The Radio 1 Breakfast Show (BBC Radio 1, 1967-present)
As I have now done several pieces in this series, I thought that I would begin this one by taking the opportunity to write a little more about my listening habits. When I was younger, around the early-90s, I didn’t really listen to the radio that much at all, and when I did, it was almost always BBC Radio 1. I don’t recall ever listening to the likes of Capital or Kiss, Virgin and Heart hadn’t launched yet, and BBC Radio 2 and LBC weren’t really aimed at me.
And I have always lived in an area where there have been a large amount of pirate radio stations, and although I never went through the dial much back then, I did hear a lot of them, usually playing rave or techno or whatever genres were big in the clubs at the time. And when I did listen to Radio 1 in the early-90s, it wasn’t much beyond The UK Top 40, and maybe also occasionally Pick Of The Pops, or Steve Wrightintheafternoon.
And as a consequence, this was the only time when I was a regular listener to the Breakfast Show. Before I went to school, I remember that I would usually have the TV on, and it would be either TV-am or The Big Breakfast. But I also went through a period when the radio was on, so I became rather familiar with Simon Mayo, who hosted the Breakfast Show for over five years.
Mayo joined Radio 1 in 1986, and in 1988, just two years later, he was promoted to Breakfast. Now I’ve never really been sure why this is considered to be the prime-time slot in radio where it’s most important to get the listeners, but Mayo quickly proved that he was suitable. And he would also go on to have something of a career in TV, joining the list of Top Of The Pops hosts around this time too, and he also appeared in adverts, so he was soon a familiar face as well as voice.
Mayo would become known for having a posse, consisting of the people who hosted to news and travel, and were encouraged to join in. One of the memorable things that he did were his campaigns to get rather unlikely songs to be released and make the chart, including Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”, and this did indeed make the Top Ten.
Regular features included On This Day In History, The Identik-Hit Quiz, and most famously, Confessions, where people would write in and reveal something rather outrageous that they had done. This was then turned into a BBC1 series with a game show format, but some people were uncomfortable with people being offered prizes for admitting to doing unsavoury things, so this was dropped for the remaining series, and turned into a straightforward “embarrassing secrets revealed” show.
Radio 1 was changing a lot by the time Mayo left the slot in 1993, and although I did become a regular listener to some afternoon shows later in the decade including Chris Moyles, I didn’t listen to that slot again, so I never heard any of his replacements, including Steve Wrightintheafternoon, who of course because of this had to briefly change his name to Steve Wrightinthemorning.
Mayo then moved to the late-morning slot, where he stayed until 2001. He then moved to BBC Radio 5 Live (where his film review show became popular), and later BBC Radio 2 (where he often told us to “enjoy yourself”). He also hosted BBC Radio 4’s comedy panel game Act Your Age, and did some more TV work, including the game shows Winning Lines, and one of the many revivals of Blockbusters. Mayo is still working in radio all these years on, and many other people have enjoyed his work.