Music & Radio

The History Years: Simon Mayo’s 2001 departure from Radio 1


Chris Moyles has crossed the road from Broadcasting House, but he’s not the first. 

While I pay tribute to ‘The Saviour’ here’s my archive look at Simon Mayo’s departure.

The History years‘ – Originally published 7th March 2001 in York Vision

Matt Goddard wonders what he’s going to do in the mornings now Simon Mayo’s ‘gone on to better things’.

“SIMON MAYO IN THE MORNING, HE’S NO LONGER YAWNING…  Anymore…  La, la, la, la, la, One FM”.  Blur rings out and suddenly you’re in the past and the present at the same time – oh, and in bed.

It’s all so reassuring.

It was the same on the morning of 16 February when an era ended.  After 15 years, Simon Mayo left Radio One and took some important parts of my teenage memories with him.

Now, I know not all of you care about Radio One or particularly Simon Mayo, but I also know a lot of other, equally distraught people.  Mope.  You don’t HAVE to carry on reading this, but in writing it I’m attempting to vindicate the hundreds of hours I’ve spent listening to Mayo’s show rather than doing something slightly more important.

Mayo’s show was the mainstream movie-show of choice.
It’s not that Radio One had the best critics.
Oh, no, no, no…”

Somehow he showed more innovation in his dead-pan presentation than anyone, and managed to justify that lie-in until 12 on a Thursday morning.  If I woke up in time, I’d guess the ‘Mystery Years’, then just lie-in to hear ‘Dead or Alive’, oh, and then just a bit longer to hear ‘King of the Movies’ (or the oh-so-superior One World), then the ‘Eleven-Thirty-Three’ or ‘Millennium Anthems’ oh, and then to hear who Wicky-Wah-Wah-Will’s been that day.  After that I’m chucked out of bed by Jo Wiley.

No more.  Much as I love Jo on Channel Four at midnight, she’s single-handedly solving my lie-in problem.

There were other jewels in the 9-12 show: ‘God of the Week’ constantly confirmed what you always thought about Jim Carrey or David Duchovny.  When producer George ‘regenerated’ into Producer Will last year I laughed for hours – it’s the little attentions to detail that make a show.  Sara Cox take note.

A big bonus was the fact that I’m a movie-lover.  Mayo’s show was the mainstream movie-show of choice.  It’s not that Radio One had the best critics.  Oh, no, no, no.  Yet the BBC gave Mayo the biggest budget for ridiculously high concept prizes and his team had the ingenuity to match.  Perhaps by the end, they were losing it (how many times was the lame ‘Kind of the Movies’ competition won by the fastest search engine?) but there are great memories.

Last year, the fantastic’ One World’ shifted into ‘One World is Not Enough’ for the 19thJames Bond film.  The prize escapes me, but I couldn’t stop uttering the catchphrase for weeks.  The fantastic Matrix competition to see the premiere in Paris; all the finalists lost, and Jo Wiley had to wait while Mayo did what he does best.  Oh, and don’t forget the Phantom Menace compo, the only element of Star Wars: Episode One which lived up to the hype.

His last show was suitably impressive.  Some of the familiar parts of had to go for times-sake, but ending on a Lemmy comment and Ace of Spades: Genius.

Moby, Terrorvision, Feeder, a very ingratitude Travis, Everclear all sent in messages of tribute and I think everyone was surprised by some impromptu interludes from The Shirehorses and the Proclaimers.

Special mention has to go to ‘The Mystery Years’.  You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.  It’s been around for as long as I can remember, but obviously it’s got easier as it went on; more nineties-centric.  The favourite year by far on the day was 1996, and what a year it was.  The Manic’s Design for Life’ slid into the Prodigy firestarting.  And to end on Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger – does that song make a great conclusion to everything?  Sure, back then Oasis were the biggest band in the world, but anyway 1996 was fantastic.  Yep, it was my long post-GCSE summer, so it was particularly great for me.

Mayo’s apparently going to resurrect ‘The Mystery Years’ in may on Five Live, but it just won’t be the same in the afternoon.  Especially clashing with Mark and Lard.

A typically BBC quote went up on the website – whoever said they weren’t diplomatic?  – but what are they up to?  Like Mayo on the said morning, I don’t think there’s a need to slag off their aggressive radio policy.  However, Mayo isn’t DLT.  The last year has seen them ditch the Roadshow all in favour of the One-World, One Love slogan and Leeds street parties.  Sure, sounds great – I know the world’s changing but I’m being made to feel old by BBC execs just a few years older than me.  What about my day?  Don’t they know how disturbing it is to wake up at 10, hear Jo Wiley and think it’s the afternoon?  It’s messing with ME.

His leaving present which reminds him of Radio One, a mirror and a razorblade.
That’s because everyone here is so smart and clean shaven obviously’

Sure there were slights at the BBC on Mayo’s last day, most notably the last questionnaire, annunciated by Angus Deayton.  He asked a representative number of people, ‘Apart from joining FiveLive, what else could Simon Mayo have done next?’

‘3% said sit back and admire his leaving present which reminds him of Radio One, a mirror and a razorblade.  That’s because everyone here is so smart and clean shaven obviously’.

Hmmmm.  As the last day suggested, not many ex-Radio one DJs go on to bigger and better things (Simon Dee, Simon Bates, Mike Reid, DLT..?).  Ii hope Mayo’s an exception.  At least he gets to have a lie-in of student standards now.  It’s easy to forget he was with Radio One for 15 years.  In any line of work that’s amazing, least of all fickle Radio One.

He even managed to hold the breakfast Show for five years, imagine that now.

Oh well, maybe it’s good Mayo’s left.  After all, I can get up early, so some stuff, not waste money or time phoning the BBC and get a degree.  Yeah, whatever, bring back 1996.”

JokerMatt subsequently scraped a degree and his ‘One World is Not Enough’ impression still has it. 

The Mystery years subsequently resurfaced on the Chris Moyles Show – another 15 year Radio 1 alumni, with a record eight years on the breakfast show –  and Simon Mayo has been reconnected with Mark Kermode to once again take the mantle as BBC’s Mr Film. 

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