This week Chris Evans stepped boldly into the shoes of Terry Wogan as he took over the Radio 2 breakfast show.
Having re-tuned my radio (from Radio 4) and set-my alarm just early enough that I could hear the handover from Sarah Kennedy I looked forward to finding out how he’d deal with the pressure of following on from the broadcasting institution that is Terry Wogan.
Unfortunately in my poor tired state, my brain couldn’t quite cope with Sarah Kennedy ‘s strange ramblings about cats (complete with miaowing) so I’m not entirely sure how much of the next few minutes were dreamt or real. What I do know is that it was fantastic hearing Moira Stuart back on the BBC and she read the 7am bulletin in a wonderfully velvety tone. Chris played out some “hip hip hoorays” for her and it was game on, starting with “All you need is love” from the Beatles.
The show itself was packed full of features, reassurances to the TOGs, a “golden oldie” tune (picked by a listener and introduced by Moira Stuart) and music carefully chosen so as not to alienate older members of audience.
I really enjoyed the flow of comments from fellow radio geeks on Twitter. It felt great to be part of a community of listeners, an experience that the proliferation of radio stations/media outlets seems to have diminished somewhat.
I know that most people jumped straight online and offered their opinions on the show, but I decided to give Chris Evans and his team a few days to settle and review the show after a week.
After the first show I felt excited, I was almost late for work thanks to the “Mystery Guest” feature where the chap who holds the world record for bursting hot water bottles by blowing them up made for some quite unexpected radio. “I’m crazy! I’m crazy!” he kept shouting. When Chris finally got a word in edgeways and asked what his wife made of it all he replied by saying she thinks he should be sectioned. Eeek! Chris handled this well, and avoided a potentially embarrassing situation, but the fact that it could go either way kept me listening all the same.
Listening to Tuesday and Wednesday’s shows backed up my original thought that the show felt quite crowded with so many different features – or was it that there were too many listener interactions in overly prescriptive forms? Something wasn’t right, Chris wasn’t quite Chris. In fact he sounded a bit petulant when he repeatedly told us he was singing, not talking over the end of records. There had obviously been comments and it seemed he’d rather taken them to heart.
On Thursday though, something clicked. Whether they’d taken out some elements to give things time to breathe (I can’t tell you definitively as I was dashing in and out of the shower etc) or whether they’d all just relaxed a bit, I don’t know, but it sounded good.
Chris was back. Suddenly the little asides in emails became organic features, woven into the fabric of the show, the indiscernible things that make you feel welcome, part of the team were creeping back, and my thoughts of returning to Radio 4 pushed to the sidelines once more. The nerves were being replaced with the magic.
I had a little nosey at Chris Evans’s own blog on the Radio 2 site that morning. I was delighted to see that it wasn’t just me who thought that something was different that morning – the great man himself had picked up on the very same thing.
“If there is a Brekkie groove, I do believe we have found it. What a strange business this is though. I remember it was the Thursday of the first week of Drivetime until we began to feel like we knew what we were doing. Maybe that’s it, maybe it’s a four day thing.”
I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the show sounds next week. I have a sneaky feeling it will go from strength to strength the more Chris and the team relax into it.
And what of the TOGs? Has Chris been too “noisy”? Too shouty? Too much for them? I hope not, and I hope if they switched off after that first busy show, they give him another chance on Monday, he’s not as scary as they might think. Take it from my Gran, she’s 87, and I got her to tune in (via her TV) to the end of Friday’s show and let me know her thoughts. Her review is undoubtedly more interesting than mine – and here it is:
My impressions were favourable… the heading on TV read: “Chris Evans switches to this morning with the aim of setting the nation up for the day with the widest smiles”, a fair summing up I think.
It broke into a fun exchange of calls from listeners who had “met” pop stars..very light-hearted stuff, then some popular music and on to a short piece with “Rockin’ Roger Royle” who talked about Haiti. That and the news beautifully read by Moira Stuart gave a blend of depth and lightness to the show which was good.
The choice of music was modern and pleasant stuff interspersed with chat and I was pleasantly surprised. Chris was restrained yet upbeat, the whole programme proved not as noisy as I had feared…yes, even an oldie like me could tune in to this programme. Good luck Chris, Wogan’s a hard one to follow, but you have started well putting your own brand on Radio 2.