Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remember when radio DJs were famous enough for sitcoms to make gags about them?

When Mark Ellen and I had our chat with Johnnie Walker at Word In Your Ear the other week - now available as a podcast - I teased him with the fact that he was always the housewife's favourite. He shrugged it off.

This weekend I was watching some old episodes of "Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads", including their most famous show in which they try to avoid accidentally hearing the result of England's game against Bulgaria.

They visit Terry's long-suffering housewife sister Audrey, played by the lovely Sheila Fearn. The first thing they do is switch off her radio. "One day without Johnnie Walker won't do anyone any harm," says Terry. Big laugh.

That's a kind of immortality. Back in the day when sitcom writers would make gags about DJs. Back in the days when audiences knew who they were.


  1. Has any UK DJ* been name-checked in a popular song? Unless my frazzled, late May morning, weary head has been bleached clean by the sunlight, I am struggling to think of a single example. Mind you, it's only been five minutes so far ...

    *Caveat: excluding John Peel (of which there are a fair few) - I'm thinking more of the daytime fodder - as alluded to in the original post

  2. "One day without Johnnie Walker won't do anyone any harm" would've been good advice to my late father, who never listened to the radio but was nevertheless a great admirer of Mr Walker, not to mention Messrs Bell, Grant and the like...

    I imagine these days the DJs whose names are well-known enough to attract a name-check probably aren't on the radio - and those of us who still listen to it probably wouldn't recognise them anyway. Or em I'm just showing my age - yeah, probly..! Three TV channels and a smattering of radio stations, eeh, them wuz the days...

  3. What about this ditty:

  4. But wasn't there only one pop music station then? Even my old man knew their names and he never listened to Radio One in his life!

  5. Franz Ferdinand name checked Terry Wogan in "The Dark Of The Matinee".

  6. I didn't get where i am today by listening to Johnnie Walker..

  7. Wasn't Suede's She's In Fashion about Zoe Ball?

  8. In Porridge, DJs were mentioned infrequently but enough to be noticed. Jimmy Young and Tony Blackburn's names were used, in the context of a letter to Hello Young Lovers, or a punchline to a whimsical bit of monologue from Godber ("'ere, is this a prayer or a dedication on the Jimmy Young show?")

    Kid Jensen left Radio 1 for Capital in 1984 but was still mentioned in a DJ context on Only Fools And Horses ("he's trying to get the Kid Jensen show!") a year later. Notwithstanding his previous national profile, it was still an example of a real local radio DJ being mentioned on a national level. There's always been an assumption in the London media and showbiz elite that people had heard of Capital Radio (in its original form) and its DJs because they had - not all of them had a national profile.

    There's an episode of Only Fools And Horses a few years later where Del and Raquel are having breakfast in bed in a long opening scene and the Mayo breakfast show on R1 is playing in the background, only it consists purely of Simon and Dianne speaking with the odd weather and travel jingle, no records at all.