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 – Hawksbee And Jacobs.

Hawksbee And Jacobs (Talk Radio/TalkSport, 1999-present)

A while ago I used to listen to various shows on TalkSport, and one of them that I enjoyed was Hawksbee And Jacobs, a double-act who took a more light-hearted look at what was happening in sport in a similar style to Baker and Kelly, and indeed it could be said that they were their replacements on that station. Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs had previously worked on sport magazines including 90 Minutes and TV shows, including Fantasy Football League, where Paul was a writer, and Andy was the producer.

One of their first shows was The Friday Night Kickabout (although this was in various other slots) looking back at the latest football (Paul is a Spurs fan, Andy is a Chelsea fan). As they hadn’t really developed any regular features or running gags by that point, I remember that most of their stories began “when I worked on Fantasy Football League…”, as they had met plenty of footballers on that show. handj

And around the same time, they also hosted Under The Floodlights, a late-night show about cricket, which included playing the dice game Howzat!, with the umpire doing an impression of a writer from The Mail On Sunday for some reason. I’ll never think of the song “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Rainbow in the same way again. By now they were beginning to establish themselves on the station, and in 2000 they were given a regular weekday afternoon slot.

There were now some regular features, and there were plenty of highlights. These included the competitions The Birthday Spread, where Andy had to guess the ages of various people that were listed in that day’s newspaper (with a song from the non-flag waving Pele), and Sport Or No(r)t, where callers had to guess whether people with unusual names were famous for sport or they weren’t, and remember the rule, “it’s just a horse”.

Inbetween the adverts for prune juice, there were plenty of other features too (and a bonus to them for using “There’s No Other Way” by Blur as one of the songs they came out of the break to). These included a review of American sport, The Fools Panel, where callers had to guess the weekend’s football results, and they even occasionally had a computer game review with Jonathan Ipswich, who was an Ipswich Town fan but didn’t like to go on about it, and also hosted the tough competition The Answer Is Ipswich.

Also memorable was when they would play the audio versions of various sportpeople’s autobiographies. These included the cricketer “Fiery Freddie” Trueman, who wanted to give something back to the game because he felt that he had an obligation to do so, and he often informed us “this man was being so blasé into the bargain, that I were really furious. And I’m afraid I hit him in the mouth, and he had to be carried off” (yes, that was his catchphrase).

There were also the Australian tennis player John Newcombe, who had won a huge amount of tournaments over the years, including “The World Championship Of Tennis”, which doesn’t seem to actually exist, and horse racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan, who reminisced about people who liked to “imbibe in the morning”, and I’m sure that they were just all great guys who loved their racing.

Friday editions always concluded with The Clips Of The Week, some of the more unusual moments and gaffes that had recently happened on the station. Most of these were provided by Alan Brazil, the Scottish ex-footballer turned red-faced boozy breakfast show host (when he turned up) and freeloader, with his show often coming live from Lord Vestey’s Box, marvellous. One highlight was when he slurred something like “spuhwuhwuh”, and then they deliberately played that all over the travel report to put the host off, which didn’t work by the way. ab

Alan was also fond of golf, ending interviews with “we must do lunch sometime!”, and liked to inform us when the time was 9:32. His co-host at this time was Mike “Porky” Parry, who often came out with some bizarre statements (I remember an often-played trail where a caller said “I am currently sat in the car bent-up double, laughing at this feller. He cannot be real”).

Also featuring was Joe Holland (or “Dutch” as he was known in the dressing room), a short-lived late-night host who had some very bizarre observations on life, the unsurprisingly unsuccessful Poker On The Radio with Graham “Beaky” Beacroft, and The Caller Of The Week, which made Andy laugh a lot. All of this would be produced by “The Ploughman”, and some guy who laughed like Basil Brush.

People have noted that the style of Hawksbee And Jacobs is rather similar to Baker and Kelly, and some will always consider them to be second-best by comparison, but there’s no doubt that they’ve provided lots of amusing moments. Paul would also go on to be a writer for Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Two decades on they are still there, although I haven’t listened much lately, as they seem to have taken on a more serious style. There’s just enough time to say “pie”.