Friday, August 24, 2007

Radio One More Time: Give Us A Break

The actual idea of snooker on the radio wasn't such a bad one. Whether Radio One should have had a programme being introduced by the Pipe Man Of The Year, that's debatable. If it really needed the 'quack-quack-oops' sound effect which signalled a wrong answer, that's debatable. If it's natural home was on a music station when a "big break" could happily eat up twenty to twenty five minutes of airtime, that's debatable. But the quiz itself? It was actually a pretty good idea.

Red balls were simple questions; then the coloured balls represented questions of increasing difficulty and rising points - as in ordinary snooker, after "potting" a red, you could choose a colour to go for; after all the reds, you then had to pot the colours in order; failure to pot was the end of your turn. Fairly straightforward, easy to follow, if you understood snooker. Indeed, nobody would have thought it such a strange concept had DLT not trumpeted as being somehow "wacky". Week after week after week. Indeed, the fact he always referred to it as "snooker on the radio" seemed designed to strengthen the idea that this was a topsy-turvey, Freaky Friday of an idea. Snooker on the radio, Dave? You're hosting a radio show, so, surely, that it's on the radio isn't that noteworthy.

Looking back, we suspect that the constant stressing of how astonishing the game was stemmed from Travis' need to showboat - the shunting from the midday show to weekend mornings clearly didn't go down well with the man. Only a few years before, he'd been the breakfast show host, and now, here he was, in the draughty village halls of the weekend shift. No wonder he tried to draw attention to himself. (His last few minutes on weekdays had been given over to a grandstanding, heartstring-twanging speech about a deceased relative - someone should have written 'doesn't go quietly' on his personnel file).

Travis also had a love of the grandiose, over-elaborate quiz. The weekend show also featured the Tranagram - where anything up to twenty singles were selected to deliver their initial letter to form a write-in jumble style anagram, complete with "cryptic" clue - it came out as The Tsaerawitch one week; there was one on the breakfast show which involved collecting cryptic clues to little bits of words to make a longer one which we never could quite follow but always seemed to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ("Cassius Clay's medicine would be 'Ali doses'...").

Then he tried to branch out from snooker on the radio by looking around the pub for more inspiration. Rather than alighting on the "BBC Radio 1 Dave Lee Travis Give Us A Break" games machines which stalked bars and student unions of the time, he chose, instead, the dartboard. Darts on the radio was, I'm afraid, a change with which I could not agree.


Anonymous said...

DLT - what a cock.

It makes my skin crawl even thinking about him. Ewww, as I believe the yoot say...

Anonymous said...

The one skill Travis did have was building up a competition, but the way in which he did it bordered on the ridiculous. On the "Think Link" - a very ordinary competition in which three records were played with a link between them - he constantly reminded the audience to "remember how my mind works", as if he we were trying to present himself as a crazed madman.

The final straw had to be "The Face Race" which was pure cheese and surely signalled the end of the road for him. Whenever I've heard him since, without a huge production team around him providing support, he has sounded a shadow of his former self.

He always raves on about his audience figures at the time (I've seen 15 million quoted which I find hard to believe as the station only had 18 million at the time), but I would guess most of them were so far outside of the target demographic it just perpetuated Radio One's image as an out of touch station.

However, replacing him with Danny Baker was not one of Matthew Bannister's most sensible decisons.

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