It occurred to us yesterday that, and here's a thermometer reading we don't really need, it's ten years today since Mark Radcliffe and Lard stepped out of the Radio 1 Graveyard Shift.
We really don't think, at least in the sphere of music broadcasting, anyone's even got near to the barely reined in ridiculousness of that show. Oh sure, amusing zoo radio exists with your standups on podcasts, but a show that encompassed cult films and books (the latter briefly helmed by a pre-everyman Will Self), running jokes of the utmost stupidity, The Bedsit Guide, old US radio serials, John Martyn, poetry (there can't be a Graveyard Shift listener in existence who didn't raise a wry smile when Simon Armitage was linked with the Poet Laureate position last time it was up), the mysteries of the hand fart noise, pisstakes of existing Radio 1 trailers, sprawling discussions on small ads and trade magazines, prime Britpop and and the catchphrase "cod, fish, battered, balls, ho-ho!"... nobody would commission that now, not without a post-modern nostalgia listener quiz and a couple of low grade stand-ups as assistants. The same jokes in a different order, as Radcliffe would say, but what orders they were in - Uncle Tony's Catalogue Corner; Stuart "veritable smorgasbord" Maconie's Sad Small Ads; Rock, Bill Bailey and Sean Lock's, um, rockumentary on the comeback tour of the former singer from prog legends Taunton; Andrew Collins' teenage diaries long before anyone thought of putting them into book form; ripping the Wormleigh Guest House, Totnes' leaflet to metaphorical shreds ("Wormleigh has ample private parking, and within easy walking distance there are a number of hotels?!" "Yeah, I'm planning on parking there and going somewhere else"); Cyril Dorricot's The Patheological News ("frankly, I have no idea what it's about" - standin John Peel); Mark, Lard and Stuart Maconie extending the outside broadcast franchise by waving out of the window; Edward Barton's Slap Belly; the Mark E Smith Microphone; The Kraftwerk Story!; Shit Agent; the David Bowie Erection Sound Effect; Tony McCarroll's Classical Gas; The Tindersticks Party Album; Mark's love of the word 'bobbins'... halcyon days when Radio 1 wasn't so narrowly focused that you could get away with this stuff.
Oh yeah, there was music to. Right from the start there was an implicit belief underpinning all, less common than you'd think, that the music came first, and consequently, despite their claims to have a reverse Midas touch on everyone they played, they foisted a wide range of musical delights upon us all, from such hardy perennials as French Disko and Fanfare through to the 60s beat revivalists and French ambient folk that you'd never hear anywhere else. And in the middle, the discoveries: Belle & Sebastian, the Divine Comedy and most famously White Town's Your Woman. And then there were the musical parodies later collected together under the Shirehorses banner (whose 1997 universities tour saw support from Peter Kay), a longed for highlight on many an occasion. We can't be alone in boldly stating that some of the records he played changed a good portion of our musical habits, perhaps reflecting the all-inclusiveness that much of Matthew Bannister's reign at the station urged ahead. Breakfast neutered him to a certain extent*, afternoon got stuck in an albeit tremendously offbeat rut and the current Radio 2 show, while still great, is more the Mojo edit of the original blueprint (although Marc Riley's Brain Surgery on 6 Music continues an impressively opaque playlist policy), but any slip-ups can be forgiven when set against these people being responsible for one of the great music shows of national British radio.
You may like to play Tindersticks' Tiny Tears at this point.
* Although two things we always loved about their breakfast tenure - as pointed out by our showbiz pal Steve Williams of TV Cream, while those either side of them, Evans and Ball, colonised television during their own morning spells Radcliffe's big telly gig during those fraught eight months was Schools Challenge, a Thursday teatime Granada-only series which was apart from the obvious exactly the same as University Challenge, on the same set with the same rules; and when they were scheduled to guest on the National Lottery Live but pulled out in protest when Camelot's directors gave themselves a massive pay rise Teletext's report included the quote "the breakfast show pair described Camelot's decision