Chris Moyles Returns Stage Right in 2015: ‘Gonna be here every morning on Radio X – until they fire us’

Chris Moyles returns on X Radio

Three years ago, Jokerside opened its account with a look back at Chris Moyles’ final show on Radio 1. So, in the month of that third anniversary it’s very good of Chris Moyles to stage a much-hyped come-back on the retooled, regenerated and surely soon to be revived Radio X (formerly, XFM).

And he’s brought friends. Jokerside listened to his comeback show…

LOOKING BACK THREE YEARS… JOKERSIDE’S OPENING GAMBIT, A REVIEW OF CHRIS MOYLES LAST STEPS FROM BROADCASTING HOUSE, WAS A BLOODY MORBID AFFAIR. AWASH WITH TALK OF EPOCHS, ERAS AND AONS ENDING. Without so much as a Sic transit gloria mundi – although no one could have heard it over the wails of the gremlin scribes being crushed underfoot. “That’s no way to start a blog….” Splat. Well, now the next generation, a forgiving bunch, sit in polite applause. And it’s not simply that the intervening content has taken all their ire. No. A new era has begun. On 21st September, two days before autumn, pips rang out at 6.30 am on a new radio station with a familiar voice.

A quandary

“I’m glad the stars have aligned…”

Three years ago there was the quandary, subsequently proved to affect a large Moyles diaspora. On Radio 1, the belligerent Breakfast experiment saw the station target the younger market with masochistic downsizing to the no-gimmick Nick Grimshaw show. Even the show’s name was diminished. The idea of hanging on to Radio 1, so at least a few songs in the charts would stick in the head, was soon untenable. It was a change less admirable than the inarguable logic and commitment behind its change. And that’s from someone who previously abandoned the show during Sara Cox’s ill-advised reign. Grimshaw simply wasn’t boisterous enough, none of that balance of seat of the pants, intuitive and delicately planned broadcasting.

At the end, Moyles himself had knowingly pushed listeners onto BBC 6Music. Aside from that there was the rising trajectory of Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2, with his increasingly dazzling work ethic and fine-tunery now surely keeping him at full stretch. The Today Programme and FiveLive were serious options, but missing some notes. Away from the state broadcaster, the Global channels were an option, although Classic FM and Heart were again not boisterous enough. There was more hanging on this than I thought.

Perhaps like Johnny Vaughan, now lodged in the drive time slot after Moyles, it was a safe bet that the former Saviour of Radio 1 wouldn’t return to the early shift after his record breaking stint and dignified withdrawal. But so he has. There’s still something to say. And as undeniably one of the most gifted radio raconteurs of his generation, I’m glad the stars have aligned on what’s now called Radio X to make that happen.

Three Years

“Britain’s newest fun time radio station”

In short, since 2012, that heady year of the Olympics, Britain hasn’t changed too much. Sure, the Tories have a majority and now nobody knows the leader of the Liberal Democrats, but the most devastating thing to happen in UK politics since the coalition of 2010 (bar Tony Benn passing on) was the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, cemented a week before Moyles’ return. Even Bond, who’s last Albion-centric excursion helped solidify 2012 as one of the UK’s best years is returning within six weeks of Moyles’ debut. And just as the self-styled saviour, occasional enfant terrible of the airwaves left at the Queen’s Jubilee, so he returns just as Her Majesty’s taken the record for the longest reign. Back then Doctor Who was about to lose a companion, same now. The more things change, the more they stay the same – as I used to say in an old job of mine. But while the world seems to have shuffled during Moyles’ exile, the DJ is fond of saying that he’s a changed man. Though not too changed…
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Doctor Who Series 9: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Skaro and the End of the Acid Reign

Doctor Who Series 9 The Magician's Apprentice
“Guys! Guys! I think I’ve landed a walk on part…”

The first of a series of essays inspired by the stories of Doctor Who Series Nine, starting with a trip to a mysterious planet in The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar.

HOW WILL HISTORY RECORD THE MOFFAT ERA? THAT’S NOT A QUESTION FOR NOW OF COURSE, AND ONE UNLIKELY TO BE ANSWERED FOR A LONG TIME. WHEN THE SONIC GLASSES HAVE GATHERED DUST, WHEN THE TWELFTH DOCTOR’S MYSTERIOUS, HAWKISH, STRANGELY FAMILIAR FACE IS LONG GONE. Steven Moffat has written for more Doctors than anyone else, and you can’t even say with any confidence that he’s on his final one as showrunner… Having crossed confidentially onto his second Doctor and nearing the end of his second major companion, it’s not clear Who will go down as Moffat’s ‘definitive’ Doctor. And that joyfully creative mess sets out a simple stall…

Thanks for all the fish

Douglas Adams was surely Graham Williams’ ideal ally…

Moffat’s remarked on his regard for one time script editor Douglas Adams, not just for his small but extraordinary body of personal work (who doesn’t?), but for the legendary writer’s rather more divisive tenure on Doctor Who. In the mid-1970s, Adams had made a living out from writing comedy for radio, even forming a writing partnership with Monty Python’s Graham Chapman and being only one of two people outside the troupe to gain a writing credit on a sketch for the Flying Circus. Not fully on board with the likes of deadlines and delivery, it’s still surprising that he took the script editing seat for Season 17 in 1979 alongside producer Graham Williams. It didn’t help that the laws of the universe ensured that his little radio series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was commissioned for broadcast at the same time. Still, for the producer unlucky to follow Philip Hinchcliffe, tasked with fencing the show off from the heavy criticism that met his predecessor while retaining the viewing figures, Adams was surely an ideal ally.

The result is one of Who’s real mixed bags. Sadly, having already contributed a mind-bogglingly budget-straining script to the show the year before, Adams generally takes the credit for the highs of that time, while the lows are rather unfairly brushed under Graham Williams’ production seat. Adam’s The Pirate Planet from Season 16 is seen as a doughty attempt push ambition onto a screen that can barely contain it, The City of Death (co-written by a strained Williams and Adams from David Fisher’s idea under the David Agnew pseudonym) is a beautiful mess of sharp scripting, superb casting, foreign location and hard science fiction that managed to claim the classic show’s highest ratings. Shada had the foresight to never complete its production and shot swiftly for mythical status.

The rest of season 17 retains a fair few detractors, although there remains a few ardent fans for that loose and difficult time before the strident science of script editor Christopher H. Bidmead swept in, while Tom Baker took an arbitrary approach to whether the material bored him of filled him with sizzling physical comedy. If you like your Who served as comedy this is the place to find it.

Don’t Blink

To paraphrase 10cc, it’s just a phase Who’s going through.

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FICTIONSIDE 101: Five types of Hollywood Reboot

Hollywood reboots Jokerside

Film is about 125 years old, television nearing 90 and this week: Jokerside turns three! As the next year will see this blog cast its sideways glance even further – with even more splintering of pop culture to come – this anniversary is marked by the start of a new series. Jokerside’s Fictionside will look at storytelling trends and memes – in this first instalment, five recent ways that Hollywood has coped, or perhaps failed to cope, with ageing franchises.

SOMETIMES IT’S BEST TO START SMALL, AND THAT’S BY NO MEANS LESS. 1976. WHEN THE DOCTOR WHO PRODUCTION TEAM TEMORARILY GAVE WAY TO FOURTH DOCTOR TOM BAKER’S CONVICTION THAT HE DIDN’T NEED A COMPANION IT WENT FAMOUSLY WRONG. But that resultant mess, where the Doctor is forced to talk to himself, there aren’t traditional characters to draw out the danger and in its place are long, dull scenes, failed to materialise as the ever-brilliant Robert Holmes crafted a classic tale from adversity. In fact, the fantastically named The Deadly Assassin, heralded a number of reboots. A key one was controversially defining the Time Lord culture that the Doctor had rejected – an astonishing 13 years into the show’s lifetime. But then Doctor Who is a show that, thanks to luck, brilliant decision-making and the marvellous eccentricity of its state-owned production company, has change built into its core. From one episode to the next the sets, characters and even the lead actors can be completely different. That poses a huge and irresistible challenge and one that hopefully can roll on forever. But it’s a freedom that’s all too rare in fiction, scared as it is to paint itself into a box with confidence that a writer, as should be their raison d’etre, can paint themselves out of. Even in Who’s incredible fictional framework, one which had no issue with running that small mid-70s experiment, we have a great demonstration that reboots often don’t go the way they should.

And that’s on television. On film things are slower. Much slower.

Hollywood’s war of franchises may be more heated than ever as studios create, reassert, reboot and continue whatever their rights can manage. It may seem that a lot of energy falls on that mythical and never ending quest to find a new young adult property, as indeed it does, but there are older blockbuster sagas that have asked the question. And the answers vary greatly.

Aging Action – James Bond

Method: Whether shamelessly ignoring continuity or making a joke of it, there aren’t any hints or suggestions that marketing and a few years can’t spin. Welcome to timelessness.

The franchise has remains charged by that cusp it emerged from

A worthy early nod to the British-themed champion of change. Is there a coincidence that Britain lies behind Bond and Who, if not always in money and creative talent? Certainly changes in British society have been tied into the genesis of both. While the Doctor would struggle to hide away in an East End Totters Yard in a Police Box these days, unlike his birth 18 years after the Second World War, Jamaica had gained independence from the shrinking British Empire in the time between the first Bond film, Dr No’s filming and release in 1962. The franchise has remained charged by that cusp it emerged from, external change and Bond’s response to it has played very real role in the super spy’s longevity.

In 2012 Jokerside looked at the intricacies of the Bond timeline, a vague and intriguing string of adventures that have often shamelessly overcome any sticking points by confronting them early and full on. Even when Bond changed his looks five films in, the script took pleasure in smashing these alterations through the fourth all (with the rather balletic punch of George Lazenby). In dropping back to a more faithful take on Fleming, it even had Bond meeting Blofeld for the first time in the second film in succession. It was clear that consistency wasn’t a top priority – clearly a less important consideration in the 1960s without home media. And as wonderful as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is, the return of Sean Connery in the following film left the real legacy of OHMSS as proving that audiences accept a change of Bond.

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Super Mario Bros. The anniversary play-through!

Super Mario Bros at 30 - Mario

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros.’ release – a venerable writer played… Super Mario Bros. And here’s a transcript of the anniversary play‑through of the game’s first world – you know, the tutorial/easy one… What could possibly go wrong?

Bing. Da-da-da-da-da-da —dum-dum-dum -da-daa-daaaa -dum-da-da-da -da-da -da-daa-daaaaa… 

Game loaded.

Super Mario Bros, World 1-1

Great plumbing, not so keen on the really poor masonry

GO! THE PLUMBER’S OFF, ACCESS TO EVERY HOME IN THE WORLD, BUT THERE’S ONLY TIME FOR ONE CALL-OUT.  RESCUE THE PRINCESS. Packing a set of lives, toolbelt on and stomp in the step. I’m just gonna– whoa, Goomba already, just splat and head butt the block– boom, large mushroom and super large three-tone Mario. Looking a little bit out of shape there old chap…

Smash block, smash block, smash block… 200 points from a jewel, grabbed. Small pipe, squat plumber, squat – nothing.  Higher pipe, squat PLUMBER! Sound like King Koopa – nothing doing, all these pipes have blockages! Boom, double stomp on goombas. Even higher green pipe. There is a lot of plumbing done round here – squat, c’mon – yes! Into… A warehouse basement! Great plumbing, not so keen on the really poor masonry, but loads of coins – got ‘em all. Oh yeah.  But Mario just seems little bit big for this, again I blame the mason. Into green pipe, out and run… Up… The… Steps like Rocky. The music’s pumping in my ears, the victory sprint, see the flagpole and…. Fly my plumber fly… Epic fail, 100 points.

The red star flag of disappointment rises over that pitiful display. Never hacked that bloody flag pole stuff on the 2d scrollers…

Super Mario Bros, world 1-2

Some rather off-colour Goombas, clearly not a great environment down here

Okay straight out the pipe and run right… Into another pipe! Through the floor, okay underground, this is getting serious. Five boxes and boom a fire flower. Spring up for the fire flower and suddenly Mario’s ginger and looking a wee bit jaundiced. And in shock at the pure white dungarees (I mean, that’s a helluva flower) run straight into a Koopa Trooper. Great. Timing.

Boom, back, run up ignoring all embarrassment, catch the first Koopa, classic shell move to wipe out the next one. Still such a satisfying move. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom – now pick up the mushroom and those irritating box spires. Just remember, it’s more difficult in 3d, it’s more difficult in 3d. Leap, leap – some rather off-colour Goombas, clearly not a great environment down here. Not exactly racing through here… Racing through this. 100 points, 100 points… Yes, made the high jump from the snaking blocks and then splat, into a Goomba.

Respawn, jump the flower pipes (seriously, y’know, if I had time I’d clear those out but the clock’s ticking).  Jump on the rising platforms, knock out the Koopa Troopa with a bit more colour – miss the secret room I just know is lurking round here… Through the green pipe. So close…. And so nice to be outside again! Vitamin D, pause to let it sink in. Still look jaundiced. Run up the steps – whoa, a piranha plant in the pip I just jumped out of – and big moment… Yes, less epic fail. 400 on the flag.  Into the castle. 400!

Super Mario Bros, World 1-3

Where did those 20 seconds go?

Treetops and Koopa Paratroopas. I can hear them calling.

Bring it, I’m invincible, just without the invincibility… This camera that raises a few inches is annoying, but hell, time is ticking.  The skies so blue, but those clouds are annoying with their blue smirks.  Leap around the treetops, take out the Troopa, and so excited, go flying off the tree… No flying Mario yet. A painful lesson. One life left.

Pound through, take out the Troopa, avoid the flight bounce – slight drop of pressure on the confidence gauge. Bounce, bounce. Big plunge to grab some jewels. A rising platform that looks like it disappears, camera trickery. Jump and up and… Hang on… Music speeds up, 20 seconds left!?  Damn those clouds, spent too much time trying to throw insults at them… Jump the platforms, can’t spring on the Paratroopa and so close. Time out. Time over!? TIME OVER!? Where did those 20 seconds go? Done. Game over. Man, a 5850 score, sandwiched between Troopa and Lakitu. Man, I am so much bigger than those guys. Embarrassing. Okay… Continue. Race through, no way time’s catching me this time. Even catch a Paratroopa in flight. Take that turtle head (it’s a turtle, with a head, stomped). Boing, platforms, platform, steps… I’m unplayable as I reach the flagpole and… 100 points. Another let down… Shrug, readjust tool belt, carry on.

Super Mario Bros, World 1-4

Ripped the floor out from under the big false fire dragon

Boom, into the black and white brickwork, who built this place!? This is much more stylish (Miyamoto and co, trick question). Pits of lava, I instantly test by diving in. Result not realistic but devastating.

Respawn, the indomitable plumber. Leap three and hit the…. Fire bars, I hate these swirly bastards. There’s a tempting box right there and a giant mushroom. Three deaths and it’s mine – ha ha! It’s all about the timing, dodge the fire bars, getting good and then fire bolts. That’s a lot harder when Mario’s at full weight. And there at the end a platform… Wait, a Goomba impersonating Bowser? Go for the leap…. Fake Bowser jumps.

Take two – smaller this time, easier to dodge the flame bolts until I head butt one. That plumber! Try again, run in, avoid the platform, hit the Goomba, lose my size, still a bit of life left. And over, over, over… Agonising split second plumber lives flash past. And… Hit the axe. BOOM! Ripped the floor out from under the big false fire dragon. If only it was the real Bowser. My reward – a Toad! Welcome to the Mario franchise. And no Toad, you may be ecstatic and heroed out, but no need for the princess thanks. It’s all in a day’s work for this plumber.

Well, easy. Right? Now time for a rest.

Super Mario Bros. Arrived on the NES to wish it all the best. Not only Toads, but quite possibly the most influential videogame of all time.

The one to measure every other game against. Happy 30th SMB.

Super Mario Bros at 30 - Mario Super Mario Bros at 30 - Luigi 

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