe, have been finding things a little quiet in these recessionary times. Rather than lose their skilled technicians, Bentley have encouraged and enabled them to put their talents to work for the benefit of the wider community. Something like 2000 man hours have been poured into restoring, refurbishing and adapting this bus.

I'm greatly looking forward to seeing what they've done with the interior. I know Bentley's famous Leatherwork is on display. I'll report further when I've seen it for myself.

Oulton Park, this Sunday morning at around 1030. Official launch of the bus AND I get to start the charity Santa Dash. Marvellous! If you're in the area, come and find us.

How The Papers Work

Thursday was enlivened by a trip to the Millennium Hotel in London's Grosvenor Square (more on this auspicious location in a moment) for a grand event, the induction into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame of Sir Terry Wogan. Quite an occasion, with a packed room listening to tributes from fellow broadcasters and a barnstorming speech from Sir Tel himself before rising in a heartfelt ovation.

Amongst those saying a few words was Radio 1's breakfast star Chris Moyles. He was funny. Very good. Room in stitches. There was just one edgy moment when he made a slightly disparaging remark about Sarah Kennedy's early breakfast show. Nothing too drastic. Nothing Sarah couldn't - and didn't - take in her stride. Moyles moved on, no big fuss.

Later, over drinks in the foyer, I was talking nostalgic radio talk with Sarah, and I also mentioned how proud I think Radio 2 should be to be offering - in an era of considerable radio blandness in some other quarters on the dial - something as individual and distinctive as Sarah's show. It all got quite emotional (feel the love in the room, end of an era etc) and Sarah shed a small tear before we consoled each other with a hug.

It was at that moment that the Daily Mail reporter swooped and asked for Sarah's reaction to Chris Moyles' speech. Sarah gave a perfectly charming and poised response and all continued to be well with the world.

At least that's how I saw it... Meanwhile, in the Mail:

Chris Moyles' jibes reduce Sarah Kennedy to tears at event to celebrate Sir Terry Wogan's career ... Chris Moyles was at the centre of a bad taste row last night after he mocked Radio 2 DJ Sarah Kennedy in a foul-mouthed speech.

Ho hum. Maybe we were at a different event!

Now, where was I? Ah yes. The Millennium Hotel. An excellent establishment and purveyors of a very good lunch. Can't fault 'em. Only trouble is, I can't completely shake the memory that that was where the former Russian secret service man Alexander Litvinenko had his fatal encounter with the Polonium 210 in November 2006. In a cup of afternoon tea, the inquiry said. Clearly, it would have been insensitive of me to mention this to any of my fellow guests as the post-lunch tea and coffee pots came round. More tea, vicar?