I had a rather surreal experience on Monday when I went to the dentist in Chequers Road in Basingstoke, and not just because it was one of the few times I had booked an appointment despite not actually having a toothache. Like most people I don’t find going to the dentist a particularly fun experience and I have often described listening to Radio One fuckwitt Chris Moyles as the equivalent of a dental appointment, so imagine the the twisted irony of having to spend half an hour listening to the pie eating slob whilst sat in the dentists chair. It was a heady cocktail of my two least favourite things and had me wondering why on earth a dentist, a seemingly well educated chap, would want to listen to such drivel. Perhaps it me getting old but I think my dentist should be listening to Classic FM or The Archers. Still at least it wasn’t Kestrel FM I suppose.
As I left the dentist with Moyles’ drivel still ringing in my ears but the consolation of clean bill of dental health I began to reflect back to the days in ancient history when actually I listened to Radio One and what has happened to the DJ’s since many of them had their careers effectively destroyed or at least severely curtailed by Paul Whitehouse’s characters Smashie and Nicey. I Reckon I listened to Radio One from about 1978 to around 1996 before I started drifting towards Radio 5. The DJ’s I remember most vividly are Simon Bates, Gary Davies, Mike Reed, Peter Powell, Steve Wright, Bruno Brookes, Peter Powell and Simon Mayo…oh and the Big fat Hairy pompous cornflake DLT and his snooker on the radio on Sunday mornings.
Over the coming days I am going to look in to what happened to these chaps who seemed to dominate the airwaves of offices, factories and building sites across the country in the 80’s before being chased out of town by Mathew Bannister in the early 90’s. My first offering to you is the irrepressible Simon Bates.
Bates: Sex Symbol
Simon or Simes as he used to like calling himself, used to start his show at 9.00am on weekdays by shouting “Morning world” before playing a recording of what was supposed to be the entire nation shouting back “Mor-ning Simes.” This was followed by “The Golden Hour” comprising of two half an hour sections of music from years gone by where (before text or email of course) listeners were invited to ring in to the station and guess the year of the music.Simes would also offer clues by reading news headlines from the year in question.”That was Agadoo by Black Lace from the same year an IRA bomb ripped through The Grand Hotel at the Conservative Party Conference.” It really was gripping stuff waiting for the answers as Simes would teasingly say “But what was the year?” before gleefully reading out the names of all the clowns who had rang in with the wrong answer just to add to the tension.
At 11.00am Simes would convince himself that the entire nation of truck drivers were pulling in to laybys to listen to his classic love/tragedy feature called “Our Tune.” This was where listeners would write in with their love stories that would invariably involve a couple “Lets call them John and Lucy for arguments sake” moving in to a rose covered cottage before he lost his job and turned in to violent alcoholic. John would courageously overcome his addiction to battering his wife senseless and even find a job before tragically getting crushed by a palette of paint leaving him paralysed from the waste down. The story would then end with an (in)appropriate song chosen by the author of the letter….”This is Elvis Costello with ‘I can’t stand up for falling down’….good luck Lucy.”
Bates also had sidelines during this, the peak of his career, and featured, quite brilliantly, at the beginning of videos on behalf of the VSC (Video Standards Council) warning of the use of sexual swear words (view here)
. He almost certainly didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the comedy equivalent of giving candy to a child and Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield who had created the character “Dave (Davenport) Nice” more than loosely around the unsuspecting Bates, gobbled it up. Like all good comic writers Whitehouse timed it perfectly and showed the lampooning on prime time TV, effectively hammering the first nail in Bates’ Radio 1 coffin. Watch the spoof HERE
it is still funny now.
Fearing the humiliation of the sack, Simes frantically resigned in 1993 after being targeted by incoming controller Mathew Bannister who saw him as one of the old farts who had to be removed as a wave of fresh young blood knocked on the door. His career wasn’t over however, and showing remarkable resilience Bates went on to present shows on Talk radio, Smooth, Classic FM plus various commercial stations. “Our Tune” has been revised and is now sold as a syndicate to commercial radio stations across the country and as of January this year Simes has been presenter of the breakfast show on Radio Smooth after 13 years at Classic FM. You have to say, whether you think he was a total wanker or not, he has shown some character to keep a career in radio and will always be remembered a lot longer than his more “radical” successor.
Can you guess who that was?
To stop you looking it up on Wikipedia, I will tell you. It was in fact Richard Skinner.