Monday, August 20, 2007

Radio One More Time: Fun At One

It's the happy, happy sound
(Fun... at one)
Of Radio One

Perhaps one of the oddest, but tenacious, slots on Radio One was Fun At One. As the name suggests, it was an attempt to inject some "fun" at one o'clock in the afternoon. It's not entirely clear if this five minutes of official "fun" was intended to undermine the dj by implying that the rest of the time Radio One wasn't very much fun at all, or merely offered a chance to recalibrate our level of what the Radio One of the day saw as being "fun". It might also have been an attempt to balance out the 12.30 Newsbeat slot - offering a jelly and cream of light entertainment in return for the bread-and-butter of world affairs and a two minute interview with Owen Paul.

In this case, "fun" was actually defined "a substantial but unsatisfying chunk of an old comedy production". Since this came at a time when the network had managed to get through a decade and a half without making a single proper comedy programme, producers were forced to rummage back in the dusty cupboards of the Light Programme, undermining the cutting edge youth sounds by throwing in five minutes of hairy old comedy. I swear in 1983, they interrupted the latest chart run down to play ten minutes of a back episode of The Glums. Laugh? It was like giggling was still on the ration.

Incidently, Southern Sound took the concept of Fun At One, and based its entire Sunday afternoon programming around it, when the End of The Pier Show it promised the IBA when applying for the licence (live comedy and entertainment) was replaced by a more budget-friendly End of The Pier Show which consisted of Sean Bolger sticking on one of those commercial remakes of Hancock's Half Hour that were released on LP in the 1960s, and disappearing off for a Sunday Roast.

Of course, Adrian Juste made frequent calls on the BBC Record Library's spoken word section during his inexplicably long-running programme on the shows. Juste's role - we suspect awarded by himself - was to be the network's joker; having only a couple of hours to fill each week gave him plenty of time to prepare old comedy clips to sprinkle over his show the way firecrews cover blazes with foam. And, like a firecrew's foam, these would also drain all the oxygen away from the spark, too. Juste had two ways of destroying any comic potential in a piece - one way was to cut out one half of a two-hander, and fill the role of straight man himself (here, all his lines would be delivered in a "oh, I'm about to lose it in a minute" style which was one part Knockout-era Stuart Hall to two parts pre-eruption Mount St Helens); the other would be to try and skim out any preamble from a monologue, thus rendering little more than a punchline and a canned laugh.

When tiring of pre-recorded bits, rather than using the time to actually play records, Juste would instead resort to overlong shaggy dog stories. These, for some reason, he decided couldn't just be reduced to their punchline, even although they were just as "amusing" like that: I Left My Harp In Sam Plank's Disco. See?

Curiously, during Gary Davies' era of attempting to update lunchtimes on Radio One, dropping Fun At One merely opened up space for him to introduce a feature that involved a long shaggy dog story the punchline to which was a pun on a current pop song. It might have been no funnier than Ron Glum using Bisto to hide Pa Glum's parson's nose (allowing Ethel to visit him while Pa's toe was stuck in the bathtap), but at least it had a slightly more contemporary feel.

Still wasn't much fun, though.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, Simon. Years of therapy Donald Ducked in just a few short paragraphs- you should warn people before you start dragging Adrian bloody Juste into the conversation.

By the way, what made you write about this?

Anonymous said...

Oh. sorry. Ignore the question- I've just read the post below. By the way, a quick google search for my crappy bearded nemesis sees him described as "anarchic funster Adrian Juste". I despair, I truly do.

Anonymous said...

ISTR one of the
Gary Davies shaggy dogs built up to nothing more than "I herd it through the grapevine", though it may have been an inch more worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Adrian Juste... I hadn't discovered One FM when he was there, but I do recall him being pretty much the only member of 'Old' Radio 1 who'll still appear as a talking head when TV shows discuss the kicking-out of the old guard.

Interesting stuff! Looking forward to the other 39, hoping that one of them will be the bizarre (but great) decision in around 1993 to give Chris Morris the Christmas Day lunchtime slot (a show which, IIRC, included a joke based on a sound effect of Prof. Stephen Hawking "tossing himself off").

Anonymous said...

As an old person (TM) I can assure you that the Glums were always funnier than *anything* that appeared on Radio 1.

Anonymous said...

In the very early 90's, I remember an Adrian Juste Saturday afternoon show having a sketch/song about "Quillys cough sweets". My ears nearly fell off when the chorus "suck Quillys" kicked in. Not what I was expecting.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see him on that Blood on the Carpet prog about the cull at Radio1? For someone who was supposedly channelling mirth at all times, Adrian Juste was remarkably bitter and humourless about it all. Made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Just remembered another great Radio 1 'moment'... The DJs used to have official photos which could be signed and sent out to adoring fans. During that difficult mid-cull period, when Radio 1 was part-Hairy-Cornflake and part-Pete-Tong, Simon Bates was still at the station. Here's his photo.

Is it me, or does it look like someone's Dad coming to pick them up from the illegal rave? "Come on son, put the whistle down, I'm blocking someone in with the Mondeo"

M.C. Glammer said...

And now we have Chris Moyles' "comedy" songs.

You really don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.

Anonymous said...

Steve Wright once said, following the demise of Simon Bates, that when you walked into a Newsagents and heard "Our Tune" on the Radio, you knew the world was ok..

Anonymous said...

"I Left My Harp In Sam Plank's Disco"

Christ, I remember that, along with "Hope Leslie D voted for you"

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