Friday, June 13, 2008

"Wise guy on line one"

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?


  1. I have deliberately avoided Baker on Euro 2008 606 because he'd be working for much of the time on an entirely different level to the average caller and he needs his type of caller to be his best.
    Had I been listening I could have phoned in and said that I can't stand Croatia because their manager got Lauren Blanc sent off in the semi final of France '98 (I think) thereby allowing Franc Le Boeuf a World Cup winners medal he barely deserves.
    In all other aspects Croatia are the ideal team for the neutral to root for, great kit, relatively small nation, play very good football (all through the team) but I just can't get past Slaven Bilic's previous.

    Whether that would elevate me to the level of Danny Baker's type of caller I'll leave others to judge.

  2. I think what the likes of DB's show is how low the bar is set by other shows. Also why is his show so short he barely has time to set out the agenda before it's time for the eternal traffic news etc.
    As to Croatia I have problem with supporting any Balkan side as all of them after they spent the last few years being horrible to each other. They do have a good kit though.

  3. It's nice to have a show where it's a given that the audience are smart, though, isn't it? One of my proudest life moments was calling Mr B when he had the Five Live breakfast show with a story about Princess Margaret. It was bizarre, but making him laugh with it was a blast.

  4. You've got to love a presenter whose guidance for callers is just to "be any good", advice which I don't hear being taken on board on most shows.

  5. 'Be any good' - that's exactly it. He's intolerant of anyone wasting his, and, by extension, the listeners', time. It's always a joy to hear someone come on Baker's show, full of themselves, with a well-rehearsed story that has them guffawing in the Dog & Duck, only to leave the airwaves like a salted slug because Baker didn't think it passed muster. Or - the worst crime of all - because he judged it to be apocyrphal. Lesser hosts (i.e. all of them) would say "Well, that's your opinion" or "Thanks for your contribution". I don't give a tuppenny toss about football, but I could listen to DB talking about anything. And yes, the regular callers make the show. I let out a whoop of delight when I heard the words "Brian from Broxbourne". Paging Mick the Clairvoyant Barber and Keithybaby. Mick the Clairvoyant Barber and Keithybaby to the white courtesy telephone, please.

    Talking of "thanks for your contribution" was there ever a greater drop in quality of any radio station's output as when Jon Gaunt followed Baker's breakfast show on BBC London? Even on an off-day, Baker tanned Gaunt's fat, intolerant, bellicose hide.