Friday, 14 September 2012

Today was the last Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1.

Chris has always been a bit of a "Marmite" presenter, with many loyal fans on one side and those who find him irritating on the other. Those who don't like the show don't appear to have much in common (I would struggle to think of many other similarities between my 23 year old colleague, my mother and the tabloid press) but those of us who love it feel like part of a little community. We remember things that happened years ago. We get the "in jokes". When Chris goes off on one and Aled tries to regain control, others deem it outrageous behaviour whilst we tut fondly, knowing to just enjoy the rant and that everyone will be laughing again in half an hour's time.

I started listening to the Chris Moyles Show somewhere around 2001. I was doing my A-levels at the time and the Chris Moyles Show (then on in the afternoons) provided me with light relief after a hard day's studying. I remember my granddad calling me down for dinner at about 5.30pm some nights, but I would stay in my room listening until the show broke for Newsbeat at 5.45pm. My food might have been cold but it was worth it.

Many fans of the show (including celebs like James Corden, Gary Barlow, Davina McCall and Billie Piper who were guests at yesterday's Goodbye Show broadcast from the BBC Radio Theatre) have said that being a regular listener of the show is like having a group of friends come around to chat to you every morning. To me it's all the better because I'm fairly socially anxious, so it's nice to have a group of friends who make me laugh every day without actually having to join in the conversation myself.

I have some very strong memories of the Chris Moyles Show through the years. Obviously there are all the big moments on the show itself, e.g. being on air during the events of 9/11, moving from afternoons to breakfast, members of the team's children being born (I still love the lullaby version of the jingle they made - it's so sweet!), Carrie leaving, Dave's divorce (well, both of them really) and all the last shows before Christmas (it always felt like the festive period had really begun).

And then there are the various features from over the years, e.g. the Cheesy Song, Celebrity Tarzan, Rob DJ's Monday Night Pub Quiz, Sting Ring (and at Christmas Bing Ring), the Golden Hour and King of Tickets. Not to mention the parodies - I can't read an Indian takeaway menu without singing Lamb Bhuna and I can't even see a lorry now without singing, "I'm driving my truck with my high heels onnnnn", which might really get me in trouble one day!

But it's funny that all these memories are attached to memories of what was going on in my life at the time too. I remember vividly living in Bradford, waking up with a real case of the "mean reds" after yet another late night of the chavs playing loud music, winding up a pit bull and dealing drugs in the car park below our bedroom window. And then Sting Ring came on and out of the blue made me smile. Before I'd even gotten out of bed, the show had turned my mood right around, just by calling some poor, confused soul at an ungodly hour and playing clips of Sting songs down the phone at them. Childish? Certainly. Funny? Hilarious!

I also remember being very stressed whilst organising our house move a few months back and all those problems being the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning. Then one morning when it seemed everything was going wrong, they played Clair de lune by Debussy (a feature called Classical Class) and I just let myself lie in bed and be soothed by the lovely music for a few minutes. It was the most peaceful I'd felt in days. It didn't last long mind you, but for those few minutes it was just what I needed.

On a happier note I also remember the show's tours. In March 2007 the show came to the Beach Club at the Odyssey for Red Nose Rallyoke. We managed to get in and saw the team for the first time in real life. We put money in Dom's charity bucket as he went past and he thanked us. I wanted to ask him for a photo but I was too shy. We said hi to Aled too. It was a great night and cemented my already-pretty-hardcore devotion to the show.

Then in December 2009 the team brought Caroloke to Mandela Hall at Queen's Student's Union. They had announced they would be giving away tickets in a "secret location" that morning in Belfast, and I had determined I would hang around the City Hall (being the centre of the city centre) ready to hotfoot it to wherever they announced.

As luck would have it I never needed to hotfoot it anywhere - as my bus turned into Donegall Square East I caught sight of the familiar figure of Aled walking up the ramp to the Belfast Wheel right at the City Hall itself. I got off the bus and lurked around the locked gates leading to the Wheel. Another girl appeared at the same time, also with her headphones on, looking up at the Wheel and then back at me. We shared a smile and started a queue by the gates.

Minutes later the show went live to Aled and he announced he was at the Belfast Wheel (well duh!) and would give out tickets for the show that night to the first however many people turned up. Other Girl and I grinned giddily at each other and then stared down the security guys who had now assembled behind the locked gate. Impatiently we waited as the seconds passed. We could see others approaching from the ends of the street… come on men, open those gates!

Eventually (with weary looks - clearly not fans of the show), they begrudgingly opened the gates and Other Girl and I ran up the ramp towards Aled. We still had our headphones on so we could hear the show and we could both see and hear Aled as he exclaimed that, oh my goodness, people were there already! A steady stream of Belfast listeners soon followed us up the ramp and we all gave Chris a cheer on air before we got our wristbands and were directed away from the Wheel again. I rushed to phone the Yorkshireman so we could share our glee!

Then it got even weirder. That evening I was on the bus on the way back to the city centre from work and Scott Mills asked people to text in if they were looking forward to Caroloke that night in Belfast. Dutifully I texted in saying I was really excited and thought that was that… until a few minutes later my phone rang. It was only flipping Scott Mills himself! He asked if I'd be willing to go on the radio to tell everyone how excited I was and despite my phobia of the phone and also being on a bus full of people I said ok. Gulp!

He said he would come back to me after the song finished and I said ok, experiencing the strangeness of listening to the show but live from the studio over my mobile. I could hear him talking to someone in the background about places in the UK it was supposedly snowing. Then Scott came back on to ask me how far away Larne was from Belfast. Seemingly someone from Larne had texted in to say it was snowing there. My geography is not great but I guessed about 20 miles. It turns out that's pretty close so it was a good guesstimation! Anyway, the song ended and Scott introduced me and asked me if I was excited about going to the show that night. I cannot even remember what I said (yes, obviously, but there were more words) but I don't think I embarrassed myself too much. I do however think I said "love you" back to Scott at the end of the conversation, which I had previously said was silly (damn it) but the pressure of being live on the radio to literally millions of people does funny things to you!

Apparently back in Yorkshire, the Yorkshireman's sister was listening to Radio 1 in her car on the way home and was deeply perplexed by simultaneously trying to drive up a steep hill in the snow and wondering if that was indeed me she was hearing on the radio. Fun times!

That night the Yorkshireman, sister dearest and I all went to the Student's Union and stood in the world's longest queue for ages! I actually had 4 wristbands and only needed 3 (no-one else could come at short notice) so I gave away my spare one in the queue while we waited. Eventually our wristbands and IDs were checked and we were allowed in. We rushed to the front (prioritising proximity to the stage over proximity to the bar, which was simultaneously worth it and annoying) and laid claim to our territory.

The show was brilliant fun. The team all sang (some better than others) and everyone in the crowd went mental dancing and singing along. At one point sister dearest shouted something and one of the team (I can't remember who now) laughed in an approving way at her. Chris also smiled at me at one point. Our nights were made. The Yorkshireman wrote about it all afterwards - it's kind of fun to read it back now.

The shows yesterday and today were video broadcast as well as audio. I couldn't view it via the Red Button on Tivo (stupid Tivo) but both days I detoured via the City Hall on my way to work to watch a few minutes of the shows on the big screen. Yesterday I stood in the drizzle as Ant and Dec presented a special version of This Is Your Life for Chris.

Today I sat on one of the benches in yet more rain, looking affectionately on as the team enjoyed their last day.

After a few minutes I got up and turned to walk out of the grounds, when I caught sight of a guy about my age, standing in business attire just off to the side, also watching the screen. We caught each other's eye and shared a look that said it all: this is the end of an era. Then I went to work and broke all the Internet usage rules by watching the last 15 minutes streamed on the Radio 1 website. It was worth it to see the big finale and to be there for the last goodbye.

The following images were taken from BBC Radio 1's online live show

A fittingly musical ending for Chris given that he's now going on to star as Herod in the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. We're actually going to see it in the Odyssey in October - can't wait!

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can't remember a time in my adulthood thus far where the Chris Moyles Show hasn't been part of my life. I used to sorely miss it when they were off on holidays and now there's a vast sea of empty mornings ahead of me and I'm not quite sure how to fill them.

Like many of those who have remained loyal to the show for years, as I get that little bit older I like less and less of the music that Radio 1 plays, and I've found myself looking forward to the Golden Hour on Friday mornings more than the latest offering from Nicki Minaj or all this odd dubstep stuff that's so "in" right now. So I'm not sure whether to just cut my losses at being one of the hip and trendy crowd and just move on to a station that plays "all the hits from the 80s, 90s and today!", or whether to give Chris's replacement Nick Grimshaw a try. We'll see.

One thing is for certain, I am genuinely grateful to have had the privilege of listening for all those years, to share in the highs and lows of the team's lives and to feel like a very small part of something so special. I am also genuinely sad that it has come to end. However I'm told that all good things must, so it just remains to wish the team the best of luck and happiness in their future endeavours and again to say thank you. Goodbye, Chris Moyles Show. I'll miss you.