The welcome return of Danny Baker to Five Live's 606 football phone-in underlines how in this interactive world we're all reliant on the sparkiness of audiences. Suddenly the bar is raised and it's not easy to find people who can clear it. It wasn't easy to get the average Five Live listener coming up with limericks that contained a rhyme for Switzerland and his call for contributions from people who had an irrational antipathy to certain competing nations solicited not much more than "France. Because they're French." It was only when his old listeners came on the line, readily identifiable through their "Ahoy Ahoy" salutation, that the idiosyncratic aircraft of his humour began to lumber into the air. As soon as it reaches cruising altitude Euro 2008 will be over and Five Live will presumably resume their efforts to turn the estimable Tim Lovejoy into something he's not, a radio broadcaster.
When you open up the lines the best you can actually hope for is a ready-made experience or gag. I heard such a one this morning. Nicky Campbell was asking for contributions from people who had married their childhood sweethearts. "I've been married to my wife for thirty years," said one. "I haven't spoken to her for the last twenty. It seems rude to interrupt." How have I never heard that one before?