Sunday, August 26, 2007

Radio One More Time: Steve Wright's Fridays off

Legend tell us that it was Chris Evans' demands to be allowed Fridays off that led to his departure from Radio One - Matthew Bannister feeling that having a different breakfast show on Friday morning would be a something of an oddity. Evans insisted it was either Fridays off, or he was, and so he went. The sudden vacuum in the network's key slot sucked in Mark and Lard and made the uproar over Danny Baker seem like the polite mutterings of disgruntled parish council.

However, Evans' request wasn't quite so odd set in the context of some of the network's earlier schedules, not least the inexplicable time in the 1980s when Steve Wright was catapulted from his "in the Afternoon" slot into Sunday mornings. To make up for the horror of having to get up at, ooh, eight o'clock, Wright's hitherto Monday-to-Friday programme became a Monday-to-Thursday affair.

You can almost see the logic at work here - Fridays have always been slightly different on Radio One, with a weekend-starts-here approach, but the traditional switchover usually came in early evening - Andy Peebles banging on about sport instead of Kid Jensen, the Friday Rock Show where you'd normally find John Peel, Roundtable in Peter Powell's shoes. Pushing the start of the weekend schedule back to 2pm on a Friday gave the sense of arriving way, way too early at a house party.

It also meant Radio One had a problem trying to work out what to do with the slot - it was still a prime, daytime programme, so needed someone with enough profile to carry the audience along; indeed, with only one programme a week at this time, the challenge was to find someone capable to connecting quickly with the listeners while making up for the disappointment of the usual host being away. Trouble was, there wasn't a great deal of spare capacity in the network's presentation team - which is probably why they'd needed to get Wright on to Sundays, with his "we've just got back from the church" jingles and all - and so, at first, they tried propelling Early Show host Adrian John into the mid-afternoon. Our memory suggests that he used to do the early show and the afternoons on Fridays, but surely this can't be right, can it?

John tried to make the slot his own - his Beadlesque It's Only A Wind-Up could be quite inspired, as when he took advantage of scaffolding on Big Ben to ask tourists what they thought about the new digital clockface being installed - but it always felt like he was a housesitter.

After John, the Friday vacancy was used as a testing ground for new presenters - some with a degree of success (Mark "meMarkPage" Page) and some without (Paul Jordan, who eventually returned to Red Rose's deconsecrated church studios in Preston) before the idea that Sunday mornings were the new Friday afternoons was quietly dropped and normalcy returned.


Robin Carmody said...

Gary Davies and Bruno Brookes - both of whom did very well for themselves, for a while - also did the Friday afternoon show before they gained their own daily programmes (OK, "daily" in Brookes's case mainly meant Monday-to-Thursday, although he did do Fridays for a while in 85/86 between the end of Round Table's initial run and the start of Singled Out).

karlt said...


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