Radio Memories – Clive Bull.

Here’s how I discovered this radio presenter. I hadn’t listened to the radio much before the mid-90s. But one night in 1996, I was going through the dial on MW to determine if there was anything that I might be interested in. I came across someone playing a game. Now I knew all about game shows on the TV, but game shows on the radio?!

This was called Round The Clock, and the presenter was someone called Clive Bull, who it turned out had already been popular for many years. I liked this because callers took part, and then a dice sound effect was played, with a counter being moved on to a square on a board which featured all of the presenters on the schedule (which at this time included the likes of Paul Coia and Fred Housego). vlcsnap-00807

They had all been asked a question, the callers had to determine what their answer would be, and clips of them saying “yes” and “no” would be played to the callers, which must’ve been rather difficult to put together, but it worked. On other days of the week, there would be other games played. These included Memory Bank, where a number would be nominated, a clip was played, and then the question was asked.

I remember the question that went on for a very long time, that featured a song with someone yodelling who had to be guessed. The amount of people who said “is it Frank Ifield?”. If it wasn’t him the first time, why would it be him the 50th! And there was also The Circle Line, featuring the dice again, where a counter would go around the Underground line, with the stations announced by an echoey voice, and questions asked.

This was all very good, and I soon made this my “about to go to bed” station of choice, and at this point Clive usually was in the 9pm-1am slot. This was on a station that would eventually turn into LBC (the history of LBC is rather complicated, but this wasn’t LBC at the time, even though it was). There was also the phone-in element.

Clive would take calls from a rather regular group of people, most of them were rather old, and some of them were dare I say it, a little eccentric. Clive sometimes liked to take clips of their comments and play them at random moments (“drop them food parcels!”). Clive didn’t know what to say if someone made a particularly odd or daft comment, so he would get rid of them and play colleague Douglas Cameron saying “thank you ever so much for the most interesting call!”.

Looking back now, I realise that most of the callers at that time when I was still in my early-teens were probably born around 1915. I probably should’ve spent more time listening to Kiss like everyone else my age… Other features included when the producer Bob had to go off for a tea break, so Clive would put callers straight to air (I have noticed that Nick Abbot and Tommy Boyd, the other radio phone-in presenters that I reviewed recently also did this, which is an odd coincidence). Be sure to make some valid points!

And there was Chris who was The Midnight Weatherman, who gave us a late update. Chris and Bob would often play Turning The Tables, where the listeners sent in questions for them to play, when it was usually the other way round, and Bob often won easily. Also contributing was TV critic Marcus Berkmann, who was fond of game shows (and has written a book about the subject), and he also once appeared on Fifteen-To-One, where had had a mini meltdown, and got knocked out on the final question.

About a decade ago, Clive took a long break from LBC, and it had even been announced that he had retired. But he did return, and he is currently in a weekend late slot. It’s good that he’s still around, but things have changed, there are no more games, no more features, and more more quirky callers, it’s now just a straightforward news phone-in like the rest of the station.

Radio Memories – Tommy Boyd.

Tommy Boyd is someone who I remember watching on the TV, but by the mid-90s he had left the screen and got into radio. Because I still had a lot of goodwill for him following his time on TV-am and CITV, I thought that I would give him a listen. I was rather surprised to discover that he was someone who was often let go from radio stations for his antics. Tommy hosted a live phone-in on Talk Radio on weekday afternoons, and he seemed to be interested in why people had particular opinions and attitudes, and what the world was all about.

He could be classed as being something of a wind-up merchant, but at least he was a good one. He would begin shows by making a statement like “I think that this should be banned”, and then wait for the response. He would often get callers who said “Tommy, you’re talking rubbish”. The next day, he would state “I think that this should be legalised”, and he’d get a different group of people say “Tommy, you’re talking rubbish”. It was as if they hadn’t actually heard him hold exactly the opposite opinion just a day earlier, and I think that he got a thrill out of doing that, even if this meant that it was difficult to know what his actual views on anything in the news were. vlcsnap-00005

He would often end up saying to inarticulate callers “you have poor communication skills!”, and this came alarmingly close to being a catchphrase. He also seemed to attract a rather large share of dotty old ladies who simply wanted to shout at him. He would often end the week with The Wonderful Hour, that was full of touching anecdotes, and was rather a contrast to the usual debate.

After this, Tommy was briefly on LBC, often presenting alongside Anne Diamond, which brought back more memories of TV-am. By the early-2000s, Tommy returned to the newly-named TalkSport, now on weekend evenings. Features included a football questions competition. And he also dedicated an hour to younger listeners, and discovered that most of them wanted to talk about wrestling (I must admit that I did occasionally watch WWF on Sky One at the weekend so I knew a little about this myself).

This was then turned into a full hour, featuring fans and pundits offering their views on what was happening on the wrestling scene (and occasionally having an argument with Tommy and pretending to throw him through a table). This resulted in Tommy putting on a big live event featuring lots of famous wrestlers grappling it out including Eddie Guerrero. Yes, the Eddie Guerrero!

And there was The Human Zoo, which put callers straight to air. Most of them seemed to be bored teenagers who had put together comedy sketches or songs, and rather a lot of them seemed to admire Tommy’s colleague Mike “I’ve had a gutful” Dickin. He also often bickered with his producer. Being in my teens at the time as well, I did enjoy this. Most of the calls were rather weird, but after having managed to put up with Timmy Mallett for many years, Tommy was ready for anything.

There was also an opening sequence which boasted of Tommy’s career achievements, including meditating within the ancient walls of Machu Pichu, and also being good showbiz friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger, not like you, no. By this point, Tommy had attracted something of a cult following, although this only really meant that there was a website dedicated to his work, and about 50 men thought that he was brilliant.

Then he left again, and even briefly turned up on the BBC Local Radio circuit, before he ended up on increasingly small-time internet radio stations, talking to almost nobody at all, which was rather disappointing for someone of his stature in the business. I do hope that we haven’t heard the last of him yet though, and he can continue to share his hard-earned wisdom for a long time to come.

Radio Memories – Nick Abbot.

I thought that it was about time to look back at some more radio presenters who I have enjoyed over the years. Nick Abbot was among the launch line-up on BBC GLR in the late-80s. This was long before I was a regular radio listener, and this station has gone on to have lots of of relaunches. I first came across Nick in the late-90s, when he was a presenter on both Virgin and Talk Radio, and I can’t think of many other people who have been on two separate national radio stations at the same time.

Nick was on Saturday evenings on Talk Radio, following Baker and Kelly’s football phone-in. I did enjoy his style, he often said “we don’t do topics”, and he didn’t usually discuss what was on the news agenda. For some reason that even he didn’t know, his opening theme was the rather noisy “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson. I remember that he said that on the first radio show he did, he received no calls at all. And even by this point he always seemed to get the same three callers, which was rather awkward for a national station. vlcsnap-00443

One of them was some woman from Cheddar who always thought that Nick was “very ‘fessional”. Nick also often bickered with his producer who he claimed was “useless”. And he was very found of his sound clips, often playing strange noises, and some were taken from early episodes of South Park, including Cartman saying “what?!” when he didn’t know what a caller was on about, which was rather often.

One of the most surreal moments that I’ve heard on the radio happened on Nick’s show. During the news, there was a report on sheepdip, which the presenter mispronounced as “sheepdick”. Nick found this amusing and turned this into a sound clip that was often played. Then not long after, the presenter made the same mistake again, and then made it even worse when trying to correct himself: “sheepdick… oh, er… sheep… dick… er, ooh”. And when they went back to Nick he laughed for about a minute.

Nick would often end his show with “screenless”, where callers were put to air without being asked what they wanted to talk about in advance (Tommy Boyd later got a whole three-hour show out of this idea). He could only put up with people for a few seconds though because of their bizarre outbursts, and he often wondered “who are these people?”. Not long after, Nick was moved to weekday evenings, so he was on five days a week on two stations, which was good.

But this only lasted for a short time as he was let go from Talk Radio following some schedule restructuring. And then he resurfaced on LBC (when this was still a London-only station) where he presented a Saturday evening show alongside Carol McGiffin, an ex-wife of Chris Evans. Nick and Carol did get on well, having worked together on Talk Radio too, but once again they only ever seemed to get the same three callers every week.

And once again he left after a short while, and I didn’t hear much about him for years. But then he returned to LBC on weekend evenings, where although he did now discuss the news agenda, he did have a little more light-hearted take on politics than most of the other presenters. It’s good to know that he’s still out there, and he is still playing those silly South Park clips all the time.