Monday, 27 September 2010

Chris Moyles is the new DLT

History finally came full circle this week when, as predicted over a dozen years ago, Chris Moyles of Radio 1 proved that he was the new DLT.

DLT, younger readers may not know, was Dave Lee Travis, a DJ on Radio 1. From being exciting, hip, fashionable and novel in the 1960s (he can be seen here introducing supergroup Cream), he became a Radio 1 star in the 70s and 80s, presenting the Breakfast Show for four years, appearing regularly on Top Of The Pops, and occupying for most of the 80s a popular show on Saturday and Sunday mornings. However by 1993 his cosy and avuncular style (here is a classic clip in happier times) was becoming out-dated and, when the new broom producer Matthew Bannister came in to shake up the station, DLT famously resigned on air.

"....and I really want to put the record straight at this point and I thought you ought to know - changes are being made here which go against my principles and I just cannot agree with them..." were his words, as he stopped the music, had a rant, and left the BBC. The clip is included in this excerpt.

A new wave of DJs came in, some more successful than others, and after a few years of ups and downs, during which Bannister experimented with high brow presenters such as Emma Freud & Nicky Campbell, marmite presenters like Danny Baker and Mark & Lard, and popular if volatile Chris Evans, things settled down by the end of the nineties with a line up of new popular faces, most popular of which was Chris Moyles.

John Peel famously described Moyles as a "DLT-in-waiting", to which Moyles called Peel a "Kenny Everett-in-waiting, because Kenny Everett’s dead and it’s only a matter of time before John pops his clogs".

Now it turns out John Peel was as right about this as he had been about so many other thing. Moyles rants on air for half an hour (here's enough of it to be getting with) about not getting paid. Not quite resigning on air, he does the next best thing, asking to be sacked.

I'm reminded of a very funny sketch, which I can't find on YouTube, from the early Channel 4 series of Armstrong & Miller, where an in-store DJ in a booth in a clothing store does the DLT speech.

In today's Guardian a number of commentators have been asked what they think Moyles should do. Few have been kind. Mark Lawson says "it's Peter Finch in Network", Mike Smith suggests "he has more than crossed the line is a completely sackable offence", and Sybil Ruscoe observes "Chris seems to be suffering from BSS – Breakfast Show Syndrome. Too many 4am starts, dark circles under the eyes, a delusional belief in his own publicity" and recommends "the cure is usually a spell back on a local radio lunchtime show".

As someone who stopped listening to Radio 1 when Mark & Lard left and Chris Moyles took over the breakfast show, it's not my place to comment. But I've never found such self-indulgence and hubris to make good radio. As exemplified by Chris Evans' outburst against an unfortunate Scottish local radio journalist back in 1997 which, if it didn't lose him the Radio 1 Breakfast Show job, should have. (Which I can't find online, maybe someone else can)

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