Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Radio One More Time: Junior Choice

As we've seen, Radio One once felt the need to offer something in the way of family entertainment, and weekend breakfast shows were thus handed over to Junior Choice.

One of the few request programmes on the station, an avuncular host (Ed "Crackerjack" "Stewpot" Stewart, or Tony "had a barking dog sound effect" Blackburn) would work his way through the softer end of pop music, with a side-order of songs aimed at, or about, kids.

Unfortunately, the range of songs which fell into these categories was somewhat limited, which meant that the same songs used to come round with a frequency that took familiarity's breeding of contempt into factory farming levels. Ever wondered how Mike Reid could afford all that jewellery before he joined EastEnders? PRS payments from the Ugly Duckling. John Inman's Teddy Bear's Picnic, Frankie Howerd's Little Fishes, Sparky The Magic Piano and Tubby The Tuba - all found the sort of access to a large Radio One audience that pluggers from the major labels would have given cocaine-streaked blowjobs for.

Even when the tracks made little sense to a British audience, they were pressed into service: it was probably a full ten years after hearing Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh that I discovered American children got packed off to camp every summer and finally got what Allan Sherman was on about. Tubby The Tuba was a two-part story, but never got played back-to-back so you couldn't ever quite follow the action. Something about a tuba that had somehow become sentient, I think. It might have killed all the people in a small town, but I'm not sure.

There was also something of an obsession with elephants. Englebert the Elephant was always - due to an hilarious mix-up in a secretarial office - being invited to dance before the Queen at a Royal Ball, while Nellie was constantly packing her trunk and saying farewell to the circus. Indeed, Nellie became something of a totem for Junior Choice, being the song which Pete Powell singled out for special mention when he took over weekend breakfasts and called an end to the children's slot. He wouldn't be playing Nellie The Elephant, he insisted - only for The Toy Dolls to record a punky cover version of the song, which Powell found himself obliged to introduce on Top of the Pops.

Just as a footnote, it's worth recording the final Ed Stewart show - also his last programme for Radio One - which had one of the longest DJ handovers in living memory. DLT adopted the persona of a Radio One security guard, returning the "items removed from your person when you joined Radio One". It was the sort of toe-curling skit which would have been awkward at a private party, but its rolling out over about ten minutes of BBC Radio may explain why most radio bosses try to terminate presenters in such a way as to avoid prolonged on-air farewells.

[Part of Radio One More Time]


Mikey said...

I used to really like Junior Choice when I was a kid. I actually bought my first David Bowie album because he was the bloke who did 'Laughing Gnome' - 'The Man who sold the World' didn't turn out as fun-packed as it sounded though...

Anonymous said...

My parents always used to have Junior Choice on every Saturday morning. On the plus side it introduced me to The Goons and Monty Python but Puff the Magic Dragon really freaked me out. They should make a compilation of the Junior Choice playlist containing such gems as "Windmills of Old Amsterdam", "Three Wheels on My Wagon", and "My Brother" so I could buy it and igve it to someone I'm not particularly keen on...

doyok sebastiantot said...

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